Ian Ringstead takes delivery of a pile of ready cut wood and puts together the £300 KJF Audio Frugel Horn Lite Speaker Kit. 

The Build

A lot of the products I review come from talking to the manufacturers and designers when I attend shows. I really enjoy talking to people and there is nothing better than getting to know the person behind the product and trying out their creations.

That is how I came about this review and build of Stefan’s Frugel Horn Lite kit. I’ve always wanted to build a speaker but shied away from the hassle of making one from scratch, cutting my own panels and sourcing the parts. The answer to that issue could be this kit which does it all for you apart from assembly of course.

The kit is fully CNC machined from 18mm Baltic birch ply which is the best you can get and is a very reliable ply used by the industry for any quality job. The kit comes with all the parts you need with accurately cut panels that just require gluing together. The front baffle is cut for the driver you specify in the kit, this being the Mark Audio Alpair 6M, although KJF will cut out holes for other drivers if you wish at a small cost if they know it will work in this design. Also, high quality gold plated speaker terminals and good cable are supplied.

The Frugel horn is a tapered hypex horn with an internal choke and the option to dampen the horn with wadding to suit personal tastes regarding bass output performance. You can therefore tailor the sound as you wish. Scott Lindgren designed this current range and it was Scott who got me interested in these in the first place. The kit can be built from scratch if you are more ambitious than me by accessing the Frugel horn website where full plans are provided.

It took me about two weeks on and off to build the kit in my garage, but if you had the time to spare a weekend would suffice. I just needed to purchase some clamps for the panels when they had been glued. These were easily obtained from my local Srewfix at a very reasonable outlay of about £30.

I contacted Stefan about finishing the cabinets off after having built them and he recommended a product called Osmo Polyx which is a wax oil that is tough and hard wearing, resistant to scratching and highlights the grain of the wood. It’s not cheap at about £11 for a small tin 125ml, but it only needs to be applied in two coats for a lovely durable finish.

There isn’t much else I can add to the build side other than take your time and make sure all the panels are accurately lined up before gluing and clamping. Once built I sanded the cabinets down and then applied the wax oil.


My main speakers at home are Audio Physic Avanti IIs which are at the other end of the scale to the Frugel horns in terms of price and complexity. I put the Frugel horns in my second system upstairs in my studio/ hobby room. They fit perfectly here in a smallish bedroom taking up minimal space and I partnered them with my Temple Audio mono blocks, Tisbury Audio passive pre-amp and a Sony CD player. I spend a fair bit of time in this room when I am building model kits, another passion of mine, so I like to listen to music at a good standard.

After a few hours of running in I started listening to the Frugel horns seriously. It never ceases to amaze me how such a tiny drive unit can produce such a good sound.

The Alpair 6M is very well suited to applications such as this kit for desk top or nearfield use. The warm bass tone aids the often harsh sound of smaller speakers and so helps balance the sound out. The driver has had its cone profile modified to improve vocal clarity and the Nomex rear suspension and new lower mass copper wound coil aid performance over previous designs. Mark Audio recommend careful running in of the drivers operating at low volumes for the first 100 hours and then gradually increasing the volume to normal levels. The driver is only rated at 20 watts rms so headbangers beware. That may not sound like a lot but on normal listening sessions you rarely use more than a few watts as a rule and the higher power ratings on amps are for peaks in volume where headroom is essential at louder levels or driving inefficient designs.

I found that used sensibly the Alpair 6M worked brilliantly for their size and gave me plenty of volume in my small room. It’s all about knowing when to stop turning the volume up. I had so many customers in my retailing days who brought speakers in with blown drivers or amps with blown output fuses purely because they didn’t understand power ratings and being sensible. It’s not sheer power that blows drive units but distorted power. It only takes a few watts of distortion to burn a drive unit out whereas a much larger output power of clean watts will not be an issue for short durations.

Right, lesson over with, back to the sound. The Frugel horns were rather good. Bass for such a small driver was excellent and once my ears had adjusted I happily accepted their limitations. Of course, they won’t shake your room, but believe me they do a remarkable job of tricking the ear into thinking they produce more than they really do. This is down to psychoacoustics and how our brain adapts to different situations. Without going into the complexities and remarkable ability the human brain has for coping with the environment around us, let’s just say they work.

Human voice was indeed very good and I listened to Sting’s “Live in Berlin” album admiring the concert venue and the way in which his and the other artists vocals were captured. Clarity was indeed very good if it was there on the recording. Guitar, whether electric or acoustic from Dominic Miller came over well and the orchestral strings added real feeling and weight in sound to the concert.

Donald Fagen’s latest album “Sunken Condos” was reproduced with all the clarity he always puts into his albums and the backing singers accompanying his songs with their usual sublime harmonies. On a different tack, Jean Luc Ponty’s “Cosmic Messenger” was next and his electronic/ jazz styled violin with its complex rhythms sounded sharp and detailed without becoming harsh and strident. There’s a lot going on in his tunes and it takes a good system to reproduce his music correctly. Intricate harmonies and the interplay between the musicians make these compositions. The sign of any good system is its ability to reproduce any type of music well, and the Frugel horn doesn’t disappoint.
So, a very interesting project with a great outcome of an excellent sounding pair of loudspeakers. For £300 these are a bargain and you have the satisfaction of having built them yourself. Being a full range drive unit there is no crossover of course which aids the very good sound quality.


Build Quality:  Depends on your skill, but high quality can be achieved.

Sound Quality: Excellent, open and detailed 

Value for Money:  Excellent

Pros: Great sound from a budget product that you build yourself, so giving fantastic value and pride of ownership.
If you have reasonable DIY skills it’s a straight forward build that’s uncomplicated.

Cons: None really unless you are no good at rudimentary DIY skills. Not a high-powered design so may limit the type of music and level at which you play them.

Price £300 approximately excluding any tools you may have to buy.

Ian Ringstead

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