KingSound Queen II loudspeakers

10.05.2012..

If you think to something hybrid among different species of the same gender, what comes into your mind is an animal. Wrong. We are not thinking to an animal, but to a well performing hybrid speaker.

KingSound is a cutting-edge company still unknown to the Italian high-end market. Its rich and interesting catalogue is principally oriented to hybrid and non-hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers.

I want to spend a couple of words on the company from Honk Kong. As happened in the 80’s to Japan, China is considered today, for better or for worse, like a Holy Land. For some years now, in the hi-fi and – why not – in the high-end world, China has been standing out with products that are gradually improved and show great quality, a maniacal care in design and manufacture and well performing too.

KingSound retails with success in many countries and now is proposing its catalogue in Italy: so far an essential catalogue, but thanks to the initiative of the Italian importer, it promises to become complete very soon.

Today we will review the KingSound Queen II – the entry-level speaker of the company – that features an electrostatic mid-high section and a bass section made up of two dynamic reflex loaded woofers. Speaking of electrostatic speakers together with traditional transducers can raise some doubts. Approaching two different typologies of drivers is not easy, mostly when the mid-high part is electrostatic and normal dynamic drivers compose the bass part.

What is more interesting of this loudspeaker is the electrostatic panel. To realize it, KingSound has lavished for years its energies in technical researches, tests and experiments.

 

Manufacture

The electrostatic panel is called unit-type because is divided into multiple small pieces, and all these different modules have different dimensions.

These sub panels operate as they were a unique normal panel divided into frequencies ranges from 600 Hz to 22.000 Hz.

The next question is: how does an electrostatic loudspeaker work?

Quoting from KingSound website:

“The electrostatic loudspeaker is very simple in concept, but difficult to construct successfully in practice. Its operation relies on electrostatic attraction and repulsion, in much the same way as a piece of thin paper attracted to a rubber balloon that is charged by rubbing it against fabric. The electrically charged ultra-thin conductive film diaphragm is tensioned and placed close between two metal grids. When a high voltage audio signal is applied to the metal grids, the diaphragm moves in response to the signal, moving towards the grid, which at that instant is oppositely charged, and away from the grid, which has the same charge as the diaphragm. The diaphragm responds in an essentially linear manner, producing sound waves which are a very accurate reproduction of the original sound”.

KingSound’s unit-type system is capable of rounding off the cancellation of phase that is typical of all electrostatic panels, to the benefit of the coherence in the playback. The Queen II electrostatic panel is 22 cm wide and 43 cm high and reproduces the frequencies, as I told before, from 600 Hz to 22.000 Hz. Below this range they are handled by a dynamic load given by a midwoofer that is fine-tuned with a passive speaker and a reflex port.

The power handling is 200W but with a sensitivity of only 84 dB and a frequency response from 40 Hz to 22.000 Hz.

The finish is very elegant. The Queen II seem two black monoliths with a thin natural solid wood chassis all along the sides. They have a slender silhouette with a bevelled chassis, that is skillfully lacquered in black grand piano paint and that constitutes the acoustic loading of the two traditional drivers.

The company provides two power supply units, essential for the operation of the electrostatic loudspeakers.

The input clamps predisposed for the biwiring are over dimensioned and of good quality. The gold plated jumpers are in line with the product but, as always, we suggest changing them with more valuable pieces (cable and connectors, Ed.).

It has been impossible to open the loudspeaker due to the presence of many screws and adhesive. Therefore, I have not been able to reach the two woofers that, I think, are made on the company’s specs.

Peeking in the IEC socket, I see connections with Shusong cables and very good voltage transformers coated with insulation material.

A small piece of advice if you use an electrostatic panel. Pay attention to the humidity. The panels produce electrostatic sparks at high volumes. Do not be afraid but, in order to avoid these troubles, try to safeguard the speaker by keeping it in dry and ventilated places.

 

Listening test

I bet you are asking how the Queen II perform.

I have placed the loudspeakers at about 2.5 meters from the back wall and 60 cm from the sidewalls. If you want to obtain a good acoustic assessment, you have to set with care the listening spot.

For the first test, I have chosen my DIY Vivaldi preamp (Schiavon’s design), the dual mono Oblivion 211 tube power amps, the CDP-XA50ES player modified in its output stage, YYW power cables, MIT Shotgun S1 Proline and DIY Ramm Audio Elite 200 signal cables.

As I told before, the loudspeakers have been set with great care to find the right listening position and to avoid a blurred image: something that can happen with the electrostatic loudspeakers if you do not consider the listener’s position. Try to stand up during the listening session and you will notice a great loss of detail.

The first CD I have played was Patricia Barber’s Cafe Blue, that was recorded pretty well in 1994. Immediately Barber’s voice is there, in front of me, with her piano and her low and concrete voice. The notes come one after the other while her band displays an intense spacing out of double-bass and snare drum strokes. The scene is wide enough but the soundstages do not convince me; it is as some “body” is lacking.

I try to turn up the volume, but nothing happens for the low sensitivity of the loudspeakers. I decide to insert the Krell KSA 250 power amp. The sound takes form and there is an increasing in depth, width and height of the image. The grand piano is now of the right proportions and, focussed a bit behind the imaginary stage line, Patricia is there. I clearly see her fingers on the black and white keyboard and the definition of the detail is very high. The bass is now a bit too aggressive but still controlled. I change the preamp with a solid state one. Here I understand that the KingSound speakers need a lot of current and dynamics to perform at best. I listen to the soloist guitar of Don Ross, a unique artist in his precise fingerstyle and, at the same time, very quick with his fingers that play in arpeggio. The contrast of the stopping on the chords and the wooden and resonating splendour of the sounding board is of great appeal.

With Diana Krall’s jazz, the drums are bright, almost palpable, like the pedals of the piano which are quite annoying in their almost factual reproduction. With classical music, weak point of many audio systems, the Queen II give a very good photo of the orchestra, picturing the correct soundstages. The listener is not in a front-row seat, though. The virtual stage is the typical one of the fifth/sixth row of a theatre, but the instruments are all there. The rock music, the only drawback of these loudspeakers, leaves you a bit dumbfounded: there is a lack of sound importance when I play a CD by the Coldplay and the music starts to ask for energy. The Queen II, here, cannot interact at best with the sound message. They are not so much involving and what stands out is their proneness for perfectly quiet listening sessions focussed around soloist instruments, better if acoustic ones. I have also tested them with the EAM Lab HA 300 power amp: a very powerful gear made by a Milanese manufacturer, which I am going to review very soon for ReMusic. The Queen II show their best skills with an audio system capable of supplying lots of current and of being enough neutral in the high range. Do not forget of taking in particular care the listening position and, of course, the correct setting of the speakers in your listening room. I have tested these loudspeakers under several conditions and I advise against inveterate rockers or owners of amplifications with not many watts. I still heartily advise them to who usually listens to acoustic jazz, vocal and classical music. A personal comment: they remind me my dear and now sold Martin Logan loudspeakers.

 

Conclusions

KingSound has made a good job with the Queen II loudspeaker, which belongs to a wide range of electrostatic models. Hard, it sucks lots of current but, put it in the best conditions to perform and it gives you hours of fulfilling listening. These new unit-type electrostatic panels, which have been designed and realized using the nanotechnology, together with the dynamic drivers offer an ideal interfacing without any interruption in the frequencies. Thanks to their well-refined chassis, the Queen II fit with the furniture, making your wife happy. Then you have just to seat, at the right height of course, and let yourselves be cuddled by the music. Happy listening….

 

Official technical specifications:

Frequency response: 40Hz÷22KHz

Sensitivity: 84dB/1W/1m

Impedance: 6 Ohms

Crossover frequency: 600Hz

ESL: 220x435 mm (WxH)

Woofer: diameter 135 mm

Power: (min/max): 60/200 Watt (mus.)

Power supply: 11/15VDC-120 mA (incl.)

Dimensions: 281x1210x316 mm (WxHxD)

Weight: 18kg

Official Italian dealer: to Import Audio website

Official current price in Italy: 3,200.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Mauro "OutliNero" Simolo's system

 
by Mauro Simolo
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