Castle Knight 5 - What a Tower Speaker Should Be
The Castle Knight 5 is a rare example of a tower speaker that properly addresses the inherent difficulties of the design, while maintaining incredibly high sound performance at a low price.
Let's look at each of the reasons which make this speaker so special:
1. Box resonance
Most towers are large boxes and large boxes tend to vibrate more than small boxes. They also vibrate more uncontrollably and the internal porting and venting can introduce even more problems in tuning the box compared to a small sealed speaker. Frankly, most tower speakers have boomy and undefined bass, which is horribly accentuated at the frequency of the tuned port. If you put them in the wrong place in the room, the bass can be overwhelming, or alternatively, incredibly uneven because of comb filtering. The Knight 5 starts off with a very well damped and heavy box with great internal bracing. This helps to minimize the unwanted vibrations in the box itself. The second advantage of the Knight 5 box design is that the bass port is 360 degrees and comes out between the bottom of the speaker and the plinth through a 1/4" gap. Unlike most tower speakers which point the port at a back wall for really big bass and only one frequency, the 360 degree port on the bottom allows for about 50% better bass linearity compared to any similarly priced ported speaker. It's incredibly easy to place the Knight 5 in your room compared to just about every other speaker. The benefits of the is box and port design really pay off in the sound. The bass is even and deep, tuneful and powerful in almost any position. Even in difficult rooms.
2. Driver integration
Tower speakers have a narrow face for visual appeal, however this reduces the maximum size of the woofers. Simply put, small woofers make less sound than big ones and they make less deep bass. To overcome this deficiency compared to a big wide monitor box, manufacturers add multiple woofers to make up for the missing volume. Of course, when you add more woofers, you run into some difficulty integrating them together as there will be phasing problems and if you separate the frequencies between the woofers, you have extra crossover points. The result is that the speaker crossover must be much more complicated in order to make an even and accurate sound. The Knight 5 has managed to fit a pair of 6" woofers into a relatively narrow cabinet for an optimum ratio of bass performance to cabinet size. As well, the crossover is so well designed that there is nearly perfect integration between the drivers. The speaker sound completely in tune and linear from the lowest bass up to the highest highs with no annoying peaks or valleys in the sound.
Tower speakers are necessarily bigger than bookshelves so the boxes always cost more to make which usually reduces the quality of drivers that can be employed. Not so in the Knight 5. The drivers are extremely well made with a very high power handling, low resonance and incredible naturalness. As well, the tweeter is a premium hybrid soft dome which has extended and detailed sound without the common brashness of most similarly priced towers. The midrange is special in that the crossover is tuned to provide only midrange frequencies to the driver while the similar woofer below provides the lower bass frequencies. This allows much louder playback without distortion, with specific care and attention to the midrange frequencies that is unparalleled at the price. This tower, despite the added challenges of the box and more complicated crossover, has an absolutely sublime midrange. In fact, the midrange on this speaker outperforms many of the best bookshelf speakers and monitors up to $3000. It's that good!
As a design, towers face some of the most difficult compromises in terms of sound, value and size, of any speaker. Most fail miserably in excelling at even one of these areas. The Knight 5 is a unicorn in the world of floorstanding towers by committing none of the typical flaws. In fact, even compared to designs costing 5 times as much, it offers areas which are superior to many. A speaker that plays loud, fills a big space, has deep and controlled bass, can be placed anywhere, has a beautiful midrange, detailed and non-fatiguing highs, and costs so little? It's an incredible bargain that anybody looking at a tower under $5000 should audition. Don't let the low price put you off - these are genius.