Cadence ZRS-6KE 6” Component Speakers
At $269 RRP the Cadence ZRS-6KE component set offers great installation flexibility along with a distinct sonic character that we reckon many people are going to love.
- Monday 29th March, 2010
Great installation flexibility, vibrant midrange and treble will make them ideal OEM upgrade speakers.
Can become brash with heavy metal type music, lacking in mid bass.
While the ZRS-6KE is stated as a 6.5-inch set on its packaging, in truth this is actually a 6-inch sized speaker set. The ‘E’ in the name denotes this set as a ‘6-inch Duo Fit’ model that is capable for being installed into either 5.25-inch or a 6-inch sized mounting holes. This is a great feature, making the ZRS-6KE instantly appealing to a wide range of buyers given the ease at which they can be installed.
The actual cone area of the midrange drivers used in this set measures 13cm from the outside edge of the rubber edge surround, whereas a true 6.5-inch measures 14cm. Cadence do make a true 6.5-inch set called the ZRS-6K, which are identically priced at $269RRP. If you can fit them then I highly recommend sourcing the larger versions as they’ll add an extra half an octave of foundation to the music thanks to that extra centimeter.
But we’re dealing with the ‘KE’ version here, and to allow fitment into a wide range of mounting holes Cadence have used a trick stepped frame for the midrange drivers. The first step on the frame will flush fit neatly into a 5.25-inch hole, but since this is a slightly raised lip around the frame’s circumference the outer edge of the frame (and grille cover) won’t sit flush with the mounting surface. If you plan on attempting to fit these into a vehicle that has 5.25-inch openings you’ll need to check the clearance to the back side of the OEM speaker grille as you’ll need at least 2cm to avoid the cone fouling it.
It is possible to mount the ZRS-6KE set into a larger 6.5-inch hole as well, and four screw mounting tabs are provided for this. Note, though, that there are ten holes around the frame’s edge for mounting into smaller holes, and that these will not allow a proper air tight seal to the mounting surface when using the 6.5-inch screw positions. Attaching the plastic grille cover doesn’t aid sealing, so you may need to seal these holes with Silastic or something similar.
Other design features on the midrange drivers worth mentioning are the large 1-inch voice coils for added thermal and mechanical power handling (100WRMS according to Cadence), and the associated aluminium phase plugs. Larger rubber boots are placed over the magnet structures but these are purely cosmetic and can be removed easily if space behind the door it cramped. Mounting depth with the boots in place is 64mm or 57mm without.
The tweeters in this kit come supplied with some of the best and most comprehensive fitting options I’ve ever seen. The tweeters are 25mm diameter titanium domes (the Cadence price list states them as soft dome but they’re definitely titanium in finish to my eyes and ears), and you get flush, surface and bullet style mounting kits. The bullet style is the most intriguing, and is highly useful for modern cars. I say this because thanks to ever improving safety cell design the A-pillar positions in cars have moved further forwards away from the driver, creating ever expanding dashboard areas. Just look at cars like the VW Beetle for instance. The bullet style mounting kits are ideal for placing the tweeters far into the corners of the top of the dashboard – which equalizes the path length differences from left to right and enhances imaging and staging.
The passive crossovers supplied in the kit are of decent quality as well, featuring an air wound coil and Mylar capacitor for the tweeters (said to improve SQ) and a three way toggle switch to set the relative tweeter levels at -3dB, 0dB or +3dB. The case for the crossovers is nicely designed and when mounted correctly will do a great job of keeping moisture out when mounted into door cavities – though the cover plate is probably a centimeter taller than it should be which may be a little troublesome when you’re trying to get the door trim back on.
I began my audition by running the Cadence set through a range of my usual test tracks. These included Alanis Morrisette’s acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill that features lots of challenging raw female vocals backed by piano and acoustic guitars, and then onto Muse’s latest album The Resistance followed by some truly horrible music from someone named Jay Sean.
First of all the titanium tweeters jumped straight out of the mix with a super vibrant and forward delivery of treble, causing me to immediately switch their attenuation settings to the -3dB setting to achieve a decent tonal balance. These speakers enjoy an absolute ton of airiness to their sound that pop music listeners are going to love, and the vibrancy of the treble delivery is backed up by a very pronounced and forward midrange weight in the delivery. This, it seems, is simply because the mid bass presence is lacking weight and authority.
Teamed with a suitable subwoofer, then, and the results are very enjoyable. In truth, novice listeners (the type in this buying demographic) can live quite happily without mid bass as long as there’s tons of presence in the midrange and treble and a suitable sub bass kick to carry things along. This is exactly what the Cadence ZRS-6KE offers. The sound is beautifully articulate with string instruments and percussion, while cymbals soar and high-hats sizzle with brightness.
Where the ZRS-6KE set lost a little composure was during thick, chunky guitar passages as I found with Metallica’s ‘Judas Kiss’ from the album Death Magnetic (the far less compressed Guitar Hero version) and Rammstein’s ‘Reise Reise’ from the album of the same title. With the more densely mixed tracks there was a notable constraint in dynamics and lack of body from the guitars. In short, not the best speaker set for those who love thrash style metal.
Interestingly, I trialed a few choice cuts of rock band Extreme’s album Waiting for the Punch line (which is notable for being one of the most pure and dry recordings ever released) and found a much nicer tonal balance overall. The ZRS-6KE set can indeed handle rock, so long as the recording is clean and free from over processing. When kept within a music style they suit well I also found the power handling very acceptable, and certainly amplifiers up to 100WRMS can be used along with an appropriate high pass filter.
The Cadence ZRS-6KE component set certainly has a very distinct sonic character that will be immediately pleasing to a lot of listener’s ears. If you listen to mainly popular styles of music that feature a lot of electronic based instruments, or you enjoy well recorded acoustic music then the revealing upper midrange and treble this set affords will be much appreciated.
This set is aimed at first time buyers who are probably going to be upgrading the factory components in their cars. In this instance the ZRS-6KE do a very commendable job by being super flexible come installation time, while also sounding vastly superior to factory fitted speakers. At $269 RRP they’re going to be a very welcomed upgrade for a lot of buyers – especially if teamed with a subwoofer system to bolster the bass frequencies accordingly.
Cadence is distributed in Australia by:
Phone: (03) 9482 2203
Fax: (03) 9486 2297