King's Audio Prince II

One of the many delights of CES was running into Neil Sinclair, former owner of Theta Digital, in the hallways of the Venetian. In answer to my question, "What would you recommend I check out?" Neil led me to the King's Audio suite.

At one end of the room stood the Prince IIs ($6000/pair). These are full-range electrostatics that extend from 38Hz up to 26kHz, and are 84dB-sensitive. They're also driven by a 12V, 250 milliamp power supply that won't shock you, your children, or your pets if one of you happens to stumble into them.

The height of the images was wonderful, but what the distributor himself characterized as junky interconnects resulted in a distinct lack of transparency and color. Nonetheless, the timbre of the piano and cello on Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata gave indications of being so true that I hope to have another opportunity to audition the Prince II in the future.

Brian Damkroger comments: The King Sound speaker, previously unknown to me, was automatically intriguing simply because it was a floor-standing, full-range electrostatic set to retail at $6000/pair. I don't know about anyone else, but I find it really refreshing to see a $6k speaker that's more than just two or three conventional drivers in a simple ported box enclosure.

King Sound is relatively new to the US, this being their second CES. They are a Chinese Company that's been around much longer in other product lines but have only recently targeted the high-end speaker market.

According to US Distributer Roger Dunaier, King's electrostatics are the result of a collaboration between an electronics and materials engineers and incorporates a number of innovations that solve some four of the more vexing issues with full-range electrostatics—limited dynamic range, poor performance at the frequency extremes, durability, and something else that I don't remember. Being a materials scientist, I naturally asked Roger to explain the materials breakthrough. "Nano-technology" was the answer, and more detail would be proprietary. As an aside, I heard "nano-technology" given as the answer for performance improvements in everything from electrostatic speaker panels to RCA plugs over the course of the day. With the electrostatics, it's at least plausible.

The crowd noise was nearly deafening in the King Sound room and the setup was (by design, according to Roger) poor, but the speakers were full-range, played loud, and seemed to have some of the ultra-low-distortion flavor that classic designs like Quads, or the original MartinLogan CLSes did. More than anything else, their sound reminded me of the better Acoustat models, back in their heyday. Worth a listen, for sure, and I think I'll at least lobby to do a review of these. It will be interesting to hear them in my room, but I'd have to hire about a dozen people to stand in the back of the room and yell to remind myself of how they sounded here.

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COMMENTS
Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I am hoping that someone made it to Rogers Sanders room at T.H.E. Show and heard his electrostats. I loved them when I heard them a year ago, and had intended to take another listen. Unfortunately, the realities of time and space intervened. See:http://www.sanderssoundsystems.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie...

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Correction. Roger Sanders.

suits_me's picture

It's odd that the US importer would have so little say over suspect cabling and the "by design" poor room setup presumably dictated by the manufacturer. Maybe the criticism is misplaced in the sense of being directed at an innocent party, but it's not misplaced in the sense of being invalid.These electrostatics have been reviewed in the British hi fi press and the measurements were extremely good - often not the case for panel speakers. For what measurements are worth, they found a flat, wide frequency response, low distortion, but very, very low efficiency in practice. Moreso even than the 84db spec would suggest.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Thank you for your sleuthing. Very useful to folks who read the comments.Some people in the industry now refer to cabling as a component, of equal importance to everything else in the chain. For reasons understood only by God and the CIA, others consider it ancillary, even a distraction from the main event. And so the world turns.

Angela Sanders's picture

Hi Jason, Here is a first hand experience in Roger's room posted over on AudiogoN http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?cspkr&1263359660[full disclosure: I am a long time audiophile, now married to Roger :-)]Cheers![as regards to comments on King bringing junky cables, wasn't this their first show? - there is a learning curve - I'd give them a break]

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Hi Angela. Love to meet you. I gave them more than a break. I gave them a blog entry. Next show, I'll do my darndest to give you two one as well. jason

JJK's picture

"Lack of Transparency and color"AMEN TO THAT!! Its about time somebody has come "forward" in these guys room to tell it like it is!Been saying that same description for 3 years now at CES, despite EVERYONE ELSE'S ENTHUSIAM for these things! And yes, for 3 years they have been using the same crappy Phillips cd players and cables, nothing new there this year! Of course, unlike the most of you I have no problem at all with that. Been to far too many demos with crappy cords and electronics that made SPECTACULAR sound, unlike this one. Yes, I'm in the camp with David Wilson and others in that "the loudspeaker is the most important in the audio chain"........

Bob D. Stuckiez's picture

Crappy Chinese product made by slave labor. Good luck getting these repaired in 5 years.

Stelios's picture

Or the other way around..ie. ripoff the audiophiles...or not!!

Neal Van Berg's picture

I was so favorably impressed with the way the Prince IIs sounded in Rogers Room at CES and previously at RMAF 09 that I became a King Dealer. These were clearly one of the most natural sounding speakers at CES. Many of the really expensive speakers don't sound a thing like real music, I'm not saying they don't sound great but they don't sound like real Music. The Kings did sound like real music and if you would like to hear them, come to Denver and have a listen at Sound Science. 720.308.4000

Dan Wemmer's picture

My buddy and I heard these Prince II's at the show and thought they were some of the most natural, enjoyable speakers at the show. We went back to the room a few times to listen. I was even able to throw on a couple of my own CD's for a bit. It was fairly quite when we were in there and the sound convinced me that these need a serious listen in the near future. Actually, we were the ones that told Neil Sinclair to go listen to them. I had worked for Neil years ago at Theta and meet him in the hallway. My buddy and I have owned different Quads but we were amazed at the cost for sound quality that the Prince II's put out! These may be my next speakers. We also listened to the King's across the hall but wern't nearly as impressed.

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