This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

This review first appeared in the April 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Diapason Karis II in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Diapason - Ed.

Reviewer: Martin Mertens
Sources: Thorens TD 160 HD with TP250 arm & Benz Micro MC Gold cart; Creek CD 43 Mk II, Logitech Transporter
Amplification: Lehmann Black Cube SE II, Jadis Orchestra blacksilver, Exposure 2010 S, Magnum Dynalab MD 301A
Loudspeakers: Gaithain ME150
Cables: Vampire CC, Fast Audio Compact 6M biwire
Review component retail: €2.550/pr, optional stands €550

Woodlander. I really meant to talk of my recent concert visit of Oscar Peterson’s Trio at the Cologne Gürzenich. Truly far out! Sure, if you live in Köln, the Gürzenich is around the corner. But Oscar Peterson passed a few years ago. And while we’re at it, the Gürtz actually hasn't hosted any Jazz concerts of world-class caliber in quite a while neither. So what I did was ‘merely’ listen to an old record. This one was recorded by the Westdeutsche Rundfunk in 1961. The reason I wanted to talk of it as though I’d attended the live gig were the Karis II speakers from Italian firm Diapason.

These little speakers not simply captured Peterson’s tickling of the ivories as well as the bass and drums of his collaborators with unbelievable verve and puzzlingly dense atmosphere. The entire on-location vibe which this album has captured was so realistically rendered that I could close my eyes and believe. Given the lovingly finished Karis, closing one’s eyes is nearly criminal of course. Diapason refers to its broadly trimmed panels and soft edges as a ‘diamond shape’ whose complexity only sinks in upon closer inspection.

Instead of the usual six surfaces which make up a bog-standard rectangular box, the Karis has 18 surfaces. This faceted enclosure is built from 20-year aged solid Walnut. The surfaces are finely sanded and oiled to not only seduce eyes but hands. Of course this construction isn’t primarily a design statement. It's the result of solid acoustic engineering. About which more anon. That the Karis is a mature product isn’t merely due to the decades its wood was left to dry. This model’s first iteration dates back to 1991 when it launched as a smaller alternative to the company’s Adamante. The MkII Karis of today is primarily distinguished from the predecessor by new speaker terminals. With its fashionable WBTs, Diapason won’t have any more explaining to do. The self-made versions of the original apparently had certain punters think them not upscale enough.

Leashed up and ready to pounce. Sonically the Diapasons worked hard to make me quickly forget their diminutive dimensions. Nearly lost atop their overbuilt seemingly outsized stands, these small ones proved endowed with a mighty voice. My first impression was that of a warm nearly cuddly mien. Lana del Ray’s voice from Born to Die was nearly a bit thick. The bass was impressively present but equally soft. A cross check with different fare didn’t net utter joy either. Even so I harboured suspicions. Surely these dwarves were far more capable. They must have been restrained by something still. Rainer Israel of German import house Friends of Audio explained that the speaker likes valves amps due to its non-complex load behavior. That’s because the mid/woofer isn't preceded by a conventional filter. Instead it runs a second counter-wound voice coil whose inductive coupling with the first attenuates output at higher frequencies and thereby also eliminates any capacitive load for the amp. Merely the tweeter runs a high-pass. Both drivers are Seas issue with Diapason specs.