Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core w. 16GB RAM running OWS 10.8.2, PureMusic 2.02, Audirvana 1.5.10, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, SOtM dX-USB HD w. super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, APL Hifi DSD-S [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan], Trafomatic Audio Sava [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, GigaWatt PF-2 on amps
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail in Europe: starting at €16'200/pr

Super monitors. As I opined in my Munich HighEnd 2014 report and then verbatim in a follow-up feature, "'s flagship speakers are far more horsepower of bass extension and loudness potential than the average consumer will ever tap. Hence they're more proof of concept and trophy hifi than sensible real-world products. Buying more than you need is excessive and as such, wastefully inelegant. That said, if you wanted to play at the edge of the art, there is one speaker type which does make sense: the super monitor.

"This describes a hi-tech compact stand-mounted design which combines ultra-performance drivers, exceptional attention to resonance control, advanced cabinet design and proper crossover execution with quality parts to deliver usable bandwidth of 40Hz-30kHz with peak SPL that make sense in a domestic living room (no more than 100dB peaks in the seat which is very loud). For those who need more bass extension, a quality active and sealed infrasonic subwoofer for the first octave makes for a tidier lower-cost higher performance solution than an equivalent passive tower speaker."

I'd then highlighted three top samples of this breed encountered at the show: the Wilson-Benesch Endeavour; the Crystal Cable Minissimo; and today's review subject, the Kaiser Acoustics Kawero! Chiara. I'd finished off by saying, " personal head space and very costly gargantuan loudspeakers don't share any common ground for the already given reasons of pure practicality. But I am very much intrigued by these three super monitors. That's because they all exploit up-to-date computer modeling to generate their final geometric shape; and use advanced composites whose mechanical properties are not achievable with standard speaker enclosure materials."

The moment a designer decides against an open baffle to physically enclose his drivers in some form of box, management of the rear energy—50% of the total output which produces far higher SPL inside than outside the box—becomes of paramount concern. In general today's top drivers and xover designs operate at a far more sophisticated level than that of the speaker enclosures they get mated to. Each in their own way, my three examples of the super-monitor art demonstrate what proper attention to the 'overlooked' aspect can look like.

Bullet points for the German Chiara with the Italian name for clear are:
• stealth-like ultra modern highly faceted appearance
• literally inseparable blade-type stand with three hidden 'energy-sink' chambers in series engineered by UK tech contributors Vertex AQ who also co-designed the LeadingEdge panels and racks
• complex angular form factor with variable-thickness all non-parallel walls
• top-class ScanSpeak and Mundorf drivers
• painfully costly ultra-exotic Danish Duelund paper-in-oil cast capacitors and giant Mundorf coils whose Danish equivalent wouldn't have fit

• classic 2-way passive radiator array in the Sonus faber Electa Amator/Extrema, Pawel/Ensemble PA1, Phil Jones Pure Sound 7000i and Amphion Pro vein
• panzerholz composite enclosure
• superlative finishing in a range of custom skins* including carbon-fibre baffle

Veneer options are Maple, Birch, American/European Cherry, American/European Walnut, Sycamore, Wild Service Tree, Makore Pommele, Myrtle Burl, Walnut Burl, Madrona Burl, Santos Palisander, Yewtree Burl, Maple Burl, Curly Birch, Tineo, Ziricote, Zebrano, Mahogany Crotch, Macassar-Ebony

Chiara at Munich 2014 with Kaiser's acoustic panels at left and below

To expand these bullet points, we note the cabinet's outward flare towards the rear; the diagonal ridge across the cheeks; the sloping tops and bottoms; and a rear panel whose angle differs from that of the raked front. Lifting the assembly shows weight higher than MDF, lighter than metal. That's due to the tankwood originally developed for armoured cars. This material which is exceptionally unkind to diamond-tipped router blades starts as bonded layers of Beech ply which are impregnated with resin, then reduced to 60% of their original thickness by applying enormous clamping pressure. Panzerholz sinks in water, is literally bullet-proof and hard enough to retain machined threads at a high pitch without stripping.

Given the Chiara's geometric complexity of compound angles—a nightmare for ordinary wood shops—and ultra-hard composite, manufacture occurs in a highly specialized industrial-size facility owned and operated for over 60 years by the Kaiser family in Untergriesbach. That's in the Southern Bavarian Forest near Passau, next to the Danube river and a short skip from the Austrian border in an area popular with vacationers. By running CNC machines which can process solid stock that's sized like a motorcar, Kaiser routinely build the type of absolutely massive fully monolithic furniture you'd find in 5-star hotel lobbies or executive board rooms. Their wood shop operates in a league of its own. Nothing less could dream of manufacturing the Chiara to its extreme tolerances in its chosen material and form factor. In fact Kaiser's acoustics division specializes in décor-friendly acoustically optimized room creations as shown in the two-down installation of a Slovenian client. They do this for two-channel as well as ambitious surround-sound setups. Then there are their LeadingEdge panels and racks; 130 x 130 x 20cm diffusor panels; and mobile acoustic walls for setup during concerts, events or in musician practice/rehearsal chambers.

70% of Kaiser's €1'600'000 turnover in 2006 was on acoustic projects. Those include the sound studio and video conference facilities of Furtwangen's technical high school; the auditoriums of the Bayerischer Rundfunk and Broadcast Institute in Munich; the H2O studio; sport halls; conference rooms; and home theatres. In their furniture division clients include the UBS bank of Munich; the Hotel Bayern of Tegernsee; the Grandhotel Dolder of Zürich [below right]; the Orthopedic Centre of Munich; the Klinik Bavaria in Freyung and Kreischa; and various boutiques, shops and medical practices. Today the Kaiser family employ 26.