When Kudos launched the original Titan (now dubbed 808) it was a big step for the company. The biggest and most ambitious loudspeaker that Derek Gilligan had designed, it looked like that would remain the brand’s flagship, the only one of its kind. But then it spawned a smaller model, the 707, and then the 606 and now with the addition of the 505 standmount Kudos has a complete Titan range all based around the same technology.
Underneath the cool stealth styling there are some aspects to the Titan series that don’t meet the eye, including isobaric bass drivers where a second unit is placed behind the one you see and reinforces it. This has been done by a variety of brands over the years not least by Linn who called their biggest speaker Isobarik back in the day, but it remains a rarity because of the extra complexity and cost required. There’s a cutaway on the Kudos website that shows how these drivers are arranged with the second one firing into a second cavity which is loaded by a ‘Fixed boundary gap port arrangement’ that’s designed to make the speakers easier to place in the room.
The cabinet itself is made of different thicknesses of HDF for better control of resonance in the box and ‘resonance control pads’ are used to “control the energy flow and release from the inner cabinet”. In essence this means that the veneered panels which form the outer sides of cabinet are decoupled from the inner cabinet that contains the drivers so vibration from the latter is not radiated into the room.
The drivers in the Titan series are custom made SEAS units with 180mm coated paper cone bass units with a copper shorting ring on the pole piece and an aluminium phase plug with the logo etched into the front. The tweeter has a larger than average 29mm fabric dome and combines with the bass drivers via a low order crossover, which presumably means first or second order or possibly a combination of the two. This has high end components including Mundorf resistors and ClarityCap capacitors. The 505 is a solid speaker at 18kg (nearly 40lbs) and stands 45cm (18inches) high before you add the dedicated T505 stands. These have seven columns and, if you are very patient and have a good funnel, can be filled with dried sand or similar in order to damp the legs. They have the advantage of top plates that allow the speaker to be bolted on at three support points, providing a solid but undamped fixing.
There is a second and more tangible connection with Linn that’s hinted at by the jumpers above the single wire connections (4mm banana plug only) on the back panel. All the Titan models can be actively driven by electronics made by Linn, Naim, Devialet and, as of this month, Exposure. The latter’s Expert system and Linn’s Exakt provide a suite of DSP features that allow room correction, phase alignment and more so have the potential to significantly upgrade these speakers beyond the usual benefits of active operation.
With an ATC P2 power amp in control of the 505s and the Grateful Dead’s ‘Help is on the Way’ on the streamer the groove is what hits me first, then the guitar break comes in and it takes all my restraint not to pick up the air guitar, but since I have so little that proves a losing battle. These speakers provide oodles of detail both large and small and presents them in a highly coherent fashion. It becomes apparent quite early on that they like to be played at a higher than average level, they work fine with the volume down low but open up if you wind the wick up. This allows a wide distinction between the quiet subtle sounds and the climaxes, the low level intro on Yussef Kamaal’s ‘Rememberance’ (from Black Focus) is very atmospheric and it’s easy to appreciate the quality of playing on this track despite the less than audiophile nature of the recording. This was with vinyl on a Rega P10, switching back to an Auralic Aries G1 streamer and Border Patrol DAC and playing I am the ‘Black Gold of the Sun’ (Nuyorican Soul) provides a bigger and more obviously compressed sound that’s tight and punchy with a strong sense of weight.
This speaker soaks up a lot of power but does dynamics and scale very effectively. You can hear the relatively small size of the speaker in the bass which could be a little more open but it’s well extended and very tuneful, which is more important when it comes to musical enjoyment. Timing is spot on across the band and intelligibility is excellent as well, Thom Yorke’s mutterings on ‘Deks Dark’ (A Moon Shaped Pool) being clearer than usual which contributes to the strong engagement that these speakers deliver, you can’t help but be enthralled by the music. It doesn’t hurt that you can feel the bass when a suitably extended note comes along, clearly the isobaric loading gives the 505s greater ‘girth’ than would usually available from a speaker of this internal volume, it would be thrilling to hear the active version. But even in conventionally driven form pianos sound very real thanks to good definition of pitch and reverb not to mention a three dimensionality that makes things seem very real.
As I know that Kudos have a natural affinity to Naim I hooked up the only Salisbury built amplifier I have on hand, the Supernait 2 (the model that was superceded not so long ago), this is not nearly as powerful as the ATC but does bring a sense of immediacy to the proceedings that’s rather appealing. The balance is a bit more forward which brings out reverb and leading edges, the latter making for a very strong sense of timing and some fabulous beats from Leifur James among others. The sense of coherence when playing vinyl on the P10 is inspiring, that and the resolution of different instruments and effects within the mix. I did find this combination a little bright with the speakers on axis but with a little bit of toeing out so that the speakers didn’t face me directly the enthusiasm of the midrange was balanced with the rest of the bandwidth. I discovered later that this is how Kudos recommends they be set up. This did nothing to undermine image solidity which was very strong on Pharoah Saunders’ Izipho Zam (the new Pure Pleasure cut of this is excellent), and Radiohead’s ‘Electioneering’ is very powerful, the electric guitar positively visceral in its intensity. Turn it up and the band could almost be in the room.
The Kudos Titan range is one I’ve been intrigued by since its introduction and I have to say that the smallest model in the range does not disappoint. On balance I preferred the authority that the ATC amp brought to the bass but the thrill power of the Naim combo cannot be denied, you just need a bit more power, a NAP 300 DR would be perfect. The Titan 505 is not just another hefty standmount, its combined technologies give it an edge even at this price and I would encourage anyone who enjoys music to have a listen.