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Speakers

Buchardt’s $1,200 a pair speakers are a steal

The Buchardt S300 MKII SE isn’t by any stretch a budget speaker, but it sounds a lot more expensive than it is.

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The Buchardt S300 MKII SE bookshelf speaker.

Buchardt Audio

Buchardt Audio is a small Danish manufacturer that's quickly gaining a reputation for making extraordinary speakers. I was skeptical, but the buzz was strong enough I requested a pair of their S300 MKII SE speakers for review. Unboxing the beautifully finished satin black samples they looked fine, nothing flashy going on here, but once I started listening my ears perked up. They are also available in satin white.

There's so much right about this speaker it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll start with the midrange. Vocals sound remarkably natural and right. By that I mean the vocals had a great sense of body, you feel the singer's presence in the room.

Treble is clear and clean, but slightly reserved, there's no edge or brightness to the sound of cymbals or brass instruments. It's a "lean forward" speaker, the sound pulls you in without ever shouting at you,

What about the bass you ask, it's full and weighty, it goes low enough most folks won't ever find a need to add a sub.

Why does it sound so good? The tech details don't reveal all that much, there's a 1-inch (28-milimeter) soft dome tweeter, and a 6-inch (150mm) "mineral-filled PP" woofer. Impedance is rated at 4 ohms. Buchardt claims the S300 MKII SE's crossover network time aligns the two drivers, and while I can't confirm that, the crossover board certainly looks more complex than what you see in most two-way speakers. The rear panel has a bass port and high quality speaker cable connectors. The S300 MKII SE measures 14.6 by 7.5 by 13.3 inches (370 by 190 by 330mm). 

Bachardt sells direct, the speakers run $1,200 per pair in the US, £1,130 in the UK and AU$1,630 in Australia, those prices include free shipping. 

You have 30 days from the day you receive the speaker to decide to keep them or not, shipping is also free if you want to return them. The speakers are sold with a 10 year parts and labor warranty.

I used the S300 MKII SE with three different amps, my NAD C 316BEE, Parasound HINT 6 and a Pass Labs XA25.

Getting an earful of the S300 MKII SE 

Treble is clear, but not overly so. The S300 MKII SE  tonal balance worked best with the speakers firing straight ahead, with their backs parallel to the wall behind them. Aiming the speakers towards the listening position changes the sound, making it brighter and more detailed yet a little too much for me. Fine tuning the "toe-in" gives you just the right amount of treble, it's a season to taste adjustment.

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The Buchardt S300 MKII SE rear panel.

Buchardt Audio

Ciccone Youth's The Whitey Album amply demonstrated the S300 MKII SE's hard rock skills and dynamic slam was mighty impressive for a small speaker. Not only that, the soundstage was remarkably three-dimensional and deep, it's a very open sounding box speaker.

The S300 MKII SE dug deep into the complex big band grooves on Herbie Mann's Live at Newport LP. This Brazil and samba jazz rhythm machine's lines were cleanly separated, and the palpable feel of the sound totally drew me in. The dynamic shadings of each instrument were well played. There's a lot going on in the music, but it was easy to follow.

The KEF LS50 is a more forward, yet smaller sounding speaker. The S300 MKII SE however is more "relaxed," richer in tone and fleshed out as a speaker. The LS50 soundstage is more tightly focused and transient details are sharper. The S300 MKII SE's bass reaches deeper, and that's part of the reason it sounds like a larger speaker. The S300 MKII SE is softer and darker in tone. I love its rich sound, and I respect the LS50 for telling it like it is.

Buchardt Audio's hit a home run with the S300 MKII SE for audiophiles with refined taste, but without a high-end price. That said, it's probably not the best choice for audiophiles craving high resolution sound. That's not what's going on here, the S300 MKII SE puts the music first, it brings out the best in every genre I tried.

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