This is British Hi-Fi Week on What Hi-Fi?, and what better way to kick off than with some new loudspeakers that are designed, developed and manufactured right here in Blighty?
The Castle Windsor Series is a new range of loudspeakers that comprises the Duke and Earl models. They're the first Castle speakers for many years to be UK-made – taking advantage of parent company IAG's new 9000 square foot production facility in Huntingdon – with every critical part developed and manufactured in-house. But that doesn't mean they've cut any corners.
In fact, they're designed by world-renowned speaker designer Karl-Heinz Fink and his Fink Audio team. Yes, the same Karl-Heinz Fink who we awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award at the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022, and who we called "today's most influential speaker designer".
The Windsor Earl is slightly smaller than the Windsor Duke, but both feature very similar insides, including mid/bass cones made from a polypropylene-based material. This is precision-cut into strips, woven and then bonded together to form a solid foil, which is then pressed into shape and cut to size, producing a material with different properties of rigidity at different directions between the voice coil and the surround. This helps minimise resonances, creating a flatter response curve.
The cones' surrounds are made from low-hysteresis rubber which won't deteriorate over time, while the voice coils are made from glass fibre bonded with high-temperature resin, a material with a rigidity close to aluminium but without generating eddy currents to maintain signal purity.
The mid/bass drivers' magnet system also includes an aluminium compensation ring, which minimises impedance variations. Castle claims this will create an open and expressive midrange.
There's some clever engineering elsewhere, too. The treble unit's voice coil includes a copper cap which reduces distortion and intermodulation, creating more detail, while the cabinet's MDF panels are separated by a thin layer of specially engineered acoustic glue to dampen resonance in the midrange.
Rigidity at lower frequencies is achieved by point-to-point cabinet bracing. Both Windsor models use a 4th order LKR (Linkwitz-Riley) crossover which prevents distortion.
Finally, the wood-veneer finish is a hallmark of Castle's speakers. The Windsors' cabinets sport walnut or mahogany veneers sourced from sustainable timbers – only deep-figured slices are used, cut from real trees rather than reconstituted wood.
The Castle Windsor Earl cost £3850 per pair (£4250 with stands) while the Windsor Duke are £4500 (£5000 with stands). Internationally, they only ship with stands with the Windsor Earl costing $5250 / AU$8000 and the Duke retailing for $6250 / AU$9250.
Read our British Hi-Fi Week 2023 news, features and reviews (so far)