Review: Meadowlark Audio Kestrel 2 Speaker

Category: Speakers

I am starting to really like the Kestrel2's. Like everyone else says, it takes a really long time for them to break in. Going on two-three months at about 1hr a day average and they still getting better every time I listen. At first they were OK, then they became really bass-shy, then really dull... now they're really full and detailed with all other faults going away every day. One thing, they've always had a lot of "texture": with these speakers, I've been able to hear much more texture in sounds... the real subtle details within the sound, that I've never heard with any other speaker before. Hard to explain, but I can now hear differences between drum sticks to brushes, difference in symbol types, differences in guitar strings, vocal inflections, ambient spaces: I can more easily tell if it's a large room or a small room, etc.

Also from day one with the Kestrel2’s, I've certainly enjoyed the feel of the song, the energy and passion of the music more than with any other speaker, and that keeps getting better every day too. Lastly, as the reviews say, imaging is great... really true 3-d spaces are created. BUT... these speakers have a really specific sweet spot. I've found myself moving tiny amounts left and right, up and down, forward and back on my couch to get the best sweet spot... If I had any one criticism it would be the narrow sweet spot.

I auditioned the Vandersteen 2CE's: really deeper-more full bass, equally good imaging and detail, but a little too round and fat for my taste. I also auditioned the Totem Arrow... too harsh and too thin for my tastes. Lastly, I auditioned, and was considering, the Reference 3A speakers (on stands), they we're great, but a little too harsh again. I really like the tweeter in these Kestrel2's... best tweeter I've heard in this level of speaker.

If I could get a little more punch, a little more drive, a wider, less pinpointed sweet spot, I'd be ecstatic. Maybe the Osprey would be that speaker... I heard the Blue Heron2's and Vandersteen 5's... they're all that and then some, but too expensive for me!

Had one more analogy, and one additional caveat.

The analogy is related to the really tight/focused sweet spot: it's like you have to find the invisible headphones floating in air and stick your head into them to get the very best stereo image. Ok... that was weird :-) but that's how it seems, if you know what I mean.

The caveat: I have found that the Kestrel2's don't like to play too loudly. They like average listening volumes, but when you crank up the volume, they don't sound that great... kinda compressed and clinical/flat.

The Kestrel2’s are so good that I tend to look for absolute perfection, and that’s when I find some nit-picky faults. Overall, I’m very happy with the Kestrel2’s, and within my budget (under $2k), they are the best I’ve heard by far.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Vandersteen 2CE, Totem Arrow, Reference 3A
I auditioned the 2's a few weeks ago. And, I have to agree with a lot of the points your mention. I auditioned them using a Rega Jupiter, Rega Pre and the big C-J SS Amp. I have to agree that there is a lot of detail in the tweeter and the imgae pretty good. But, the bottom end is where they fall short. I thought the bass was a little "woody" sounding and they don't like to play loud. The dealer told me that they had about 50-75 hours on them, so they are not fully broken in yet which could account for the "woody" sound. When I cranked up the volume (not enough to damage the speaker), the woofer was just about flying out of the speaker, but they where not getting any louder. In fact, it was moving so much, my wife made a comment about it; a first. The sound wasn't destorted, just no more volume.

I also had the chance to audition the Osprey's in the same system. I really liked the Osprey's, and almost purchased them, but they are too tall for my setup.

I had a few conversations with Pat at Meadowlark last month and he is a really nice guy. He' likes to talk so be prepared if you ever have the urge or need to talk to him. And, he is willing to do custom finished on any speaker in the line. Something to keep in mind when the WAF factor pops up.

While I liked the ash finish on the Osprey's, I was a little bit disappointed with the cherry finish on the 2's. A thought that they could have done a little better job with veneer matching. I'm a woodworker, so I might be a little more strict on something like this.

Overall, I have to agree with you. They are a very nice speaker for the money. And, should work well in small to mid size rooms.