Positive Feedback Logo

Musician Audio Knight 1 Loudspeakers

01-24-2023 | By John Hoffman | Issue 125

An electric bass sets the rhythm and is instantly recognizable as the snap of a snare drum and the splash of a single cymbal resonates in the background. The lights are turned down in my listening room and Stevie Nicks voice is dark, haunting, and otherworldly. Though this is a classic song, the lyrics remain timeless and haunting.

Now you say again you want your freedom

Well, who am I to keep you down?

It's only right that you should play the way you feel it

But listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness

During wintertime in the Pacific Northwest the skies are often pitch black in the evening because of heavy cloud cover, and rain is a constant companion. This is Western Washington, and the citizens on this side of the state know how to savor a good cup of coffee, appreciate the beauty of the old growth forests that thrive in this climate, and find ways to enjoy a quiet evening on the cold wet nights that we typically have in the winter months. Tonight, is one of those evenings, and I pass the time listening to "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. A Sota Cosmos Eclipse turntable is spinning quietly in the corner playing an Analog Production 45 RPM record, as this is one my favorite reference albums. My audio system has gone through a recent overhaul and a pair of Classe Audio Omega monoblock amplifiers have been installed along with a Trinnov Audio Amethyst preamplifier. Even though the Omega amplifiers are difficult to ignore, and the Sota Cosmos is a strikingly beautiful turntable, there is a guest that catches the eye of anyone who enters the room. Several weeks ago, Arthur Power of Power Holdings Inc was able to fulfill my request for a pair of the new Musician Audio Knight 1 loudspeakers. These bookshelf loudspeakers are works of art, and more than that, there is an uncommon quality of sound that unfailingly captures the attention of any listener who crosses their path.

Since the inception of Musician Audio in 2020 the company has turned heads with a portfolio of components that offered remarkable levels of quality at surprisingly reasonable price points. While the Pegasus and Aquarius Digital to Analog converters established the company in the minds of discerning audiophiles, I suspect the Knight 1 loudspeakers are going to be a component that generates a great deal of excitement with audio hobbyists who value refined sound reproduction and are prudent in their spending habits. The Knight 1 loudspeakers sell for $1995 a pair, and I would not consider them directed at the budget segment of the market. As I spent hours listening to these loudspeakers I gained an appreciation for the quality of parts, the beauty of the finish, and the level of craftsmanship necessary to create such a fine speaker. Then there comes the quality of sound, which is excellent in many areas.

The Knight 1 loudspeakers have a substantial footprint at 330mm (H) by 250 mm (W) and 390 mm (D). For those in the United States that is 13 inches by 9.8 inches and 15.4 inches respectively. These are weighty loudspeakers at 14.7 kilograms, or 32.5 pounds. The cabinets are stout, with a 25 mm front panel, and 21mm back and side panels. When conducting the time-honored knuckle rap test, it is evident these cabinets have little to no flex that would color the sound. The driver package is a 6.5-inch high excursion woofer with 2-inch voice coil, and a 1.1-inch 28 core silk dome tweeter. The crossover is a 12dB per octave second order design. The air core conductor coils are oversized, and multiple gauge single crystal wiring is used between drivers, crossovers, and speaker binding posts. Those dual binding posts are also formed from single crystal copper and finished with gold plating. The Knight 1 loudspeaker is a vented design with a rear facing port, and frequency response is 46 to 2000Hz, with 88dB efficiency and 4-ohm impedance.

Every seasoned audiophile will rattle off the time-honored spiel of "I don't care how it looks; it is how a component sounds that really matters." Yet very few of us cannot help being captivated by the sheer beauty of those hand-crafted Italian loudspeakers we regularly see at the audio shows. The sticking point is going to be that $5000 or $7000 price tag that accompanies these artisan works. I honestly have no idea how Musician Audio is able to produce a speaker as visually striking as the Knight 1 bookshelves. There is a burl type of wood that is referred to as horse eye veneer, and it appears to be a dyed wood as it has a deep red color that is remarkably even, yet still shows the figure and variation of the wood. Then Musician Audio finishes this cabinet with 18 layers of piano lacquer finish. The depth and clarity of the coat is impressive, and I have yet to meet anyone who does not comment on this quality of finish. Finally, the grills are held in place by a set of magnets set underneath the veneer of the front plate and removing the covers is an effortless task. I presented this speaker to some audiophiles I am acquainted with who are unfamiliar with Musician Audio, and none came close to guessing what the selling price is. The closest response was $3000, with a couple of individuals expecting the price to be $5000. Needless to say, all were astounded when the MSRP was revealed.

The first hundred hours of play time these loudspeakers received were in a secondary system with a playlist of varying genres of music. After what I felt to be a sufficient break in period, I brought them into my listening room for an introduction. Loudspeakers were placed eight and a half feet apart on Target stands and given a moderate degree of toe in. My listening chair is ten feet from the loudspeakers. The first album played is Ambrogio e Gregorio Chant of the Church, which is a collection of Gregorian chants recorded in monasteries and cathedrals. The individual performers' voices have remarkable presence, and the singers are fleshed out and clearly defined. The soundstage these loudspeakers create is impressive, as the width and depth of the stage extended across my listening room, and it is possible to hear the height of the choir with the rows of monks placed at different heights. Finally, the acoustic signature of the buildings comes through clearly and you can experience a breathtaking style of music from a different age that is fundamentally different than the world we live in. The Knight 1 loudspeakers can transport you there for a brief moment of time, and that is the true magic of our hobby and the reason why we pursue it so passionately.

Moving on to more traditional music I selected "Power of Two" by the Indigo Girls. The frequency range of the Knight 1 loudspeakers is evenly balanced across their usable bandwidth, with the midrange and the top end demonstrating a seamless transition between the woofer and silk dome tweeter. There is an absence of any significant tonal aberrations that are typically associated with economy class speaker components, and it is evident that Musician Audio took great care in sourcing their drivers and spending the capital necessary to obtain quality components. The upper mid-bass is free from any overhang or exaggeration, and therefore the bass region is devoid of any glaring aberrations. These are characteristics that are typically found with higher tier bookshelf loudspeakers, and to get them in the Knight 1 at this price point is an uncommon opportunity.

The silk soft dome tweeter that Musician Audio selected for these loudspeakers is not a run of the mill driver. Silk as a material for a tweeter diaphragm has the advantages of a high strength ratio versus the weight of the material, and the design team have put these strengths to good use. During my listening sessions it became evident these loudspeakers have a preference for sweetness and texture, and deftly expresses a predisposition to long-term listenability over the highest degrees of resolution. What this means for prospective owners is the Knight 1 loudspeakers will perform well with a wide array of source material; pieces that are recorded well will stand out, while less stellar recordings can still be appreciated for what they are. As an example, on "Why Worry" by Dire Straits the trailing harmonics of the acoustic and steel guitars sound natural in the decay progression, and at the closing instrumental passage of synthesized chimes form an ethereal backdrop to the accompanying guitar line. Yet the vocals are smooth and textured, with a density that gives a degree of realism that contributes to the overall quality of this song. Juxtapose this performance with a less stellar recording and you get to experience an intrinsic value of this speaker. "Send Her My Love" by Journey is a more aggressive piece that has a bold mix with a top end that is pushed forward. On my JBL 4365 this song is challenging to listen to, yet the Musician Audio loudspeakers are able to work their spin, a tale of civility and refinement takes the roughest of edges off this song. When played on the Knight 1 loudspeakers the amount of reverb that is mixed in is tempered, and the drum kit becomes more apparent in the mix. Cymbals have more body, stick strikes on the drum rims gain weight, and the electric guitars are not as edgy. The Knight 1 loudspeakers do not have the stereotypical warmth of a classic British speaker, yet there is an element of forgiveness in their nature that allows for a degree of listenability that I appreciate.

When starting out as a hobbyist, I gravitated towards bookshelf loudspeakers as I could achieve a higher level of performance in the mid-band region. Perhaps I am giving my age away a bit, but I spent many years listening to Spica TC50 and Celestion SL700 monitors. One aspect I appreciated from those loudspeakers is a natural and unexaggerated bass response, which allowed for the successful addition of subwoofers. Too many compact loudspeakers are designed with a rise in the 80 to 100Hz range to give the impression of stronger bass output. The Knight 1 speaker contains a 6.5" woofer in a bass reflex arrangement, and the –3dB point is 50Hz. The output down to this point is quite flat, and then bass energy rolls off rapidly. The beauty of this design becomes apparent when you install a subwoofer. I use a pair of Velodyne HGS 12 servo woofers, and the integration with these loudspeakers is uneventful as one could hope for. When listening to "Little Boy Blue" by Holly Cole I appreciated the addition of the subwoofers, as it provides a legitimate full range sound. As a stand alone speaker the bass response down to the cutoff point is detailed and quick, and as a standalone speaker there is more than enough output in the bass region to be enjoyable. Yet to reach a level of extreme satisfaction a subwoofer or two is a welcome addition. What is interesting is when you listen to an acoustic bass and cello duet in a rendition of "Amazing Grace" by Hank Cramer and The Constellation Crew. These instruments have notes and associated harmonics that travel through the crossover point between subwoofers and the main loudspeakers and will show any discontinuity in this area. The Knight 1 and Velodyne subwoofers blend effortlessly and deftly navigate all the tripping points that accompany this piece.

All loudspeakers are constrained by the laws of physics. For bookshelf loudspeakers this defines the dynamic capabilities of a design, as smaller drivers and cabinets result in a lower threshold for output and are affected by dynamic compression. Certainly, there are techniques to improve the output levels of a driver and consequently a speaker, yet there are always associated costs attached to every variation of speaker design. The engineering team at Musician Audio have expertly balanced speaker output level with realistic bass response and even tonal balance. This is not an easy task, and there are many loudspeakers in the marketplace that do not achieve this feat. "Violaine" by the Cocteau Twins is a showcase for the abilities of these loudspeakers. The Classe Omega monoblock amplifiers have plenty of power on tap, and the Knight 1 loudspeakers appreciate all that current, as it facilitates dynamic expression and projection. As the volume levels increased the bass stayed tight and articulate, the midband increased in output without getting harsh, and the upper registers remained smooth. The Omega amplifiers have 500 watts available, so I could run the Knight 1 loudspeakers up to their limits, and when I reached the mechanical limits of the loudspeakers then dynamic compression became evident and the music became strained and unsettled. This is to be expected of course, yet until I reached that point the loudspeakers were unflappable in their presentation. Perhaps the larger than average cabinet size is responsible for this trait along with excellent drivers and crossovers, yet whatever the reason perspective owners can expect a robust sound from the Knight 1 loudspeakers.

Uncommon value is not a term that is often used in the modern audio world. Instead, you will often hear the old adage "You get what you pay for." Many hobbyists feel the selection of affordable components has been continually shrinking, and what is available has less than desirable build quality, and second rate fit and finish is par for the course. The Musician Audio Knight 1 loudspeakers meet a real need in the current audio landscape. There is an enviable blend of quality musical playback, build quality, and affordable cost. These loudspeakers are at home with varying styles of music or differing qualities of recordings yet have a high degree of resolution and an absence of listener's fatigue. The quality of the finish far exceeds what a person would expect on a $2000 pair of loudspeakers; the reality is I have seen $5000 loudspeakers that are less attractive than these lovely bookshelf loudspeakers. Even my ever patient and understanding spouse viewed Knight 1 in our living room and her first words were "Those are beautiful. Are we keeping them?" Musician Audio has produced a number of exceptional components these past few years, and the Knight 1 loudspeakers follow in those footsteps. I suspect Power Holdings Inc is going to get a steady stream of orders for these beauties. Those audiophiles who are adventurous enough to give them a chance will not be disappointed. 

Musician Audio Knight 1 Loudspeakers

Retail: $1995 a pair

Musician Audio


North American Distributor

Power Holdings Inc


Images by Lance Simmons