These compact monitors from new company Kali Audio strike an enticing balance between performance and affordability.
US‑based company Kali Audio may be a new name in monitoring, but after trying out a new pair of their LP‑6s, it seems they’ve pulled out all the stops in endeavouring to deliver the highest level of performance at little more than an entry level price. Part of the Project Lone Pine series — which also includes the eight‑inch‑woofer model, the LP‑8 — the LP‑6 is designed to be used in the nearfield and is rated with a continuous output of 85dB at a distance of 2.2 meters, with additional headroom to accommodate brief 112dB peaks. That doesn’t make it the loudest monitor of its size, but it’s certainly more than loud enough for practical monitoring. Both the six‑inch LP‑6 and the LP‑8 are equipped with a limiter circuit to protect the driver, and when the limiter kicks in, distortion becomes audible — a non‑subtle hint that you should turn things down.
Outwardly the LP‑6 looks like a pretty typical two‑way, active speaker, its drivers mounted in an unfussy but functional black foil‑skinned particle‑board cabinet. A one‑inch soft‑dome tweeter feeds an asymmetrical waveguide, a moulding that also incorporates the woofer surround, to optimise its dispersion pattern and to maximise the size of the sweet spot. Though these are not expensive speakers, the woofer features a 1.5‑inch voice coil and a very large magnet to keep the low end clean. A front‑exiting port is used to tune the cabinet, but this has been designed to reduce port noise by being shaped to minimise turbulence within the port. With an overall cabinet size of 35.9 x 22.2 x 26cm, and weighing in at just a hint over 7kg each, the speakers are suitable for desk/shelf mounting on suitable platforms, or they can be placed on rigid hi‑fi style speaker stands.
As with most active speakers, there are rear‑panel controls that modify the response to suit different room placements and user tastes, in this case controlled via an eight‑way DIP switch. To make life easy for the user, all the settings are presented as speaker position diagrams printed on the rear panel, so if you don’t know what half‑space loading is, it doesn’t matter — just pick the diagram that matches your setup and set the switches as shown.
HF and LF adjustment options (±2dB) are included here, also as DIP switch settings, along with on/off setting for the RCA phono input. This latter option is there to prevent interference being picked up when the RCA input is not being used. A rotary control with a centre detent at the 0dB position sets the input gain, and there are input options for unbalanced RCA phono, balanced/unbalanced quarter‑inch jack, or balanced XLR.
The frequency response is specified at 39Hz‑25kHz at the ‑10dB points, or 47Hz‑21kHz at the more usual ‑3dB points, and the crossover point is at 1.5kHz. With its woofer rated at 80 Watts and the soft‑dome tweeter at 40 Watts, the Class‑D amplifier pack can deliver 40 Watts to each driver while keeping heat and power consumption to a minimum. Power comes in on a standard IEC mains lead, with a rear‑panel switch to turn on the power. A blue LED on the front panel shows when the speakers are powered.
To test the speakers, I put them on Primacoustic Recoil Stabilizer platforms and then switched between them and my Event Opals, after setting the gains to get a similar level from each. This isn’t a fair comparison, of course — the Kali monitors cost a fraction of what the Opals do — but it proved useful nevertheless in showing how the Kali LP‑6s performed. With the EQ controls set flat, the mids and highs from the LP‑6s came over as smooth and detailed, with excellent stereo imaging. The low end didn’t come close to what the larger Opals are capable of delivering, and it didn’t sound quite as focussed, but for a six‑inch monitor the bass extension is perfectly fine and in a small room even preferable to something that over‑emphasises the lows. If you have a larger room, the eight‑inch version has a little more bass extension and might be a better choice.
You can subject any speaker to a series of technical tests and find flaws — all loudspeakers are a compromise — but what matters most, to me at any rate, is whether the speakers are comfortable to work with for long periods and whether the mixes they deliver translate well to other playback systems. With the caveat that a headphone check is always a good idea to see what the low bass is really doing, the LP‑6s tick both boxes. For desk or shelf mounting they benefit from a good speaker platform, but other than that, setting them up is made very simple by the diagram approach to the DIP switch settings. Given that these speakers are very affordable, they are definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for home studio monitors for use in domestic sized rooms.
Perhaps also consider monitors from Mackie and M‑Audio, and the PreSonus Eris range.
- Excellent price/performance ratio.
- Easy to set up thanks to the intuitive diagrams on the rear panel.
- Only the usual limited bass extension common to speakers of this size and type.
Kali Audio may be a new name, but the LP-6 is a very capable and serious speaker for the price.