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Kan Sound Lab Mewon TS-001 ribbon super tweeter Review

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Initial suspicions

One afternoon I find myself sitting in my listening chair, listening to music playing from my main audio setup. The only new things are two 10-lb 111/130/192 (H/W/D) mm boxes sitting on the floor next to my Vivid Audio Giya G1. Nonetheless, I’m thinking to myself “What the heck just happened?!”

The two little boxes on the floor were super tweeters, and before we fired up the music, I was wondering why I had agreed to waste time auditioning them. Of course, I didn’t really think it was a waste of time. After all, George Vatchnadze of Kyomi Audio — and a world renowned concert pianist — had the best set of ears for good sound that I’ve personally encountered, and he insisted that I should give these things a listen. It’s just that my Vivid G1s tend to be a tad “hot” at the top end to begin with, and I assumed that adding a super tweeter would either a) make the top end of the Giya unbearably shrill or b) do absolutely nothing at all, given the fact that at my age I’m lucky to experience anything above 15kHz. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

How did I get here?

Some background is appropriate at this time. Several years ago I reached the point where I had built out a custom listening room and dialed in my main home system pretty well. I can’t overemphasize the importance of the room and power. Things were sounding quite good, and I was loath to constantly be taking components in and out, so I let most of my reviewing lapse in favor of privately tweaking my system. I started buying and reselling key pieces of equipment to find the best synergies. This not only ensured that I was not beholden to anyone who sent me equipment to review, but it also gave me the freedom to take as long as I wanted to evaluate the equipment.

Without getting into obnoxious detail, this process resulted in the following system, again, the room and power also being critical:

Server: Laufer-Teknik Memory Player

DAC: Bricasti M1 SE

DAC/Room Correction/Crossover: Legacy Audio Wavelet 2

Amp: Gryphon Antilleon EVO

Speakers: Vivid Audio G1 Giya (original version)

Power cords: Audio Magic The Natural (amp); Laufer-Teknik custom cable (DAC); Lessloss DFPC Reference (server)

Speaker Cable: Stealth Audio Dream (v.14) biwire

Interconnects: Lessloss Anchorwave

Digital Cables: Inakustik USB (server to DAC); Inakustik CAT6 (network cable)

Accessories: Synergistic Research Atmosphere XL w/Red ATM; HCTs; ECTs

Furniture: custom jatoba wood rack and amp stands.

Built-In and Freestanding Room Treatments: various

Power: 4 dedicated 20-amp grounded power circuits using noise-rejecting cable

This system is highly synergistic, and (even if I say so myself), sounds quite good.



System weaknesses

When compared to the ideal — the performance in the original recording venue — I felt that my main system had three principal weaknesses: a modest amount of non-linear bass, a bit of a “hot” top end, and limitations reproducing the ultimate sense of “live.” The first is completely due to room effects, even though I’ve done a large amount of room customization.

Fortunately, the bass issues are very minimal, and I also have the capability to deal with them by using the Legacy Audio Wavelet. The top end is a different question. Where the recording is very good, the brightness is mostly non-existent, but on average and poor recordings, the very top end can be shrill. Perversely, the shrillness has become less of an issue as my hearing has deteriorated with age. The third weakness — a truly live experience — will surprise some who have told me that my system is very realistic, but I have high standards. Other than these points, visitors coming for a listen say that my system/room hits all the right notes.


Who is Kan Sound Lab?

I haven’t been able to find much info about Kan Sound Lab (KSL), but I intend to follow up. As far as I can tell, it’s a Japanese company that started in 1992, focuses on tweeter/speaker technology, and only sells in Japan. Getting more info is complicated by the fact that I don’t speak or read Japanese, and KSL’s website doesn’t provide a huge amount for Google Translate to work with. However, I found enough info to conclude that the company makes no-compromise ribbon transducers for highly selective audio connoisseurs. Apparently, George Vatchnadze visited the company recently during a tour of Japan (George and his Japanese wife Kyomi are both concert pianists) and hopes to make KSL’s products available in the US. I hope to follow up after I get more background.


How to explain what the TS-001 does?

Over the years I think I’ve gotten reasonably good at describing the sound and character of particular recordings, rooms and components, but trying to describe the essence of what the TS-001 does has been very difficult. To be clear, the difficulty isn’t in discerning a significant improvement in my system. It’s in finding the right words to describe the improvement.

This difficulty is created by several factors. For one, the level of improvement in reproduction seems to partly be dependent on the particular recording being played. It’s not just that it has a very positive effect on good recordings, which it does. It’s that some, (perhaps 20%, of recordings I considered to be poor actually sound way better with the TS-001 in play. I have not experienced this in any other component reviews. Usually a positive change in one component in the reproduction chain makes good recordings sound better and bad recordings sound worse, or at best results in no change in sound quality.

A second and more substantial factor is that a description of the effect of the T-001 can’t be done accurately by simply describing an A-B comparison, where I listen to one component for a minute or two, then quickly switch to the component being evaluated. It’s more like completely changing out speakers, where substituting one top flight speaker for another requires extended listening for all of the characteristics of the speaker, such as treble, bass, midrange, dynamics, attack and decay, etc.

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