Vienna Acoustics Kiss vs. Dynaudio Contour S3.4


Am considering moving from my current Dynaudio Contour S3.4 driven with Krell amplification. Looking for a slightly warmer and fuller sound especially in the highs with no sacrifice in speed and bass slam (the latter maybe willing to sacrifice some). My current setup can sound a little on the bright side with brass instruments on early jazz recordings.

A friend suggested Vienna Acoustics The Kiss. I am unable to hear it in the context of my system but have heard the larger version The Music driven by Bryston, which was fine but a bit boomy and slow in the bass (could be setup problems). Have also liked the Beethoven Baby Grand driven by all Ayre electronics, which I found to have a well balanced sound.

Does anyone have experience with the Kiss? I am guessing that the Krell would give the more laid back Vienna Acoustics house sound more bass slam and speed but am concerned primarily about treble brightness.

You should be concerned with brightness using Krell amplification. I have a friend who had a similar problems with Dynaudio S3.3's driven by a Krell KAV-250a amp. He solved the problem by switching to a Jeff Rowland amplifier.
I tried the JRDG Continuum 500 in the same setup and it was bright too. An Ayre Vx R was not but lacked the visceral quality of the Krell. My feeling is that it's not the Krell per se but the matching.
For what its worth, I upgraded from a pair of Dynaudio Contour 5.4s to a pair of custom built 12" Tannoys, and haven't looked back.

They sound great with SS or tube amps, I've driven them with from 10Wpc to 300Wpc, and they fill a large listening room, 16' X 34' w/cathedral ceilings.

I wouldn't change for love nor money.

ICs might be a less expensive and more practical way to tackle brightness issues, depending. My Dynaudios can sound similarly hot/bright off some ICS and much more laid back on others. I'd recommend any MIT terminator series IC used as a reasonable choice to try if this approach has appeal over changing amps or speakers.
Perhaps try some IC that is copper only or mix of copper and silver. Pure silver will be too bright.

Am already using Cardas interconnects so that is not the culprit.

Anyone with experience with the Vienna Acoustics Kiss speakers?
Mikey8811, I will try to answer your query as well as I can, although I know I may fall a little short of your need for specific info... I own Vienna Die Muzik; have owned Vienna Mahler v1.5; and have auditioned Kiss several times at length. Any whoolliness or bloat in the bass of Vienna speakers is almost always due to inaccurate placement... And yes, placing Vienna speakers can be a real chore, and is best performed by a Vienna-trained professional. With proper placement, Muzik, Mahler, and Kiss all sound amazing.... Musical, tuneful, and revealing.

Mahler is the most forgiving of the 3, but not the most revealing.... Kiss is wonderfully transparent, but cannot deliver the image density and gravitas required for larger scale vocal or instrumental works, which are instead best served by Die Muzik.

To add to the mix, there should be now a new speaker, called the Vienna Beethoven Imperial Grand... It is housed in a cabined derived from the original Beethoven Grand, but is based on technology trickled down from the Muzik, including a coincident treble/midrange driver, a supertweeter, and (so I believe) 3 bass drivers. It should list for about $10K. I have not heard it yet, but it is my understanding that it it is expected to deliver some of the grandness of Die Muzik at a more conservative price point.... It is worth looking into.

To put things into perspective, the power requirements of these speakers are on the high side, and they like amps that retain their "torque" on lower impedance loads, but they vary a little bit. Interestingly, damping factor has not been a gating factor.... Best results for Muzik have been with an amp with a moderate damping factor.... Here is my own experience just to give you an idea about behavior with amps with different power characteristics... You may extrapolate about possible results with your own amps:

Mahlers.... Used them with magnificent results with Rolwand M7 (350W/8O and very high current), and Rowland M312 (500W/8O and 45A peak, damping factor 1000)... Have not used them with other amps.

Die Muzik: No problem at all with Bel Canto REF1000M monos (500W/8O, damping factor 1000), Rowland M312, and best this faar with Rowland M725 monos (330W/8O, may be 30A peak), and damping factor in 200 range. A little underpowered with Rowland M625 stereo (300W/8O), and markedly underpowered with Bel Canto REF500M monos (250W/8O).

I have heard Kiss in demos giving excellent performances with Rowland M312, Rowland Continuum 500, and a few Boulder amps.... Kiss are also known to match very well with amps that are slightly less powerful like the Rowland M625 (hve not heard this combination).

As I mentioned, I have not heard Beethoven Imperial Grand yet, but I conjecture that their power requirements may be a little more moderate than DIe Muzik and Mahler.

Best, Guido
Thanks Guido

That was very informative.

With the Kiss being driven by a pure class A Krell FPB 200c which from my experience is less resolving than the Continuum 500 in the treble but has more body, what do you think the results will be like?

Is my assumption correct that the Kiss has the Vienna Acoustics house sound of being laid back and warm like the Beethoven Baby Grand but is more resolving as opposed to Dynaudio which is more neutral and slightly cooler?

Hi again Guido

I forgot to add that from what I have seen, the Kiss is a deep speaker - deeper than my current Dynaudio's by about 1 foot.

I currently place my speakers about 4.5 feet from the wall behind them. So with the Kiss, I will only be able to place them about 3.5 feet away from the back wall. Is that enough breathing room?
Hi Mickey, at least in principle, you should be able to find a sweetspot for Kiss within 3.5 feet from the back wall. However, there is no telling where exactly that sweet spot will be... With Vienna speakers, the setup is an empyrical process that yields unique placements in each room.

Kiss is exceedingly nimble and musical, and is more revealing than classic Vienna products... Like with all Vienna products, it can sound too warm or even too shouty if not placed correctly. With correct placement, it is a very neutral speaker, meaning that its frequency distribution does not suffer of hot spots or holes. However, if by "neutral" we mean tonally skinny, Kiss is not '"neutral" at all, because it conveys a significan amount of harmonic content throughout its range... Not being too familiar with Dynaudio speakers, I would prefer to hold off on a conjectural comparison.

It is worth bearing in mind that Kiss is essentially a large bookshelf speaker on an integrated stand... It lacks the lineup of deep bass drivers found in Muzik, Mahler, and Beethoven Imperial. Hence, pairing Kiss with an amp that favors bass may increase its bass cues, but will remain short of generating the visceral authority of the other Vienna speakers that I mentioned.

Saluti, Guido

here is my diatribe:

Early sound was first recorded for large single thin paper drivers and before that victrolas and the sound was often truncated to reduce the annoying hiss of early phonographs. The advent of the crossover filter changed recording arts again along with the CD and recording adjusted to filtered sound and recorded more on the bright side to make up for the newly truncated sound and clean (no hiss) digital source. Today we have true reference gear phonographs that rival CD in many ways and many of us are going to less filtered loudspeakers which are highly sensitive and uber high-end gear that really play every nuance of the music through these less filtered speakers....when we play some 1980-1990 recordings we are aghast sometimes! Blame the recording no blame the gear or the epoch the evaluation of sound is very difficult to quantify and one could and should write a 600 page book about the history of recording and the gear used to play music... I'll buy it!:

For example, many speak of a speaker that sounds as if its got a blanket over it..another claims his/her speaker is way too between the recordings adjustments and re-adjusting and loudspeakers non-filtered to filtered to heavily filtered to less filtered to not filtered at all make this impossible to totally delineate as the "players" are always changing and I'm not taking about cd players (I guess this is what makes the hobby fun). Lastly, the chain of blame might look like this: The recording is first to praise or blame, the source is second the amplifier third and the loudspeaker takes the blame for all of the above: however, the loudspeaker often the most innocent as she is just doing as she is told she is just a transducer.

I would suggest a high power tube set up for the KISS the KISS in my book is a masterpiece so very well made and capable of brilliant sound but also capable of less. I would not pair Krell with Kiss but PASS with Kiss if you must have transistor sound.... you might think about a KT120 tube amp or monos!

Unfortunately I think you buy the KISS cause shy's beautiful and capable and then figure the rest out after that.
I have the KISS connected with HiDiamond (HD8) speaker cables, connected to YBA Siganture 100W amplifiers, and I am happy with this combination.

Should the KISS sound harsh at the treble, you can always turn its "head" to suit your taste.