The Knight’s from the Castle:
Castles are heritage British speakers from the 1970s, now owned by IAG (whose portfolio includes the Wharfedale and Quad loudspeakers). The speakers are manufactured in China including in-house manufacture of drive units. The Knight 2 bookshelves are two-way rear vented speakers comprising of a textile dome tweeter, which the manufacturer claims provide a better high frequency experience, and a 150mm mid/bass unit.
Though their front face measures a nominal 380mmX200mm, they are surprisingly deep at 335mm. This will mean you would need some room at the back during placement. The speakers come with a real wood veneer and good quality finish, but the two tone colour finish is likely to polarize views and WAF.
The Knight 2s are rated at high sensitivity (90db/W/m) indicative of relatively easy amplifier pairing. They worked splendidly with my moderately powered Leben 300xs (15wpc) validating their sensitivity rating. However they seemed to like higher power solid state as well.
Given the depth of the speakers, and the rear port, some distance from the back wall is recommended – a couple of feet would be adequate, but too close to the wall muddies up the bass. I also preferred the speaker with toe-in towards me – not necessarily equilateral triangle, but this improved the frequency balance and soundstage somewhat.
The Knights in Shining Armor!
This is one musical loudspeaker! There is a delicacy to its sound that belies its price class, and solidity to the sound that belies its dimension class! Listen to Ella Fitzgerald Standards – Verve and the emotional impact of the voice is well captured. The album starts with Lady be good, and right from the first shimmering strings, it is an emotional ride. Listen to King Curtis’ Soul Meeting -Prestige, and you are swept away by the music and weight of the instruments – the bass sounds good, the harmonics well presented and the cymbals sound real without size.
The presentation though is laid back and does not have the jump factor. Whether it is good or bad, it depends on your taste – I prefer it! Using an AudiolabM-DAC dac and Audiolab 8200A integrated amplifier, when compared to the higher priced Wharfdale Jade and Wharfdale Denton speakers, you could see that in hifi terms, these speakers were not as exciting. The sister speakers seem to throw more detail at you, with greater joie de vivre. However, for longer term listening, definitely preferred the sound of the Castle Knight 2. Ella Fitzgerald’s voice and the voices from Gardiner’s (with Montverdi choir) Bach – Famous Bach Choruses – Archiv were much more natural. This extended to the tympani strokes as well.
Where the Castle Knight 2 was much better was in capturing the tone and textures of instruments, and with acoustic music – be it jazz or orchestral classical, it made a fine musical speaker. For example, in Martha Argerich/Mischa Maisky – Schubert Sonata for Arpeggione and Schumann – Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 – Philips CD, the music was most resolving with Jade and exciting with the Denton (listen to the breathing of the musicians in Schumann’s Vanitas vanitatum (Mit Humor), so very hifi thrilling) – but ultimately, it was more musical through the Knights. The Jade speakers seemed to smooth the sound over a bit, though they were more resolving. The Denton’s presentation was exciting, but ultimately, lacking in gravitas. The bass was also relatively sluggish, but of good quality which more than made for the shortcoming.
Change the amp to the Leben 300XS (with NOS Telefunken 12AX7 and RCA EL84s), much of the richness came through, with the right amount of warmth and shimmer. Duke Ellingtons’ Such Sweet Thunder – Columbia Legacy had an image which was well spread out, with instrument interplay presented in a way that allowed you to get into the music.
For the asking price of INR 40,000 (excluding stands), this is a special speaker – one you should audition before you buy anything else at or above its price range. It is not immediately going to grab you during audition, but keep them on for a while and you will find them a far cry from the “ching ching” hifi sound that goes at this price range
- IAG Ltd., United Kingdom
- Castle KNIGHT 2, Loudspeakers
- Distributor: Designer Audio, Mumbai
- Price: ₹40,000.00/Pair
- Matching stands available
- DAC: Audiolab M-DAC
- Amps: Leben 300xs/Audiolab 8200A
- CD players: Pioneer DVD player
- Cables: Symphonic Line, Mogami, Oyaide, Hitachi, Morrow