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Product Review - Adire Audio Kanada Bookshelf Speakers - September, 2001

Jared Baldwin


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System:  1 Tweeter, 8 Woofer (Sealed)

Sensitivity:  88 dB

Recommended Power:  15 to 250 watts (300 peak)

Nominal Impedance:  8 Ohms

Weight:  19 Pounds Each

Size:  16H x 10W x 8D

Finish:  Honey Oak with Polyurethane Finish 

MSRP:  $500/pair USA

 

Adire Audio, PO Box 85891, Seattle, Washington  98145-1891; E-Mail sales@adireaudio.com; Web http://www.adireaudio.com

Introduction

Unless you are down the path to becoming an audiophile or an avid DIY'er, you may not have heard of Adire Audio. In business since 1999, Adire Audio is a full-service audio specialist that offers a multitude of speakers, components, and design services. So it goes without saying that when your business is the building speakers from the ground up, your end product is going to be something to take notice of.

The Kanada bookshelf speakers are part of the Adire Audio Exact Series. The Exact Series is Adire Audio's answer to an entry-level product line, but the savings that you earn do not come at the cost of quality. Through streamlined production, automation, and cutting corners the right way, Adire still achieved a higher quality speaker line at an affordable price for everyone.

The Hardware

At first glance, the Kanada speakers look just like many other bookshelf speakers out there in the saturated bookshelf speaker market. However, upon further inspection you will notice things such as rounded edges and the solid construction. The rounded edges are a nice touch to give the Kanada's a less boxy look than standard bookshelf speakers. Real oak veneer and a full layer of polyurethane coating give the sealed cabinet a very nice finished look. At 19 pounds each, they are a hefty bookshelf speaker, but their average dimensions make it less assuming. They also are built with dual sets of gold-plated binding posts for the option of bi-wiring or bi-amping. As if the goodies on the outside weren't enough, here is a direct quote from Adire's website further describing the Kanada product.

"A full 6th order Linkwitz Riley design, the crossover keeps the on and off axis responses smooth and neutral. Overlap of the drivers is minimized. And the impedance is well controlled. Built with polypropylene caps in the series positions, and air core inductors, the crossover itself is no-compromise."

Setup

I've always liked how bookshelf speakers look on the right pair of stands. In the case of the Kanada speakers, this was no exception. If the decision is to use stands, you will want to make sure you use a sturdy pair with the Kanadas because of their size and ample weight. In other words, cheap wooden stands would probably not be the best idea here. For my listening purposes, the Kanadas found a nice home atop each one of my utility shelves I use to house my equipment, which are the perfect height for speaker stands anyway.

Video shielding seems to be becoming a standard for most speakers and has not been forgotten in the Kanada speaker, so placement next to a monitor is no problem. However, in this case I wanted to widen the soundstage somewhat and decided to move the Kanadas an extra foot or two away from my television. To connect the speakers, I used 12-gauge cable tightened into the speaker terminals via bare wire to allow for maximum signal transfer. Instead of removing the bars that allow for bi-wire and bi-amping capability, I left them alone, opting for the more real world likelihood of being run by some type of mass-market receiver.

Music

In the opinion of many, musical reproduction is where speakers either pass the taste test or are spit out by the consumer. This is where I chose to begin the review. The musical tracks I chose to listen to on the Kanada speakers were performed by The Dave Matthews Band, The Wallflowers, and something a little less mainstream from Soul Coughing.

The Dave Matthews Band album "Under The Table and Dreaming" is a fantastic disc for vocals and localized guitar. "Lover Lay Down" (track 8) has very soft vocals with impressive saxophone accompaniment throughout the song. The saxophone blended nicely with the softened vocals of Dave Matthews for this mellow tune. To the contrary "Pay For What You Get" (track 11) and its guitar driven pace filled the room with upbeat riffs.

The only song I needed to listen to by The Wallflowers was "6th Avenue Heartache" (track 2) from their self-titled album. This track features the pair of very distinguished voices of Jakob Dylan and The Counting Crows front man Adam Dirkowitz. Played back on speakers reproducing less than clear vocals these two front men sound like a vocal mesh and become somewhat indistinguishable. I was more than satisfied with the ability of the Kanada speakers to separate the chorus line of the two very unique singing voices.

One of my favorite songs by Soul Coughing, "Sugar Free Jazz", has a great amount of detail with a lot of subtle noises going on in the background (some non-traditional and some unusual sounds I might add) that were reproduced well, with the Kanadas preserving the sense of depth these sounds reveal.

I would describe the overall sound from the Kanada speakers as slightly forward if not neutral. They seem to color the music very little compared to many other speakers I have referenced and in a way that may be to the liking of most who listen.

Overall the center image was nicely positioned when sitting in the sweet spot, while for the most part instruments stayed localized in respect to proper imaging and reproduction. The upper frequencies became a bit harsh at higher volumes prompting me to immediately turn down the volume. However, this only seemed to occur while listening several notches above normal listening levels, and could be due to the mass market receiver as much as anything else.

Like any bookshelf speaker, the Kanada's bass was spread thin in the lowest octave. The bass and overall output in my room of 16 x 16 wasn't bad, but the benefit of at least a small powered sub is evident. Although an excellent performer, the Adire Kanada still sounded like a bookshelf speaker. Fortunately, Adire makes the Rava Subwoofer, which will go with the Kanada very nicely. If you're not familiar with the Rava it is a 12" forward-firing sub, powered by a 250 amplifier, all with a $399 price tag..

Home Theater

Now that I've covered how well the Kanada's performed with two-channel music, it's time to talk about their performance in the realm of home theater. If you cruise around Adire Audio's home page you may notice that the Kanadas do not have a matching center speaker for home theater applications. A center speaker that I would suggest to work best will be a more neutral sounding model (something like Mirage or Energy) or something with a tad brighter sound (Phase Technology).

"Sessions at West 54th: Vol. 1" is a great demo DVD and is filled with material ideal for serious listening. The separation of channels on this DVD is exceptional and will focus a glaring stare on the weakest performer regarding the speakers in your system. The great solos, both instrumental and vocal, utilize the full soundstage offered through a digital 5.1 system.

No performance on this disc takes full advantage of a 5.1 system like Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra "Back To Basics" (track 2). You are literally surrounded by the entire orchestra. The Kanadas belted out a smooth sound resulting in a good sense and realism of a live performance. Just for kicks, I moved the Adire Speakers to the rear where they could likely be used as a high quality rear speaker. They didn't skip a beat compared to my similarly priced rear speakers I use in my reference system. There is also some excellent channel separation during Shawn Colvin's "Diamond In The Rough" (chapter 5). You can hear distinctly the bass guitar from the left channel and the rhythm guitar from the right channel. Again the Kanadas made me feel like I was sitting center stage.

For those fans of accuracy over output, you will be pleased to know the Kanada's have a sealed enclosure. The design resulted in a bass guitar that sounded full, but without the added reverberation an improperly ported speaker delivers. Accuracy of other instruments such as horns, guitars, etc., present in these recordings (CD's too), benefited fully from the sealed design.

Other Observations

I really like the fact that there are multiple e-mail addresses at Adire for every type of question you may have, whether it is about setup or online sales. It's also nice to know that there is ample customer service after the sale, not just before. They have a 3-year parts and labor warranty.

Conclusion

If you're looking for a great pair of quality bookshelf speakers for a small home theater system or a compact music system anywhere in the house then the Adire Audio Kanadas just may be the ticket.

Equipment Used in this Review:

Adire Audio Rava Subwoofer
Mirage FRx-10 Subwoofer
Mirage OM-C3 Center Speaker
Sony STR DB-930 Receiver
Sony DVP-S530D DVD Player
Vampire Interconnects

 

- Jared Baldwin -

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Copyright 2001 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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