Few monitors have impressed us as much as Kii's cardioid-radiating Three speakers. With the launch of their matching bass extension unit, have Kii made the best even better?
Readers with good memories may recall my enthusiasm for the Kii Three monitor in SOS January 2017. I wrote at the time, and I've had no reason to change my opinion since, that the Kii Three produced the best sound I'd ever heard in my own studio room. So it was quite a significant product. We at Sound On Sound were pretty early to the party with our review of the Kii Three and it's since gone on to attract numerous high–profile users all around the world: Jacob Collier, Max Richter, and Nigel Godrich, to name but three.
Along with providing such a rewarding reviewing experience, the Kii Three also went a long way towards rehabilitating for me the whole concept of high-power DSP (digital signal processing) within monitors. You see, up until the Kii Three came along, it often seemed to me that the genuine benefits of DSP within monitors were somewhat nebulous and that their extra cost and complexity tended to pull resources, both intellectual and commercial, away from the more fundamentally important electro-acoustics. But the Kii Three demonstrated without doubt that if there's a genuine and worthwhile role for DSP within a monitor, something that can't be done by traditional means, then it could truly change the game.
The game that changed as a result of the Kii Three's DSP is directivity control. Almost all monitors, be they passive or active, are naturally omnidirectional at low and mid frequencies. Omnidirectional radiation continues up the audio band until frequencies are reached where the wavelength begins to approach the monitor's physical dimensions. From that point upward, the acoustic directivity will tend towards a cardioid character. As far as I'm aware, in the pro monitoring arena, there's just the Geithain range and the Dutch & Dutch 8C that display low–frequency directivity characteristics that are not fundamentally defined by their driver and enclosure dimensions alone. The cleverness of the Kii Three was to employ side– and rear–facing drivers, managed via complex DSP–based algorithms, to impose cardioid...