Kii Three

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Here is a review (translated from German) of the new Kii Three active DSP speaker.

…a family friendly compact speaker that scores far higher on all significant audiophile fronts than any we’ve had here at AUDIO in our thirty plus year history.

Designed in concept by Bruno Putzeys of Grimm LS1 fame and incorporating some of his highly-renowned Class D amplifiers, it accomplishes the feat of controlling the dispersion of the bass using clever DSP and multiple bass drivers. This means it is not choosy about placement in corners and near walls, and it sounds like a much larger speaker. In common with other advanced speakers, the combination of DSP, active amplification, and correct time domain behaviour produces astonishing results.

For the Three we can suffice with the shortest ever listening report. Its essence is one of superb accuracy that grabs one immediately and releases no-one from its thrall. It takes only a scant few seconds for the listener to grasp what sets this speaker apart from classical speaker and amp combinations. It sounds as pure as crystal, it’s spatially and dynamically right on the mark and its magnificent authenticity alone will make customers sign the order form well before the dealer has managed to produce the compulsory cup of coffee and line up the leaflets

It is compact, but the bass reaches down to 20 Hz through the use of EQ and, as a result, much greater power is required to drive it than a larger box. However, this is handled by the internal power amps so the user need not worry about this. For many people the size will be much more acceptable than conventional humongous boxes (like my speakers).

Basically, it looks as though the Kii Three could be the best speaker ever made (I am not exaggerating) and costs about £6500. And of course it includes DACs and amps so no external gear other than a laptop or other digital source is necessary to make a complete system. A future option will offer wi fi.

On the same magazine cover is an image of the ‘new’ Harbeth 40.2 which costs much more. As the Kii Three reviewer says:

Wild times are afoot for Kii Audio’s competitors.

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4 thoughts on “Kii Three

  1. James here. I love the concept of the rational audiophile. I am a big fan of doing what sounds good without the overemphasis on materials and hyperbole. I have managed to get a very good sounding system below using discarded pieces here and there. The biggest improvement came via using an active, multi-amped setup.

    I have successfully used the guide at http://rtaylor.sites.tru.ca/2013/06/25/digital-crossovereq-with-open-source-software-howto/ to get an old Linux box running using a Delta 1010lt as the card. It is tri-amped with a 2-channel amp running two 15″ floor-mounted open-baffle woofers, a stereo amp running two 5″ mids, and a stereo amp running two tweeters. Sounds good (subjective I know). I am running AVLinux on that box.

    I am trying to do the same now with a SOC by hardkernel.com (Odroid C1+) and a surroundsound capable external USB card running ArchlinuxARM. It is much more challenging in this environment.

    I am a lawyer who likes this stuff but does not have the technical chops. I learn well thought. Do you happen to make your software available to others? I am going to return often.

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  2. James, many thanks for your generous comment. Some time I will make my software available but at the moment it is a bit ‘hard-coded’ and not very adaptable to other systems.

    I am not claiming it is unique, by the way, but it does have the adjustable ‘baffle step compensation’ for each driver that I think is something that makes setting the system up very easy. It might be possible to make meaningful in-room measurements and invert them to effectively apply this compensation inherently, but something tells me that it would ultimately amount to the same thing and take a lot more work to do, and it might involve running the drivers outside their comfort zones while making the measurements. The idea is that each driver is corrected individually for phase and amplitude in order to make the crossover at any frequency or slope ‘transparent’. This is subtly different from creating imperfect crossovers and then applying blanket correction to smooth the overall frequency response.

    Baffle step compensation can theoretically be applied to any FIR-based crossover system, and something known as a “shelving” filter would be pretty close but, I think, not exactly the same.

    Good luck with your Linux-based system – I would be really interested to know how this works out.

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  3. I can understand where the Grimm LS1 is coming from. Anyone who paid attention reading Dickason’s LDC will be at home reading the excellent design rationale on the Grimm web site – a document that virtually tells you how to make effective clones. Its not as if it even uses very esoteric drivers – just rather good ones. How restrained not to use the Seas Millenium!

    But this Kii 3 seems … odd. Its not huge. And yet we are told that the bass reaches 20Hz through EQ. Really? Some magic here? – or just very, very quietly?

    My ScanSpeak 23Ws have 13mm xmax, each way. They are chunky and very heavy, And in a 25l sealed enclosure, they will give me an F3 of 34Hz. But just 75W is enough to have them at the limit ox xmax from 20Hz down, so my 30-year old audiolab is well up to it. Admittedly, I think the police will arrive before I find out what the non linear excursion actually sounds like.

    The Kii has a number of drivers, but they aren’t large and many of them are primarily trying to cancel backwave.

    So how on earth is it supposed to do 20Hz without special snake-oil magic cones with bizarre excursion capabilities?

    My guess is – it doesn’t.

    As they used to say on the basslist – swept volume matters!

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  4. Maybe you’re right and I have been suckered by the designer’s reputation and a single favourable review of the Kii. However, I think I would be expecting there to be some DSP-based bass attenuation at high SPLs which might allow for the apparent miracle of ’20Hz’ from small-ish drivers..? Not something I would want if I could get away without it, of course.

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