You might have seen our little write up on the arrival of the long-awaited Russell K Red 150s a few weeks ago. What was not said was that after the bedding-in process had begun, it became more and more evident that they were not quite as ‘together’ as the pre-production specimens that we had first heard. Basically, and being a wee bit cruel, they sounded ‘fat’ and didn’t ‘time’ properly. And timing is a Russell K strength.
Our pair was one of the first two sets to be shipped and the other set had gone to Russell prior to being taken for review. His main listening had been at the reviewer’s house and, admittedly in an unfamiliar room and with an unknown system, he had been happy that all was well. Indeed the review, in HiFi Plus, is an absolute rave.
It was doubly distressing, therefore, for Russell to be acknowledging that the production examples differed from the plan.
Interestingly, they measured identically. Empirically, though, they were miles apart. To his immense credit, he fully acknowledged the need to resolve matters.
There were two known differences between them. First, the black lacquer, the others were in wood veneer. Secondly, there are small rubber ‘O’ rings inside the bass ports and one of them was positioned further back on the production version than the ‘reference’ one. Since these are simply to control turbulence, they have tended to be positioned close to the port end. The pre-production ones had endured numerous changes, leaving the “O” ring in technically the wrong place.
After a frantic and stressful three weeks for Russell, with the Bristol HiFi Show on the horizon and a sense of disaster unraveling before him, he figured out a cure.
Relocating the ring apparently made a proper and bewildering difference but did not completely cure things. In the end, adding three wooden braces behind one of the bass drivers did, however, do the trick. Bristol went very well indeed and the Red 150s got a very good response.
Russell came, he modified and I have to say that the Red 150s are now the giant killers that we expected. In our larger room, they are happiest almost a metre from the back wall, so they really do like some room to breath. It has to be said, though, that our Focal Sopra Model 1 stand-mounts optimise at almost the same point, so it’s more the room than the speakers. Russell says that at home they are about 30 cm from the wall.
Anyway, there is no longer any need for us to hide our lovely 150s away any. Fresh production examples will incorporate the design revisions.
They are now ready when you are. At £4k in the black lacquer (slightly less for the wood when it comes), these can sound both huge and jaw-droopingly real. They are deserving of the finest ancillaries and, funnily enough, we have quite a few of those …