Kanto Audio Interview At Axpona 2018

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Products Overview, Speakers and Stands

[Paul] Hi , All right. Well we are with Brett Smalley from Kanto Audio who have a line of wireless active speakers that we're very excited about and we even see some new products.

If you could tell us a little bit about the company and about what you're showing here today?

[Brett] Sure. Yeah we're a Vancouver based company out of Canada, we've been around for about 10 years now and we focus on powered bookshelf speakers.

So we have we have some of our models here, our YU4 and YU6 speakers, which are both available now. They've were launched last year at CES.

The key feature with these is they have a built-in phono pre-amp so they play really really nicely with a turntable. They sound great, have Bluetooth, they have an optical connection, they have RCA, they have auxiliary, and they have a sub-out as well.

So they're a very versatile speaker and they also pack a really nice punch as well.

So we have two new products that we're showing here at Axpona. One is going to be available in the next month and the other one won't be available until October.

New Kanto SYD Speakers

So over here this is our new product which is called the SYD. This is launching on May 18th and we have four brand new colors coming out with a pink, burgundy, off-white and off-black.

These SYD speakers are really designed for small spaces, dorm rooms, they are the best speakers for apartment living.

So it's one connection, there's no wires between them and they have Bluetooth.

These as well have a built-in phono pre-amp and $329 USD is going to be the price point for those speakers.

[Paul] And you look at it as an all-in-one system?

[Brett] Exactly. So people can connect to their Bluetooth, they can connect to their TV, they can connect to their Xbox.

So really if you're living in a downtown apartment, if you're living in a college dorm, living somewhere where space is of the essence, and you don't have the room for a big powered system, these are perfect.

They sound great and they fit the needs of someone living in that situation.

Brett Smalley Of Kanto Discusses Their New SYD Speaker

New Kanto TUK Prototype Speaker

[Paul] And from the moment I walked in the door these caught my eye.

[Brett] Yeah so these are our brand new speakers, these are just prototypes. These are going to be coming out in October/November-ish of this year.

We still don't have a firm launch date but this is a brand new category of powered speaker that we're really entering into.

So the two main difference is you're gonna notice visually right off the front between our Kanto YU6 and YU4 and our new speaker which is called the TUK is it has a five and a quarter inch aluminum driver, and it also has air motion transformer tweeters.

So two brand-new pieces of technology for us at Kanto. This speaker again it has Bluetooth, it has RCA with a phono pre-amp as well. It has a USB DAC in it so it's able to connect to a computer as well.

It does have a dedicated headphone amp so you can plug your headphones in if it's connected to a turntable, or an office, or a workspace.

Kanto Interview With Brett Smalley At Axpona 2018

Different Colored TUK Speaker Grills

And yeah it's we're really happy with how the product sounds, we're really happy with how the product looks. Outside of our previous YU4 and YU6 models this is only going to come in black and white and where you're going to get some differentiation is where where the speakers are gonna be coming with grills.

We're gonna be making available different colors of grills, so we might have a blue we might ever red we might have some funky color, and that's how we're gonna create that that color differentiation.

TUK Upgraded Phono Pre-Amp

[Paul] And the design goal differences does this have the phono pre-amp?

[Brett] Nope this has a phono pre-amp as well. So it has the same technology as the YU4 and YU6 for the phono pre-amp.

Actually it's a high it's a higher-end phono pre-amp than what's in the YU4 and YU6.

So I can give you guys a demo of it. We want to get people's feedback and yeah it's like I said, we're really excited about this new product coming out in the fall.

[Paul] Well it strikes me that not only did you want to upgrade the tweeter you also wanted upgrade the main driver yeah so the price point is gonna be a little bit higher.

[Brett] We still don't have a firm price point on this but we're looking anywhere between $800 to $1000 US for this particular product.

So still you know we're gonna try and keep it in that sub thousand range but I think the the technology and the sound speak for itself.

The SYD Speaker From Kanto Is Perfect For Apartment Living

The Popularity of Vinyl & Turntables

[Paul] What was the motivation behind the phono pre-amp? Was that marketing? Was that internally you guys played a lot of vinyl

[Brett] Vinyl has been really popular over the last three four years and it's continuing to grow in popularity and we looked on the marketplace to see what kind of niche, what what's out there that or what isn't out there that we can try and provide, and one of the biggest things was with this resurgence of vinyl and people finding their turntables from the 1970s 1980s.

We wanted to create something that had a bit of a cleaner setup.

So our products have the pre-amp built into it. We decided to put a preamp into it so you could grab any turntable on the market, plug it in with our speaker whether your turntable has a pre-amp or not, it's going to work with our speakers.

And we've had really good success with boutique record stores we've found really good success in the in that niche market and we're yeah we're really doing well with that vinyl crowd.

[Paul] And with the new speaker it has a USB so I could use a new USB turntable.

[Brett] Yup exactly.

[Paul] Your favorite test track for showing off the system album, artists?

[Brett] My my personal one it's Tin Pan Alley by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Stevie Ray and I've got it and it's number one on my Tidal testing track, although yeah yeah Tin Pan Alley Stevie-Ray Vaughan that's my favorite testing track. Questions Simon?

A Brief History of Kanto

[Paul] A quick history of the company all that fun stuff.

[Brett] Yeah company was started by our CEO back in 2007, I believe 2007. You know he was into audio we started with a few different products, we had a actually this SYD is a predecessor to and a product that we discontinued a few years ago.

We brought it back into the market in a smaller shape a bit more compact so we saw some really good successes with our our previous SYD 4 and SYD 5 models and then we've just expanded to the bookshelf and and subwoofer game as well.

Kanto Speaker Stands

[Paul] The little speaker stands are they yours?

[Brett] They are yep. So we actually make all the stands here. The stands that these speakers are on we make and those as well. And this here is one of our white YU4's. And this is a new speakers stand that's coming out for desktop.

So this is our copper version, it also comes in a stainless-steel, it comes in a brass. So these are going to be launching in about the next month or so so we brought these out to show as well.

Overview Of Kanto Audio Products At Axpona Audiophile Show 2018

Kanto Giveaways

[Paul] So let me ask you a question. if I contact you after the show would you donate one pair so that we can use them on a giveaway?

[Brett] Of course okay yep we would definitely be able to do that. because I think I can write a thousand words on why you need a speaker stand for a desktop system yeah I think I could write two thousand words.

[Brett] Yeah we saw kind of again a kind of a lack of or lack in the marketplace of these bookshelf speaker stands. People were just kind of propping them up with phone books, you know.

Getting those speakers up to their ears by having a dedicated stand as well as some of the kind of new, looks nice, and is a design right people are gonna buy this because it's functional but because it also looks great.

[Paul] You know I can't recommend, especially for best desktop systems, speaker stands enough and those tweeters just above ear level and sit and listen because I'm not going to experience that yeah yet if I got down here right a tweeter level yeah I'm gonna get all of what is either good or bad.

[Brett] Yeah well this is why we this is where we have the two different sizes of speakers as we're as scans as well just four depending on how big someone is how their setup is so we have a 26 inch stand as well as a 32 inch stand.

We hope you enjoyedthe interview. Dont forget to check out our full Kanto SYD Speaker Review. It's our best pick for apartment living!


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Many thanks to Brett Smalley, Marketing Manager of Kanto for sponsoring our recent Giveaway by providing the excellent SYD speaker as the prize.

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