North America Premiere Review!
"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity
So it was just another day trolling the internet trying to find something audio that was new and was just a bit out of the ordinary. That thing needed to be something cut from a very different cloth. That's when I found the FinkTeam Kim stand-mounted loudspeakers. Three days later strictly by a serendipitous sequence of events, my New York Audio Society joined a Zoom meeting with the man behind all of that Fink-ology.
The FinkTeam was formed from the fertile mind of a renowned German speaker designer named Karl Heinz Fink. There were a lot of questions asked, some of them not directly concerning the Fink design team. More specifically I wanted to ask in detail what new thinking went into the Kim speaker design. But it did not happen, I was only one of many participants at that meeting. But I came away from that meeting understanding that after years working as a speaker design expert for other people, KHF decided to design a new speaker adhering to the things that he values most.
About The Extraordinary Speaker Designer Karl-Heinz
L' Objet d' Article
They weigh 55 pounds each and are 34" high sitting on their stands. Of the color combinations offered the standard colors are: Amara Ebony with black front, American Walnut with a white front, White Matte with steel grey front, and Black Matte with black front. In addition, there are several custom finishes available.
I was pleased to receive the Amara wood cabinet with the matte black front baffle. Amara wood is a beautiful and exotic variety of black ebony. The actual speaker enclosure measures,19.5" high, 11.75" wide, and 12.25" deep. At the price of $12,800, it is good to note that as of this writing Matterhorn Audio Group is offering the Kim at an introductory price of $11,995.
Inside, the ported box construction is innovative and gets complicated. It turns out that the walls are only two layers of MDF wood. Between the two layers of MDF is a special glue inside, which works as constrained layer damping. This constrained layer damping brings down cabinet vibrations in the mid-band and are used in combination with the internal bracing. The internal bracing is relatively at a minimum compared to other speaker bracing methods. This is because the enclosure is tuned to the cabinet volume and driver compliment. Karl Heinz Fink is employing a method of control I have never seen in any other speaker. Instead of stuffing the box full of reinforcing struts and poly fiber wool, KHF built in a series of Helmholtz vibration filters.
For this application, they are called Strunk absorbers. They are placed inside the enclosure to remove standing waves. These Helmholtz type resonators are in counter-phase to the cabinets standing waves. The Kim drivers consist of a110mm AMT (Air Motion Transformer) design tweeter, with a passive crossover delay to adjust the phase in relation to the 200mm paper-coned bass/mid driver. The driver is tuned via a slot-shaped port at the rear panel. To me, the size of this driver looks unusually large in comparison to the 110mm AMT tweeter.
To make them work together, Herr Fink is using a conventional Linkwitz–Riley fourth-order crossover operating at 2.2kHz between the tweeter and mid-woofer. The crossover uses air-cored inductors and capacitors. There is a mix of Mundorf components that are custom-made including low-inductance bifilar resistors. The crossover specification means the paper cone mid-woof has a lot of work to do. Average speaker impedance is given as 8 Ohms, with a 5.9 Ohm minimum at 160Hz, and it has a sensitivity rated at 86dB/W/m.
Last but certainly not least on the rear panel there are of course two loudspeaker wire binding posts. Additionally, two controls are provided on the rear of the speaker to tune the sound to the room and to the system with which they're used, The first is an impedance control knob that has three positions numbered as one and three. This alters the bass damping for better amplifier impedance matching. The second control effects subtle changes to the tweeter level. That control is simply labeled with three positions, a center position, and a simple twist left or right that will cut or boost the treble/tweeter. Treble can be moved in 0.25dB steps.
Of note is The Fink Tem has a digital filter available to compensate the excess group delay in the mid-band, and a second that makes the bottom-end linear phase. It works together with Roon as long as your server has some good processing power. This correction comes via your dealer and is free to use and enjoy.
The conundrum: If the speaker is 34" tall and tilted backward in fact they are pointing at an upward angle relative to the floor. If you visualize the speaker from the side it radiates a sound field like a wedge. If the speaker is not at ear level you need to factor in your sitting position while listening. Adding to this adjustment is the sightline or toe-in position aimed near your chair. Commonly writers refer to that ideal position as "the sweet spot." Question how close to them do you sit? Many things must come into play. For this evaluation, I chose to use the IsoTek System speakers set up disc.
I spent two hours with the IsoTek System Set-Up Disc and a long ruler. Twenty wonderfully revealing spoken tracts took me on a trial and error trip through my 12' by 21' foot listening space. In the process, I learned more than a few new things about my room. As you always should, I started with both speakers pointed straight ahead. They were sitting 5' 6" feet from the 12' wide back wall and in front of my equipment rack. There exist two major problems with my room.
Because of the furniture within the room, the speaker spacing from the side walls is different. I had to shift the speaker spacing to balance uneven lateral imagining. In addition, my room supports a 40 Hertz reinforcing bass node. The final best listening set up had the speakers toed in at 4' 8" feet apart and at the apex of the triangle, it was 8' feet to where I sat. The amount of loudspeaker toe-in had the largest influence on the extraordinary front soundstage depth, which was only limited by the rear wall.
The one change that made the most improvement was shifting the height of my seated position. I moved down to a low hassock, my ear level was now 8" lower. I measured 40" inches to ear height. It was then I found the sweet spot and everything just locked into place; the stage was now evenly balanced and expansive. I moved even farther away. At 10.5' away from the speakers, the soundscape grew even larger! The sound height above the speakers was much more apparent too. This is a logical result of a wedge-shaped vertical radiation pattern.
My Room And The Boom Beast
I tried the impedance control positions marked at 1, 2, and 3 on the speaker. It affects what your amplifier sees. It changes the mid-woofer damping and that effect is mostly on the bass frequencies. Set at three or max, more apparent bass but not as cleanly integrated with the midrange. I listened with it set to #1 or flat. Remember this is what I hear in my apartment and not necessarily in your home.
Note: All the settings on my stereo preamplifier and the adjustment settings at the back of the speakers were kept flat.
The preceding musical journey was a revelation to me! I have to admit I had big reservations about these boxes. I hate to resort to an old hackneyed phrase but the sound became addictive. My reference CD series Basia, Time And Tide led into my Nils Lofgren, Live CD, and finally Diana Krall's Stepping Out. You find yourself reveling in the almost startling clarity and intimacy that is especially intrinsic to small ensemble Jazz. That musical journey ended with Kenny Vance and the Planotones. The FinkTeam's Kim speakers place this music on a soundscape that defies my room's boundaries. I was transported back in time to my days singing Doo Wop harmony with the Devotions. Ultimately it is the human voice that is my reference; it is the thing I know best. I can hear the enunciation and the timber shift from chest to head and back again.
Like Bob Dylan's and Willy Nelson's voices, with FinkTeam's Kim loudspeakers you can hear just how much of it is nasal. They both are examples of a voice that seems to be projected off the bridge of the nose. If that soundscape was not laid out in front of and around me, I think I could resist dancing with the music and singing along with the bass voice.
It has an expansive stage as it sounds as though one can almost step into and join the performance with FinkTeam's Kim speaker! What I needed was all there painting the back wall of my room; height, incredible depth, and width these speakers do what I love. A wide-open sound stage with wonderful detail and lots of air. Simply beautiful!
The FinkTeam Kim speaker can capture the nuance of the human voice with subtle timber and timing. Surprisingly, I can play the Kim speakers at higher decibel levels than any other two-way I auditioned without energizing my room. I am not certain how they accomplished that neat trick. I am a convert to that the FinkTeam's Kim with its' Oscar Heil AMT tweeter does a spectacular job here. The bass is a bit slower, yet is still cut of the same sonic fabric. That same quality is as Harry Pearson described, it is "continuous" for every type of music.
As for me who ranks the human voice as the final test, they are the last speakers I will ever need. Remember to Enjoy the Music, and from me, Semper Hi-Fi.
Voice: +49 (0)201/236412
Matterhorn Audio Group