The Kiso Acoustic HB-X1 was introduced in 2013 as an ultimate expression of what is possible with the Kiso Acoustic HB-concept. HB originates from the Japanese word "hibiki" that stands for reverberation, and it is supposed to notify that the uniqueness of the Kiso Acoustic speaker concept is that both the instrument body cabinet and the speaker drivers themselves contribute to the total sound.

Both the HB-1 and the HB-X1 use crossover components from the German specialist manufacturer Mundorf. The crossover network is built into the base of the loudspeaker in a separate cavity from the speaker driver compartment. Because of the limited space available in such a small speaker, certain high-grade Mundorf components already exceeding the level in most common audiophile speakers were chosen for the HB-1. However, over time, Toru Hara started to wonder what would happen if he could use the very highest level of components available by Mundorf including custom-made values of air-core inductors and silver-gold foil capacitors etc? At the same time there were ongoing discussions with the experienced woodworkers to find ways of expanding the crossover compartment without altering the external overall dimensions of the loudspeaker. And at the same time experiments were done with the brace-tuning of the speaker driver compartment's main enclosure to see if a higher level of voicing could be achieved. The goal was to lift the level of the entire performance while keeping the identical speaker drivers (that Toru Hara had found to be ideal). He wanted to find out if the entire sound potential could be enhanced to a level worthwhile of introducing a super-top model, an ultimate speaker of its kind.

By the spring of 2013 prototypes had been painstakingly crafted to demonstrate what this direction of development could lead to, and the results were so amazing that a decision to go into a very small, extremely low volume, hand-crafted production was made. At a price of approximately 30% more than the already expensive HB-1, many prospective customers, audio professionals, reviewers alike had their doubts. But this was before they actually heard the sound. One after another would make the 4 hour trip to Nakatsugawa, home of the Kiso Acoustic and Takamine companies, as well as Toru Hara's gorgeous listening room that also comprises several very large speaker systems in addition to all the Kiso Acoustic HB-variations. Every person, however experienced, and whatever audio career, was blown completely away and expressed complete agreement with that the HB-X1 had raised the bar by a considerable margin.

Again we have the question about diminutive size and a sizeable price tag. However the sound is at a level far beyond any price tag. It approaches the phrase: Priceless! In other word, a sound that cannot be had from any other loudspeaker at any price. What really strikes listeners is the lifelike performance where the speakers (and all of the audio system) truly disappears, and only the music is left in the room.

The HB-X1 is a loudspeaker that really has to be heard to be believed. It will only be produced in very small quantities, because it is only possible to produce it in very small quantities, and it will never be a speaker for everyone. However, for those few that will have a chance to hear it, and those even fewer ones that will have the chance to become an owner, it is safe to assume that these people will have big smiles on their faces and achieve lasting happiness.

Kiso Acoustic Co., Ltd.
2496-2 Sakashita, Nakatsugawa-shi, Gifu-ken 509-9232, Japan
E-mail: s.bjorge at kisoacoustic.com (for enquiries in English)