what kind of speakers are you using? having available service would be a consideration.
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You might as well get the plain King because you know you like it and have already rationalized the purchase price.
If you were really overly concerned with warranty service matters, you would not have considered them in the first place.
If and when you get to hear the King II then you can just upgrade if it sounds so much better.
I have heard them both. The King II is more diffuse especially in the highs - the panel is like the Prince II. If you like Quads then you'll likely love it. The King is like an ultra-wide two way with superb coherence tipped on its side. If you like Maggies you will have no issues with it's sound.
I wrote up the King on Dagogo.com and own it.
What gear will you use with it?
Yes, thank you, I've read both Ralph's and Doug's reviews of the King. Both are very informative, although I would like to think that the problems Ralph found were due to failing amp synergy, humidity or a uncommon defect. I've also read the previous Audiogon thread that both Ralph and Doug contributed to.
By the way, Ralph if you're reading - I would love to hear how you're getting on with the Prince II (and even the King II?). It doesn't look like you've written anything up yet?
Doug - can you tell me a bit more? I haven't heard Quads or Maggies but have gone straight for the Kingsounds because they have been described as having much more satisfactory bass. I heard the Prince II but this is a harder load than the King and I think it was limited by our amps being inadequate - the King was a huge improvement. I was assuming that the King II would have much the same character as the King but would perhaps be slightly "improved" in particular areas. Are you saying the differences are more fundamental?
My amps are M2 dual monoblocks made by Avondale, a small company in Chesterfield, UK. The nominal power rating is low (approx 90W) but they have large C-core transformers and two boards and sets of outputs in each unit, so they effectively bi-amp. They sounded sufficient for the Kings (but not the Prince II) in a evening demo, although I accept it often takes longer than that to get a full picture. We tried other pre/power valve amps but they sounded much too soft for my liking and I also think lacked sufficient power. My existing speakers are Dynaudio Confidence 5, which are also a notoriously difficult load but with the Avondale M2s they sound superb. Going back to the Dyns after the Kings, my main finding was that although the detail was still there, and they are definitely more attacking/punchy, they simply don't sound as real.
Mark, a very nice summary of your experiences. The Magneplanar 20.1 also has good low end, but one must determine if they like the magnetic planar sound or the ESL sound - they are distinct. I find that in general I am sensitive to the larger driver panels, whether magnetic planar or ESL, whether Maggie or Martin Logan. I prefer what's happening in the King, an array of smaller panels. That produces what to my ears is a tighter, more precise sound. Quad also uses this concept of segmented panels, however they have what I consider a serious weakness in the lack of low end, which the King has addressed.
The differences between the King and King II, if the King II prototype I saw at CES is close to the final product, are fundamental. The panel of the King II is like the Prince II. This would likely yield an absolute improvement in detail, however also as I said likely more diffuse sound. That is, the treble, mid, bass seemed to radiate across the face of the speaker versus from a localized source. This is a nuance, but if one had not heard both then it likely would not occur to the listener.
The power amp makes a huge difference in the performance of the speaker, as does the power supply of the speaker. If the King II is as tough to drive as the Prince II, then it could be quite challenging for your amps. You will want to ask questions of King's Audio about that particular aspect prior to purchase, or else you may find yourself looking at a power amp mismatch. If you like the King in a demo with the stock wall wart power supplies, you'll like them even more with upgraded P.S. You can tweak the sound of the power supplies with aftermarket cables. You'll get different sound with silver ofc vs. copper power cords.
Doug, thank you very much for the additional info.
It's interesting that the key difference you found was a different panel construction, whereas Kings Audio emphasised to me that the crossover electronics are now separated off from the speaker in a separate box (each speaker has its own box that has two sets of speaker binding posts, the dc supply input and a switch).
I wonder also if there is any improvement in construction durability, although the feedback I've had from a UK distributor is of no serious problems with the King in the last 5 years but 1 in 10 needing their screws tightening.
You mention that the King II may be harder to drive now it is more similar to the Prince II, but perhaps the Prince II is harder just because it is smaller? We also found the Prince II didn't go as loud as the King.
I started that first thread you read about the Kings as I to was very, very close to buying them. I went to hear them and liked them. My only issue was the speaker could sound a little thin with OK recordings. It seemed the foundation of the music was missing on rock and when the music would get busy or complex on an average to poor recording.
Again they sounded great on good recordings. I ended up buying a used pair of Soundlab A3 speakers for $5000 and upgraded a couple of the crossover parts for $800. The Soundlab is a better speaker to my ear. More body and weight and more natural sounding without giving up an inch in transparency or bass response.
Now, I like a more laid back and rich sound as compared to forward or aggressive. Seems the King was lighning fast and dynamic with nice imaging and can play very loud indeed. The bass was deep and powerful. The Soundlabs are not quite as dynamic as the Kings. The sweet spot seems wider on my Soundlabs and they tend to float the tunes out with greater ease and sweetness. The King is more impressive sounding in terms of initial reaction and do seem to be more dymanic.
Mark, yes, the outboard power supply and the panel construction are the two main differences - at least in the prototype seen at CES.
Yes, the nature of the frame being held together with metal bolts is such that when shipped, upon reception the owner should check the bolts to make sure they're tight. No biggie. I did the same with the Eminent Technology LFT-VI I have. I think I found two not quite snug bolts on my pair of King speakers. 1/8 turn and done. There was certainly nothing loose on my pair.
Can't know if the King II is harder to drive than the King unless specs compared or trial is conducted. King's Audio should know.
Grannyring, when I first got the King I also thought it a bit forward or aggressive, but not after adding the VAC Royal Power Supply and trying tube amp(s). I have to laugh; at one point due to the output switch on the Ayon CD-5 player I was able to try the budget phenom Peachtree Audio Nova with the King! It sounded better than it had a right to! :)
Grannyring, power supplies are important for ESLs. I think that's one reason that King's Audio wanted to revisit their power supply for the King II. A reworked power supply with a panel like the Prince II has would potentially be a very good combination. Sounded good for a show demo at CES!
I think the power supply in the Soundlab is built in. However, you should be able to work with power cords. I typically keep some silver ofc and all copper power cords so that I can mix them as I see fit. It (different brands and conductor material) makes a surprising difference in an ESL speaker's sound. Easily audible; if not I wouldn't waste time on it. I don't pay attention to tweaks which are not significant/easily heard.
Gotta get to writing. :)