This is a review of the Kudos Super 20A floorstanding loudspeaker, part of the Kudos Cardea range of loudspeakers. Essentially the review comes at this as a ‘passive’ loudspeaker because separately there will be a review of these same speakers with an active external crossover. The ‘Super’ in this range indicates the loudspeaker has the capability of going supersonic with the otherwise excellent Mundorf internal crossover in the speaker being bypassed by external electronics. Think of this as the first of at least three feature articles associated with the Kudos Cardea Super 20A.
Derek Gilligan, the driving force behind Kudos since 2006, believes in ignoring the rules and also that you cannot measure everything, this is based on his background in setting up PA systems for touring bands, like INXS. Notwithstanding this Gilligan has gone to the fundamentals of speaker design with a top-line tweeter choice, modified in partnership with Norwegian company SEAS, and a solid minimalist HDF cabinet choice with a fixed plinth, making placement a simple matter of choice.
The driver design is essentially quite similar to that in the Cardea C10s that was a highlight of last year, here at HF&MS. It features the same SEAS Crescendo custom-made K2 29mm fabric dome tweeter. This was the clear highlight of the C10 and I for one am very pleased this articulate driver is retained in the Super 20A.
The midrange/bass driver is matched to the cabinet and is also a SEAS-Kudos collaboration with an 18cm cast chassis unit with a hand-treated paper cone. There is a 26mm voice coil with a copper shorting ring and an aluminium phase plug featuring the Kudos logo on the front.
Being a ported floorstander the Kudos Super 20A features what they call ‘fixed boundary bass loading’ to control the bass. It works nicely with the downward facing port firing directly onto the floating plinth at the base of the Kudos Super 20A. This combination makes for a pretty unfussy loudspeaker when it comes to positioning. There is a beautiful wooden boxed set of spikes provided by Kudos.
The crossover in the Kudos Super 20A is a Mundorf 3.2kHz low order design. It is wired with Kudos’ KS-1 speaker cable.
…these are unreservedly beautiful looking and feeling speakers…
I recall with the C10s that I had a habit of knocking them with my knuckles most mornings as they gave such a satisfying resonant response, and the same process has resumed. As I said before, though minimalist, these are unreservedly beautiful looking and feeling speakers that are just timeless to look at, particularly in this floorstanding pose. There’s no other way of describing them. I’m bound to say the magnetic dust covers are still in the boxes, I think.
The rear binding posts are towards the base and have plenty of room, offering the offboard active crossover opportunity that we will explore in a later feature.
In terms of some of the headline specifications, the Kudos Super 20A have a claimed 8 Ohms impedance and 88dB sensitivity with an average in-room frequency response quoted at 30 – 30,000Hz.
The speakers are available in satin white, walnut, natural oak and black oak. The Super 20As are 925mm (h) x 200mm (w) x 270mm (d) and are 22kg each with the plinth.
The Kudos Super 20A are priced near £5,000 a pair, though there is an impending price rise coming this April
I’m using, mainly, the imperious 150W/ch Moor Amps Angel 6 with the Angel-Pre for this review with the iFi Pro iDSD DAC with fixed output, this streaming platform is so wonderfully spacious it should do the job. Towards the end of the review, I have been using two 200W Exposure 5010 monoblock power amplifiers with the matching Exposure 5010 preamplifier. Throughout I have been using the Vertere Redline power cables. The main objective in this review is to put into context the external active crossover review with these same speakers which is coming in the next few weeks. However, this is a review of the Kudos Super 20A in their own right, they are absolutely terrific (plot spoiler).
My arrangement is asymmetric with the amps to the right, the Super 20As are closer to the wall (15cm) for me and facing fairly straight on with a minimal toe-in. I’m finding them fairly unfussy in respect of finding the soundstage, fixing the vocal and finding the depth I’m expecting. I’m using Tellurium Q Ultra Black II speaker cables and TQ XLR to the Moor power amplifier or the two Exposure monoblocks.
I’m delighted to hear immediately that the Kudos Super 20A retain the speed and articulation from the C10s with that bit of added space, depth, and improved bass response from the longer cabinet.
If I listen specifically to Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues (Qobuz, 24-bit, 96kHz), the soundstage offered by the Kudos Super 20A is centred, large and powerful and it surrounds my space. The crescendo of layered guitars and vocals is uncluttered as I noted in the C10 review and the familiar lyric is pure joy, in such difficult times.
Turning to Newton Faulkner’s cover of Teardrop (Qobuz, 16-bit, 44.1kHz), his finger tap in the introduction of the track on the guitar body resembles my morning knuckle rap on the speakers most mornings, such is the intimate detail from these loudspeakers. The ‘big bass bit’ at 1’30” is controlled and wonderfully delivered offering the clearest insight to the recording as it was meant to be heard.
Finally, just here, a switch to The Chromatics’ Sound of Silence from the album Closer to Grey (Qobuz, 16-bit, 44.1kHz), the sense of scale from the Moor power amplifier and the Super 20A is absolutely immense in this forlorn track and the lingering bass line just pulls you with it, like a lead.
Checking in with male vocals, Benson Boone’s Ghost Town (Qobuz, 24-bit, 44.1kHz), has his rasp in there with the bass line supporting the midrange. Inevitably, don’t ask how, I end up listening to Stevie Wonder’s As (Qobuz, 24-bit, 192kHz), which is go to if you ever need to be reminded of timing, rhythm and pace and once again the midrange in this speaker presentation is pitch-perfect. In fact, all through with these loudspeakers, be they with piano (Nils Frahm), cello (Yo-Yo Ma), soundtrack (Hans Zimmer) or anything else, they just perform, clearly, outstandingly.
…the Kudos Super 20A have the nuance to show what is possible with their exceptional loudspeaker design
I have used a REL subwoofer with these speakers, which you will read in the following review. The REL S/510 supports these Kudos Super 20A like an Olympic weightlifter. The subwoofer appears to take the bass load off the midrange, making it even more special if that’s possible. Similarly, as you will also soon read, the Kudos Super 20A can deliver exceptional performance with an external crossover arrangement. These differing arrangements prove that the Kudos Super 20A have the nuance to show what is possible with their exceptional loudspeaker design.
…they offer that heightened state of musical delivery that is so rare
I really, really liked the sibling Kudos C10 standmount for their clean presentation, I described them at the time as articulate, and the midrange was their clear characteristic. Here, the big brother Kudos Super 20A retain that fluent, clear, and scaled sound presentation for any genre of music; they offer that heightened state of musical delivery that is so rare.
The fact is, these Super 20As with a passive setup like this with a decent amplifier are a must-listen if this is anywhere near your budget, if it is not you need to seriously think about stretching this far if you can, you’ll be rewarded. The Kudos Super 20A have the flexibility and resolution to deliver a special musical performance for a lifetime. I absolutely love them and would recommend them unreservedly.
They just make music happen
Controlled bass performance
I could keep them
Full details are on the company’s site