Don’t Look Past Aussie Brands for Loudspeakers
Buying loudspeakers in Australia can be a daunting task. Our market offers virtually all of the world's brands. This means great choice for consumers, but if you're the patriotic type, Australia is home to many of the world's best manufacturers, too.
Osborn Loudspeakers, a one-man show founded in Melbourne in the early 1980s, has sold more than 3500 pairs of its locally designed and manufactured speakers to more than 16 countries. It was even chosen by the Sultan of Brunei after his advisers travelled the world seeking out the best. A pair of Osborn's finest will set you back $22,000.
KARRI Acoustic, a Western Australian start-up, offers a range of unique “dipole” loudspeakers featuring Australian hardwoods. The Nullaki is a floor-standing loudspeaker that interacts with the acoustics of the room by featuring an exposed rear chamber of the midrange driver and tweeter, unlike traditional sealed or bass reflex enclosures.
The result is a natural ambience, stage depth and width to die for, and an engaging musical experience. KARRI ships its speakers to your door for $6595.
One of our greatest success stories is Adelaide's VAF Research, founded in 1978. It has sold tens of thousands of loudspeakers around the globe. Its Signature I93 floor-standing loudspeaker starts at about $13,000. It was hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as: “The ultimate in high fidelity performance with the best bass in the world.”
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to loudspeaker selection. It's a personal choice, and, with a little research, buyers on even the tightest budget will find the model best serving their needs. Most importantly, the output or capability of loudspeakers needs to be matched to the size of the room and the amount of amplifier power you have. Only then can you make purchase decisions based on the type of sound you like best.
But what about those who want the best? What if the room size didn't matter and the amplifiers are part of the speaker system, all working as one?
Enter Melbourne's Kyron Audio and its Kronos loudspeaker system. Bursting on to the scene in 2011, owners Lee Gray and Leon Suter were both professional musicians with a strong desire to create systems that could reproduce music truer to life than anything else available.
The result is a complete integrated package including speakers, six amplifiers, cables and professional installation, for $121,000. Built to order and taking about 16 weeks to finish, the system is assembled by hand and finished to an impeccable level of detail.
Kronos is a three-way, active dipole loudspeaker system featuring two 12-inch woofers, a 7-inch mid-woofer and a front and a rear firing 1-inch tweeter. It uses state-of- the-art digital signal processing and amplification, delivered and tuned specifically to the room.
If that's not enough, there is a bigger brother named Gaia, featuring speakers weighing more than 200 kilograms each with double the number of drivers. It costs about $249,000.
The great news is that the Kronos system has been racking up numerous awards for sound and design locally and internationally, reinforcing our country's great reputation in hi-fi. I've heard them, more than once, and owning them is firmly planted on this audiophile's bucket list.
Don't be lured into exotic international brands when considering your next loudspeaker purchase. Australia can hold its own.
Originally published in The Age Green Guide (October 7, 2015). Republished with permission.