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Kii Three - my impressions and pro reviews


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2 hours ago, Mazza said:

It has been mentioned by others, an external DAC’s signal is converted by the Kii through an ADC, then resampled, before being reprocessed by the Kii’s DACS. Bypassing this process by using usb, to me is logical, but other’s mileage will be different I am sure!

Someone would need to come up with a pretty good reason to justify using the Kii's analog input from any DAC.  I cannot think of one....off hand.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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12 hours ago, Rubysea said:

Well, I suppose your Cambridge stereamer's basic design is that of many streamers that I assume most of the Kii users here use.
A steamer usually has a DAC and analogue section. What you are refering to is a pure network transport, that can only output/forward the audio digitally. I would assume that the majority of the users here in this (Kii-) forum don't use a transport but a "normal" Streamer (but I might be wrong).
Mine is basically the same construction and I use it the way you described: I use the digital coax out and don't care about the streamer's dac and analogue section.
The Kii's will resample the incoming signal anyway to a sample rate of 93.75 khz independent of the sample rate fed to it.
Besides you have the freedom of choice to evaluate any other streamer/transport and compare it to your cambridge and decide for yourself if another steramer/transport sounds better with the Kiis than your current one...

 

Thank you @Rubysea! This is very reassuring to know

 

8 hours ago, firedog said:

There's nothing wrong with what you are thinking of doing. It should work fine. I'd suggest you try it for a while and see if you are happy with it.

If you decide you want a dedicated, specialized device just for feeding digital from the network to your Kii Control, there are endless options. Anything from a $50 Raspberry Pi (which works fine) to a 5K hi-end network bridge - and everything in between. 
 

It's not clear a dedicated streamer will sound superior. And you might need to spend really serious money to get something that is noticeably better. Again, try what you've got to see how happy you are. 

You say you are unhappy wit your units streaming app. Adding new playback/control software that is much more user friendly would be a  good reason to move on to a dedicated streamer that gives you that ability. That alone makes you listening more pleasuraeble.

 

With the Kii Control you can also go direct USB from your server if it is close by. Works very well. The Kii has a very good USB input.

 

As far as MQA, I wouldn't call it critical. I'd find units that fit my needs for other reasons, and then if one has MQA, maybe that's a factor in deciding which one to buy. BTW, you can get a free trial of software like Roon or Audirvana that will enable you to play the "first unfold" of  MQA. Listen and see what you think. If that doesn't do a lot for you, then there's probably no reason to care if you have MQA equipped HW or not. Note: many MQA albums play louder than non MQA counterparts, and that fools you into thinking that the MQA is better. Volume matching is important.

 

Thank you for your reply @firedog. Why wouldn't a dedicated higher end streamer sound superior than an integrated streamer with multiple components and cheaper construction cost? I'm new to this world so don't know how all the details and I'm purely going off perception.

 

7 hours ago, Rubysea said:

...Another option could be just to wait a little while, if you could do so and are not in an utmost hurry...

I'm fairly confident that probably by the end of the year you might be able to also think about putting a "Kii streamer" on your evaluation list ;-)

 

What do you mean Kii Streamer?? Is Kii Audio releasing their own streamer???

 

7 hours ago, Mazza said:

@ntpaledo I have to agree with firedog; if you have opportunity to also get the Kii control it offers a whole level of connect ability options..

 

for example, I auditioned my Kii’s using the usb connection from an Astell Kern mobile music player with stunning results; my first perm set up with was a NAs streamer [ditto] before switching to my dedicated DAC-free HD streamer.. I have personally found the usb connection to be as good if not better than the other options, so no compromise on quality

 

definitely recommend the Kii control if you can stretch to it .... even offers Bluetooth streaming [yeuk!] which keeps the kids happy

 

Hi @Mazza, the system I bought already comes pre bundled with the Kii Control. There is no option currently to buy the speakers without the Kii Control. The shop told me that Kii Audio recommends USB connectivity as the preferred method of connecting your sources.

 

On a different note, I also have a turntable (entry level Rega Planar P1) which is currently connected to my AVR which has an integrated Phono Stage. The volume output from that connection is lackluster compared to streaming options so I was thinking of connecting the turntable directly to the Kii Control. Kii Audio's websites recommends: Turntable -> PHONO Preamp with internal A/D Converter -> AES/SPDIF/Toslink Output to the master Kii THREE (BXT) or Kii Control  as the ideal connection

 

Has anyone here connected their turntable to the Kii Control? Any recommendations for a good value for money Phono Preamp with an internal A/D Converter and an AES/SPDIF/Toslink Output connection and is it worth the money?

 

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5 hours ago, ntpaledo said:

 

Thank you for your reply @firedog. Why wouldn't a dedicated higher end streamer sound superior than an integrated streamer with multiple components and cheaper construction cost? I'm new to this world so don't know how all the details and I'm purely going off perception.

 

Audiophile convention says so. Doesn't mean it's true. Try for yourself before spending the money.

5 hours ago, ntpaledo said:

What do you mean Kii Streamer?? Is Kii Audio releasing their own streamer???

Rumor , hints by Kii have it that Kii is releasing a bigger Control/streamer. Rubysea many know something he can't reveal. Or not.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Regarding Turntable connection to the Kii: I previously had the turntable pre-amp directly connected to each Kii (XLR input set to analog). This would require only one AD conversion. However, you might need some pretty long cables that might also reqire mixed plugs (XLR, cinch) depending on your pre-amp out. This was the case for me. 4m cables with different plugs. But this worked well.
Now the pre-amp is connected to a minidsp SHD who does the AD conversion (and room correction) and the signal is digitally fed to the Kii Control. I haven't noticed much of a difference to write about, but the turntable isn't my main music source anyway. Besides, the minidsp and the Kii to my knowledge use the same brand of AD (and DA) converters (AKM Asahi Kasei Microdevices)

 

The rumour for a Kii streamer has been around for some time, but apparently by the end of this year we should be wiser this time. It very likely also will not be based on a propietary SW streaming solution :-)

But time will tell...Covid and a relocation of Kii to Germany mid year (so I have heard) might counteract that schedule...

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44 minutes ago, Rubysea said:

Regarding Turntable connection to the Kii: I previously had the turntable pre-amp directly connected to each Kii (XLR input set to analog). This would require only one AD conversion. However, you might need some pretty long cables that might also reqire mixed plugs (XLR, cinch) depending on your pre-amp out. This was the case for me. 4m cables with different plugs. But this worked well.
Now the pre-amp is connected to a minidsp SHD who does the AD conversion (and room correction) and the signal is digitally fed to the Kii Control. I haven't noticed much of a difference to write about, but the turntable isn't my main music source anyway. Besides, the minidsp and the Kii to my knowledge use the same brand of AD (and DA) converters (AKM Asahi Kasei Microdevices)

 

The rumour for a Kii streamer has been around for some time, but apparently by the end of this year we should be wiser this time. It very likely also will not be based on a propietary SW streaming solution :-)

But time will tell...Covid and a relocation of Kii to Germany mid year (so I have heard) might counteract that schedule...

 

Thank you Rubysea. Hmmm that makes me think, is it something I can do through the Cambridge Audio CXN V2? (connect a phono preamp to it and then feed that signal digitally to the Kii Control) This is what the back of the streamer looks like.

 

I'm not in a rush and I can definitely wait for what Kii has to offer! Would be one of the better options since the same company that designed the speakers will design the input source. I really like (and I don't know how controversial this is in the audiophile world) the newly designed streamers with a nice big screen that displays artwork and gives you a nice visual representation of menus/options and your music. I was looking at the NAD M10, the Naim Uniti Atom, the Aurender N20 and the Auralic Aries. Do you think Kii Audio is thinking along those lines or a completely different form factor?

 

Thank you everyone for the prompt replies and your insightful comments

Screenshot 2021-01-20 at 4.54.39 PM.png

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It seems like your Cambridge Audio doesn't have any inputs, so it wont't be possible to connect the turntable pre-amp to it. So it only posesses an DAC but not ADC. So you need a separate device or use the ADC capabilities of the Kii.

 

The Kii Streamer I suppose will be rather "functional". So any kind of GUI activities most likely will be available on handheld or desktop devices. I doubt that it will have any fancy display like the ones you mentioned above. But it remains to be seen....

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10 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Someone would need to come up with a pretty good reason to justify using the Kii's analog input from any DAC.  I cannot think of one....off hand.

 

+1 to this. I can't understand why anyone would voluntarily add a DAC ahead of a pre-existing ADC-DAC stage. That is only ever going to achieve additional signal degradation - whether that is audible or not, is a discussion for another thread, but one thing is certain the additional DAC-ADC-DAC conversion will not improve the signal or resultant musical output.

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3 hours ago, Rubysea said:

Besides, the minidsp and the Kii to my knowledge use the same brand of AD (and DA) converters (AKM Asahi Kasei Microdevices)

Do you really know this? I thought the internal DACs were software based - at least partially.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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5 minutes ago, firedog said:

Do you really know this? I thought the internal DACs were software based - at least partially.

 

I wasn't aware a DAC could be software based (beyond its control software and potential digital pre-filtering) - by definition the signal needs to transition from the digital to the analog domain.

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No, I don't know for sure. Maybe that might only be correct for the AD conversion. The DA conversion might be different. One needs to ask that to Kii directly to be sure (unless that info is available elsewhere)

Knowing per speacker they use on DAC per driver my assumption was they use the same supplier as for the ADC. Also assuming that a DAC is always HW-based.

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On 1/20/2021 at 9:57 AM, ntpaledo said:

Thank you Rubysea. Hmmm that makes me think, is it something I can do through the Cambridge Audio CXN V2? (connect a phono preamp to it and then feed that signal digitally to the Kii Control) This is what the back of the streamer looks like.

 

For sure a Linn Majik DSM (MM) or Akurate DSM (MM/MC) will work. They have a built in phono stage. Analogue phono signal gets converted to digital and can be connected to the Kii controller through SPDIF.

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On 20.1.2021 at 3:33 AM, ntpaledo said:

 

Thank you @Rubysea! This is very reassuring to know

 

 

Thank you for your reply @firedog. Why wouldn't a dedicated higher end streamer sound superior than an integrated streamer with multiple components and cheaper construction cost? I'm new to this world so don't know how all the details and I'm purely going off perception.

 

 

What do you mean Kii Streamer?? Is Kii Audio releasing their own streamer???

 

 

Hi @Mazza, the system I bought already comes pre bundled with the Kii Control. There is no option currently to buy the speakers without the Kii Control. The shop told me that Kii Audio recommends USB connectivity as the preferred method of connecting your sources.

 

On a different note, I also have a turntable (entry level Rega Planar P1) which is currently connected to my AVR which has an integrated Phono Stage. The volume output from that connection is lackluster compared to streaming options so I was thinking of connecting the turntable directly to the Kii Control. Kii Audio's websites recommends: Turntable -> PHONO Preamp with internal A/D Converter -> AES/SPDIF/Toslink Output to the master Kii THREE (BXT) or Kii Control  as the ideal connection

 

Has anyone here connected their turntable to the Kii Control? Any recommendations for a good value for money Phono Preamp with an internal A/D Converter and an AES/SPDIF/Toslink Output connection and is it worth the money?

 

I can recommend the Parks Audio Puffin. It outputs 24/96 over coax or toslink, and has a zillion different settings. It's perfect for tinkering or just listening to music. New functionality is added on regular basis. The best thing, it's only $600 and is worth every penny. It outperforms my old RIAA, the ASR Mini Basis Mk2 and I'm seriously considering selling my Gold Note PH-10 with PSU-10 and just keep the Puffin. My turntable is a Technics SL1000 mk2 with an EPA-100 mk2 tonearm and various MM and LOMC pickups. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

A few weeks back I had asked when the next FW version would be released and I was then told it would still take some weeks. Aparently some code re-write is undergone and that's why it takes some more time. So if the info still holds, it could be around March maybe??

...we'll just have to wait...

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30 minutes ago, Rubysea said:

A few weeks back I had asked when the next FW version would be released and I was then told it would still take some weeks. Aparently some code re-write is undergone and that's why it takes some more time. So if the info still holds, it could be around March maybe??

...we'll just have to wait...

Thank you very much for the quick reply! 

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On Wednesday my Kii Three will arrive. So I prepared the stands and the cables. In the end I decided to use the same material for the top plate as Kii. It's a window rubber seal. EE-profile 10mm x 4mm, 6 Euros for 2 metres. I filled the stands with quartz sand. Then Glockenklang power cord and Supra network cable. Can not hardly wait

 

 

 

 

IMG_5250.jpg

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6 hours ago, a_kraut said:

On Wednesday my Kii Three will arrive. So I prepared the stands and the cables. In the end I decided to use the same material for the top plate as Kii. It's a window rubber seal. EE-profile 10mm x 4mm, 6 Euros for 2 metres. I filled the stands with quartz sand. Then Glockenklang power cord and Supra network cable. Can not hardly wait

 

 

 

 

IMG_5250.jpg


nice looking stand; I like the gloss

Aurender W20 Music Server, Kii Three Active Speakers, Kii Digital Controller

Audioquest Diamond USB, Audioquest Niagara 7000 conditioner, Audioquest NRG-1000 HC mains leads

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On 1/19/2021 at 5:54 PM, Kal Rubinson said:

Someone would need to come up with a pretty good reason to justify using the Kii's analog input from any DAC.  I cannot think of one....off hand.

What if one has a really, really great dac (e.g., dCS, Nagra, Wadax)?

- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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I’m thinking hard about this speaker system. Anyone using a high end server (e.g., antipodes, Innuous, Taiko) to go single wire AES into the “master” Kii. I am a 100% digital source person, so I am not sure I need the Kii control, unless there is an advantage to the Kii control thst I am not understanding.  

- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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