While there's been no announcement to the effect, nor a banner across the upper corner to indicate it, this is part of a series of reviews. The theme? To find a replacement for the late, lamented LS3/5A. The requirements are simple: the speaker must be small and of high quality (thus eliminating the sub-£99-per-pair dross). Am I expecting ever to find a genuine substitute for one of the 10 greatest speakers of all time? No. But I do hope to find enough quality mini-monitors to ensure that those suffering a dearth of space need never feel cheated. And Diapason's Karis is definitely one which will work in a small room.
By small room, I mean as restricted as 10x12ft; any less would be a prison cell, and for that you have either my apologies or instructions to find a wife who'll let you set up your gear in other than the broom cupboard. While the Karis is very much a speaker with high-end pretensions - it sells for a not-inconsiderable, un-LS3/5A-like £1250 per pair - it does have a specific function which accounts for its topology. Essentially, this is a reduced-scale version of the company's £1995-per-pair Adamantes III, designed ostensibly as the rear and/or side channel speakers for a 5.1 system; the company produces the Kentron as a dedicated centre channel speaker. But Diapason also markets the Karis as a stand-alone mini-monitor, so it's not cheating to assess it outside of home cinema usage.
As we've come to expect of Italian speakers, the Karis is gorgeous, its solid Canaletto walnut enclosure accounting for part of the cost. But all is not well in the eyes of some observers. While I positively drooled over the Karis, one cynical colleague argued that it looks like an in-car speaker had simply been fitted to the front of a box. His response is understandable, for Diapason produced a grille which could easily do time on the rear parcel shelf of any number of vehicles.