Behind our new brand are principals Javier Millan [left] and Miguel Castro [middle]. Acting as consultant, there is mutual friend Clifford Orman [right]. Javier is a self-taught electronics designer with prior OEM contracts under his belt. Miguel is the owner of Spain's most successful Hifilive online magazine. Cliff is the owner/designer of Vibex. Anyone familiar with Cliff's power products, footers and stand knows
his signature mix of Krion and viscoelastics for resonance control; and his use of thermoplastic screws like Peek or Reny. The Julieta even includes three each of his piès de resistance footers which add zebrawood to the equation. Expanding from publishing and reviewing to hifi manufacture has Miguel follow in the footsteps of Massimo Costa of Italian speaker house Albedo Audio; or Jean Hiraga in DIY circles.

With their tonewood angle, Kroma Audio not only pursue colour—kroma equals chroma—but draw a parallel with Swiss designer Martin Gateley of soundkaos. His oval Wave 40 speakers are part of our personal hardware collection. Having replaced his widebander's metal basket with tankwood parts for the Skiny 16 model also makes Martin a "less metal" colleague of Cliff & Co. However, going after a pure tonewood speaker cab sets him apart from Kroma's designers. They only use select musically responsive parts inside a rigid exoskeleton. On the map, that might place Julieta somewhere between Magico's Q1 and our Swiss. On the Krion/Corian front, Platinum Audio's Solo Signature monitor of yore combined Corian and Avonite. The very much current Crystal Cable Minissimo is machined from a solid block of Germany's version of DuPont's trademarked recipe. Where Magico's Alon Wolf cites the high number of metal bolts in his speakers as a point of pride—Magico Q1 at right—Kroma Audio and company friend Cliff Orman take pride in using the bare minimum and then not of the metal sort.

Distinctive in the global speaker landscape too is Kroma's use of the ¾" gold-impregnated Danish Hiquphon fabric tweeter. I've previously only seen it used by Pawel of Switzerland. In the Julieta, it hands over at 2'600Hz to a custom version of ScanSpeak's famous radially slashed 6.5" Revelator mid/woofer. Where things recede from prying eyes, reverse engineers and armchair know-it-alls is the filter. Javier only reveals that its slope is very shallow but not a conventional parallel or series 1st order. Its parts are from Duelund, Mundorf and NOS sources and many are rewound by hand to achieve the required tolerance. Miguel's personal system with MBL transport, Nagra HD DAC with MPS power supply and Ypsilon preamp and monos serves as their ears-on laboratory.

Julieta's internal geometry of tonewood parts includes the obvious ports and invisible wooden reflectors mounted to a viscoelastic substrate to season internal cabinet reflections before they exit the wooden vents. Below we see Miguel's luthier friend at work turning a thin-walled port tube.

The left rendering shows the filter cavity of the lower stand which is permanently potted after the crossover installation. The driver hookup wiring routes invisibly inside one of the curved stand panels. Three circular recesses in the bottom plate act as receivers for the Vibex footers shown at right. Basic Julieta specs are a 6Ω nominal impedance, 90dB sensitivity, 50kg weight for each box/stand assembly and dimensions of 100 x 29.5 x 41.5cm HxWxD.

I first heard Julieta and her d'Appolito tower sister Carmen during a 3-day visit to Granada chronicled here. The performance in Miguel's system was so inspiring that I asked for review samples which were dispatched a few weeks later.

The direct inspiration which drew our Spaniards into the challenging loudspeaker manufacturing biz was Miguel's purchase of Kiso Acoustics' tiny tonewood monitor. Cliff also runs a hifi import shoppe. Kiso is one of his brands. He sold Miguel a pair from his distributor inventory. Built by Takamine Guitars of Japan, this tiny box with the giant sound compelled our men to attempt bigger speakers of similarly gushing quality. They would simply have to have more bass extension, higher dynamics and greater SPL to suit all modern music and do far larger rooms.

That a pure tonewood cabinet isn't a good idea for low frequencies will soon be confirmed by Kiso's first floorstander. Its bass section of paralleled small woofers will include stiff metal to eliminate undesirable box talk. Which segues directly into the Kroma Audio recipe of combining the live/dead-box polarities. The dead box ideal is pursued with super-hard composites by Wilson Audio, with heavy aluminium by Magico, Stenheim and YG Acoustics, with Panzerholz by Kaiser Acoustics, with carbon fibre by Wilson-Benesch. The live-box notion shows up with Harbeth, Kiso, soundkaos and Spendor. To my knowledge, Kroma are first at attempting to bridge both.

The music lover deathly allergic to hifi racism has, usually after years of costly experiments, crossed paths with many contradictory approaches. This eventually arrives at a gentleman's understanding. To the ear, contradictory needn't mean mutually exclusive. It's not as primitive as right or wrong. From ultra-rigid high-mass speakers to resonant cabs to the vast majority of more or less active MDF boxes to the zero-box open baffles, anything goes. The trouble with 'anything'? Often, certain approaches single out specific musical styles. Hard-hitting techno with phat club beats could be best served by one solution. A lyrical Chopin nocturne, Baroque period ensemble or full-tilt opera might prefer another. Finding something equally hip no matter the music that's not subtly or overtly compromised versus the most extreme specializers can be an endless story. It's often what keeps the financially exhausting trade-in wheel spinning.