Fabulous speaker! The KAV Design version of the Leisure 2 SE represents an incredible value and sounds much more like a full range, floor standing loudspeaker than its modest, monitor size would suggest. Excellent bass, outstanding soundstaging and excellent mids and highs from a very affordable, attractive package that leaves your jaw agape with its full, broad, detailed and musical presentation. I'd have to disagree slightly with a previous reviewer: I've played these with both a 45 watt EL34 based tube amp and a 200 watt ss integrated and I much prefer the presentation with more power. The tube mids might be a little better, (might) - but the full weight and scale these speakers can produce are fully realized with more power. Great bass response, excellent in all areas, these are nothing short of fabulous speakers.
The Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE from KAV Design is nothing short of a fantastic loudspeaker. Given its frequency response range, you'd think you were listening to a full range, floor standing loudspeaker, not a modestly sized monitor. For such a small bass/mid driver, the bass response is alarming: deep, taut and musical. Mid range and upper frequencies are produced with realism, weight and are incredibly smooth, even at high volumes. I'd have to disagree slightly with one previous reviewer: I've powered mine with both modestly sized tube gear and high powered, high quality ss gear and these speakers prefer more power. It is counter-intuitive, I know, but smaller speakers just sound better with lots of power. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a ton of money to get extremely high quality ss integrated amplifiers, which work extremely well with these speakers. Stunning finish, nice stands, these speakers represent tremendous value for the investment. The ribbon tweeters are fast, but not at all brittle or thin - they get the notes and body of the music right! Unless you have to fill a large room or insist on the deepest of bass, the Aurum Cantus deliver in all areas including delicacy, musicality, soundstaging, detail, frequency response and realism.
After going through a few different sets of speakers and wasting quite a bit of money, I took a chance on these after seeing them on Ebay. Fortunately for me it was a good decision. I like them very much. Excellent for near-field monitors, and one of less fatiguing speakers I've listened to.
Note: Mine are the Williiam Schaefer Monitor One speakers. The cabinents are modified, and the crossover is switched to bi-wire. Other than that I couldn't get much info on the mods.
The Leisure 2SE (U.S. Version) is a fabulous speaker, which, contrary to what some have said, is an easy load for an amplifier. They can be used with "mid-fi" receivers without problems - if you don't believe me, consult the web site of Kellsie Audio & Video Designs, as they were the co-designer of these speakers, and they say the same thing. (Indeed, an audiophile on a tight budget would be well advised to use a "mid-fi" receiver or amplifier with these speakers, as speakers make far more difference to the sound than will occur with any tolerably decent amplifier. For the most bang for your buck, spend the most money on your speakers.) It provides amazingly deep bass for its size (though not for its retail price), and highs that are virtually unsurpassed at any price.
The speakers are very revealing of extreme details in the music, which also means that they are very revealing of defects in source material as well. The ribbon tweeter being detailed and revealing should be no surprise to anyone familiar with good quality ribbon tweeters, which being very low mass, have less inertia than typical tweeters, and are therefore more easily accelerated by the music, with less continued movement derived from the inertia. But Aurum Cantus has done a good job with the carbon fiber woofer as well, which gives clear, sharply defined bass, making them a very good match for the ribbon tweeters. No doubt, this is partly due to the smallness of the woofer, which, of course, gives it a lower mass than a similarly constructed larger woofer.
It is worth noting that there are at least 4 versions of these speakers that one might find online. In order of supposed quality: There is the Chinese version, the "export" version that is available throughout the world, the "U.S. version", and the newer "U.S. Signature version". I have owned both the export and the U.S. version. The U.S. version tends to cost more, but it is better. The U.S. version has a flatter and wider bass frequency response, probably due to changes in the port and internal use of sound insulation. (The export version has a slight hump in the bass response, which may give the illusion of deeper bass, but it is a defect, not a virtue; the export version has a - 3 dB point of 55 Hz, which is 5 Hz worse than the U.S. version.) The U.S. version also has a better finish. And they are slightly more efficient (probably due to the different crossover), so they play a little louder with the same power.
The export version is a really good speaker, but the U.S. version is better.
The Chinese version has an ordinary shaped cabinet, and a polypropylene woofer. The U.S. Signature version is like the regular U.S. version, except for some changes in the crossover. It is probably slightly better than the regular U.S. version, though not having heard them, I cannot say for sure, but judging from how Kellsie (who co-designed the U.S. version) improved the Leisure 2SE U.S. version over the export version, I think it a reasonable assumption that this is even better. Its frequency response +/- 3 dB & +/- 6 dB is, however, the same as the original U.S. version; it is only in the effects of the crossover that they will sound different.
Now, you can sometimes find good deals on the U.S. version online, but if you cannot, then, if you are poor and need a less expensive speaker, I think one should consider the Magnepan MMG instead, if one has an amplifier that can handle inefficient 4 ohm speakers, does not mind slightly less deep bass, and can deal with them being a little more difficult to place in a room. But at $550 instead of the $1299 for the Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE U.S. version (and $1499 for the U.S. Signature version), they must be regarded as a better deal at (or near) list price. (Between the MMG and the export version of the Leisure 2SE, it is a tough call, but I think I would rather not have a hump in the bass response, and would personally prefer the MMG.) Hence, the 4 star value rating, as they are not proportionally better than the Magnepan MMG, which is probably the best value in a high quality speaker today.
Aurum Cantus Leisure 2SE are top of the line monitor loudspeakers that offer incredible value for money invested. They need about 250 hours of braking in, after that period the do not merely produce sound, but they sing with a voice of a an nightingale. The ribbon driver is fast, sweet, precise and it sings with crystal clarity, even at ranges where ordinary tweeters give up. The production of the lower octaves is defined, and the drivers go deep for a cabinet of this size, which actually surprised me. As a whole, these speakers are finely balanced, and they are true emotional performers, that pull the listener into the music, inevitably causing him to stomp his feet and tap with his hands to the rhythm of the music. Summing it up with a word – they are MUSICAL.
Cantus should be driven with a good amplifier, since they are not an extremely easy load. Due to the high resolution of the ribbon driver, the short comings of the amplifier are exposed. When they are placed correctly in the listening room, their soundstage is wide and deep, and the speakers tend to totally disappear. They have been with me for more than 5 months, and they are going to stay with me for a long time to come.
The build quality and execution of these speakers is a story of its own. The drivers are custom hand built, and the cross over consists of costly Mundorf Supreme MKP capacitor, air wound inductors and the internal wiring is from Supra. The speakers are delivered in matched pairs marked with unique serial numbers – at this price range I have until now not seen anything like it.
They get my warmest recommendation!!