Product Review -
Krix Loudspeakers - November, 1995
By John E. Johnson, Jr.
Krix Loudspeakers. Esoterix 1 Mark II, one 8" polypropylene low frequency driver, one 5" polypropylene mid-range driver, 1.28" cloth dome tweeter, frequency response 30 Hz - 20 kHz, sensitivity 88dB/watt/meter, size 37"H x 10"W x 16"D, weight 66 pounds each, $3,299/pair (Jarrah wood or Black Ash veneer); Centrix Center Channel Speaker, two 5" low frequency drivers, one 1" soft dome tweeter, frequency response 50 Hz - 20 kHz, size 7"H x 25"W x 16"D, weight 38 pounds, $649 (Jarrah wood or Black Ash veneer); Equinox Mini-Monitor Speakers (Rear Surround), one 5" doped paper cone low frequency driver, one 1" fabric dome tweeter, frequency response 45 Hz - 20 kHz, size 11 1/2"H x 7"W x 9 1/2"D, weight 13 pounds each, $599/pair (Jarrah wood or Black Ash veneer).
USA - Sound Decisions, Honeyman Lofts, 816 N.W. Hoyt Street, Portland, Oregon 97209 - Phone (503) 221-4006; Distributed by Moon Dance Audio, 1881 South Broadway, Denver, Colorado 80210, Phone 303-777-4449; Canada - Dimexs, B.P. 37, Succ. E, Montreal, Quebec, CANADA H2T 3A5 - Phone (514) 384-3737; New Zealand - Direct Imports (NZ) Ltd., 203 Nelson Street South, Hastings - Phone (06) 8782076; China/Hong Kong and Taiwan - Melrose Trading Co., Ltd., 15 Kowloon Bay Govn. Fty. Bldg., Block 2, G/F., Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong - Phone (852) 759-0723; Malaysia/Singapore - Y & H Acoustic, 45A Jalan Bunga Tanjung 6A, Taman Putra, Mukim Ampang, 68000 Selangor, Malaysia.
"These rate a 10 on the spouse acceptance factor scale", said Jeanne Fairbrook upon seeing the Krix loudspeakers fresh out of the shipping boxes. Indeed, the Jarrah wood finish on the Krix is spectacular. I had wanted a Jarrah wood box for my desk to keep small items in, and now we had a set of speakers, covered with it. Jarrah is native to Australia, and it is not plentiful, so the veneer is not available in many places outside the country. It looks like a combination of rosewood and walnut (see photo).
Krix is the last name of the owner (Scott Krix) and the founder of a company which employs a team of design engineers, craftspeople, sales, and marketing people dedicated to producing quality loudspeakers. The Esoterix 1, Mark II is a flagship in their line, and we utilized two of them as the front left/right stereo speakers, the Centrix as the center channel speaker, and two of the Equinox as the rear surround speakers. The rest of the surround sound system consisted of a Pioneer CLD-3090 laserdisc player, Flatline interconnects and speaker cables, Parasound P/SP 1000 processor, Parasound HCA-1206 power amplifier, Rotel RB-985 power amplifier, and Mitsubishi CS-35X7 Television Monitor.
We always start off with "Jurassic Park" as a test laserdisc, because it is one of the best discs ever cut in surround sound and has received an award for its extraordinary quality. The Krix were up to this test, in spades. We drove them hard, and the brass instrument section was full but not blaring, voices clear and concise, branches of wood (not the Jarrah) snapping with amazing crispness. Jeanne Fairbrook and I both commented on the fact that these speakers have a very smooth top end, not scratchy and irritating like some dome tweeters tend to convey, the mid-range neutral, and a very, very deep bass - so deep, in fact, that we could turn off the subwoofer and still feel the thunder. This is important, because at $4,000 the set, the Krix are expensive speakers, not including the cost of buying a sub. Therefore, we asked numerous people to visit the lab and attend a demonstration of the Krix in our home theater lab. The response was unanimous in favor of their value, with elegance being as important as the sound. One person, from Australia, got on his hands and knees to examine the cabinetry, making sure that his fellow countrymen were doing their part to maintain a certain standard. His conclusion? They were.
All of the Krix speakers are ported. The Esoterix has two ports on the back, and Krix supplies two foam rubber inserts that can be used to plug the ports if you need to place the speakers in a position that might otherwise result in too much bass (of course, "too much bass" is a matter of personal opinion). The Centrix also has two ports, but on the front, and the Equinox has one port, on the back. One can see the hot glued supports inside the cabinet, when looking into the port of the Esoterix. These supports are used to hold the cabinet in place while the main frame glue polymerizes. There is some foam damping material and Australian wool to reduce cabinet resonance. The Centrix and Equinox are magnetically shielded to prevent video interference. We placed the Centrix directly on top of the TV monitor, without any video problems. It is internally braced to the extent that a large TV can be placed on top of the speaker enclosure, and, in fact, was designed with this in mind.
Although all the speakers are beautifully finished, the Esoterix is especially so, with a gold inlaid trim around the front edge, and the grille cloth offset 1/4" from the front of the cabinet to prevent the cloth from interacting with the drivers. The Esoterix is mounted on a permanent base, giving the speaker enclosure a top-backward tilt of about 5 degrees. If you don't have children or animals that might poke appendages into the drivers, you can leave the grill cloth off, since the fronts are also finished in veneer, and brother, what an astonishing look (see photo). However, the speaker response is ultimately designed with the grilles on. The Esoterix speakers have three sets of gold plated 5-way binding posts, an arrangement convenient for bi-wiring and tri-wiring (amping). The Centrix and Equinox each have one pair of 5-way posts.
There has been much comment in the literature lately about how poorly surround sound systems often perform when playing regular CD music through them. This was certainly not the case with the Krix. They sounded very natural, even with non-surround encoded CDs, and even with the fair-to-midlin DACs that are typically present in laserdisc players. Thus, we moved the Krix to our reference audio system where we could really detect any potential problems. We had on hand numerous amplifiers and other equipment, some of which (on loan) has recently been reviewed in Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, and some of which is here permanently. This includes two Carver Silver 9t monobloc power amplifiers, the Sunfire power amplifier, the Mosfet 32B power amplifier, McCormack passive preamplifiers, and McCormack CD transport/DAC. We also connected the Equinox speakers with our single ended triode preamp/power amp combination (Audio Electronic Supply). Thus, we were able to test the Krix speakers with MOSFET output device equipment, Bipolar output device equipment, and tube output device equipment.
The Equinox by themselves, do not give the kind of bass output that we like, but they did sound very neutral with the SE triodes. Thus, they would be fine in a small system, even without a lot of amplifier power, and therefore, modest volume levels (our SE triode is 7 watts per channel). Placing them close to the wall can enhance their bass output. The Esoterix were great performers with both the MOSFET and Bipolar output amplifiers. The amplifiers are capable of outputting 250 watts rms and more into 8 Ohms, and the Esoterix is rated at 200 watts rms, with a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms (Centrix is rated at 125 watts rms and is 8 Ohms, the Equinox at 100 watts rms and 6 Ohms). The Esoterix has a moderate sensitivity of 88dB/W/M, and our amplifiers could easily drive them to full output. Again, the bass is very deep here, as it should be with an 8" low frequency driver (the same size as some subwoofers).
A good test for any system is the human voice. Our ears are extremely sensitive to the frequency range in voices, and it is very apparent when the voice is not being reproduced faithfully. So, we put on a little bit of Natalie Cole, Marc Cohn, Barbra Streisand, and Tony Bennett. Now, I have never heard any of these people in person, but they sure sounded natural to me, a la Krix. If you want to know how a bad speaker reproduces the voice, listen to some of the boom boxes, or car radio speakers. It is quite obvious. Well, none of that with the Krix. Of course, no speaker can fool a person into believing the singer is actually in the room, but some of them come oh so close. The Krix fall into that category.
In summary, the Krix loudspeakers are a sheer joy to listen to (and to look at). At $4,000, they don't come cheap, but neither does superb sound. In this case, one gets the money's worth. Highly recommended.
Verdict: (Five stars is highest rating):
Sound: Construction: Value:
John E. Johnson, Jr.
© Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
Return to Table of Contents for this Issue.