Franco Serblin's Ktema speakers - world's first review/preview

View high-res photos of Ktema


Franco Serblin Ktema is finally here. After many speculations and intrigues about this new speaker from Italian famous speaker artisan I can assure you, that it was worth waiting. Serblin brainchild Ktema is a unique sculpture in the world of high-end audio. Razwan from Amplitune would quickly remind me if it has a soul, as I said many times in prior to this review. Yes it carries the soul of all Franco's famous speakers and go beyond. For me, this is his best creation and certainly one of the best looking florstanders. Owning Sounus Faber Guarneri Mementos's puts me in position to quite fairly compare them two both esthetically and sonically.

Sonus Faber?

Ktema still holds recognizable Serblin sound, that made historical impact in high-end audio scene almost three decades ago and perhaps refine it with few innovative (or tributed) solutions. Finish is impeccable and I never seen such a glamour harmony of wood and fine brushed aluminum. It breaths life and strike you with it's (for a second) almost Klingon monument appearance. Black is still beauty and Italians still do it better :).


From the first note it was apparent and vivid that this is recognizable Serblin sound. Natural, a bit warm, but not pronounced and well suited for any music. Dispalyed Ktema's wasn't all smooth yet, if I can use that analogy, but speakers were only played for few hours so far. I guess it takes few hundred hours to drive them in as all previous Sonus Faber speakers. Even so far and with right amplification it was a formidable "deja-vu". If you loved the way Electa Amator, Stradivari and  Guarneri series sounded, you'll be not only equally thrilled, but even more impressed by Ktema ability to reply your favorite recordings. This might be the missing link of past few years in Sonus Fabes sound. They took a bit different sound approach from introducing of the Elipsa and I wasn't impressed with it to be honest. Not sure why, but high-end tend to follow strange route these past few years. Lots of modern amplifiers, speakers and other components are trying to portrait the music as super open, supreme dynamic and sterile. This is simply not the way real music sound like. Few concert goings might solve that dilemma...


It seems that Franco loves the voicing of Scanspeak and Ragnar Lian (Seas). He expertly implied these drivers into interestingly carved and archly shaped enclosure. This is five drivers based system with custom built crossover, opens up the sound and space even further. Franco took few of inspirations guides from classical Altec and Snell designs and refined them into contemporary speaker in the "grande" way. Bass is natural and the way it behaves in real life ambiance. It almost reminds on the horn loaded classical approach. I guess the compression-controlled and room-interfaced configuration (as resemblance to above mentioned inspirations) does really combine sort of the best of both worlds. This is not the horn like speaker and neither it's trying to mirror that principe. Speakers with crossover holds some inherent limitations. Well designed crossover will remedy to a degree few of those obstacles and Ktema does this in elegant manner with offering few other advancements. In the end everyone is taking their path towards music truth. Ktema won't win F1 of high-end race in speed revelations. I strongly doubt that it's designed in that way, knowing Serblin previous works. It points towards music, the natural feel and emotions of music. In my opinion everything is set accordingly without senseless compromises.


Grilles revival? Certainly no! Franco Serblin brought those nylon grilles to speakers with style and rest of the crowd just copied them. Ktema's looks great without nylon covers, but appears classical with them mounted. They're kind of a Franco final signature to his creation.


Driven by outstanding Tom Evans Linear B monoblocks Ktema's conveyed music effortlessly and naturally. These days I don't care that much about specs and technical details. This doesn't mean that I would fall for any irrational nonsense, but if advertised high-end component cannot convey music, it fails for me. Period! Linear B is also a true jewel among many faked, overpriced and cloned amplifiers. We're living in and age of lies. Small and big ones. So, go and check facts out. Only your ears (you might even need to train them) will be the judges. Sometimes truth hurts, but for me screaming music is non tolerable regardless the name or price of high-end component.


Will Ktema turn the world around? No! Revolutionize the way we listen to the music? No! It will drag quite some music lovers into many intimate moments.


Where form follows functions, it's hard to expect something of an art, but with those two going hand in hand and through the hands of real artisan, you'll end up with an object of desire. In Serblin case both esthetic and sonic vise.


Ktema is not just a statement, but precisely carved musical instrument with inherent knowledge and respect to fine craftsmanship heritage and most important to the music itself.

Don't be a stranger and let your ears take you places. Highly recommended!


- Geometry: four-way topology, five units. The two low-frequency radiators are compression-loaded and room-interfaced at the lower part of the rear of the enclosure. Above the “fusion” frequency, the mid-high cardioid radiators reproduce the significant part of the spectrum, at the top section of the front of the cabinet.
- The cabinet is a rigid, triple arch-shaped structure. The two lateral front cheeks are concave, while the woofer compressor is convex.
- The tweeter is a well-established and time-proven 28mm soft-dome unit, created by Ragnar Lian, one of the greatest Danish masters of transducer design.
- The midrange array consists of two custom-made 4in units in a step-compensated baffle, in a cardioid acoustic-resistance configuration, for the most accurate reproduction of the musical perspective.
- The woofers are custom-made 9in metal cone, piston performance-optimised units, in a compression-controlled and room-interfaced configuration.
- The crossover is a mutational variable slope, coherent spatial radiation design.
- Yter pure Silver-Palladium mono-wiring used throughout.

Frequency Response: 26Hz - 33Khz, in room
Nominal Impedance: 4 ohm (minimum 3, 2 ohm at 70 Hz)
Sensitivity: 92 dB/W/m
Minimum power amplifier: 20W per channel
Dimensions: 42,5 cm × 46 cm × 111 cm  (unpacked)
                     52 cm × 57 cm × 110,5 cm  (packed)
Weight: 110 kg/pair (unpacked) - 127 kg/pair (packed)

Finishing: High gloss piano black, hand-polished aluminium top & bottom
                Satin Sycamore, hand-polished aluminium top & bottom

In depth review will follow...

Photos and text:

Matej Isak
Mono & Stereo audio magazine

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