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Kii Three - my impressions and pro reviews

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Found this new-ish thread and thought I'd put in my two cents; I've owned my THREEs for a little under a year.  

 

Firstly, I think firedog's review is an excellent one and one that very closely mirrors my own experience.  These are great speakers and, were I to chose three words with which to describe their sound "clarity, coherence, and balance" might be the exact three I'd chose.  

 

I also agree with firedog's "negatives" exactly: (1) while the bass goes insanely deep and has great impact, DSP still cannot completely defy physics and the THREEs' bass will not envelope you like you can get from big speakers using massive (10", 12" or more) bass drivers; (2) it is possible to get better sound if you are willing to spend much, much (much!) more.  I demo'ed the THREEs in the US importer's (GTT Audio Video) sound room and their "big" system of Audiopax electronics and huge YG speakers was just better in every way... but, for perspective, the Soulution CD player in that system cost $100k alone.   Also, while dynamics are terrific for "box" speakers, they still don't explode out at you, as is the case with some of the best horn-loaded speakers (though these have other problems of their own); I find the speed and "dynamism" of these very, very good--but not on par with the best I've ever experienced.

 

Still, in my own experience (which is all upon which I I have to go), when compared to anything remotely comparable in price, like firedog said, the THREEs are just an order of magnitude better.

 

A few other notes:

 

1. Perhaps the only disagreement I have with firedog is about the Kii CONTROL.  To my mind (from a usability standpoint), it's just not optional, it's a necessary component.  The 6 months or so before the CONTROL was released, where I had to suffer with the terrible controls and inaccessible I/Os on the back of the THREEs, was (comparatively) hell.  My advice is: don't buy the THREEs if you aren't also prepared to pony up for the CONTROL.

 

2. I don't get quite the great soundstage to which others have alluded.  But I listen in the extreme nearfield (the speakers on on my desktop--try finding any other legitimately full-range speaker with which you can do that!) with the speakers only about 3 feet from my head and 6 inches from the wall behind them.  Given this setup, the soundstanging is much better than expected, but I would not call it "vast."  Also, to my surprise, the soundstange has improved with each step up in my front-end (I'm now using a ultraRendu w/ LPS-1), so maybe the constrained soundstage is not all due to the speaker placement.  I have experimented with the boundary controls and, while they are great at managing bass bloat, I cannot say it has had a big impact on (perceived) soundstage.

 

3. I bought mine at the introductory price, which was over $1k more per speaker, which still leaves me a bit salted (aren't introductory prices supposed to be lower than the prices later on?!?).  I try to console myself by telling myself that even at $13.9k, the THREEs are still a great pair of speakers and a terrific audio bargain, which is true.  It still pisses me off to be out the price of a CONTROL, however.

 

4. I am using Kubala Sosna Emotion power cables, which certainly changed things for the better, though not nearly as much as changes to the front-end.

 

5. The THREEs have bluetooth built in, it's just not currently active (this will, allegedly, be selectable from the CONTROL).  I wish they would turn this on so so I could more easily connect them to my PC, which is just a convenience connection, the uR is my "serious" listening input.

 

6. More often than ideal, my DSP goes haywire and everything sounds like it's coming from under water--does this happen to anyone else?  (This only happens when they wake from sleep, not while music is playing.)  It's not too big a deal, I can just cycle the speakers from the CONTROL and everything is 100% fine on reboot but, still, it's annoying. 

 

7. I know Kal Rubinson lurks around here--also a great review, BTW.  But, Mr. Rubinson, I was wondering why you said that the THREEs couldn't be integrated into a surround system in that review.  It seems to me that they would be great for this--just feed them the AES outs of, say, a Trinnov Altitude32 or Datasat 20i and away you go, no?  I don't have much interest in surround, so I haven't given this much thought and might be missing something, but this seems like an application that the THREEs were built for.

 

Thanks for the great review firedog.

 

 


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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18 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Thanks for the comment.

 Note that I said:  "the Kiis aren't yet easy to integrate into a multichannel system: You can feed them individual analog signals, but not multichannel, high-resolution digital"  (Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/kii-audio-three-loudspeaker-page-2#gPT81EyblW80vK44.99).   That is because there are so few compatible sources which have 3 or more S/PDIF or AES outputs.   I would not choose either of the processors you mention because their high price reflects the inclusion of many features for which I have no use (e.g., anything video).  

 

Today's options might be a Merging HAPI but there's also WiSA and, eventually, Zman.

 

I see.  And we've had a short exchange on Zman on another CA thread and I think we are in full agreement on that point (we both want it!).  I thought WiSA was not yet enabled, but I was told by the US importer that WiSA is, in fact, "on" in the THREEs but the issue is that Kii's WiSA "hub" has not been built.  Perhaps there are other multi-channel WiSA sources out there that could take advantage of this input, I just don't know much about the technology (... except I don't think it's taken off in the way its backers had hoped).

 

14 hours ago, firedog said:

I was told by Kii that BT will be functional at the "end of the summer".

 

Well that's certainly good news.  I wonder how we're supped to select BT, since the CONTROL's input buttons labels are printed on (and don't include BT).  I guess if the Kii guys are clever enough to design the THREEs the're clever enough to resolve this UI issue however....


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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2 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

BT is a distraction since its primary attribute is convenience, not sound quality.

 

Well, the Kii's are "lifestyle" products after all.  And I think that "convenience" is great, so long as it doesn't interfere with sound quality.  In my case, BT would be nice because it would cut down on my box/cable count for sources where sound quality is not the highest priority (mostly for my PC to watch Netflix).  BT would allow me to ditch (sell?) my Yellowtech PUC 2 and associated AES cables, even if there was some drop in sound quality (about which I don't much care for this source) which is how I go out of my PC now.  It wouldn't affect the CONTROL's USB input, which is how I listen to my uR, in any way--I think that's definitely a win-win and thus a "distraction" I can get behind.

 

1 hour ago, firedog said:

I'm using mine with the mR as the input. Works great, no issues. I haven't found USB enhancers to help, the KII is galvanically isolated.

 

I'm using mine with the uR (... it seems like firedog and my systems are almost identical, "great minds" thinking alike and all that), and I've also had zero problems.  The switch from the mR to the uR was certainly worthwhile (I find the uR more dynamic/immediate with better PRaT), so I don't think that the CONTROL completely obviates differences on the USB source end.  That said, I haven't tried any "tweaks," per se, so I am sorry that I cannot add anything helpful on that end.  

 

I'll be rolling through a few USB cables to see what impact they have (do to unexpectedly long product lead-times, I've been running a $10 Amazon printer cable much longer than intended... but, hey, what a great test: if the $$$ cables don't much improve on the Amazon, that will say something significant in and of itself, no?).  I couldn't get a Lightharmonic 10G to pass any data from any of my USB sources, so I sent that back.  I'm currently waiting for a Kubala Sosna Emotion USB, we'll see what happens when that arrives.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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4 hours ago, Kelly said:

Man, you have these things on your desk? These are pretty huge desktop speakers. Are they just sitting on your desk or do you have some kind of stand or isolation device? I am about to move mine from a Target stand to the top of a console and have been looking for a solution. (Maybe Isoacoustics iso-pucks?)

 

Yes, they are pretty huge desktop speakers... fortunately, I've got a pretty huge desk!  I'm using the stands from Ardan Audio (http://www.ardanaudio.com/).  They are pretty neat stands but, honestly, they are too small for the Kii's and it makes using them a bit awkward.   Still, they work okay.  

 

I am thinking of moving "up" to a more aggressive isolation solution.  The Minus K stands look pretty good and still would put them at the right height, relative to my head.  Some people on another thread have been raving about the Stacores (http://stacore.pl/en/stacore-advanced/), but those are significantly more expensive.  Getting to demo either one before laying out the l-o-n-g green is an issue, however....

 

4 hours ago, Kelly said:

Did it do this from the start? I have only had mine a month or so but it hasn't ever done that. 

 

No, it wasn't from the beginning.  I'd say it started a few months ago, and I've owned the speakers a little under a year.  It's pretty infrequent, so it's not a huge deal, but it'd be better if it wasn't something I had to deal with at all.

 

4 hours ago, Kelly said:

You said somewhere else that you used a Yellowtec puc2. How does that sound running out of the computer compare to your ultraRendu? Not in the same league? I still have one that I am not using and was just contemplating trying to sell it again. It was a very good device for what it was. When powered with a decent supply it held up pretty well against some of the the much pricier competitors.

 

Since I knew that the YellowTec only be a temporary solution (until the Kii CONTROL dropped) I didn't do anything to help it out.  It runs off USB bus power with only a crap USB printer cable.  So, I am fairly certain that I could improve it's performance significantly.  All that said, it sounded/sounds pretty damn good.  No, not as good as the micro- or the ultraRendu into the Kii CONTROL (they are both connected now so I can A/B easily), but it's still quite musically satisfying--again, with no favors done for it.  

 

BTW, I think that the relevant comparison is the PUC2 to the Kii CONTROL since those are both USB to AES converters, whereas the Rendus are streamers (that is, one could run a uR into the PUC and, thence, into the Kii THREE's AES input).  I cannot easily compare the PUC2 to the Kii CONTROL (without a whole lot of re-wiring in a constrained space) and the CONTROL has a huge advantage, getting its data from the uR vs. my PC for the PUC.  But, based on convenience alone, the Kii CONTROL is almost a must have, regardless.  It probably also sounds better too, though, as I said, I cannot say that for sure.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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I've never used the analog input, I have absolutely no need.  I've heard it's not nearly as good as full-digital from a number of sources, but maybe firedog's first-hand experience is more compelling than my no-experience.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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On 9/5/2017 at 8:36 PM, Kal Rubinson said:

The analog input is digitized at 24/192 and processed as such.  The AES/EBU is accepted at up to 24/192, as well.  Since I have no analog sources, I could only feed the analog output of my DACs for comparison.........to their own inputs.

 

I was told that Kii uses a proprietary, asynchronous sampling rate--for the DACs, at least.  That is, they run the DACs at the same sampling rate, no matter whether the incoming single had a 44- or 48-base rate; everything (including DSD) gets re-sampled to the DACs' native rate.  I suppose that there is no reason that the ADCs would have to run at any particular rate as a result, that is, they could certainly run at 24/192, but I wonder if it wouldn't just be simpler to run the ADCs at the same rate as the DACs' native base-rate (whatever that is, I was never made clear on that point).  

 

Not that it matters much to me: I've never used the XLRs for analog, nor do I ever intend to.

 

7 hours ago, Kelly said:

Sorry I was unclear, it was not really HT use, but just watching movies with a stereo set of Kiis. They are very dynamic and their bass power-prowess is excellent for movies.

 

Mr. Rubinson and I have been back and forth a few times on this thread about how awesome these would be in a full surround setup; the only hangup being (... besides, that is, the cost of at least three more THREEs) how to get multichannel digital into the speakers.  I suggested a number of (very high-end & expensive) processors that will allow one to do just that (see, for example, Trinnov, Theta and DataSat--or, hell, why not even the old TacT surround processor, if you could find one used--and if you could live with only DD and DTS), though Mr. Rubinson opined that he would be unwilling to spend so much for a A/V processor when all he wants is a surround music processor.  A fair enough point, I suppose.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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On 9/28/2017 at 5:55 AM, simonp said:

The last weeks I've been experimenting with a isolation transformer and a dc blocker. The soundstage is deeper and a bit more focus with the Kii. Apparently the Kii processors and dac have a benefit with a cleaner power (like most audio equipment of course). 

 

They improved with my addition of Kubala Sosna PCs.  Though they absolutely sound better with the KSs, I didn't find the difference massive.  I'm plugging the KSs right into the wall at the moment... I'd like to experiment with better/more sophisticated AC isolation, like an isolation transformer or the KS X-pander, though it's just not a very high priority for me at the moment.

 

I think my next upgrade(s) will be either better speaker isolation (my thinking being that, with everything in the speaker, more quickly/efficiently draining off vibration could have big and positive results) and/or BACCH4Mac, which has ML so jazzed over at audiostream.com. 

 

Of course I'd have to hear BACCH4Mac first, before buying.  But it's interesting to note that the BACCH's manufacturer, Theoretica Physics, claims that the best results are obtained when using highly directional speakers--esp. those that actively cancel the back-wave, like dipoles.  Give this argument, at least in theory, the Kii THREEs might literally be the best speakers in the world for this playback approach.  Food for thought....


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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3 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

How do dipoles actively cancel the back-wave?

 

... well, it was my understanding that for bi- and dipolar speakers, the back-wave's reflection off of the wall behind the speakers could, under the right circumstances, be canceled by the front wave, which would be out of phase to it.  I thought that this (along with the minimization of first reflections from the sidewalls from the figure-8 dispersion pattern) was the point to, say, the old bipolar Mirage and the more recent Gradient and Emerald Acoustics dipolar speakers...

 

I don't pretend to be a speaker engineer, so if I've misunderstood that explanation, I'm happy to be corrected.  Notwithstanding, the obvious directionality of the Kii speakers seems to make it very well suited for BACCH, as I suggested above.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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1 hour ago, mriguy said:

You guys are terrible people!

 

I've been called worse.

 

1 hour ago, mriguy said:

Does anybody have any insights or information on the Kii FOUR, please? Thanks!

 

... is the "bigger" Kii supposed to be the FOUR or the TWO?  Do they get more ambitious as the numbering goes "up," or are we working our way to ONE? 

 

Since I already own the THREEs, so I'm not really shopping but, like mriguy, I am curious about any next-steps for the company. 

 

Also, since the Bluetooth is supposed to be activated in a software update "soon," I wonder (1) if anyone has an update on the update and (2) do people thing that the update will basically turn-on a feature or two (Bluetooth, etc.) or is it more likely that they will do a through software re-working of the complete system (like, say, PS Audio with the Directstream DAC or the Devialet pro series); obviously, I hope it's more the latter, though I have no inside info. at this point.  (And I understand that the on-board DACs are apparently chips, not FPGAs, but pretty much everything else in the speaker runs on software, so it should be a highly tweak-able platform.)


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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3 hours ago, patagent said:

 

Kal - I recall from your review that the Dirac'd B&W sounded similar to the Kii's.  I believe you also noted that Kii had a larger sweet spot and soundstage.  Do you think these advantages are the direct result of Kii's own DSP approach over conventional DRC software?

 

Not only difficult, but very expensive too, I'd wager. 

 

Assume that you overcome Mr. Rubinson's concerns and you are able to tweak the 3rd party DSP to perfection.  Yet to take your Revel F206 a bit further, not only would you have to buy the Revels (which, by themselves, are obviously far less expensive than the Kii THREEs), but you'd also have to come up with 8x channels of nCore-class amplification, 8x channels of D2A conversion plus a computer capable-yet-high-definition enough to run the works.  Admittedly, many at CA would likely already have access to the last.  Notwithstanding, I'd wager that once you added that all up and then threw in enough cable to lash it all together, your total price would be far in excess of what Kii's charging for the THREEs.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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21 hours ago, firedog said:

I'm not sure the onboard DACs are chips, or purely chip based. It's supposedly a proprietary DAC. Bruno did say somewhere (quoted in print) that the ASRC in the Threes is similar in concept (not the same) to that in the Mola Mola DAC, which in my understanding means at least that part is software based. 

 

After speaking with the US importer, my understanding (which may not be perfect!) was that the THREE uses a non-FPGA DAC (so, presumably, a chip), but that the asynchronous sample-rate converter was the same/very close to that implemented in the Mola Mola DAC. 

 

My earlier point, however, was that even if the DACs' guts are hardwired into their chips, the sample-rate converter, the DSP, and maybe even things like the voltage/current control loop and protection circuitry could be upgraded in software.  Given that PS PerfectWave owners, for example, have repeatedly claimed that firmware updates were like getting a whole "new" DAC, I think that such improvements might be at least as possible in so software-heavy a platform as the THREES. 

 

OTOH, maybe Kii is already happy with the THREE's performance and any upcoming firmware upgrade(s) might just do things like turning on Bluetooth.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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8 hours ago, phosphorein said:

 

With regards to Bluetooth, the current Kii Control (Version 0.2) advertises a Bluetooth receiver: BlueCreation-01FAAE. I discovered this while pairing an Apple Pencil to an iPad Pro.

 

Wow, you're right.   I just paired my PC to the CONTROL via the BlueCreation receiver. ... I have NO idea how to actually get sound out of it now! 

 

How might I select the BT as an input???  I am pretty sure that my PC is using the BT as the audio output device (it says "Headphones (Bluetooth)" on the output device), but how do you select the PC as an input on the CONTROL, I wonder.   I tried all of the "hard" input buttons (AES, coax, etc.) and, unsurprisingly, that resulted in no sound out of any of 'em. 

 

Interesting, all the same.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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7 hours ago, phosphorein said:

I am not so enamored with audio over BT but an iOS or android app providing expanded control would be great.

 

Unlike many here, I'm actually really looking forward to audio over BT--for my PC for stuff like listening to YouTune videos and such.  My USB input is taken up with an UltraRendu, so I currently have to use a YellowTech USB2AES converter, a couple of lengths of cable, etc.  BT would reduce my cable clutter and box count for an audio input I don't consider high-quality anyway.  I think that's a worthwhile and useful convenience feature, though I agree that BT probably ought not be one's primary source.

 

A BT control app would be a nice touch too though, honestly, I am pretty okay with just using the hardwired CONTROL.  (I hate to nitpick, but I don't much care for the plastic volume/menu control however--it looks and feels cheap & it makes me wistfully think back to the wonderful over-sized, bearing-loaded volume control on my old TacT amp from way back in the day... yes, the nCore tech sounds better but, for me, spinning that dial was really a tactile thing of joy).


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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6 hours ago, baconbrain said:

I am curious as to how placement tolerant the Kii’s really are. It is mentioned that they can be even placed in a corner and still perform well. Does anyone have the Kii’s actually in the corner of a room and if so, how far away from the two walls?

 

One of mine is slammed into a corner (the other's near the rear wall, but not in a corner) and they perform great.  No bass bloat, no over-hang, just outstanding.  That said, I don't get a great sense of soundstage depth or overall scale, but I listen in the extreme nearfield and so cannot say whether this is because of my placement relative to the speakers or the speakers placement relative to the walls.  I strongly suspect the former, though I cannot truly say from experience (I did listened to them, quite a while ago, in the midfield at the dealer, GTT Audio, but I cannot honestly remember their rendition of stage depth and scale from that session). 

 


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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3 hours ago, baconbrain said:

The sleigh has landed ... :)

 

 

FC22A17A-60E6-42E6-97D1-C5BB37E1E925.jpeg

 

Congratulations!  

 

Also, good idea to be sure to place them on cloth.  I tipped one of mine forward while messing with its almost-inaccessible connection panel around back and it really took of some paint.  I was not happy with myself, obviously, but was also really surprised with how fragile the paint was....


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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7 hours ago, firedog said:

I did just that. Kii confirmed they use standard cable.

 

Yes, I am using Audioquest's Cinnamon (which is somewhat dubiously graded CAT7)... because I'm an audiophile and I get nervous (not a good excuse, I know).  Anyway, it works just fine, no problems at all.  The cables that come with the Kii's actually look quite nice and robust, but I've never tried them.


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14 hours ago, jaspal kallar said:

 

 

Curious, does the Audioquest's Cinnamon (CAT 7) sound better than the cables that come with the Kii's?

 

I honestly don't know.  I've never used the bundled cable. 

 

Like I said, not really a great way to make buying decisions.  But, the way my speakers are set up, wire-swapping is a real pain in the ass and so, this way, I just don't have to worry (or I worry less) that I'm getting the most out of my speakers ... and I like to think that peace of mind's priceless.  (Everything, the ultraRendu, the Kii CONTROL and the THREEs are all lashed up with AQ Cinnamon; the USB and PC's are from Kubala Sosna, and I am willing to go on record to say that those certainly make a positive difference in sound quality).

 

What I can say about the AQ is that the short runs of Cinnamon, which feature a very nice braided jacket, are much more attractive than a stock CAT5/6/7, though the longer runs use a disappointing rubber jacket.  Also, the connectors are certainly of higher quality than most others, at least from a visual perspective (though not nearly as cool-looking as the Telegartner RJ-45s on AQ's higher-end Ethernet cables).  Whether or not this all adds up to better sound quality, I really cannot say--it certainly might... and I doubt very much that it sounds any worse.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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On 1/6/2018 at 11:44 AM, jaspal kallar said:

 

 

Thanks for your reply.  

 

Just one more thing.  

 

Are you using Kubala Sosna PC's on each Kii speaker? If so, what model?  I've  only read positive things about the  Kubala Sosna PC's, hence why I ask.  

 

 

Emotion! series PCs, 2 meters/ea--and yes, I've got one on each speaker.  And if you've head good things about the KSs, I do believe you've head right.  I shop at GTT Audio (Kii dealer) and the only cables that Bill caries are KS; the whole line.  I trust Bill a lot, he's not steered me wrong yet, so I bought the KSs without comparing vs. other cables.  But I've since had a chance to compare the KSs to comparably priced (e.g. very good, but not top-of-the-line) Nordosts and Shunyatas and preferred the KSs in each case.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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21 hours ago, firedog said:

Asked Kii if there is any news on the bluetooth update to the controller. This is the answer I got:


 

 

 

Thanks a lot for the update, FD.  I guess I'm disappointed a bit in the timing, I'd hoped that they would have rolled out updates by now.  But, in the end, I agree with AMR: honesty is a big plus.  At least they are working on something....


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2 hours ago, baconbrain said:

 

Not really wanting to quote myself, but haven't figured out how to edit a post older than x hours / days.

 

For the record: The response I received from Kii Audio to the above was "the IEC connector of the PSU in the Kii THREE is fully symmetrical. It will be virtually impossible to perceive any difference."
 

 

"... virtually impossible to perceive any difference" if they mean difference between PCs, that's not exactly been my experience.  I switched from the stock PCs to Kubala Sosnas and did find a notable improvement, though perhaps not quite so large as I'd expected.  But I do think good PCs cana nd do still make a difference on the THREEs.  Re: up-sampling, I received almost word-for-word the same response from Kii that firedog got.  That sort of disinclined me from doing a lot of experimenting but, in the limited amount of checking that I did do, my experience, again, mirrors his exactly: external up-sampling seemed to, if anything, reduce sound quality.  I go only native into the THREEs (via the CONTROL).  Finally, in that interaction as in others past, response from Kii has been very prompt and very forthcoming; I've never had any difficulty getting an answer from them on any audio-related topic.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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Thanks for your impressions baconbrain (great name, by the way--I often feel like "Bacon Brain" describes me to a tee!).  I have been listening to the THREEs for almost two years now and I have a few thoughts to add, based on my impressions, room, system and preferences.  But they are based on just and only that: my system, my impressions, etc.--so please read in that spirit and, as always, take everything with a grain of salt.

 

On 3/11/2018 at 8:17 AM, baconbrain said:

I must admit that my listening room and the positioning of the speakers is probably anything but ideal. The reason for this being that I really did not want to turn my living room into what I would like to call an “audio equipment intrusive environment.” ....   Given my placement preferences, I think I have really put them up to the challenge, and from my perspective, they have delivered.

 

Poor Kii!  By introducing their "cardioid," wave focusing DSP technology, they seem to have challenged us to put their speakers into the worst of all possible positions and we seem to be more than willing to oblige!  Mine are both very near the rear wall (about 8" out), with the right one jammed into a corner, and I listen in the extreme near field; they're essentially set up like studio monitors on a console though, in this case, they're just on my desk.  Not an ideal setup at all though, as in your case, the Kii's have proven simply amazing at getting 'round the constraints I've placed on them.

 

On 3/11/2018 at 8:17 AM, baconbrain said:

The sofa is placed in the middle against one of the 6,40 meter walls with the speakers placed on the opposite wall near to each corner at a height of 1,9 meters.

 

While the Kii's work as promised at minimizing the effect of the front wall (behind the speakers), I'd be much more concerned with the rear wall (behind the listener), in your case.  I'd imagine that being so close to a room boundary would have the potential to really cause problems, and not of the sort that the Kii's are designed to counteract.  Maybe the Trinnov can assist in limiting problems from your close proximity to the rear wall....

 

On 3/11/2018 at 8:17 AM, baconbrain said:

All PCM music is up-sampled via Roon to 192/24. I am leaving HQPlayer out of the equation.

 

I spoke at length with Kii and they strongly suggested that I play all music at its native sampling rate--their digital input utilizes a custom, asynchronous up-sampler and they feel (again, very strongly) that any 3rd party up-sampling can only make things worse.  I briefly fooled around with different sampling rates in JRiver, just long enough to verify (for myself) that JRiver's up-sampler didn't make a favorable impact and might have, in fact, been making things worse (depending on the track).  Given Kii's suggestions, I have since abandoned any 3rd party sample rate conversion; perhaps you might  similarly try leaving off the up-sampler for your baseline.  (OTOH, the Trinnov might have to up-convert in order to work its own algorithms on the signal, making the point moot; I'm not sufficiently familiar with Trinnov's technology to say.)

 

On 3/11/2018 at 8:17 AM, baconbrain said:

I set the boundary control on the speakers to one notch in front of the corner setting and left the contour settings on the default Flat (9 o’clock). ...  2) As good as the bottom end is, it sounds a bit soft during some passages. I am missing that last bit of edge. Don’t get me wrong, the low end is extremely good for a compact, but if I had a wish open, it would be that last tiny bit of detail. Perhaps the boundry setting can help, but for the sake of a reference, I would like to leave the setting where they are at the moment.

 

I experimented quite a bit with the boundary controls when I got the Kii CONTROL (obviously not before then, when users were forced to use those inaccessible, terrible and just-plain-not-good controls on the back/bottom of the speakers) and I can say that, for sure, you are losing a lot of bass energy with the settings you describe.  I ended up with -9 cut on the right hand, corner-paced speaker and a -5 cut on the left (less than I had originally thought--as I said, I have the right speaker is jammed all the way into a corner, so I started with -12--also, the settings I describe are on the Kii CONTROL menu; as I recall, the dials on the backs of the speakers are less clear on their settings, but I don't want to go to the trouble of unplugging and un-mounting my speakers to check on that). 

 

Anyway, I think that there is a good chance that any "softness" you hear in the bottom end is due to an over-cut on the boundary setting.  Notwithstanding your desire to use your current setting settings as a reference, I think it will pay you big dividends to experiment a bit.  In my experience, these speakers hit very hard in the bass and cannot be reasonably characterized as soft in the bottom-end at all.

 

On 3/17/2018 at 6:22 AM, baconbrain said:

Thx, for the feedback. After doing initial measurements with the Trinnov, it looks like your estimated tilt of 15 degrees is almost spot on. It states that the difference in elevation is 15,8 degrees.

 

I do not have the benefit of the Trinnov, but I can use my ears and I found that the speakers are very sensitive to height/rake.  I started with them raked so that the tweet's were aimed more-or-less at my ears, as would be appropriate for most speakers.  I found this set-up too "hot" in the high frequencies.  I noted that the Kii literature says that they are EQ'ed such that the sound is supposed to sound like it's coming for a small distance in front of the mid-bass diver.  When I adjusted the rake back, so that the mid-bass drivers are "pointed" at my ear-level, the sound really cohered and the tonal balance really smoothed out--as one would expect, when reading the Kii lit., but somewhat unlike most other speakers.  That's all to say that, pending what your Trinnov and what your ears are telling you, I suggest that you try and get the mid-bass on the ear-plane, rather than the speaker.  Then, obviously, adjust to-ear from there....

 

BTW, my THREEs are toed in moderately, more-or-less as described by @phosphorein, though maybe with just a bit less toe-in than he describes.

 

On 3/11/2018 at 8:17 AM, baconbrain said:

They are like the “Swiss Army Knife” of the compacts and imo perform at levels where you need to make a considerable investment in equipment, positioning and accoustics to achieve. Are they a speaker for everyone? Probably not. I can hear the teeth of the audio purist grinding when they read this. These boxes have DSP written all over them, but that is also what makes them so versatile. A fantastic speaker for those of us who like to experiment and not necessarily want to redesign their listening space to meet the needs of one’s system / taste. 

 

I'm so pleased you are enjoying your Kii's!  And I wouldn't worry about the purist's think.  Literally nothing about reproduced sound-making is "natural" (unless your idea of nature is for all of the sound you hear coming of a handful of vibrating membranes trapped in boxes).  Yes, in some cases, a simple circuit might do less damage than a more complex one, but the reason for even the most simple of circuits is to overcome the fact that we are not present at the original event.  So I believe that anything that advances the illusion of that illusive goal is welcome--simplicity, complexity, DSP, whatever gets us closer to the music.  In fact, I'm considering the BACCH4Mac DSP package for my next system upgrade--DSP on top of DSP... but all with the purpose of removing the artifacts that are presented by the problem of recreating a musical event in our listening rooms (be these the speaker-room interaction or speaker cross-talk or whatever else).  

 

Good luck as your experiments with the Kii's continue!

 

 


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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On 4/17/2018 at 9:10 AM, zachchen1996 said:

 

Thanks for the input guys, guess I'll look into upgrading the power cables first, then USB and Ethernet cables later on.

 

Anyone have any experience with Neotech cables? I'm currently looking at their "The Amazon-P Power Cord", extremely expensive unfortunately.

 

Haha, like atletico, I also replaced the stock CAT cables with AudioQuest--similarly not for SQ, per se, but because I also wanted custom lengths and liked the "look" of the AQ (is it "great" or was it "foolish" minds that were supposed to think alike?).  BTW, it was with much disappointment then that I found that AQ uses a crappy rubber-ized jacket on their longer, 5M, LAN cables (which I use from speaker-to-speaker), unlike the sexy, braided cable that they use for shorter lengths (which I use from the CONTROL to the master speaker).  Anyway, since the objective was looks and convenience, I never even tried the Kii-supplied cable, so I cannot speak to sound quality differences, if any. 

 

OTOH, and to echo the experiences of others, replacing the stock AC cables with Kubala Sosna Emotion-series mains did make a significant improvement, soothing out the speakers and making their sound both more musical and "of a piece," if you get my meaning.  The difference was not night and day, but, IMHO, absolutely worthwhile.  

 

With respect to USB, however, I am a big fan and of Kubala Sosna, I love the AC cables and have heard them better cables from a number of other companies.  However, when I put my KS up against a much less expensive Blue Haven USB from Nordost, gun to my head, I could hear no difference... though, if I were to go out on a limb (no gun to my head), I'd say that the Nordost sounded a bit better (both killed the cheap, stock USBs we had on hand).  Based on feedback here, maybe I ought to have a look at the Curious... or maybe one of the newly released, higher-end Norost USBs.

 

 


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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Just a quick FYI.  I contacted Kii in order to ask if it was possible to add a feature whereby the user could define the time until the THREEs auto-sleep kicks in (I think it's way too fast, I'd like to extend it to, say, 10-15 minutes while, conversely, others might want it even shorter than it is currently).  Anyway, as is always the case, a fast, pleasant and professional response from Kii was fast in coming--2-3 days, I think. 

 

Unfortunately, I didn't get a straight answer to my question about the auto-sleep timer, but a little more info. about the upcoming software updater trickled out... so I thought I'd share.

 

1. As others have noted, there will be a (mac and PC) software update utility being released shortly.  It WILL work with the CONTROL, but I don't know about the THREEs directly; my guess is that it won't--but that's only a guess, Kii said nothing on this one way or the other.

 

2. The utility should be available shortly after the Munich High-End show (only about two weeks away--yea!).

 

3. The utility will then be able to download updates which are, for the moment "some new features, [and Kii's] tried to simplify parts of the menu" on the CONTROL.

 

4. Bluetooth is (still!) coming, but looks like it will not be a part of this first update--it's in the "near future" but also still only "on the horizon"--which, as I said, I take to mean it will not be coming with the first update.

 

5. Finally, and, to be clear, this is more a case of what they did not say than what they did: this first update(s) seems to apply only to the CONTROL and not the THREEs.  So it looks like we'll get new features and improved usability (certainly welcome), but it looks unlikely that this will mean an improvement to the sound quality, as all of that DSP resides on the THREEs.  I'd hoped that we would get some new revised playback firmware, like maybe an update to the ASRC algorithm (like the improvements that PS Audio keeps regularly making to the PerfectWave DAC), but it looks like that will not be the case.  At least for the time being--although such improvements, like Bluetooth, could also be "on the horizon" as well.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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13 hours ago, Mazza said:

I wonder if they will announce any new products? Eg. Subs have been talked about in the past

 

Great question, I certainly have no idea.  I'd love it if they would introduce the long-awaited and more capable wireless controller... but I take the odd of that as being about zero.

 

Notwithstanding, Kii subs seem like a strange direction to me.  Firstly,  their technology is not cardioid  below 50 Hz.  So while a sub might be crossed over at, say, 100 or 150 HZ, I don't really a great benefit of going with Kii subs and not, say, a JL or a Velodyne.  Secondly, the THREEs are already flat to 20 Hz, so why would you even want a sub?  True, while I need no more bass in the near-field in my small-ish room, I guess someone with a very large room might want to move more air, but I think a larger Kii speaker (the FOUR or TWO, depending on if they're counting up or down), rather than an add-on sub, would be a more practical solution.  Just my two cents.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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9 hours ago, firedog said:

They talked once about a Kii floorstander that would use more of the same drivers, enabling more bass and also enabling them to deal with the issue of floor reflections - which wasn’t dealt with in the Three. The sub could do this, I guess, if it is an add-on below the tree that replaces the stands. That’s the configuration that was mentioned a while back.

 

Interesting.  That would be cool if we could upgrade/expand the THREEs, without loosing our investment in the original speakers.

 


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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