This review originally appeared in Sound+Image magazine, Australian sister publication to What Hi-Fi?. Click here for more information on Sound+Image, including digital editions and details on how you can subscribe.
It’s very lucky that Krix is a privately-owned Australian company. If Krix had been a normal company, the original Neuphonix design might never have seen the light of day, and this MkII would then never have existed.
Most loudspeaker companies are market-driven, which means they build what their customers want. And the sad truth is that most people don’t want large, heavy loudspeaker cabinets and might not see the point of having five drivers in each cabinet, and most especially any need for eight bass drivers.
But because Krix has Scott Krix at the helm, and he knows that in order to build a great-sounding speaker, it will have to be large, heavy and have four expensive bass drivers in each cabinet, plus a midrange driver and also a tweeter… well that’s what gets built! It’s not for nothing that on the rear of each speaker you’ll find the slogan ‘made with passion in Australia’.
Drivers & design
The reason for using four bass drivers rather than the usual one or two is quite simple: bigger, deeper and more powerful bass.
So why don’t all manufacturers do it? Firstly, see above. Secondly, it’s around four times the cost of a loudspeaker using a single bass driver. Third, it means having to use a much larger cabinet.
Using four bass drivers doesn’t only give bigger, deeper and more powerful bass. Because they’re in a single line, they also become what’s known in professional sound reinforcement industry (an industry in which Krix is a market leader) as a ‘line array’, the benefit of which is that coherent coupling between the drivers results in a uniform sound pressure distribution over the distance in front of the speaker. The line array also minimises vertical dispersion down to substantially low frequencies, which means fewer room reﬂections, which in turn means better sound.
But there’s more! Four voice coils are able to dissipate heat faster and more effectively than one or two voice-coils, which has the immediate effect of increasing power handling capacity while banishing the spectre of thermally-induced dynamic compression.
There’s also the fact that because four drivers are sharing the work usually done by one or two, the cones therefore don’t have to work as hard, so they get to move in the most linear part of their operating range which means... less distortion.
The Krix Neuphonix Mk2 is a true three-way loudspeaker. In all two-way loudspeakers and in most 2.5-way loudspeakers, the bass drivers also produce the midrange sound, which means midrange sound must be affected by the cone moving to reproduce bass… a problem known as Doppler distortion.
In a three-way such as the Neuphonix MkII the midrange driver operates completely independently, so the motion of its cone is completely unaffected by that of the four bass drivers. To make doubly sure it can’t be affected, designer Scott Krix has also fixed a sealed enclosure behind the midrange driver.
The tweeter is from Danish manufacturer Scan-Speak: a model from its ‘Revelator’ series. It’s a 25mm dual concentric diaphragm model with a symmetrical drive neodymium motor system, a non-resonant aluminium rear chamber and a patented phase-plug design.
Another thing we like about Krix’s attitude to speakers is how they know what’s truly required to build a home cinema package from speakers that may be being used for stereo music.
When it comes to centre-channel speakers, what you really need is one that’s a perfect – and we mean perfect! – acoustic match for your main front left and right speakers. You wouldn’t dream of buying a left speaker from one manufacturer and a different one for your right, would you?
Yet that’s what often happens with centre speakers, even though the centre channel does a vital role in movie soundtracks. In a normal two-channel system you have two loudspeakers combining to produce a central image; in a home theatre system, the centre channel has to do it all on its own.
So now you know why Krix’s Epicentrix MkII centre-channel speaker (pictured above) is so large, and why it costs $2795. Available in the same black ash, Atlantic Jarrah and Blackwood finishes, it is designed to be also a perfect sonic match with the Neuphonix MkII – because that’s what you need to get great centre-channel sound. It’s also shows why most speaker manufacturers are not game to provide proper-sized centre channel speakers for their large floorstanding offerings and instead offer wimpy little centres that aren’t up to the task.
Drivers: 26mm dual concentric tweeter, 130mm coated paper cone, 4 x 130mm coated paper cones
Quoted frequency response: 35Hz-40kHz in-room
Nominal impedance: 6 ohms (4.9 ohms min)
Dimensions (whd): 104.6 x 22.5 x 40.5cm including grille
Regarding positioning the Neuphonix, we found bass was perfectly balanced against the midrange when the speakers were around two metres from the rear walls, but we kind of liked the slight increase in bass level and warmth that we heard when they were around 10cm from the wall, so be aware that wall proximity will affect bass balance. The soft rubber feet on the Neuphonix make positioning easy, as well as being non-damaging to your flooring.
The Neuphonix MkIIs are speakers that suit big rooms really, really well, with that quasi ‘line-array’ of the bass drivers projecting the bass smoothly throughout the room and the design of the midrange and tweeter ensuring fantastic sonic performance no matter whether you’re listening directly on-axis or almost anywhere off-axis.
The bass is powerful, superbly deep and so real-sounding that these are speakers just beg to be turned up to live-sound levels and, if you give in to that temptation, you’ll find you can wind up the volume without any signs of overload or distortion. We just loved how it delivered the bass and drums on Fleetwood Mac’s wonderful track Emerald Eyes (from ‘Mystery to Me’), where the bass was beautifully taut, and despite the almost-staccato picking we could instantly hear the pitch of each and every note.
We were equally captivated by the purity of the Neuphonix MkII’s midrange sound. This purity is most audible when listening to female singers, where vocal lines come through totally clean, which gives them a ‘punch’ that’s completely effective in elevating the entire musical performance. We listened to Janis Joplin’s Misery’n, a track on which she demonstrates the full gamut of her prestigious vocal abilities. The Neuphonix MkII let us hear how skilfully she changes the timbre of her voice depending on whether she wants to sing ‘sweet’, sing ‘raspy’, or just out-and-out scream… as well as everything in-between.
If you’re in the ‘sweet spot’, the sound-staging delivered by the Neuphonix MkIIs is totally luxurious, while the high-frequency sound itself is silken-smooth, with no audible discontinuities. It’s also at reference level in the upper-most octave, which means we heard exactly the same ‘air’ around the high-frequencies that we hear when listening to speakers selling at ten times the price.
Also worth considering if you might later extend to multi-channel, Krix has you sorted with that matching Epicentrix MkII (above).
If you’re after true high-fidelity speakers, Krix top-of-the-line Neuphonix MkII floorstanders are stunning performers, as well as pleasingly Australian designed, owned and built; we reckon they remain remarkable value.