If you've been around as long as I have, it is rare that someone mentions a major speaker manufacturer and you don't recognize their name. I'm embarrassed to admit that this was the case with Krix. Clint had come across the Krix Phoenix speakers and wanted to set up a review. My first reaction was, "Sure!" My second reaction was, "Who?" Krix has been around since in the early to mid 70's. They have both a consumer and commercial line of speakers. You might have heard their speakers at one of the 80 cinemas they have installations here in the US or maybe if you have been to Germany, Korea, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia and a few others. All in all, they have over 2100 theaters featuring their speakers. Krix is the largest and oldest speaker manufacturer in Australia. Their consumer line of speakers have been slowly crossing national borders and being distributed all over the world. The fact that I haven't heard of them probably says more about me than their efforts. The new Phoenix speakers are an MTM design and retail for $1700 a pair.
First Impressions and Build Quality
I actually received these speakers just before leaving for CEDIA this year. I barely had time to set them up before I left. They arrived well boxed and although the speakers were undamaged, the same could not be said for the boxes. The speakers are surrounded by about an inch and a half of foam on all sides and are packaged very tightly. This will protect the speakers from most bumps and small punctures but it might not be enough for some of the jostling I see with some of my deliveries.
The speakers are a slight 37" tall and are veneered with real Atlantic Jarrah - a very rosewood looking timber. I'm not a wood expert but I got a kick of telling people that they were "Atlantic Jarrah" and seeing the confused looks. There is a seam around the front and back (basically, the sides, top, and bottom look like they overlap about 1/2 inch). The front panel is veneered and the back is wrapped in textured vinyl. I've seen this same sort of design on other speakers and I'm not a fan. The back doesn't bother me so much but I like the front to be seamless. The top/side transitions are flawless with no perceivable breaks. The edges and corners are a little sharp and I would have preferred a more rounded, less pointy corner look. The grain is very attractive while not standing out. The finish is very flat with minimal reflections.
The speaker is rear ported about a third the way up the height and arrived with a foam port plug. The directions enclosed with the speakers suggested that you remove the port plug unless you plan on placing the speakers near a wall. I wasn't, so I removed it. The port plug is composed of a dark gray foam and fits snuggly without being too hard to remove. I'm generally not a fan of port plugs because people tend to want to use them but the giant warning from Krix to remove them in most cases made them OK for me. I actually liked that they were thinking about how to make their speakers sound good in non-optimal placements instead of waiting until someone called with a complaint and telling them to shove socks in the ports. There is a small black base already attached to the bottom of the speakers that overhangs just a bit. It is flat black and only an inch high. It is beveled and rounded at the front with the farthest point about an inch from the front of the speaker. The sides overlap by about 1/4 inch and the back is nearly flush. The rear has two sets of 5-way binding posts for bi-amping.
The speaker grill is a latticed plastic design and runs about 4/5ths the length of the front while taking up most of the width of the speaker. The grill is definitely a little flimsy from the front but doesn't torque too easily. Basically, you might break through the front but you won't crack the whole frame. Just avoid playing baseball in the house and you'll be fine. There is a Krix logo attached at the bottom of the grill. The grill posts are plastic and have a ball at the end. They snap securely into place and I detected no movement or vibration from the grill. I've had experience with the type of plastic posts used and they have a tendency to break off if you aren't careful. To me, the grill seems oversized though it does harken back to your more traditional speaker design where the entire front was grill. People I've shown these speakers to generally either like the looks or feel they are plain. You'll need to decide for yourself.
The Phoenix speakers sport an MTM design with two 6.5 inch woofers and a 1 inch soft dome tweeter. The tweeter is set flush to the front baffle with the woofers slightly overlapping. I generally don't like all black drivers on the front of a speaker but these tend to work for me. The woofers have a sheen to them and the tweeter has a dark spot in the center that gives the illusion of an eye and appears to be a copy cat design of a Dynaudio tweeter employed by many manufacturers these days. With the red of the veneer, this actually looks pretty nice together. The only real problem with the design is the height of the tweeter. Here at Audioholics (and just about everywhere except in the engineering department of Dynaudio) we suggest placing the tweeter at ear height. Either Australians are really short, they sit on the ground, or the Krix Phoenix was designed to have the tweeter at chest height. At only 27-1/2 inches off the ground they are a good 10-12 inches lower than nearly every other floorstanding speaker I've reviewed. I'm operating under the assumption that this was on purpose and that the speakers are voiced for this design (and not that I'm supposed to build a stand for them which is ridiculous for a speaker in this price range and genre it is in).
Carpet spikes are provided which are very similar to the ones I get with many speakers. They are black, thin, and have an adjustment nut. These spikes are EXTREMELY sharp and can be hard to work with. With this set, the nut will screw all the way off the end and the spike will go nearly all the way inside the base if you try hard enough. If you can't tell, I'm not a fan of these spikes. I'm sure you could buy some aftermarket spikes if you wanted or an outrigger setup (my preferred solution). Remember that the base is attached so if you decide to go with outriggers it might look a little awkward.
Removing the drivers, I noticed that the woofer baskets were plastic (Krix says - Fibre reinforced moulded polymer). This is actually preferable to a stamped metal basket but not as good as a cast one. The tweeter is very heavy duty and encased in its own metal enclosure. The cabinet is constructed out of 5/8 inch MDF and has two internal braces. The two braces meet on the front baffle between the tweeter and the lower woofer. They run at angles away from this point with the lower one at about 45 degrees and the upper about 30 degrees (I didn't have my protractor on me so don't hold me to that). The bottom and top areas are stuffed with polyfil and they have polyfil glued to the back. The Krix Phoenix responds well to the knock test. They are about as inert as the other speakers I've reviewed in this price range. The crossover is attached directly to the plastic binding post case and uses low gauge air core inductors, and a combination of polypropylene capacitors and electrolytics with ceramic power resistors to pad the tweeter sensitivity down to match the woofer response.
That ever-rising treble should compensate nicely for 75+ year old men with severe hearing loss. The Krix seems to have been designed with such people in mind!
Thanks in advance.