With the new S20 floorstander you get audiophile-grade internal components, excellent build quality and meticulous pair matching
In 2012 Kudos introduced the £3500 Cardea Super 10 [HFN June ’12], a go-for-broke ‘supercharged’ version of the company’s 12 litre two-way standmount. Now the company has followed up with a ‘Super’ version of its Cardea C20 floorstander.
Kudos has worked extensively with SEAS in developing specific drivers for its various speaker models, the Super 20 employing the 29mm ‘Crescendo K2’ soft dome tweeter first introduced in the £13,000 Kudos Titan T88 flagship.
The bass/mid driver in the Super 20 is a newly-developed version of the SEAS 18cm unit with hand-treated paper cone. It’s upgraded with copper shorting rings in its voice coil, designed to reduce eddy currents and minimise odd-order harmonics, along with an aluminium phase plug to act as a heatsink.
The aim of the Cardea designs is that the drivers should integrate as seamlessly as possible, requiring only a simple low-order crossover. As in the Super 10, crossover components in the Super 20 are individually tested and hand selected during assembly. These include Mundorf inductors and resistors and ‘Supreme’ [silver/gold/oil] capacitors.
The enclosure is extremely rigid, formed of 18mm high density MDF with extensive bracing and internal damping with various [unspecified] compounds to minimise resonance, with a reflex port venting at the bottom of the cabinet.
The enclosure ‘floats’ visually above a stabilising plinth which provides a fixed boundary gap for the downward-firing port. The plinth is a rigid tri-laminate structure of steel, damping compound and MDF.
Sounding best when heard slightly off-axis, the Super 20 is very much a chip off the old block: just like its smaller Super 10 brother it sounds buoyant and engaging, its strength in the presence region making its music delivery highly communicative. We played Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden [Parlophone], the dark and haunting atmosphere of the track ‘Desire’ sounding particularly spacious thanks to the speakers’ vivid balance.
The organ and guitar sounded deliciously authentic, the percussive embellishments highly resolved in this recording’s artificially spacious sound image. The low frequency grumblings created by the loosely-skinned drum and deep bass notes were served up with commendable weight by this compact floorstander.
The Super 20 does seem to slightly accentuate the leading edges of transients, acoustic guitars having a bit more of a ‘stringy’ and slightly less ‘wooden body’ type of balance than some listeners might prefer. This could be observed with the duelling guitars of Acoustic Alchemy’s Nick Webb and Greg Carmichael on the title track of the duo’s Reference Point album [GRP], the speakers’ forward presence bestowing a rather hyped sound that accentuated the squeak of fingers on strings and fretboards.
Kudos’ new S20 floorstander is quite an expensive proposition. But you get audiophile-grade internal components, excellent build quality and meticulous pair matching. It’s a loudspeaker that is indeed a little bit special.
Originally published in the 2013 Yearbook
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