The spherical white wireless speakers that talk to each other and send audio to certain rooms with a wave of the hand (or a tap on the app) are cute, but sometimes I miss a simpler time – a time when nothing distracted me from my evolving music collecting saves callers my parents’ landline. Then it was a frantic run to the receiver against my sister.
At the top of my nostalgic wish list from that time? A pair of top stereo speakers, I mean bookshelf hi-fi speakers – passive wooden boxes that allowed me to take the grilles off and see the cones vibrate as sound waves emanated from them. I’m talking about the speakers, which required some time and dedication to set up, as well as cabling and a separate preamplifier and power amplifier.
The Castle Windsor series takes me back to those times. Although the series includes two new pairs of bookshelf speakers – the Duke and Earl models – Castle has been a respected name in the loudspeaker industry for 50 years. And these are the first Castle speakers made entirely in my homeland in the UK in many years. Add to that the fact that they were designed by one of the most prolific hi-fi speaker brains in the world, Karl-Heinz Fink – the same Karl-Heinz Fink who won What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 (opens in a new tab)sister publication TechRadar (where I sharpened my teeth as a staff writer) – and I’m in.
If you live in the UK like me, Castle Windsor Earl is £3,850 a pair (£4,250 with stands), while Windsor Duke is £4,500 (£5,000 with stands).
Worldwide, models ship with stands only, with the Windsor Earl priced at $5,250/$8,000 while the Duke costs $6,250/$9,250.
Analysis: Castle knows details are key, as every critical part of the two Windsor models has been developed in-house
Let’s look at two models: The Windsor Earl is slightly smaller than its Windsor Duke sibling (above and main image), but both are similar internally, featuring polypropylene mid/bass cones – 165mm in the Windsor Earl; 200mm at Windsor Duke.
However, instead of being simply manufactured by forming a film under vacuum, polypropylene is precisely cut into thin strips, woven back into a fabric type, and rejoined to form a solid film. This film is pressed to its final shape and cut to size. Why go to so much trouble? This time-consuming method helps minimize resonances by creating a flatter response curve, so…
The mid/bass driver magnet system also includes an aluminum compensating ring to limit pesky impedance fluctuations, and the cone housings are made of low-hysteresis rubber that won’t deteriorate over time. In addition, the voice coils are made of glass fiber bonded with high-temperature resin. This material has the same stiffness as aluminum without generating the eddy currents that aluminum has – yes, it’s all about the detail and transparency of the sound.
The tweeter voice coil features a copper cap to greatly reduce distortion and intermodulation, and the cabinet’s MDF panels are even separated by a thin layer of specially formulated acoustic adhesive (yes, acoustic adhesive) to suppress midrange resonance.
Look, going back to the ’70s would be a mistake – and looking at the new materials and techniques used here, Castle agrees. I’m also a big fan of musical convenience – I love Tidal, Apple Music, my old iPod Classic, my Sonos-certified turntable, and Focal Bathys wireless headphones. But there is a place for traditional hi-fi in our lives, and it’s been a while since a set of speakers excited me more than those options from Castle.
Oh, and when I’m here, this Is it’s good to have our own personal phones now instead of running around for a “rental phone”. Though Jo, I’d kill to race you again…