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Kii Three - my impressions and pro reviews


firedog

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Apologies if these two queries have been discussed in this thread already (I haven't had chance to read the whole thread) - I can't seem to find thread search functionality on this forum. I'm in the process of moving my entire 2-channel system over to active cardiod speakers. I'm considering the Kii's (which I've already home auditioned) and the 8c's (which I haven't yet).

 

First query, have many folks in this thread directly compared the Kii's and 8c's?

 

Second query, I have a Trinnov Amethyst on order for digital pre-amp duties. How many folks here have the Amethyst in play? (I have a bunch of queries, perhaps better directed by PM so as not to be OT)

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10 minutes ago, Bernstein said:

Hi @Blade1001

 

I had the 8c for demo at home + listened to the KII for hours at my dealer. 

 

You can read my results here

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/dutch-dutch-8c-active-speakers/65330/107?u=ssk84

 

I ordered the KIIs :) 

 

Thanks, I have read that before, a nice summary.

 

I have tested the Kii's at home, and was massively impressed, and my thoughts much align with your descriptions. They bettered my resident Salon 2's in a number of area and matched them in several others.

 

What did you do to achieve the more "relaxed" sound which you mentioned as a preference in that post?

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14 minutes ago, Bernstein said:

 

The speaker haven’t arrived yet...

Optimization will be based on Floyd Toole (also called Harman curve), but measurements are needed to achieve it precisely. But @firedog has a workaround by ear. I have a good friend who will do this, but I have to wait some months...

 

Thanks, I'm familiar with the Harman curve, I use it as a preset on the Trinnov Altitude in my HT system - I still find it a little bright at the top end, so you may need additional top end roll - but now I see how you are looking to achieve the relaxed sound. Thanks.

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21 minutes ago, firedog said:

I can't answer for Bernstein, but on albums I think need to be "relaxed" (mostly non acoustic music), I boost the frequencies between 100-400 hz a bit, and reduce the high end a bit. 
I'm hoping in the fall to setup with Audiolense on my server and feed the Kiis with a target curve resembling the Harman down slope. I'm thinking that will probably solve the issue.  

 

Thanks  - I see folks are using EQ for this then, thats fine and easy enough to do. I didn't know if people were using EQ or some other technique to achieve the "relaxed" sound, but thanks for confirming.

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40 minutes ago, Bernstein said:

 

You speaking about a system which cost many times more than the KII...wow. The size of the Salon 2 is also much bigger...

 

Looking st EQ & Convolution: You can use your Roon Core to do this as well! More cost efficient. The KII Control then can be used for the inputs and volume control. Nice and small. 

 

PS: Darko calls this „Future-fi“ 😎 

 

That's one the benefits of DSP I guess, you can push drivers a little further than with a passive system - though there are consequences, as can be seen from the distortion measurements seen further up this thread, in terms of raw output. The Salons had no issue going down flat well below 20Hz in my room without breaking much of a sweat, but ultimately a) I don't need to reach those kind of subterranean levels in my two channel system (only watching movies with the kids has made use of it), no music ever has, and b) if I really wanted to add that ability, its only a sub-woofer or two away.

 

The problem with having the EQ in Roon, is it doesn't work for other sources. Kii did miss a bit of a trick not providing PEQ or a convolution engine in the speaker. They have told me that they have something else in the works for the Kii's so I would wager it'll be a more advanced future controller perhaps. The Amethyst will do everything I need though for my own 'new' system. (with the exception of convolution filters if I wanted mess around with XTC for example).

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1 hour ago, firedog said:

They've been hinting for about 2 years that a bigger better version of the control is in the works....but it is no more than a rumor. Nothing even resembling hard info has ever been seen.

 

To be fair it’s a logical next step - my own search revealed that there are precious few digital preamp options out there with digital and analogue in, and AES out, throw in a decent 64bit volume control, Roon and multi-source EQ functionality, and the Amethyst is pretty much the only game in town.

 

The control unit is nice - one was supplied with the demo pair I borrowed - but it falls a little short on functionality and connectivity. I’d much rather they’d had a separate connection box with more inputs, and made the controller wirelessly attached to it.

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31 minutes ago, mitchco said:

Here is the frequency response of both the Kii THREE and the D&D 8c overlaid as measured in my room. Both were tuned to produce a downward tilting response from 20 Hz to -10 dB at 20 kHz as per Harman's research.

 

Kii THREE Red Green D&D 8c Blue Mauve.jpg

 

This was achieved using the onboard controls only. The 8c is a bit smoother in the bottom end due to the additional PEQ's that the THREE does not have, but it in a double blind comparison, I doubt I could pick the two apart from a tonal perspective. As others have mentioned, the THREE sounds "dryer" than the 8c is about the only way I can describe any difference.

 

 

Very interesting post - I’ve read both of your reviews with interest.

 

Given the very closely matching FR, how would you account the “dryer” presentation of the Kii’s as you put it? 

 

Is there anything in the other REW data, such as the waterfall plots (perhaps faster decay) etc, that might explain the difference? Do you have the REW measurement files available at all?

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10 hours ago, mitchco said:

Dryer sound - less distortion is my best guess, given the electronics quote. That's what is fundamentally different compared to the 8c. "According to Putzeys, distortion of loudspeaker drivers can be optimized by varying the amplifier’s output resistance for different frequency ranges. This requires an amplifier that is specifically tuned to the parameters of the loudspeaker driver. An amplifier like this can never be a commercial good-for-all piece of equipment. They have to be tailor made, and this is what was done for the Kii Three." From Audioxpress's excellent review

 

 

Sounds like a reasonable assumption to me.  It's just a shame that a 'dryer' sound has generally negative connotations. Perhaps its not a negative in this context?

 

Incidentally which did you prefer out of the two, speakers or was it literally the case that once calibrated there was just too little to differentiate them?

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7 minutes ago, firedog said:

Just wanted to say that for various reasons, I'm now listening to the Kiis directly over USB from my server to the Kii contol - and they sound great. Always realized that the USB implementation on the Kiis was really good, but I'm really not missing my expensive streamer in the setup. 
I plan on going back to a streamer for software/convenience/multiroom reasons not directly connected to SQ, but am pretty sure it won't be an uber priced audiophile one. I'm just not hearing something that makes me think it's worth the bucks. 

 

Which streamer did you have?

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38 minutes ago, atletico said:

Yes,  I have done a long listing test to the full BXT system 😀👍

 

 

What did the addition of the BXT module add to the performance of the Kii’s?

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4 minutes ago, TheStupidOne said:

Excellent point, the size and 3D experience of the soundstage (and acoustic sensation of the arena) increases dramatically in realism when you have real authority in the deep. The  vastly increased sensation of space is my favorite addition with my poor man's Bxts, and of course with the real Bxts also!

 

My next question was going to be whether the BXT's add anything over what you have achieved with standard subwoofers?

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16 minutes ago, TheStupidOne said:

I don't know. While I have listened a few times to BXT in a room I know fairly well after many a demo, I haven't had them home yet. My living room is not nearly the same size as the dealer's, nor do I have the possibility to place my system where it sounds the best, so I can't answer that with a straight face.

 

What I do know is that the capacity is roughly the same with 4x 10" woofers in much larger cabinets and I have the same capability in timing thanks to Audiolense. The BXT would, presumably, decrease the energy of first reflection from the front wall in the bass range and focus more energy towards the listening position due to the cardioide dispersion.

 

Would it matter much in a small room with acoustically difficult placements? I don't know, I'd have to try, measure and hear it back-to-back.

Although I'm sure it would be possible, I'm hesitant to ask my local dealer because the price is too steep for me at this time. 

 

Yep, whilst the cardiod dispersion - presumably down to a frequency lower that the 80Hz achieved with the main unit - sounds beneficial, as does the elimination of floor bounce (though I'm still not clear exactly how they achieve that), another £17k on top (at UK pricing) seems a bit steep. I could get 5-6 very good quality subs for that lol

 

How many drivers are on the rear of the BXT?

 

The blurb on the Kii Audio website reads:

 

Quote

 


The BXT is an extension module which turns the Kii THREE into a veritable floor standing loudspeaker with 16 additional drivers.

 

 

I count four on the front, two on each side, and I had assumed 4 at the rear - making 12 additional drivers in total?

 

But then the Tech Specs on the full Kii Three + BXT system state:

 

Quote

Technical Specification:

 

  • Full-size floorstanding DSP controlled monitor speaker system.
  • 12 x 6.5” woofer, 1 x 5” midrange, 1 x 1” waveguided tweeter.
  • Amplification: full custom class D, 250W per drive unit, arranged in 6 groups.[/QUOTE

Which suggests there are none on the rear of the BXT?

 

Can anyone clarify?

 

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3 minutes ago, TheStupidOne said:

It's 8 drivers on each Bxt x 2 = 16

 

Ah, I see.

 

So nothing on the rear at all then?

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7 minutes ago, TheStupidOne said:

No, and that surprised me as well. Whether that has any influence on cardioide dispersion pattern or not remains to be seen by independent measurements. Anyone seen any measurements of the BXT?

 

No, I've only seen some FR measurements with the BXT module in place - of course that didn't look significantly different to the FR on just the Three on its own.

 

I've not seen any cardioid pattern heat graphs of the BXT though. Given the cost (and therefore the limited interest in it), we're probably not likely to. I couldn't even find an image of the complete rear of the BXT unit!

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49 minutes ago, baconbrain said:

 

I have listened to both the BXT and separate Subwoofer setups and my personal preference clearly lies with separate Subwoofer(s). IMO they enhance the soundstage imaging more than the BXTs.

 

Interesting feedback. So do you run a subwoofer or subwoofers yourself for music? 

 

How is everyone that is using subwoofers running them? As left and right subs, or in mono to produce smoother bass frequency response?

 

Can I also ask everyone, what height have you found the Kii’s sound best installed at - tweeter at ear level, midrange at ear level, or somewhere in between?

 

 

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1 minute ago, fpalm69 said:

Also,  how do you adjust the subs for the 90 ms delay from the Kii dsp in exact mode?

 

Without wishing to speak for owners here, I would assume most are using some sort of off-board processor (MiniDSP, Amethyst etc) that allows setting of delays to the subs.

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Have to chime in to agree with mitchco - I wouldn’t want to waste that cardioid response down to 80Hz. The Kii’s should be comfortable down to 80Hz or less with ease, and without excess inherent distortion. Obviously when they get down to 30Hz and below is where they might start to struggle hitting peaks at volume, but you’d probably be able to identify that better with compression sweeps in REW, and this is where you can add the subs in to give them more headroom.

 

if it were me I’d be looking to cross over at around 80Hz also, which is also where the bass will become omni directional also, allowing you to get better bass response at the MLP by moving the subs around a bit, and playing them mono.

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1 hour ago, TheStupidOne said:

Right now I'm totally in love with the sound and can honestly say that this is the best I've ever heard the Kiis in my room, and probably anywhere. 

I think I'm done bombarding you guys with measurements , sorry for that! 🤓

 

To be honest, the first point is all that really matters.

 

On the second point, don’t ever apologise for that - in a hobby that is awash with audiophoolery, it’s incredibly refreshing to see a thoroughly objective approach.

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A quick question for Kii Three owners. I will have two options when setting up my Kii's:

 

1. Run an AES cable carrying a stereo signal from the pre-amp (Amethyst) to one of the Kii Three's as master, and then run the Kii Connect Cat 6 cable from that to the second Kii Three.

 

2. Run an AES to each speaker, each carrying a single channel signal from the pre-amp.

 

Any thoughts on which might be the better option?

 

 

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32 minutes ago, TheStupidOne said:

3. Spdif to Control? 

 

I'd pick that due to two things;

 

- I have experienced a few times that the Kiis desyncronize with each other, only solvable by connecting the Control.

 

- Smaller cable than AES/IBU :)

 

I have no interest in, or requirement for, the Kii Control. As mentioned, I am coming straight out of a Trinnov Amethyst into the speakers. Though if you have experienced sync issues - I guess the dual AES connections is the best option.

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