The Chiara drivers
are the 28x60mm Mundorf air-motion transformer we already met in Gryphon's Mojo monitor three years ago; a 6-inch ScanSpeak paper-laminate Neodymium-powered Illuminator mid/woofer with underhung voice coil and a 34Hz self resonance; and a custom-commissioned motor-less 7-inch auxiliary bass radiator. That too is from what would be ScanSpeak's Illuminator range were it a standard item. It also sports their trademark clover-leaf ridging on what here is an aluminium alloy cone tuned to 33Hz. Whilst the front baffle slopes back, the AMT mounts into a vertically terminated bore. This has the tweeter face the listener head-on whilst its recess locks in physical time alignment.

The crossover parts potted in a resin with EMI-absorbent additive affix to a Tankwood sub assembly with its own Vertex-authored resonance-dispersing channels. This network mounts to the enclosure's bottom from whence two concealed wires route down to the single-wire Mundorf terminals at the base of the stand's spine. Optional Stillpoints Ultra SS feet are offered to complete the assembly's keen focus on mechanical energy management.

Panzerholz is very dense and unlike aluminium non-resonant to begin with [read LessLoss paper here]. Thus designer Rainer Weber at right who oversaw the project from his purpose-designed Regensburg listening facility below didn't need conventional fiber fill. He does though line the insides of his structure with a fiberglass infused spongy rubber*. So the flight-case delivered Chiara really completes the often only partial trinity of top drivers, top crossover parts and a mechanically optimized hi-tech enclosure to eliminate box talk and its undermining effects on a speaker's timing and leading-edge articulation. The overall Chiara structure measures 116 x 29.5 x 47cm HxWxD and weighs in at 34kg. The tweeter's 1st-order, mid/woofer's 1st-order variable (plus baffle-step correction) point-to-point xover hinges at 3'100Hz.

Nominal impedance is 4 ohms, sensitivity is 87dB and claimed bandwidth is 40Hz - 30kHz. Unlike most speakers designed for flat presence region response on and off axis, the Chiara exhibits a deliberate dip 30° off axis to conform with the Fletcher-Munson curve of equal loudness perception. Toed-in to face the listener directly, there is no dip to exhibit conventional voicing. But aimed out straight, the dip becomes effective in the sweet spot. Toe-in thus acts as an acoustic EQ of sorts. Together with all the hidden mechanical solutions to address dynamic intermodulation and time-domain smearing, this is another invisible but real feature which makes the Chiara into a lot more than just another expensive compact speaker. Hence my opening super monitor appellation.

*  We use a so-called Akustik Schwerfolie [acoustic heavy foil - Ed] from the PAP company which is normally used on the firewall metal divider between engine and passenger compartment of older Mercedes E-Class cars. With today's demand to reduce CO² from fuel consumption, the automotive industry needed more lightweight solutions. In a speaker this vibration damping material is awesome. It is a mixture of rubber and bitumen with added glass fibers. We use 4mm thickness."

Whilst much of it isn't apparent to the eye, the Chiara pays very close attention to the air pressure locked inside its 'box' which increases exponentially with rising SPL. It provides mechanical energy management routes to prevent this acoustic energy from leaking back out the driver membranes delayed in time; and prevent it from overwhelming acoustic integrity with mechanical distortions. Most speakers obsess over their drivers because the customer sees and recognizes them. Then they pursue crossover parts which the punter can't see but appreciates from their list. The Chiara's obsession is first and foremost about managing rear emissions to avoid their impact on clarity and dynamic contrast.

Designing a first-class speakers relies on a first-rate listening room. This one is underground up to the window.

By thinking outside the box but doggedly about it, Kaiser Acoustics chase the ideal of the small living-room friendly ultra monitor which doesn't act small. The Chiara means to project clarity and scope with rigorous adherence to the time domain; and uncommon dynamic envelope by not having SPL dominate the box with internal over pressurization. At this price, drivers and filter parts are obviously top pedigree. That's a given. But the real advances are arguably pursued and realized in the enclosure with its integral stand. Here the Chiara is wildly more ambitious than most anything else in its size class I can think of. The big question was: how would it materialize sonically?

Answers would come later than anticipated. When I checked in with Rainer in late October after initial delivery in early September had come and passed, I learnt of "some delay with the Kawero-based center speaker we're building for our Swiss client. We wanted to combine visiting him with delivering your review pair." It was thus decided to ship the loaners the usual way. Meanwhile news leaked in the German press. Due to ongoing refinements of the Chiara moving too close to the middle Vivace model apparently, the latter had benefited from upgrades. These included acoustic labyrinths by Vertex AG set into the enclosure walls, even those of the Panzerholz tweeter head. The filter network of the Vivace II had morphed into a parallel 3-way structure from the original 2.5-way layout with series mid/treble and parallel bass legs. The woofer had grown from 7 to 8 inches with a bigger ScanSpeak Revelator unit. The auxiliary bass radiator had become a Chiara-type Illuminator. Mundorf PIO silver/gold parts were upgraded to Duelund Cast Cu caps and coils. Resistors became Duelund silver graphite stock. Even the hookup cabling had changed to a special Japanese wire. The Chiara's victory lap through various hifi magazine reviews had clearly upset its costlier sibling. Call it the trickle-up effect. That's a lot rarer than the oft-invoked trickle down. That speaks volumes about this company. Just because the Chiara is their entry-level model doesn't mean they skimped on tech. Au contraire. The acoustic Vertex labyrinths first exploited by the Chiara stand had proven so effective, they were subsequently migrated to the Vivace.