I first came across Kudos on this site in looking at the KS-1 speaker cable. It was remarkably good at being a speaker cable, capable, standing aside from the music and delivering high-end performance at a very good value. The Kudos Cardea C10 has the capability of delivering this performance and they demand an audition if this is your budget.
The Kudos Cardea C10 is described as a compact standmount speaker. Coming in at 350 x 200 x 270mm (HxWxD), they are that bit smaller, but they still weigh in at 9kg each. I would suggest they are firmly standmount speakers, that benefit from a solid base from which to work, and they are certainly not desktop speakers, as I have seen a few smaller speakers on desks recently.
The design is a 2-way with bass reflex, the port is at the rear of the speaker. the C10 delivers a wide ranging 40Hz to 30kHz frequency response. The quoted sensitivity is a claimed 87dBs. The Kudos Cardea range features 3 other models, there is a more expensive Super 10A standmount and two floorstanding models, called C20 and Super 20A.
The whole range in the Cardea series features the same tweeter which is a Kudos specified SEAS 29mm Crescendo K2 fabric dome tweeter. SEAS is one of the leading suppliers of drivers to the HiFi industry and tend towards the higher end of the market, contributing to the C10 price.
In the C10, the mid-range and bass are delivered through a Kudos 180mm unit with a coated paper cone and a 39mm voice coil. Each mid-range driver is custom matched by Kudos to the cabinet and the tweeter to deliver a ‘just right’ sound.
Kudos finishes off the C10 speakers with what they describe as ‘superb quality components’ in the crossover that features Mundorf inductors and resistors, and ClarityCap capacitors.
The speakers are unreservedly beautifully presented. My pair are the natural oak finish but there is also a black oak, walnut and satin white finish available. I just cannot help touching them which is not so good as they do have to go home soon. I have developed a habit of knocking them with my knuckles which is rather satisfying with a very crisp resonant response from them.
At the rear there are two gold plated binding posts that are solid and competent, they are located below the bass reflex port.
It is hard not to marvel at the hand finished nature of these speakers in terms of matching drivers to the cabinet to achieve an individual pair of speakers. The C10s are retailing in the UK at £3,500.
I have had the Kudos Cardea C10 driven by both a Naim NAP 250 with Kudos KS-1 speaker cable and the in house T+A PA 2000 R integrated amplifier. They perform well with both. I have had them on a solid pair of speaker stands about 2.5 meters apart. I had the speakers a fair way away from the walls in the formative part of this review, where I was using the excellent Exposure XM CD player as a transport with a Chord Hugo 2 into the T+A amplifier to drive the C10s. Additionally, my streaming source was a Bluesound Node 2i.
this dominant soundstage gives you that checkmark of quality and you can just settle back immediately and enjoy the music
Undoubtedly the key feature of these C10s is the presentation of the mid and high ranges to the listener. Additionally, the image generated by the speakers is noticeably clear and gives you the feeling of heft and volume in the soundstage. On early listening, this dominant soundstage gives you that checkmark of quality and you can just settle back immediately and enjoy the music, which is a rather good start.
The speakers are articulate and uncluttered. The best example is in the Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues on CD, which is a heavily layered folky song; the vocal is presented distinctly in the centre of the crescendo of rhythm from the acoustic guitars.
I always seek out Hans Zimmer’s title 2049 track from the film soundtrack Blade Runner 2049 as a reference for where the low end is on a pair of speakers compared to those I know well. With these speakers, the lower end is not as dominant as I would prefer it and a large part of this will be to do with the design as a standmount speaker. The frequency range quoted for the C10s by Kudos is a deep enough 40Hz to 30kHz. Moving the speakers nearer the wall improves the response to some degree.
I think it is worth adding that I prefer the C10s with the Naim NAP 250 power amplifier to the T+A integrated amplifier, despite the NAP apparently having 20W per channel less into the 8 Ohms impedance. This is possibly a function of the Naim NAP having a warmer and deeper tone versus the analytic German electronics. This is something to bear in mind when matching and then driving these excellent speakers.
The speakers have plenty of coherent gusto on modern tracks that are well produced and more dynamic. Bury a Friend by Billie Eilish (Qobuz, 24 bit, 44.1kHz) is a decent example of the punch and dynamism demanded from a pair of speakers and so too is the foot-tapping Save Your Tears Remix by The Weeknd with Ariana Grande(Qobuz, 24 bit, 44.1kHz).
Synthesis Soprano tube integrated amplifier
I thought it would be interesting for this review to drive the C10s with a tube amplifier since I still have the Synthesis Soprano 12W class A amplifier. Although it claims just 12W per channel a little research on the internet suggests tubes deliver in equivalent power terms approximately 3 times over their headline rate when compared to a solid-state amplifier rating. If you know more about this, please do discuss it in the comments below.
The Kudos Cardea C10s are easily driven by the Soprano. There is no hint of a lack of power delivery or dynamism in the presentation, and I am really liking the warmer tone of the music. London Grammar’s new track America (Qobuz, 24 bit, 44.1kHz) has Hannah Reid’s vocal slightly forward in the soundstage with the supporting electric guitar slightly to the rear and higher in the soundstage, it is a solid, clear, warm sound that delights.
if you are looking for an articulate and clearly presented pair of quality, compact standmounted speakers the Kudos Cardea C10 are an essential listen
You are not buying these speakers to take the tiles off your roof but if you are looking for an articulate and clearly presented pair of quality, compact standmounted speakers the Kudos Cardea C10 are an essential listen. Having listened to several amplifier types I think you should be mindful of your set up with these excellent speakers. The standmount market is a competitive space and if this is near your budget, I would unreservedly recommend an audition.
Volume in the soundstage
Grilles are classy
Full details of the Specification are on the company’s site here.