We’ve been wanting to try Kanto speakers for some time now. Ever since we first saw their tiny, brightly colored powered speakers, we’ve been looking for a chance to try them out. Though Kanto has been around since 2007, we didn’t come into contact with Kanto’s lineup until CES 2018, when we wandered into their suite at the Venetian hotel. In that room, we saw an amazing display — an array of powered speakers and subwoofers, all in compact cabinets with rounded edges, with drivers ranging in size between three inches and 5.25 inches, finished in traditional wood grain veneer, matte and gloss white, black, blue, white, red, and gray. Small form factor speakers are Kanto’s specialty — we often see their speakers flanking a desktop computer monitor or laptop. Today, we’re trying something a bit outside of the norm for this company — the new Kanto SYD, a two-channel active speaker with a range of inputs and powerful internal amplifier. We’ve tried a lot of Bluetooth-compatible speakers that sound pretty good, but few have looked this good.
We’ll get to the sound, but first: the SYD is a sharp-looking speaker. It’s relatively compact, at 17.5” x 5.7” x 6.9”, and weighs 9.9 pounds. The SYD is available in four subtle colors; ours came in a classy matte medium gray that Kanto calls “off-black.” There’s no grille or branding — there’s nothing facing the user except for exposed drivers, a volume/power knob, and a small window hiding status LEDs and an IR receiver.
The SYD has a minimalist, modern look that we love, and its build quality is seamless and impeccable. A simple metal base is also included that angles the SYD upward in a way that makes the speaker appear to be floating. On the rear, on the SYD’s amplifier panel, are all the connections — RCA and 3.5mm analog inputs, an optical input, a subwoofer output. A turntable ground and switch for phono input are also included, as the SYD also features a built-in phono preamp for vinyl enthusiasts. Bluetooth connectivity is also available, featuring support for aptX but not AAC. As a bit of a bonus, a USB-A charging port is also included. Perhaps best of all, a full-function remote with tone controls is included — a feature we would have very much appreciated in the active speakers we tested last week.
The Kanto SYD is — or at least it seems to be — essentially two of Kanto’s YU4 speakers stuck together. Like the YU4, the SYD features a pair of 4-inch Kevlar woofers and a pair of 1-inch silk dome tweeters. Inside is a class-D amplifier capable of 140W peak, 70W RMS power. The SYD has a claimed frequency response of 60 Hz — 20 kHz. This was borne out in our testing — the SYD’s bass can have some substantial impact, but, despite its rear-ported cabinet, its bass does not extend very low. As we’ve found with so many of these types of small speakers, adding a subwoofer (like Kanto’s Sub6 or Sub8) goes a long way to round out its sound. Other than that, the SYD presents sound that is good for its size and price range but didn’t quite blow our minds.
To us, the SYD’s sound was small and narrow, and very sensitive to room position. We don’t usually play with tone controls — we prefer to evaluate a speaker based on its “stock” sound — but we did find the treble detail improved with one tick up on the SYD’s treble. We tried the SYD as a compact soundbar as well — it presents vocal ranges well enough to be an upgrade for your TV’s sound, but its narrow soundstage and lack of low-end boom won’t replace a true home theater setup or some of the nicer soundbars we’ve heard. The Kanto SYD is very impressive from a design and feature perspective; though we didn’t conclude that this will rival hifi systems above its price range or size, it certainly could be a good fit for a small apartment or office.
Company and Price
Company: Kanto Audio