The official launch of SIGAO DRIVE

Posted on 9th May 2024 in Category: News

Back in February, at Bristol HiFi Show 2024, we announced the upcoming release of a brand new Kudos Audio product. That product is SIGAO DRIVE – an unpowered external crossover situated in front of the amplifiers in the audio signal chain, that works with any Kudos loudspeaker, and virtually any amplifier brand you wish to use. The reaction to this announcement from industry, press, and public has been humbling, and truly incredible. 

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And so it’s with genuine excitement that we now announce the official launch of our groundbreaking new zero-power crossover. Coinciding with Munich High End 2024, SIGAO DRIVE makes its official debut at MotorWorld Munich, a stunning space across the street from the MOC. The location is fitting. We’ll be surrounded by some of the best examples of precision engineering in the history of motorsport – vehicles both classic and modern that represent a relentless pursuit of racing perfection. It’s this same pursuit for perfection that has driven us to create SIGAO DRIVE – a product built from the ground up to facilitate the finest possible audio experience with Kudos loudspeakers.

The first, limited production run of SIGAO DRIVE will be available this summer, and you can ensure you’re one of the first to experience its transformative qualities by pre-ordering SIGAO DRIVE now. 

In this article we’ll dive into how and why we’ve created SIGAO DRIVE, and exactly what it can do to elevate your listening experience. 

What is SIGAO DRIVE, and why is it unique? 

SIGAO DRIVE is a product that, we believe, represents a unique and wholly new approach to crossover design – one that’s never been seen in mainstream HiFi. To explain why, let’s start at the very beginning.

In high end audio, the job of a crossover is to split an audio signal into separate frequency bands, and send these separate signals to the appropriate driver within your loudspeaker. Oftentimes, these crossovers are housed inside the loudspeaker enclosure – located between the power amplifiers and the speaker drivers in the audio signal chain. There is, however, a significant drawback to this ‘passive’ approach to crossover design. The power amplifier can never have complete and unfettered control of the drive units, because of the crossover components placed between them. And crucially, these components are likely to introduce unavoidable reactance and noise distortions, significantly affecting the quality of our audio.

To overcome this limitation, and in the pursuit of the highest possible resolution reproduction, several power amplifiers can be used – with each loudspeaker drive unit directly driven by a power amplifier channel. The audio signal is then divided by the crossover before the power amplifiers at signal level, accomplished using “active” filters. 

Here at Kudos Audio, we have been vocal, long-time champions of ‘active configuration’. We have, in fact, advocated for the considerable benefits of active listening on this very blog. Yet even in the best active systems, there remains a significant roadblock on our route to audio perfection. However well designed, the required high-quality DC power supplies in active systems add noise and distortions to the signal, which inevitably mean deviations from neutrality. These deviations are especially obvious in an active system, due to its incredibly high resolution.

We were convinced that there was a better, more efficient route to the many benefits of active listening. Utilising our trademark, masterfully simple methodology, we asked ourselves what seemed at first to be a fairly straightforward question (but proved anything but). What if we could create a crossover that allowed the power amplifiers to directly grip the drivers of the loudspeaker, without needing a power supply? 

And so SIGAO DRIVE was born. 

Creating an unpowered crossover technologically capable of sitting in front of the amplifiers in the audio signal chain was no easy feat. It would take innovative, out of the box thinking, and some of the best minds in high end audio. To make this concept a reality, we partnered with two of HiFi’s most revered engineers – ex-Naim Audio CEO Trevor Wilson, and ex-Naim Audio Technical Director, Roy George. Both Trevor and Roy were instrumental in making SIGAO DRIVE possible, helping the Kudos Audio team breathe life into the technologically groundbreaking electronics that would make this product a reality. They fully embraced our philosophy of masterful simplicity – a methodology that is present in every aspect of SIGAO DRIVE’s design.

If this weren’t enough, SIGAO DRIVE represented one more exciting and unmissable opportunity. By creating our own, custom-made crossover from the ground up, it meant we could allow Kudos listeners to pair their loudspeakers with virtually any amplifiers on the market – opening up near-infinite brand compatibility with Kudos Audio for the very first time. 

Next, let’s look at what makes SIGAO DRIVE a must-have addition to the audio setup of any system that features, or is about to feature, Kudos Audio loudspeakers.

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A simplified route to active listening

As mentioned above, SIGAO DRIVE features no power supply, whilst sitting in the position of traditional active crossover within the signal chain. This is achieved using new, extremely high quality inductors (three per channel), allowing SIGAO DRIVE to deliver a firmer grip on both the power amplifier and the loudspeaker driver than its conventional passive or active counterparts.

Inside SIGAO DRIVE, painstaking consideration has been taken to acutely minimise the effects of micro-phonics and noise on the purity of the audio signal. Internally, the crossover is mounted on ten custom-designed decoupling bushes, including specialist rubber proprietary devices for decoupling PCBs. All internal electronic components are specially isolated from the board itself, with each individual component’s orientation and positioning fine tuned to properly manage magnetic fields. All this reduces the possibility that vibration, room sound, and electronic reactance can affect the performance of the crossover. 

The final results are, truly, jaw dropping: A level sonic purity previously unmatched through Kudos Audio loudspeakers. The results have to be heard to be believed. 

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Infinite Compatibility 

Until now, Kudos loudspeakers in active configuration have only been compatible with a select handful of audio brands. With SIGAO DRIVE, that’s changing. By building our own Kudos Audio crossover, we can give Kudos listeners the opportunity to open up a whole new world of choice and compatibility within their audio system. 

Using a carefully calculated configuration of resistors in the crossover’s output, SIGAO DRIVE is versatile enough to work with the full range of Kudos loudspeakers, and with almost any amplifier brand available on the market. It means SIGAO DRIVE opens up near a near-infinite option of electronics brands with any Kudos loudspeaker you choose to use. 

When you purchase SIGAO DRIVE, each unit will be supplied custom-fitted with the correct plugs for both your Kudos loudspeakers, and your chosen power amplifiers. And when you change your speakers or amplifiers, you don’t need to worry about swapping out your crossover. All you have to do is swap out the plugs!

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Experience Kudos at its best

In order to bring active listening to Kudos listeners, we’ve had the great privilege of working with some of the best audio electronics brands in the industry. All of these partnerships have wielded incredible sonic results, much loved by listeners across the world. But designing and building our own, in-house crossover gave us the opportunity to ask a new, tantalising question – how can we take listening with Kudos to a whole new level of sonic excellence? 

Simply put, SIGAO DRIVE is the only external crossover that’s been designed from the ground up to get the very best from Kudos loudspeakers. Its form-first, masterfully simple methodology represents the very same exacting philosophy found throughout the Kudos product line. 

By ensuring the output of the amplifier is directly connected to the voice coil of the loudspeaker, the benefits of active configuration are preserved – but by removing the need for a power supply, a new level of noise reduction and sonic clarity is achieved. We believe this represents the very best way to experience Kudos – opening up a wholly unique, and fundamentally better Kudos Audio experience than ever before. 

Hearing, and purchasing, SIGAO DRIVE

Keen to see it for yourself? Through 2024, we’ll be hosting local dealer events across the UK, giving you the opportunity to hear SIGAO DRIVE’s transformative qualities from the comfort of your local dealer. Head to our events page to explore all our upcoming events.

If you’re keen to be amongst the first to get your hands on SIGAO DRIVE – you can pre-order yours now. We’re expecting extremely high demand for the first production run, so ensure you don’t miss out by contacting your local dealer today. 

Contact your local Kudos retailer to experience SIGAO DRIVE and for further information.