KEF Muon Mk 2 & VPI Titan at Capital Audiofest 2016 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 26 Old 07-12-2016, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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KEF Muon Mk 2 & VPI Titan at Capital Audiofest 2016

While Capital Audiofest is a modest-sized high-end audio show, KEF and VPI's presence more than made up for it by presenting a room full of high-end audio wonders. The spare-no-expense system I heard featured the $48,000 VPI Titan turntable (making its debut at the show) and an astonishing concept speaker, the KEF Muon Mk 2 ($225,000/pair). Hearing the Muon MK 2 is a rare event regardless of circumstance as it is limited to 100 pairs and the D.C. show was the first-ever public demo of the speakers in North America.


KEF's Muon Mk 2 at Capital Audiofest 2016.

These 9-driver, 4-way speakers are made of aluminum and are true sculptures that serve the explicit purpose of providing an optimal enclosure. The Muon Mark II is an evolution of KEF's original Muon design that incorporates an improved version of the company's signature Uni-Q driver as well as a revised and updated crossover network. Notably, owners of the original Muon can opt to upgrade to the Mk 2 version for a fixed fee of $10,000; KEF will send a technician anywhere in the world to get that done.


The Muon Mk 2's Uni-Q 2-way concentric driver.

Specs for the Muon are impressive, with 25Hz to 60kHz (+/-3dB) frequency response, extension to 20 Hz (-6dB), 90 dB sensitivity, and 400W power handling for 118 dB of output. Oh, and each one weighs 253 pounds.

For most of the demo, the VPI Titan (equipped with a $12,000 cartridge) served as the source. The audio quality was impeccable, which is something I've come to expect from both KEF and VPI flagship products. Even a Motown Disco record that had seen better days sprang to life and legitimately rocked the house—check out this recording from the show. (Please note, an audio recording is to being there as a picture of a pizza is to a real pizza, so don't read too much into it. Also, you can hear us chatting in the background because the room was packed. Finally, due to copyright restrictions, streaming this video on YouTube is restricted to PCs.)

"Don't Look Any Further" by Dennis Edwards playing on KEF Muon Mk 2 speakers. Recorded with a Zoom H6.


Twin Odyssey Stratos mono amps ($2750/pair) provided power to the Muons, which is amusing when you consider they sell for 1.2% what the speakers cost. The 2-ohm stable, 180-watt (into 8 ohms) amps never strained, maintaining full control and extracting tremendous nuance out of the Muons. It's as definitive proof as I've heard that great amplification is eminently affordable these days.

Besides the Titan, VPI had a lot of other new product at the show. I'll post about that separately, but suffice to say the company came to the show loaded for bear, and the Titan—a magnet-drive air-suspension turntable with a 45-pound platter—was the king of the collection.

At one point in the demo, KEF tweaked audiophile paradigms by hooking up an Astell & Kern portable player to the KEF rig using the headphone jack and an adapter cable. Iggy Pop's "Les Feuilles Mortes" was rich and dynamic and just plain sounded great through the system—it sounded as if the Muons could do no wrong. Dead Can Dance's "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)" is a familiar staple that took on the lucidity of a live performance enhanced by the pinpoint imaging of a well-polished and produced recording. My favorite room at the show, it made the trip to D.C. (from Philly) worthwhile all on its own.

Dead Can Dance on vinyl sounded great, but so did Iggy Pop from a portable digital player.
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post #2 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 06:02 AM
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Mark,


Looks like they're going to try the same 'trick' as Magico did with the M-Pros. Hugely limit the quantity and the buyers will come.

With regards to the tables, I assume that's a Prime and not an Avenger next to the Titan? If so, the Prime is 1/10th as much as the Titan. Did he happen to play both? If so, thoughts on what 10x the price gets you? I know that it's very difficult to tell give that the noise floor in the room was probably 70db with everyone talking.
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post #3 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 06:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
Mark,


Looks like they're going to try the same 'trick' as Magico did with the M-Pros. Hugely limit the quantity and the buyers will come.

With regards to the tables, I assume that's a Prime and not an Avenger next to the Titan? If so, the Prime is 1/10th as much as the Titan. Did he happen to play both? If so, thoughts on what 10x the price gets you? I know that it's very difficult to tell give that the noise floor in the room was probably 70db with everyone talking.
Yes, that is the Prime Signature that is next to the Titan. I did not hear it play anything, even though I visited the room twice. What I heard was either the Titan or the A&K portable player. I have no idea what all that extra money gets you in the real world. While I will not deny that vinyl—done right—sounds great I have no deep affection for it. I was fine with how Iggy Pop sounded playing from a digital file.

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post #4 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 07:16 AM
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I heard a few tables at the show that sounded as good if not better than any of he VPI's I heard there and for less money. The Pear table in the room with the Larson speakers being exhibit A. For me, other than the two rooms with the Tidal speakers, that room had the best sound at the show followed by the Benchmark room. Both of these rooms were affordable too unlike the Tidal rooms.

Louder is NOT better!

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post #5 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 08:01 AM
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Gorgeous and stunning (and I'm sure incredible sounding) as they may be, $225,000 for a pair of speakers and 6db down at 20HZ? Seriously?

That is yet one more example of why I would never, ever again purchase a full range speaker even if I could afford (and had interest in) something like this. [I used to won Dunlavy SC VI's, which were marvelous speakers]. I have calibrated more rooms than i can remember and never ONCE was the best spot for the mids/highs the same as the best spot for the bass. EVER. I'll take a pair of great speakers that roll off south of 60HZ paired with a couple of Seaton SubMersives [or equivalent] and be down 5db at 5HZ any day of the week.....and won't cost anywhere near $225,000.

I think folks buy these kinds of speakers simply because they can.

Now the turntable, on the other hand, I might purchase even if I was not into vinyl [which I'm not], just to look at [if I were to win the lottery]
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post #6 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by audioguy View Post
Gorgeous and stunning (and I'm sure incredible sounding) as they may be, $225,000 for a pair of speakers and 6db down at 20HZ? Seriously?

That is yet one more example of why I would never, ever again purchase a full range speaker even if I could afford (and had interest in) something like this. [I used to won Dunlavy SC VI's, which were marvelous speakers]. I have calibrated more rooms than i can remember and never ONCE was the best spot for the mids/highs the same as the best spot for the bass. EVER. I'll take a pair of great speakers that roll off south of 60HZ paired with a couple of Seaton SubMersives [or equivalent] and be down 5db at 5HZ any day of the week.....and won't cost anywhere near $225,000.

I think folks buy these kinds of speakers simply because they can.

Now the turntable, on the other hand, I might purchase even if I was not into vinyl [which I'm not], just to look at [if I were to win the lottery]
If I won a pair of Muons in some sort of high-stakes poker bet, I'd add subs to the system to bring it down to single-digit flat response. Just looking at them, the enclosures are clearly a factor in the price.

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post #7 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
If I won a pair of Muons in some sort of high-stakes poker bet, I'd add subs to the system to bring it down to single-digit flat response. Just looking at them, the enclosures are clearly a factor in the price.
I have a friend who has a pair of Magicos ($65,000) and that is exactly what he did. Put the speakers to get the best out of them and did the same with a pair of subs. One of the very best 2 channel systems I have ever heard.

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post #8 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by JWhip View Post
I heard a few tables at the show that sounded as good if not better than any of he VPI's I heard there and for less money. The Pear table in the room with the Larson speakers being exhibit A. For me, other than the two rooms with the Tidal speakers, that room had the best sound at the show followed by the Benchmark room. Both of these rooms were affordable too unlike the Tidal rooms.

Just curious

"I heard a few tables at the show that sounded as good if not better than any of he VPI's I heard there and for less money"

How would you know in a room with a noise floor of 70 db or so? The Prime is down at about 80db s/n and I wouldn't be surprised if the Titan is at around 100 db down. What did you hear that leads you to believe that. And did you notice what cart was on the Titan. At $12k I imagine that would be the Atlas, but the pic shows the wrong color to be the atlas. Atlas is white.

I'm still interested at some point of going a little upmarket with a table. I currently have a Classic Signature with 3d arm and Koetsu Rosewood Signature. I currently have the quietest listening room that I've had and I want to take advantage of it. You'll never have more information than the source provides so I'm willing to go 30-50% of total system investment in the Table/arm/cart/phono stage.

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post #9 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Yes, that is the Prime Signature that is next to the Titan. I did not hear it play anything, even though I visited the room twice. What I heard was either the Titan or the A&K portable player. I have no idea what all that extra money gets you in the real world. While I will not deny that vinyl—done right—sounds great I have no deep affection for it. I was fine with how Iggy Pop sounded playing from a digital file.

Thanks for the addition vid with close ups of the table.

I still haven't figured out what cart that is. He said $12k, which immediately made me think that it's the Atlas, but it clearly isn't.
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post #10 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by audioguy View Post
Gorgeous and stunning (and I'm sure incredible sounding) as they may be, $225,000 for a pair of speakers and 6db down at 20HZ? Seriously?

That is yet one more example of why I would never, ever again purchase a full range speaker even if I could afford (and had interest in) something like this. [I used to won Dunlavy SC VI's, which were marvelous speakers]. I have calibrated more rooms than i can remember and never ONCE was the best spot for the mids/highs the same as the best spot for the bass. EVER. I'll take a pair of great speakers that roll off south of 60HZ paired with a couple of Seaton SubMersives [or equivalent] and be down 5db at 5HZ any day of the week.....and won't cost anywhere near $225,000.

I think folks buy these kinds of speakers simply because they can.

Now the turntable, on the other hand, I might purchase even if I was not into vinyl [which I'm not], just to look at [if I were to win the lottery]

"never ONCE was the best spot for the mids/highs the same as the best spot for the bass. EVER."

After 18 months here, I'm still fighting this. Soundstage, image, three dimensionality, focus, clarity, win. The bass .... I do as well as I can, but the other attributes are priority.
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post #11 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
Just curious

"I heard a few tables at the show that sounded as good if not better than any of he VPI's I heard there and for less money"

How would you know in a room with a noise floor of 70 db or so? The Prime is down at about 80db s/n and I wouldn't be surprised if the Titan is at around 100 db down. What did you hear that leads you to believe that. And did you notice what cart was on the Titan. At $12k I imagine that would be the Atlas, but the pic shows the wrong color to be the atlas. Atlas is white.

I'm still interested at some point of going a little upmarket with a table. I currently have a Classic Signature with 3d arm and Koetsu Rosewood Signature. I currently have the quietest listening room that I've had and I want to take advantage of it. You'll never have more information than the source provides so I'm willing to go 30-50% of total system investment in the Table/arm/cart/phono stage.
Just listening. The rooms are different but some of the rooms just sounded better than the rooms with VPI tables. Two in particular come in mind. In fact, the one room featured tables designed by Mr. Bittinger who just so happens, was hired away by VPI. Gee, I wonder why?

Louder is NOT better!
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post #12 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 10:29 AM
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Just listening. The rooms are different but some of the rooms just sounded better than the rooms with VPI tables. Two in particular come in mind. In fact, the one room featured tables designed by Mr. Bittinger who just so happens, was hired away by VPI. Gee, I wonder why?

I'm still pretty much going for the Kronus at some point in time, but open to others. And I will admit that looks is part of it. If I can't get friends / neighbors to do a big WTF then I've failed at outrageousness.


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post #13 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 11:18 AM
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I see 7 drivers. Typo or are 2 more hiding somewhere?
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post #14 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 11:20 AM
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BTW... the main picture (showing the speakers in full) doesn't show up in the thread version, only the article-format version, at least for me
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post #15 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I see 7 drivers. Typo or are 2 more hiding somewhere?
Yes, 2 more woofers in the rear.

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post #16 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by javanpohl View Post
BTW... the main picture (showing the speakers in full) doesn't show up in the thread version, only the article-format version, at least for me
OK will fix that, thx.

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post #17 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the addition vid with close ups of the table.

I still haven't figured out what cart that is. He said $12k, which immediately made me think that it's the Atlas, but it clearly isn't.
Lyra Atlas is the answer I got when I asked...

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post #18 of 26 Old 07-13-2016, 11:43 PM
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I have calibrated more rooms than i can remember and never ONCE was the best spot for the mids/highs the same as the best spot for the bass. EVER.
Exactly!
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
If I won a pair of Muons in some sort of high-stakes poker bet, I'd add subs to the system to bring it down to single-digit flat response. Just looking at them, the enclosures are clearly a factor in the price.

If I won a pair of Muons I would sell them, build a VERY nice complete system of whatever else AND send both of my kids to college. $225k for a pair of speakers is just goofy, regardless of what they are made of (besides, aluminum isn't exactly super exotic or expensive).
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That high gloss finish on those aluminum cabinets may make for great eye candy, but the reflective surface is just what you don't want for speakers positioned next to a big home theater screen ( not that any of these will ever be used as such).


I trust that they got all the inherent vibration ringing of a solid metal cabinet engineered out, or could it just be for looks and justification for the stratospheric price? One could always line them with no-rez I suppose.
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post #21 of 26 Old 07-14-2016, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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That high gloss finish on those aluminum cabinets may make for great eye candy, but the reflective surface is just what you don't want for speakers positioned next to a big home theater screen ( not that any of these will ever be used as such).


I trust that they got all the inherent vibration ringing of a solid metal cabinet engineered out, or could it just be for looks and justification for the stratospheric price? One could always line them with no-rez I suppose.
Aluminum is fairly non-resonant and is in fact a great material for building a speaker cabinet. Those speakers are as rock-solid as it gets. If you look at the form its clear that the design is informed by how sound interacts with solid objects i.e. the front baffle is shaped the way it is to control diffraction.

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A couple os Salon2s, big monoblocks, pair of subs, done with $180000 left over for the McLaren.
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Gorgeous and stunning (and I'm sure incredible sounding) as they may be, $225,000 for a pair of speakers and 6db down at 20HZ? Seriously?

well, I do not buy this kind of speakers because of how low they can go. These speakers are for music, and not HT, where the lowest notes are in the 40Hz, so no worries about that -6dB @20hz . What you are looking is purity and fidelity here, not massive power

of course I dont think they provide the best sound for the bang, they are pretty expensive and you can achieve similar results for much less money.
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post #24 of 26 Old 07-19-2016, 04:18 AM
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These speakers are for music, and not HT, where the lowest notes are in the 40Hz, so no worries about that -6dB What you are looking is purity
Not exactly. Here is just a partial list of instruments that play fundamentals below 40HZ: stand up bass, organ, tuba, contrabassoon; harp, piano. More importantly, many instruments generate sub harmonics that go well below these numbers. So if you have a speaker that only goes to 40HZ, you are missing bunches of musical information.

However, that is immaterial to my position. Most rooms create problems from 40Hz to well above that. Woofers, in my opinion, should still not be part of the main speaker to extract the very best out of a total system. So my position stands. For a LOT LESS MONEY, I can get better sound than these speakers produce. One example: Pay a mere $65,000 for a pair of Magicos, buy separate super high quality subs, and you end up with a killer system and still have enough money left over to buy new boat, car and some new furniture. There are many other options as well.

EDIT: Time for confession. There was a time [before I understood some of these concepts] that had I had the income to afford a speaker of this type [but NOT these since I find them unattractive], that I would have purchased something of this type. At a much lower price point [a mere $30,000 about 25 years ago], I bought a pair of Dunlavy SC-VI's. And THAT is when I began to understand the issue of the need for separate subs. Confession over.
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post #25 of 26 Old 07-19-2016, 05:00 AM
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Not exactly. Here is just a partial list of instruments that play fundamentals below 40HZ: stand up bass, organ, tuba, contrabassoon; harp, piano. More importantly, many instruments generate sub harmonics that go well below these numbers. So if you have a speaker that only goes to 40HZ, you are missing bunches of musical information.

However, that is immaterial to my position. Most rooms create problems from 40Hz to well above that. Woofers, in my opinion, should still not be part of the main speaker to extract the very best out of a total system. So my position stands. For a LOT LESS MONEY, I can get better sound than these speakers produce. One example: Pay a mere $65,000 for a pair of Magicos, buy separate super high quality subs, and you end up with a killer system and still have enough money left over to buy new boat, car and some new furniture. There are many other options as well.

EDIT: Time for confession. There was a time [before I understood some of these concepts] that had I had the income to afford a speaker of this type [but NOT these since I find them unattractive], that I would have purchased something of this type. At a much lower price point [a mere $30,000 about 25 years ago], I bought a pair of Dunlavy SC-VI's. And THAT is when I began to understand the issue of the need for separate subs. Confession over.

Or a buck and a quarter for a pair of M-Pros and you're set .... well almost.

The current difficulties I've had in my room trying to get the bass from 50hz or so up 80hz or maybe a 100hz or so right convinced me of the same. That perfect position combining three dimensionality, soundstage width/height and smooth lump free bass is there somewhere in this room, but will I live long enough to find it?

Maybe after all these years I'm finally convinced Arnie was correct with his IRS 5s
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Last edited by Scotth3886; 07-19-2016 at 05:03 AM.
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post #26 of 26 Old 07-30-2016, 07:25 AM
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Hmmmm,

So KEF is going to go that route, just make the speakers large and insanely expensive. There is a market for such a thing and they can use it in their advertising--the "trickle down" effect.

For me, it's about HT so those would not work well. The era for full range two channel started to fade away the same time the USSR faded away--at least for the people that ultimate sound quality was their goal. When I see things like those without subwoofers, I view them as nostalgia pieces and pass.

Sure, I understand why KEF does it, as a crown jewel to improve their name recognition--now that they got bought out by the Chinese they need to put out things like that to keep selling the money makers. It is the same as auto racing, the cars have nothing to do with what you purchase but win on Sunday, sell on Monday!

So I'll pass even if I could afford them...those things are designed for people to place in rooms with hardwood polished floors, glass walls and metal/leather furniture. Pile up giant amps and finish it off with the distinctive record crackle to complete the look.

Hopefully the money they make will get them to build some very efficient HT speakers, skip the concentrics and try something new. Then again, building something like that tells me what their focus is so I'm not holding my breath.
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