Lu Kang Audio Spoey230 Loudspeaker Page 2

The speakers, says Lu Kang Audio, have been 'designed to work within any environment (within reason)', although Whole Note Distribution suggests a 50cm clearance from rear and side walls as a minimum. Following this guidance, and with the cabinets approximately 2.5m apart, I didn't even get into toe-in experimentation – the imaging was thrillingly on point from the get-go.

sqnote Artisan Audio
These artisan speakers deliver an insightful, expansive performance without a trace of a rough edges. They have obvious immediate strengths – low frequencies, as one might expect given the cabinet size and ported bass/mid unit staring you in the face, have extravagant depth coupled with a purity of output, while the resolution and sense of space at the other end of the frequency band is captivating. As said earlier, they seem to image without effort, too, building a soundstage with depth and width that lets you visualise instrument placement with precision. But against these positive traits there's a laidback feel to the sound that renders it suited to some musical genres more than others. Never is the Spoey230 inclined to go on the attack – a subjective viewpoint borne out by PM's Lab Report, suggesting the performance of this top-of-the-range standmount is more fine wine than fizzy pop...

In The Spotlight
The Cult's Electric album [CD; Sire 9 25555-2] found the post-punk act transformed into a UK version of AC/DC, by way of a stripped-back production from Rick Rubin. Standout track 'Lil Devil' is about as sparse as it gets, giving the Lu Kang Audio pair little to do. It had no trouble unpicking detail, such as the sparkling tambourine that occupies stage right, or the grit in Ian Astbury's vocal. Furthermore, the simplistic drum accompaniment sounded tightly timed, intertwining with the eighth-note bassline.

Yet while the riffing guitar should be the star of the show here, biting and snarling, via the heavyweight Spoey230s it sounded curiously polite. Raising the volume helped, pushing the speakers to be more aggressive, but only to a point – I still wanted a little more midband energy to accompany my 1980s rock 'n' roll.

Naturally, I found other tracks to be more in the speaker's comfort zone, and began to appreciate its astute handling of complex, nuanced material. The varied percussion of 'Graceland', from the 25th Anniversary Edition release of the eponymous album [via Tidal HD] benefited from the clarity, detail and snap of the speaker's far-reaching tweeter just as Donna Summer's disco anthem 'Hot Stuff' [Tidal HD] was funky and infectious.


Portrait Of Sound
It's the Spoey230's lavish imaging that is its calling card, however, the cabinets locking in step to paint an artful picture of the music. In Led Zeppelin's 'Heartbreaker' [Led Zeppelin II; Atlantic 28930313], when everything stops to make way for Jimmy Page's one-take guitar solo, he was placed dead-centre on a wide stage, notes reverberating left and right. 'Rock On', from David Essex's 1973 album of the same name [Tidal HD], has a more overt stereo mix that the Spoey230's slid into, delivering details beyond the speakers' boundaries and drum fills that rolled from one to the other. The large cabinets seemed entirely disconnected from the soundscape I was enjoying, a recurring theme throughout my listening – and vocals stood out as a result.

This track also highlighted the system's natural handling of orchestral instruments. Jeff Wayne's arrangement for 'Rock On' features interplay between strings, woodwind and brass, which all sounded tonally delicious and distinct, particularly the violin that soared higher and higher without becoming thin. A run-through of James Horner's 'For The Love Of A Princess' [Braveheart OST; Tidal HD] seemed even more in tune with the Spoey230's voicing, conveying both the layered nature of the LSO's performance and its depth and weight.

All About The Bass
Speaking of depth, Lu Kang's promise of a 'thunderous bass' both oversells the Spoey230's dynamic ability (it's refined rather than rambunctious) and undersells its deft handling of the low-end. True, the deliberately voluminous low-frequency swells on Nelly's hip-hop title track [Country Grammar; Tidal HD] benefited too much from the speaker's port-assisted reach – there's no sense of distortion, or of a driver and cabinet not in sync, but it rather dominated the mix.

Elsewhere, the Spoey230's bass output is to be cherished. It presented basslines with notable nuance while giving body to drums, and in tandem with the sensitive treble brought considerable scale to Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' [The Wall; Harvest, CDS 7 46036 8], which only served to make its slick imaging seem slicker still.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
A lover of rich sonic tapestries, emboldened by a bass output that's as big as the cabinet itself, the Spoey230 is a welcome addition to the loudspeaker landscape. Its size, particularly when the robust stands are in use, won't make it a natural upgrade from a conventional standmount, but its easygoing nature as regards amplification and positioning is a deal-sweetener. Rock 'n' rollers need not apply, though.

Lu Kang Audio
Taipei City, Taiwan
Supplied by: Whole Note Distribution, Angus, Scotland
0203 9115 549