Yes, Kii Audio’s flagship monitors are expensive — but then they might just be the best loudspeakers in the world...
Call me a curmudgeonly old Luddite but I’m always a little skeptical about the combination of complex digital signal processing with the ‘art’ of electro-acoustics — by which I mean the design and engineering of drivers, filters and enclosure. Whenever I read that a monitor incorporates DSP, my instinct is to wonder just what genuine performance benefits the DSP brings and how much of the manufacturing budget it diverted from the components that actually make the noise or fundamentally influence the speaker’s quality. So, seeing as the subject of this review, the Kii Three active monitor, incorporates DSP technology, you might imagine it would press all my DSP-phobic buttons.
But here’s the thing. A few issues ago, I reviewed the Geithain RL944K monitor, and its cardioid low-frequency radiation characteristic, accomplished passively through some clever enclosure venting, got me wondering if a cardioid characteristic couldn’t be achieved more effectively by designing a monitor with auxiliary, DSP-controlled rear-facing drivers. One of the unwritten laws of speaker design is that any great idea you come up with will almost certainly have occurred already to somebody else, and a quick Google search on cardioid speakers didn’t disappoint: it resulted in my discovery of the Kii Three and, subsequently, this review. But perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. You are probably wondering who Kii Audio are and where the company sprang up from. So, before I explain why DSP on the Kii Three doesn’t give me the heebie-jeebies, a little background may be necessary.
Kii Audio are a German-based start-up founded by some pretty high-profile audio industry names. In particular, the Chief Technology Officer is Bruno Putzeys. Putzeys’ main claim to audio fame is his development of the Hypex NCore Class-D amplifier technology now found in numerous high-end active speakers and amplifiers, but he was also the designer behind the extremely well-regarded...
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