The Hansen Audio Knight Loudspeaker
Knight is the smallest floor standing loudspeaker in the Hansen Audio
range. Smallest, in this sense, is not small. In fact, the speaker is
quite imposing. Yet, the Knight's footprint, when compared to the larger
Prince, Emperor and King, will allow owners of smaller accommodations
to enjoy the delectations of the Hansen Audio sound.
When the Knight was conceived, Lars Hansen's
self-direction was to create the world's finest speaker in this size and
footprint. Much of the same technology that makes the King and Prince
sound so amazing is employed herein (I have not heard the Emperor -- I'm
assuming Hansen's brilliance has not given his speaker new clothes!).
So, you'll get Hansen's amazing 'Matrix Composite' for much of the cabinet
build, proprietary drivers, his splendid first-order crossover, and his
amazing dedication to detail. Hansen is absolutely in love with his babies.
All of them!
Guests in the house
Hansen was a little concerned over equipment
usage with the Knight. Not that it is particularly picky, but he wanted
its first review to have what he considers good synergy (yes, he's a bit
of a worrier -- most designers are). I have lots of experience with all
sorts of topologies and setups, so I obliged and used Hansen's first class
ancillaries. They included the Audio Aero Prestige SACD/CD player (US$13,300).
I chose to use the volume control/preamp of the Audio Aero for most of
the review and eliminate Hansen's Krell preamp. The wonderful Audio Aero
Capitole CD player really gets this right, and the company's expertise
with on board preamps continues with the new Prestige. Superb. His Krell
FPB 300CX is a workhorse and not my favourite solid state amplifier, but
it drove the Knights' effortlessly (the speaker is measured at 87dB so
single ended tube amplifiers are not appropriate). However, the Stealth
cables (Dream loudspeaker cable -- US12,000, Indra CD player RCA to RCA
-- US$5750, Metacarbon XLR to XLR CD direct to amp -- US$8000) I'd keep
in house in a heartbeat. Terrific gear, and a great match for the Knights.
Setup was quick and easy. The speakers
have very solid spikes, but the smallish footprint allowed them to be
'walked' fairly easily. Just watch your tootsies. I had them five feet
from the back and side walls, firing to the outside of my shoulders .
Hansen likes this setup and it worked very well. We measured 10 feet between
the tweeters. All this conjured up great imaging and a superior soundstage.
The very detailed specifications of the Knights may be found at the bottom
of the review.
In fairly short order, I gathered the
Knights commanded total control over the music. This allowed the full
effect of the original performance to shine through. Many speakers from
all sorts of price points produce lovely sounds, letting through as much
of the music as the technology/design allows. Hansen's twenty thousand
dollar beauties enable the music to flow. One hears the essence of the
performance, much as the composer/artist would imagine.
We all love the revelation of hearing
great equipment. Sadly, many get the concomitant comparison to the home
sound. I say, 'don't be scared'. Go ahead, make your day! Hansen equipment
should be heard in a good room, well-setup just to hear what is now available
in terms of resolution. And resolution in its best light. No etch, no
bright lights in the eyeballs, no sparks, no slashes, nothing overwhelming.
Just clear, clear (incredibly well-balanced) sound.
I started several of the serious listening
sessions (the speakers and electronics all had many hours on them) with
a simple song. I have used Ian Bostridge’s wonderful EMI recital
of English songs on all the Hansen reviews. The speakers seem to ‘get’
classical vocals set in a live setting and pleasant acoustic. In this
particular recording, the location is the Snape Maltings in Norfolk, England.
A beautiful space in which to record what many consider the male lieder
voice of the past twenty years. Bostridge’s amazing way with the
text, his profound view of the melodies, and the musical bond with his
regular accompanist, Julius Drake, are a joy to behold. Perfect, really.
The vibrato, the word painting, the flawless tuning all captured with
the same eager perfection by the Knights.
Next up (in a list of many CDs), was
a trouble maker. The Atlanta SO's Telarc recording of Hindemith orchestral
works. Thick and thorny of texture, Nobilissima Visione is an
example of Hindemith's self-effacing style. It includes amazing invention
but can be an acquired taste. The opening of the Marsch und Pastorale
has piccolo and clarinets having some enjoyable to and fro. With many
other setups, the clarinets always seem murky. Things get more complicated
with the snare drum in back left of the stage (snare off). All of Hansen's
speakers have made mincemeat of this CD. Many other speakers have not.
No matter whether through tubes or solid state, without preamp or via
ARC's Reference 3, once again, the Hansen design excelled and left not
much to the imagination. I could hear the reeds 'speak' on the A clarinets
-- that freaked me out a little! The synergy that Hansen had wanted was
there. And when the bass drum and cymbals energized the hall, no problem.
The power was handled as an afterthought. A mere bagatelle. Micro to macro
dynamics can be awe inspiring on this speaker.
The drivers, all designed and made in
house at Hansen, are top quality. And the superb crossover holds a tight
rein over the varying octaves it controls. No bleed of the mids to treble
or bass humping along while the others run fleet of foot. No, everything
in its musical place, swinging, rocking, caressing and generally having
a hell of a good time. Listening is fun, sad, demanding, relaxing, what
ever you choose it to be. Track six of Swingphonic has Sammy
Nestico arranging the love theme from Scheherazade for classical/jazz
orchestra. There are some amazing shifts in dynamics and some crescendos
that will test your system. The Knights' replication was thrilling. No
sweat or toil, just what conductor Harry Currie wanted. And he wanted
The sound's essence? Homogeneous, yes,
but not blended. Detailed, yes, but not etched. Tessituras, separated,
yes, but equal in value. Once again, the perfect definition of a particular
piece of equipment eludes my prosaic prose. But, you get the drift. The
Knights were lifelike for hours. No fatigue, no blandness, and the speakers
never, ever gave up. The information retrieval was superior. As such,
the sound signature is the same as other Hansen products, but with the
Prince, Emperor and King, you simply get more of what the Knight gives.
A dealer, with knowledge of your specific situation, will be able to direct
you the applicable speaker.
Are they worth the price tag? Yes.
In a heartbeat. You'll get much of what Lars Hansen has spent years creating
in his flagship King. No, the Knights won't go as low and with as much
authority, or handle as much power, but then fifty thousand dollars is
a very large difference in price.
Personally, I think the King (now in V2 iteration) is the world's finest
speaker. If money was no object, the Kings would be in my home 'till I
was old(er) and grey(er)! If money is an object and your room is not too
large (welcome to the real world), the Knights will be a superb addition
to your system. The centerpiece, in fact. They work with all sorts of
good equipment and will pass the WAF. And most importantly, they will
give the listener many hours of musical pleasure.
After a while, when the pride of ownership
has diminished and the lull in the hobby subsides for a month or two,
you'll be able to head to the listening room and hear music in its purest
form. No glitz or glamour, no 'mine is bigger than yours', no 'check this
bass out', just the greatest art form in sound that, in the here and now
and at the the Knights' size, technology and price point, will be difficult
to better. Very highly recommended.
[It is with great pleasure that we
award The Audiophilia
Star Component Award to the Hansen Audio Knight Loudspeaker. Congratulations!
Thank you for your very positive
review of THE KNIGHT loudspeaker. I know that you have spent many hours
listening to THE KNIGHTS and like in every review that you write, you
take this process very seriously. With your background as a conductor,
your insight into the music and all its subtle details is very much appreciated.
I know you also have intimate knowledge of the various halls that these
recordings were done. So, when you pronounce that THE KNIGHT to be "incredibly
well balanced", and that the "micro to macro dynamics can be
awe inspiring" and that they are "very highly recommended"
and finally also giving THE KNIGHT the highest honor of your "Audiophilia
Star Component Award", I am once again very honored. All the sweat,
inspiration and love of music, that has gone into bringing THE KNIGHT
to completion is now even more justified.
Hansen Audio Inc.
General: Time Coherent; Dispersion Coherent; Frequency Response: 29 hz
to 23,000hz +/-2db; Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms ; Sensitivity: 87DB
Crossover: Engineered, designed and manufactured by Hansen Audio; V2 DAT
(Driver Assimilation Technology); Frequency and phase optimized; Hand
assembled; High grade hand selected components; Point to point silver
Tweeter: Engineered, designed and manufactured for Hansen
Audio; 25mm high performance dome mounted on a dispersion optimized 6mm
aluminum plate; Precision assembled
Terminal Connections:"WBT" connections; High
current pole terminal; Decreased transition resistance
Woofer/Mid Band Drivers: Engineered, designed and manufactured
by Hansen Audio; 182 mm driver x 2; Exotic multi-layer composite sandwich
cone; Optimized geometry "Hansen" motor system; Hand assembled
"Hansen Architecture" frames; Sound wave deformation prevention
Size: Height: 39 inches/Width: 9 inches/Depth: 13 inches
Cabinet: Engineered, designed, and manufactured by Hansen
Audio; Hansen Audio "Cloaking Device"; "Hansen Composite
Matrix" material with Class "A" finish; Acoustically inert;
Sound wave refraction distortion elimination technology
Manufactured by Hansen Audio Inc.
100 Leek Cres. Unit 9 Richmond Hill, Ontario. L4B 3E6
Phone: 905.731.8434 Fax: 905.731.8420
Source of review sample: Manufacturer loan
Hansen Audio website