This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below
This refusal to dissect music also served classical music. Orchestras arose as complex sound bodies where the speakers impressed again with sheer scope. Soloists were clearly placed upfront. Various instrumental groupings were finely distinguished by tone colors. Those who approach the classics with furred brow and concentration on whether at a specific bar a second-row violinist’s chair creaks won’t be completely thrilled. But if you approach music as music and not secondary noises, the little Diapason should make quick friends. This speaker is wonderful adept at tracking individual musical themes. I was surprised just how cleverly Nikolai Andrejevitch Rimsky-Korsakov has spread individual motifs of Sheherazade across different instrumental sections to exploit their unique timbres.
In hifi I’ve rarely come across a product whose totality felt as well-tuned as Diapason’s Karis II. Starting with the glorious enclosure which sets new standards for fit and impresses with fine cosmetics and luxurious finish, there's the solid metal grill which remains suitably filigreed. All the visual impressions flow cohesively into a sonic presentation which is characterized by:
Bass extension that is significantly more mature than size would suggest. Consequently the low registers are buxom but not ultimately taut. Overall this tuning manages to avoid getting soggy.
A midrange where the Karis is a firecracker of tone colors. Accompanied by plenty of forward energy, one doesn't feel compelled to relax and drift off. Quite the opposite. The Diapason nails timing and PRaT to sound particularly gripping and involving. I was familiar with this effect mostly from high-efficiency widebanders.
A voicing that nets a few demerits on micro resolution and detail magnification. The Diapason Karis II approaches music from its overall gestalt rather than separating out individual elements. This can shadow vocal reproduction a bit when surrounded by acoustic instruments. Here the speaker seems to favor instrumental timbres over revealing ultimate finesse of vocal articulation.
Highs that continue the midband theme. There’s sheen and energy for perfect integration where again it’s not the detail that comes to the fore but the whole.
Soundstaging which avoids the same analysis to feel more real instead. Scale is large and clearly decorrelated from the actual speakers. The tendency is for vastness and even massive orchestras appear in believable depth and width. With smaller Jazz ensembles there’s more width than depth. I was often surprised by just how well the Karis handled live cuts. Here one feels immediately part of the action. Image focus isn’t extreme which becomes noticeable particularly with studio productions which usually excel at artificial separation.