Kitty Kats Break-in and First Listening Tests

Once the Kitty Kat fascia were fastened down and the drivers fully wired, we connected up the bi-wire cables to a Creek Classic 5350SE amplifier with a cheap CD player connected and began burn-in. We are using the Isotek System Enhancer disc to provide the burn-in test signal.

We set the speakers front-to-front and connected one out-of-phase from the power amplifier complete with bi-wiring. Then we sealed up the space between them with some rolled packing foam to help dampen the noise created. For the first 24 hours we ran the signal level just below listening level. After that we did some quick listening tests for about 10 minutes to determine the volume setting needed for a louder burn-in.

We then replaced the music with the burn-in disc and ran them for another 24 hours at rather high volume. It was high enough that even with the setup, the spouse was unable to sleep due to the noise upstairs, and we turned it off about 2:30 AM. It was back on again at 7:00 AM and It ran for another 12 hours after that before we carried the speakers up to our living room for initial listening tests.

Listening tests, First Impressions

The listening setup is as follows:

  • Source: Sony SACD player (using SPDIF output)
  • DAC: Benchmark Media DAC-1
  • Integrated Amp: Creek 5350SE
  • Cables: Bi-wired with Audioquest Type 4 cables (From Audio Advisor)

The first impressions of the listening tests done at the 24 hour point are as follows:

  • Very clean top end - definitely much cleaner than the aluminum dome Genelec 2029Bs the Kitty Kats are destined to replace
  • Good Mids
  • Bass a bit boxy. Of course this was before we placed the speakers 3" from the back wall.
  • Probably need some port tuning and optimization

Impressions of an evening of listening after 48 hours of burn-in:

  • Much more transparent than our other solutions
  • Not a hint of harsh high end, even on older recordings
  • Bass much lower frequency response than expected
  • Still sound a bit lean for our tastes (which is why we have a pair of North Creek Thunder Subs underway)
  • The bottom balance is not as good as our Sennheiser HD600 headphones, but the top is very similar.
  • Bass is a bit lean but much preferable for long term listening compared to our tubby dual Dynaudio 10" 30W100 woofers.
  • Need to work out the port tuning
  • These seem to be forgiving speakers as well as being detailed

We also ran a Stereo-Review & Chesky Records: Gold Stereo And Surround Sound Set-Up Disc showing correct phasing. Of most interest was a track used for testing subwoofer integration. It starts with a swept sine wave that begins at 300 Hz and descents gradually to 20 Hz with voice announcements of the frequency every few seconds.

It is clear that the response of our Kitty Kats closely resembles the frequency response graphs on the Kitty Kats web page. With good response down to 32 Hz and falling after that. Of course we listened in various locations to even out the room modes. This was just a quick test, but shows that basically the Kitty Kats are working correctly. We feel that the port is probably tuned a bit too high in frequency for our room, and will work to lower the tuning over the next few listening sessions. In addition, we have not yet glued the fascia on the cabinet, and there is some vibration in it at this point. We also want to do careful tests to make sure there is nothing loose or resonating inside the box.

Our goal is to use these as our recording mixing monitors and the clear top end is very welcome after the harshness of the Genelecs. If we can get the bass right, they will be a very welcome addition as our reference system.

Please see the next article in the series Final Assembly of Castias

Copyright © 2010 David L. Bytheway