Castle Windsor Duke Loudspeaker Page 2

Not only is the scale on offer here impressive, but so is the level of low-frequency extension. It's not difficult to give an illusion of big bass from a small enclosure using port trickery, but this invariably comes undone when you eventually realise that the 'big bass' you are listening to is boomy, honky, one-note and completely devoid of insight. None of this afflicts the Windsor Dukes, though. Their bass is properly big, but also fast, taut and detailed. The port does work hard, however, so do keep them well away from rear walls – I found around two feet to be an absolute minimum.

On Or Off?
The other caveat I must offer at this point regards the grilles. I generally prefer to listen with grilles on but I found those supplied with the Windsor Dukes slightly impinged on their imagery. Moreover, the magnets holding them are really not strong enough, as I was to discover during the review. Best treat them as dust protectors when you're not listening, but nothing more.

When positioned correctly and grille-free, however, the Windsor Dukes are superb performers. They have a uniformity to their sound across the entire frequency range and draw you into the music in an almost hypnotic manner, no matter what you are playing. Harriet's live solo vocals on 'Afterglow' from her Piano Sessions CD [self-released through website] gave me a proper 'hairs on the back of my neck' moment. I saw this British singer/songwriter on the tour during which this was recorded, and the Windsor Dukes captured the instrument layout and the emotion of the performance exquisitely.

In fact, harnessing the essence of a recording was something at which Castle's standmounts proved effortlessly competent. The bass guitar notes on the intro to Harry Connick Jr.'s '(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name' from his She album [Columbia 476816-2] rumbled ominously and, when the first drum strike came in, I nearly leaped off my chair. The dynamic range of the Windsor Dukes is quite remarkable and they capture everything from a whisper to a thunderclap with ease.

At the top end, the pleasing flatness of their measured response means that the Windsor Dukes have no artificial lift in frequency to try to impress. As a result, treble quality is solely down to the design of the tweeter and, again, the Dukes turned in a clean and insightful performance.


The 26 litre cabinet includes a substantial reflex port for the 200mm woofer while the 4th-order Linkwitz-Riley crossover (operating at 2.1kHz) is not split – hence the single 4mm cable posts

Percussion was crisp and fresh and both piano and violin from the Allegretto movement of Mozart's 'Piano Quartet No.2 in E Flat', performed by the Beaux Arts Trio and Bruno Giuranna [Philips 410 391-1], were a veritable masterclass in instrument reproduction. The piano key strikes had real form and the stringed instruments sounded exactly as one would expect them to. There wasn't the slightest hint of 'screech' just as the atmospherics of the recording were vividly revealed.

The focus and solidity of the Duke's stereo imaging is a particular pleasure. At first I set them up with a small amount of toe-in, but experimentation led me to conclude that they performed best when pointed straight ahead. This did not affect their magnificent central image stability in any way, but did help expand the lateral spread of the soundstage further out, well past the edges of the cabinets.

Thunder And Lightning
Finally, I have to come back to that bass. I could regale you with tales of the woody realism that they imparted upon the double bass backing Diana Krall on 'Peel Me A Grape' from her Love Scenes CD [Impulse! IMP 12342]. Equally, I could espouse at length on the fluid and tuneful sound of the Larkin upright bass solo on Frances Black's 'Intuition', from the Talk To Me album [Dara Records DARACD056].

Ultimately, however, the experience that will stick with me for a long time is the absolutely storming rendition the Windsor Dukes offered when it came to Propellerheads' 'Take California' from Decksanddrumsandrockandroll [Wall of Sound WALL CD015] at neighbour-annoying volume. It was deep, it was tight, it was positively thunderous and it made one of the magnetically attached grilles fall off. Now that's my kind of loudspeaker.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The Castle Windsor Dukes are a masterclass in speaker design by Karl-Heinz Fink and the IAG team. Robustly made and beautifully finished, they turn in an impeccable performance across all genres of music. If you think floorstanders are king but space dictates you need standmounts, then listening to these loudspeakers will more than turn your head. They've certainly converted me.

IAG/Castle Acoustics
Huntingdon, Cambs
Supplied by: IAG House, Huntingdon, Cambs
01480 447700