tests/14-04-18_kaiser
 
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Kaiser Kawero! Chiara

19.06.2014 // Jürgen Saile

What at first glace appears to be a three way loudspeaker reveals itself upon closer inspection to be a two way system with added support for bass through a passive membrane. A passive membrane acts similar to a bass reflex port, but offers more flexibility for tuning and avoids airstream noise which can occur with reflex ports and high sound levels.

The Chiara is rich in invisible innovative technologies. But on first impression, one cannot deny the clearly obvious masterfully crafted fit and finish
The Chiara is rich in invisible innovative technologies. But on first impression, one cannot deny the clearly obvious masterfully crafted fit and finish

Kaiser did not skimp on the choice of drivers either and chose the top line of the danish manufacturer Scan-Speak. Scan-Speak has always made excellent drivers, even if presently the use of ceramic drivers happens to be “in”. The 15 centimeter bass driver from the “Illuminator” series has a paper sandwich membrane and a neodymium magnet. The bass is set up as a long throw system and achieves a low resonance frequency of 34 Herz. A great feature is the open and aerodynamic structure of the driver, a testament to Scan-Speak's dedication to quality. The bass is supported by an 18 centimeter passive membrane, also made by Scan-Speak, but made custom for Kaiser in this form and size. A drop of bitterness for a high efficiency fan such as myself: the Scan-Speak bass has a sensitivity of only 87 dB.

Highs are taken care of by a Mundorf air motion transformer. Based on a discovery by Oskar Heil, the AMT achieves higher sound pressure levels than a standard ribbon given the same membrane dimensions and movements due to its folded membrane structure. For the Chiara, Mundorf manufactures a special version of this driver according to custom specifications laid out by Kaiser.

The innovatively designed Scanspeak driver. The magnet is made of neodymium and can therefore be of smaller size while creating the same magnetic field strength
The innovatively designed Scanspeak driver. The magnet is made of neodymium and can therefore be of smaller size while creating the same magnetic field strength

Of significance to the sound quality is the construction of the crossover. This goes for the quality of its parts as well as the way they are put together. Weber chose capacitors, coils and resistors from Duelund of Denmark. These truly are members of the worldwide top elite performers, as well as in price. Only one coil in the circuit was chosen from Mundorf. An analogous part from Duelund would no longer have physically fit into the enclosure.

Every loudspeaker designer approaches crossover schematic design in different ways. There are those who seek only a flat response, end of story. With a largish amount of circuitry, any given frequency performance curve can be straightened out. The question after such manipulation is of course how it ultimately sounds. Another approach is to maximize listening pleasure, even though it may be known that ruler-flat response is not achieved.

Rainer Weber, designer of the Chiara, went another way altogether. Basing his design on his professional background with acoustical phenomena, his solution differs from that of many others. He managed to achieve a realistic imagery in size, even though the Chiara is small. It goes without saying that exact design specifics regarding this achievement remain proprietary. But it can be said that measurements he used included the use of a binaural head microphone system which closely emulates the human ear and its position within the organic human hearing mechanism.

b_200_0_16777215_10_images_content_tests_14-04-18_kaiser_Kaiser-Cover_1.jpg One of my favorite musicians is the spaniard Jodi Savall, who together with his wife Montserrat Figueras, son and daughter performs Du temps et de l'instant. The music chosen by Savall comes from all over the world, ranging from Afghanistan to Mexico. The first piece titled “Cantiga de amigo V” comes from the 13th century, by Martim Codax from Galicia. The CD is exceptionally recorded, something that becomes immediately apparent through the Chiara. Indeed, the reproduction of acoustical instruments seems to be a great strength of this loudspeaker. The theorbo that Ferran Savall uses here has a clearly different sound characteristic than a guitar, and not merely because of its lower range extension of notes. The same applies to the Viola da Gamba played by Jordi Savall. To differentiate these fine nuances of sound is no challenge for the Chiara. This goes for fantastic voice reproduction, too, in this case Montserrat Figueras. The depiction of the musical whole flows forth in a perfectly homogenous way. Earlier I mentioned the excellent sound staging of this speaker. In addition, it is astounding how the musicians are depicted in realistic size. This is often not the case with compact loudspeakers of this size.

b_200_0_16777215_10_images_content_tests_14-04-18_kaiser_Kaiser-Cover_2.jpg Scene change: Blues on Bach by The Modern Jazz Quartet. Before any hard core classical music fans among us turn up their noses, I'd like to emphasize that the concept here is very interesting. The idea is not to take melodies from Bach and to somehow mix them with jazz. On the contrary, John Lewis wanted to take other challenging forms and structures and integrate them with jazz. I know, that still probably won't impress the classical fans. “Kantate BWV 147 Jesu bleibet meine Freude” now obviously contains the handwriting of both Bach and the MJQ. Again we encounter the grandiose imaging capabilities of the Chiara. The instruments stand as three dimensional palpable objects in the room. The recording of the harpsichord is not as full of brilliant overtones and as fiery as one hears in other recordings. Sometimes it can sound rather artificial in this respect. The vibraphone was better recorded, one can definitely tell. The contrabass was recorded well and the Chiara depicts its body and many colors vividly. The whole of the sound does not sound like it is coming from “a box”. All of this is very clearly audible through this loudspeaker. If you choose to pay attention to it. In general, the loudspeaker focuses one's attention towards the performance of the musicians. This is really the way it should be.

One can clearly see the folded diaphragm of the AMT tweeter. When in action, the motion is from like that of an accordion
One can clearly see the folded diaphragm of the AMT tweeter. When in action, the motion is from like that of an accordion

You can tell Kaiser didn't just throw expensive parts and rare materials together to achieve the desired price point. The construction is very well thought out and absolutely perfected. You can really feel the attention to detail in every aspect. Setting up the speaker, one should make efforts for proper placement. I achieved best focus and imaging when they were parallel to one another, or maybe just a tad toed in. Of course, your conditions will differ. When turned directly toward the listener, the highs become somewhat emphasized. The proportions of the musicians are well organized, and you never get the feeling you are sitting in front of a puppet theater. When you close your eyes, you really do believe you have a large standing loudspeaker in front of you. I have never experienced this with a loudspeaker of this size before. Don't expect miracles in the lowest bass region. After all there's a limit to what you can expect from a 15 cm bass driver. But the Chiara really rocks in my 40 square meter large room, no question about it! I had not expected this type of performance in a footprint so small.


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