Russell K Red 120 review by AUDIOVIDEO2DAY

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A speaker with high-end features at an affordable price. That’s what makes a person happy.  And that is exactly what Russell Kauffman, the man behind the young brand Russell K, had in mind when he designed the Red 120.

Frank Vermeylen of Very Fine Solutions, importer of top brands such as MSB Technology, Synergistic Research and Tidal, recently added the British Russell K to his range of brands. At first glance, a strange choice because the price difference with the top brands is huge. Reason enough to subject the new Russell K Red 120 to a listening test. This happened in the homely surroundings of the Antwerp headquarters of Very Fine Solutions.

Cosy listening

The Russell K Red 120 was driven by a Micromega MyAmp, an extremely compact but versatile device with a DAC and a full-fledged amplifier on board that costs barely 500 EUR. Just to show what happens when you combine a budget amplifier with a Red 120. Admittedly, the MSB Technology CD drive with separate power supply is of superior quality, which only increases the challenge. From the very first notes it became clear that the Red 120 is very musical. Just listen to nice music and enjoy the qualities of the Red 120. A nice, controlled bass and fresh highs, more than enough to appeal to a wide audience. Yet the Red 120 has nothing commercial about it.

A musical feast

When Frank replaces the Micromega with the Exogal Comet DAC and accompanying Ion PowerDAC, designed by the engineers who also designed Wadia, and deploys the Atmosphere Level II speaker cable from Synergistic Research, it really becomes a party. The Aurender media streamer and a stack of CDs ensure that we do not lack any music at all. Suddenly everything becomes a lot more refined and controlled, the Red 120 plays its audiophile trumps. This speaker can, as it should, handle all music genres. The traditional-looking and fairly compact wooden cabinet with a vintage touch means that the Red 120 can be integrated into any interior. In short, it’s an everyman’s friend that provides a musical feast.

Dreaming of your own brand

Behind all that listening pleasure, of course, lies high quality and innovative technology. So what makes the Russell K Red 120 so special? An obvious question. The answer stems from Russell Kauffman’s past as a designer of speakers for other brands. In doing so, he repeatedly ran up against limitations that were imposed on him. That is why he started his own brand Russell K a few years ago so that he could realise his dream in complete freedom. That dream was to build very musical speakers, traditional looking, without bells and whistles but impeccably finished and natural sounding.

Indoors

With its straight lines and wooden cabinet, the Russell K Red 120 looks quite traditional indeed. Finished in white or black high-gloss lacquer, however, it takes on a sleek, modern feel. The secret of the speaker is to be found entirely within the rooms. Most loudspeaker manufacturers use internal reinforcements, compartmentalisation, damping materials and so on. Kauffman’s starting point is in stark contrast to this. Russell states that music is energy. When damping materials are used, this energy is removed and colouration sets in. To avoid this, loudspeaker enclosures must be made particularly rigid.

Pressure and counterpressure

Russell Kauffman, however, has designed the enclosure of his speakers so that they gently resonate, just enough not to cause resonance. He has achieved this by building a kind of pressure chamber into the speaker cabinet. An ingenious system that consists of a perforated plate and a bass port. This way the cabinet creates counter pressure when the drivers move. When the drivers stop, the movement of the cabinet stops too. The drivers, specially developed for Russell K, are coupled to fairly simple filters. All this results in a very controlled but smooth sound. The drivers can produce music in a very natural way. A Red 120 is therefore easy to drive. The test set-up with the Micromega MyAmp clearly demonstrated this.

Good and honest music

Of course, the question remains why Frank Vermeylen has included these, by his standards, modestly priced loudspeakers in the luxury range of Very Fine Solutions. The answer is multiple. On the one hand because of the above average musicality of all Russell K speakers that far surpasses similar speakers in the same price range. Add to that the perfect finish and the passion of the people behind it and you will understand Frank’s enthusiasm. On the other hand, the Russell Kauffman speakers enable Frank to lead less fortunate music lovers along the path of good, honest music and leave behind flat, purely commercial products.

Motivated dealers

A noble task that Frank is happy to take on, but one that requires a sophisticated strategy. It is not easy to promote a young brand that was born barely three years ago in the Benelux. Therefore, 10 to 12 carefully selected and motivated dealers are recruited who will use every opportunity to demonstrate the Russell K speakers and highlight their qualities. This will take time, but the potential is definitely there, according to Frank.

A very fine solution

Russell K speakers are designed in Great Britain but carry the label ‘made in Poland’. The family consists of the smaller Red 50 series, the Red 100 series and the Red 150 series. The new Red 120 is logically situated below the Red 150 and is available from EUR 3,075.  Behind the stiff exterior hides a sympathetic speaker that rightly demands attention. Experienced listeners will quickly notice that this is a special speaker. It invites you to sit down and be pleasantly surprised. Getting the Russell K Red 120 is, as it were, a ‘very fine solution’. In any case, it made me very happy.

Original article by EDOUARD HENDRIX voor audiovideo2day.com – translated from Dutch