Interesting and rewarding session yesterday with Russell of Russell K loudspeakers fame. He brought along his new Red 150 floor-standing speakers that will be making their first public appearance at Audio Show East. I confess that, having seen a picture of the pre-production (but internally finished) specimens, I was struggling to summon up any real desire to like them. Dear breath. Open your mind!

The plan for the visit was to figure out the most relevant system with which to present them. 

Russell is pretty fond of Naim electronics so the initial idea, given the intended £4k price and a desire to keep things simple, was to base this around the CDX2 player and SuperNait2 amplifier. 

A great deal of time was spent, in typical Russell style, in finding the ideal position for them in the room. Then the comparisons began in earnest. Perhaps surprisingly, we ended up with the Naim NAC-N 172 streamer pre amp and NAP250 fed with the Melco N1 server  … and all wired up with Naim SuperLumina cable and PowerLine mains.

Given the bundle of ultra high end Nordost cables that Russell totes around with him, this was something of a coup. Results are very good indeed. Popping an XPS power supply on it for the show should lift it that extra notch.

The speakers themselves are sufficiently transparent that they did not actually seem to be part of the process at all. Once the important stuff was over, Russell’s need to hear the Naim S1 preamplifier looming through the proceedings had to be met. Naim NDS, S1 and a NAP 500. All connected with Super Lumina and I have to say that these unassuming £4k speakers really did rise to the occasion astoundingly well. Bass extension, speed, dynamics, resolution, naturalness. It was all there and it added up to great musicality. 

I know this will go to your head, Russell! 

Digging around for some balance here, the Red 150s could be judged a little too revealing and ‘straight’ for their intended place in the market. They are not remotely fat or ‘warm’ sounding. No attempt is made to sweeten things over. They justify careful set-up and very high quality partnering equipment to an unusual degree.

By the end of the session, I regarded the looks of the speakers to be an irrelevance. Quite a lot of effort is being made though, with the help of stylists Ted Baker, to make the finished product more appealing. I look forward to seeing what is achieved.

I get the feeling that this could be an interesting show!