Musician Audio Knight loudspeakers by Terry London
After publishing my Living Sound Audio (LSA) Signature 50 loudspeaker review (here), a smashing bargain at $599/pair, I was bombarded with a slew of emails requesting I review a new speaker, the Knight 1, from a small boutique company called Musician Audio. Either these readers owned a pair of the Knight 1 speakers and were enthralled with them or had seen online reviews about this two-way, stand-mount design. Part of their overall excitement was that a pair of Knight 1 speakers retail for $1,499.95 plus shipping (by sea, $200, which takes about 4 to 6 weeks to deliver, or $400, which shortens the delivery time to 2 weeks). The owners and the professional reviews claimed that the Knight 1 speakers competed with two-way stand mount designs that cost up to $7,000/pair based on build quality, physical appearance, and, most importantly, performance. As the readers of my reviews already know, I derive great pleasure in finding great gear at sane prices.
I contacted Arthur Power, owner of Power-Holdings, Inc., the U.S. distributor for Musician Audio in North America, to see if he wanted to set up a StereoTimes review on the Knight 1 speakers. Arthur was interested in doing a review and contacted Musician Audio, who sent him a demo pair. He put some hours on them for burn-in and then shipped them to me. I have reviewed speakers that cost up to $40,000, and their packaging paled compared to the quality of the inserts, the thickness of the shipping carton, and the plush velvet bags provided to protect the beautiful piano lacquered, perfectly matched red horse-eye wood veneer during shipping. I do not purchase stereo equipment based on physical appearance. Of course, I’d rather have a piece of aesthetically attractive gear, but the most important aspects for me are always performance and build quality. Lastly would be physical appearance. However, I must admit that the Musician Audio Knight 1 speakers might be the most drop-dead-gorgeous-looking stand mount speakers, regardless of price, that I have ever seen. Their pentahedron (five-sided) sculptured front baffle and hand-applied 18 layers of lacquer over a striking red horse-eye wood veneer add up to a world-class level of visual beauty. I also found out that Musician Audio is a highly regarded OEM of speaker enclosures. They build beautiful and acoustically inert speaker cabinets for many highly acclaimed companies worldwide.
Each Musician Audio Knight 1 speaker weighs a robust 35 pounds. The Knight 1 measures 10” in width, 15” in depth, and 13” in height. Musician Audio designs and builds their drivers in-house. They are quite “tight-lipped” regarding answering questions about their drivers. The following is what I could gain regarding information about the two drivers. The 6 ½” midrange/woofer is composed of a type of polymer material and has a huge magnet system. The 1” inch tweeter is a soft dome design composed of a 28-core/layer silk dome with a special glue coating and a front-loaded acoustic lens. The Knight 1 speaker’s sensitivity is 86dB. The nominal impedance is 4 Ohms. The frequency response is 50Hz to 20KHz. Based on my listening experience, I believe that the 50Hz rating is a very conservative measure. The bass extension goes down much further in my large acoustic loft space and is accurate, and packs a punch on all music genres. No pair of subwoofers is necessary unless you are a bass freak. Around the back is where the port is located, along with a single pair of very high-quality single crystal copper gold-plated speaker cable binding posts.
The Musician Audio Knight 1 speakers were placed in my upstairs loft system, where I reviewed all stand-mount speakers. They were placed 3 ½’ off the front wall. Because the Knight 1 is a rear-ported design, bringing them closer to the front wall will make them muddied in the lower frequencies. They were 4 ½’ off the side walls and placed 6’ apart with a slight toe-in. After much experimentation with solid-state and tube-based amplifiers, I concluded that the most superlative performance to be gained with the Knight 1 speakers was with my beefy (in watts/current) solid-state amplifiers, such as the Coda #16, Threshold 550e, and SPL 1200.
Instead of using my go-to individual test recordings to reveal the details of the performance of the Musician Audio Knight 1 speakers, I’d instead share that I threw all types of musical genres (acoustic/electric jazz, big band music, urban blues, reggae, symphonic, intimate vocals, funk/techno, salsa/Latin and hip-hop) to get my take of what this speaker has to offer any listener.
Here are the details of why the Musician Audio Knight 1 speaker is a tremendously enjoyable transducer that does compete with much more expensive stand mount designs in today’s market.
From top to bottom, this is a very balanced and linear design. The Knight 1 presents the music almost like a planar speaker in that there is a seamless integration between the drivers, so all frequencies flow into one musical whole.
- Like all great two-way designs, the Knight 1 creates and disappears into a large (front to back and side to side) soundstage. Then it adds three wonderful aspects to the spatiality of its three-dimensional sound staging. First, “meat on the bones” image density to each individual player on that soundstage. Secondly, precise placement with air between the individual instruments. Thirdly, unlike other stand-mounts, it does not minimize or shrink the height of the soundstage but accurately produces it.
- The Musician Audio Knight 1 speaker is an extremely fast design that I experience as “aliveness.” Some people refer to PRAT (pace, rhythm, and timing) that engages you into the music. Yet, this “aliveness” is conveyed with an overall effortlessness and liquidity that never becomes edgy or fatiguing.
- The most crucial aspect of my taste is how a speaker deals with timbres and tonality. If it does not naturally and accurately convey these sonic traits, I find it very irritating and gets in my way of enjoying the music. The Knight 1, if not dead neutral, might be slightly warm but renders pristine/beautiful tonality and colors if they are on the recordings.
- The Musician Audio Knight 1 tweeter might be the best high-end frequency transducer I have experienced compared to all the different tweeters I have heard in other highly regarded two-way designs. The decays, the natural shimmers, micro-details that explode into the air, yet this tweeter never became harsh, brittle, or metallic in its presentation. If you play a bright/in-your-face/hot recording, you will hear it. However, if you play anything relatively well recorded, you will be rewarded with a beautiful but integrated top-end.
Even if the Musician Audio Knight 1 speaker were physically unattractive, I would highly recommend it for the reasons I stated above regarding its superlative sonic strengths. Excellent overall dynamics, which lead to toe-tapping “aliveness,” pristine tonality/timbres, reference level soundstaging, an airy natural detailed top-end, and powerful extended bass frequencies support my conclusion this is a great music maker. Then, add on the Knight 1 speaker’s gorgeous physical appearance and a price tag of fewer than two thousand dollars, and you might say this is a hell of a bargain! By the way, I needed another pair of stand-mount speakers like a hole in the head. However, I purchased the demo pair because I wanted them in my stable of great but inexpensive monitors to rotate in my loft system.
Specifications: Musician Audio
Address: Baiyun District
Website: MUSICIAN (musician-audio.com)
Telephone: +1(772) 775-5737
711 Nugentown Rd
Tuckerton, NJ, 08087
Pass Labs DAC-1
Audio Note UK 4.1 Signature DAC
Pro-Ject reference CD transport & Linear Tube Audio power supply
CEC-3 belt-driven transport
Coda FET 07x preamplifier
Coda #16 amplifier
SPL s1200 amplifier
SPL Elector preamplifier
Threshold 550e amplifier AricAudio Motherlode MKIII preamplifier
AricAudio Super SET 300B amplifier
Tekton Design Ulberth & Perfect Set
NSMT Model 100
NSMT active bandpass subwoofers (pair)
LSA Signature 50 speakers
Black Cat Cables- Digit 110 AES/EBU-3202 XLR interconnects
Kirmuss Audio Adrenaline speaker wire
Krolo Design reference rack & footers
Puritan Audio conditioner & circuit grounding system
Audio Archon power cords
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