The World’s Most Expensive Speakers
By any measure, $1.5 million is a lot of money. In the bank, most could live off the interest alone, or you could perhaps buy or invest in property, but where's the fun in that?
Based in Breda, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands, Kharma International produces very exclusive high-end audio products.
Founder Charles van Oosterum's vision is quite simple. “Kharma converges audiophile excellence with aesthetic beauty,” he says. His genuine approach has attracted fans from around the world, thanks to the company's hand-picked and carefully appointed distributors in each continent.
Producing finely crafted, aesthetically pleasing loudspeakers, subwoofers and high-tech electronics, Kharma ownership starts at $23,000 for the Elegance S7 floor-standing speakers.
The S7 is a two-way loudspeaker with a seven-inch composite driver developed by Kharma, using finite element analysis and advanced computer modelling.
The result is a new speaker cone technology that Kharma says consists of fibres not dissimilar to rocket science and Formula One technology. Combined with a one-inch beryllium tweeter, the Elegance S7 creates an ultra-high resolution and detailed musical experience.
You pay more, you get more. As one's budget allows, there are plenty more offerings higher up the Kharma loudspeaker range.
A few years ago, Oosterum heard of a new loudspeaker system that had become the most expensive in the world. Not to be outdone, he wanted this title for Kharma, and so he began its development. Kharma's latest creation, the Enigma Veyron EV1 now proudly holds that position.
Creating the world's most advanced audio system, touted as the holy grail in high-end audio, was no easy task. Constructed of 100-millimetre-thick bulletwood and machined by five-axis computer numerical control, the elegant but massive structure stands 2.3 metres high.
The four-way loudspeaker consists of revolutionary new drivers, including four 11-inch woofers, two seven-inch mid-bass drivers, four two-inch diamond mid-range drivers and four one-inch diamond tweeters.
Unique to Kharma are the Omega F bass and mid-bass drivers. No iron is used in the magnet motor-system, avoiding any interaction. Normally the driver's voice coil induces a Foucault current into the iron parts, and that current induces back distortion into the driver coil. By definition, this will distort the original signal.
With the absence of iron and the Foucault current, Kharma says the result is higher resolution, more micro and macro dynamics, faster transients, richer spectrum of tonal variations from the music, and more natural, explosive and realistic sound.
Each driver is decoupled from the cabinet by a minimum contact surface created with carborundum balls placed on diamonds. The combination of the hardness, shape and acoustical properties of the materials used ensures zero resonance, the enemy of high-fidelity sound.
Being a loudspeaker system, the Enigma Veyron EV1 also includes eight 15-inch active subwoofers weighing 210 kilograms each, designed to sonically and aesthetically match the loudspeakers. Like the speaker cabinets, each subwoofer cabinet is manufactured of 100-millimetre bulletwood and aluminium plates, forming a solid base that is placed on a diamond stand to decouple the woofer from its environment.
Finally, to create harmony between the subwoofers and loudspeakers, an Apple iPad is used to tweak the digital signal processor settings to the room in which the Enigma Veyron EV1 loudspeaker system is installed.
Don't blow your $1.5 million budget on just the loudspeakers and subwoofers, though. Dedicated Enigma Veyron amplifiers and racks are also available as optional extras.
Creating a new level of sound quality, with superior technology that pushes the limits of dynamic loudspeakers, commands serious levels of research and development. Combined with exotic materials and components, as well as van Oosterum's golden ears, the result is, indeed, possibly the holy grail of high-end audio.
Kharma is distributed in Australia Radiance AV.
Originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald (January 20th, 2016). Republished with permission.