Kudos Audio Cardea C20 Loudspeaker Page 2

A slight toe-in – very slight – might help fix the stereo image if they must be used way apart, but in general they sound best when used in 'guardsman' mode, with eyes firmly front. Also, while that downward-venting port makes them less position-sensitive than most, the usual thinking on boundary-proximity should be followed – so avoid corners, or placing them equidistant from side and rear walls and you won't go far wrong. I'd even go so far as to say that setting up these speakers was a pleasure. I wouldn't quite say you can just plonk them down and they'll sound great, but that's not far off the truth.

What is beyond discussion is that the Cardea C20s, while from a brand possibly not appearing on the 'quick, name me five speaker companies' list, are well worth seeking out, as listening to them is an absolute riot. Just about everything you play through them has more spirit and verve than you'll be expecting, and whether you like listening deep into a recording or just revelling in the boogie factor to the point of cranking your system louder than is probably sensible, you won't come away disappointed. In fact, you probably won't come away at all, or at least for an extended period, so much will you be enjoying the sound of these C20s.

Funk It Up
Playing the latest Crowded House album, Dreamers Are Waiting [EMI 3534658], the initial impression of a slow-burning set soon gets to the listener, so well is the innovative songwriting and musicianship, plus of course Tim Finn's glorious voice, conveyed by the C20s. The album has a wonderfully immediate sound, and that's meat and drink to these floorstanders.


Kudos’ 1st-order LF/2nd-order HF crossover is connected via a single set of 4mm terminals and internal Kudos KS-1 cabling. Crossover is not split, so neither bi-wiring nor bi-amping is supported

Switch to the southern rock of Blackberry Smoke's current album, You Hear Georgia [3 Legged Records 3LG14CD], and the C20s really unleash the boogie factor, with great slabs of thundering rhythm underpinning the driving guitars and powerful vocals of Charlie Starr. Hey, stop analysing what the speakers are doing and just immerse yourself in the music – that's what they'll have you doing just about whatever you choose to play. So here, from the shuffling funk of 'Hey Delilah' to the winsomely downbeat 'Old Enough To Know', the album simply flies by, the smiles of enjoyment growing ever-wider.

So, just a great rock speaker, then? Not in the least. Play soprano Kate Lindsey's recording of Scarlatti's 'Il Nerone', her soaring voice accompanied by a subtle continuo [from Tiranno; Alpha Classics ALPHA 736], and it's hard not to be captivated by the way the vocal hangs absolutely stable in space, with the instruments delivered with warmth and precision in equal measure. And the same goes when you up the scale of the musical forces with the recent Malmo Symphony Orchestra/Marc Soustrot 'boxing up' of the complete Saint-Saëns symphonies [Naxos 8503301, and a complete bargain at about £15 for the three-disc set].

Grand Slam
Unleash the third symphony through the C20s and I defy you not to be thrilled with the crisp detail of the orchestra and the great crashing weight of the organ from which the work takes its soubriquet. The orchestra has power enough in the opening movement, but when those big bass pipes start energising the air in the concert hall, the sheer slam of these speakers down in the bass, and the tinkling piano above, are equally breathtaking. What's more, they manage all this exuberance and brio with total control, not even hardening up when the devil on your shoulder mutters 'Wonder what that would sound like a bit louder…?'.

Common sense tells me that speakers this compact really shouldn't sound so weighty, wide-open and totally compelling, let alone do so across a wide range of musical styles and partnering amplification. Clearly no-one told Kudos about common sense.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The simple verdict? For all their compact size, understated engineering and refined styling, these are quite possibly the most sensationally rewarding way to spend under £5000 on a pair of speakers right now. The brand's 'music first' design philosophy is right up there as soon as you start to use them, they'll work with a wide range of amps, and they're room-friendly enough to be used almost anywhere.

Kudos Audio
County Durham
Supplied by: Kudos Audio
0138 841 7177