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Article: Kii THREE Loudspeaker Review

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On a little bit of a side note: Did The Gramophone used to be located in downtown Edmonton in or near the Manulife building?  The name sounds awfully familiar, and I believe I may have stopped in there for classical CDs and entertaining music and audio discussions when I was doing a lot of work in Edmonton at the end of the 80s through the early 90s.


One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> Ghent JSSG360 USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC ->

Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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 Mitch, thank you for a good review!
I see in photo Dutch & Dutch 8c stand on the floor ... When are you going to make and publish a review of these direct competitors Kii Three?
 This is a practical question, since I am currently using Kii Three in one of my systems and very interested in listening to Dutch & Dutch 8c, but there is no such possibility. Very interested in direct comparison.
 


Pure Vinyl Club

 

Listen to short demos of the LP Records

and share your experience and observations.

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nice review Mitch! I think that high-end audio is facing an ever increasing dilemma... move forward with technology or fall way, way behind... the issue we have is driven by fundamentals of our fractured industry where on one end we have something like Kii, and on the other hand, royal Japanese paper cone 6" full-range speakers; you can't possibly sell these side by side with a straight face. Thus, what's a manufacturer to do: design for the old school guard and lose marketing ability to the new generation, or design for the new generation and leave the old guard behind. 

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I am curious if the sound can be further improved using DSP?  The  graphs showing the in room response versus the ideal still shows some pretty big dips and peaks.  Since you already have the capability and obvious expertise, why not apply some modest DSP to further improve things?


12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

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UpTone Audio LPS-1/LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 2.2, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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Thanks for the great review.  I wonder how much closer the BXT system would get you to your big subs' bass performance...it'll be interesting too to hear what you think of these vs. the D&Ds, they are clear competitors in a category of, really, only two speakers at the moment (not having seen the D&D in person, I was really shocked to see how BIG they are--and I thought the Kii's were pretty large monitor speakers!). 

 

Also, love that blue color!  The only regret I have with buying my own my Kii's is that I went with the rather dull, stock gray color.  Every time I see a pair in an adventurous colorway, I get (very) jealous. 


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (various cables from Kubala Sosna and Audioquest)

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2 hours ago, tboooe said:

I am curious if the sound can be further improved using DSP?  The  graphs showing the in room response versus the ideal still shows some pretty big dips and peaks.  Since you already have the capability and obvious expertise, why not apply some modest DSP to further improve things?

 

Hi tboooe, yes, I could have used DSP below 500 Hz to smooth out the room modes/standing waves. I have (very) unfavourable room ratios - only thing worse is a cube shaped room. This is a fun room mode calculator to play with, in case you have not seen it: https://amcoustics.com/tools/amroc  I was just happy that I could achieve a nice neutral sound, as most speakers have way too much high frequency energy output with no way to tame it...

 

However, having played extensively with DSP, I find that if one can keep the dips and peaks at ± 5 dB, below 500 Hz, it is not too noticeable, which is what I was able to achieve with the THREE's on-board boundary eq and contour/tone controls.  I expect the response will be better for most folks due to better room ratios. The purpose of the review is to show what the speakers are capable of, without any outside assistance.

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Thanks for the excelente analysis.

I was so excited to experience the kii that  recently went to the local dealer to have a listen.

This must have been one of the most disappoint experiences I had. Maybe in part due to the previous hype surrounding the kii.

 

I hear some of the well know qualities: spacious sound, dinamic, revealing, time coherent, yes.

 

But I also heard a speaker with some issues on presenting tone. Tone was not rich, voices did not sound natural, but a bit harsh. On the end it was a bit disappointing hear that the speaker was lacking on the tone department. Tone is very important to get me involved in the music. 

 

The quest to find a replacement for my QUAD ESL 2805 continues...

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@Jud Don't know... You could go to their site and contact Bryan...

 

@Pure Vinyl Club Thanks.  Probably in 30 days for the D&D 8c review. I am contemplating how to do a fair comparison after that...

 

@loop7 and @baconbrain Thanks! @input username here Thanks! Yes, the blue is nice. It would be interesting to hear the BXT extension module...  But it is surprising to hear how much and how low the THREE's go!

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Great review! First speaker review I've read in a long time that's going to make me seek out the speakers to listen to them. My favorite speakers have a similar sound radiation pattern and philosophy - Gradient Revolutions. Cardioid tweeter and midrange, open hung woofer. I got them during a long term assignment to Singapore, where my apartment was a total nightmare of curved walls, marble or teak floors, walls of windows. I tried several speakers and they were all horrible... but the Revolutions sounded excellent. And, sounded excellent almost without paying attention to placement. (almost...) The sweet spot was also really big. In the traditional location, yeah, it was perfectly balanced left to right etc, but off axis, it was pretty much like sitting in the side sections of a concert hall versus row H center. Over and over again, over the years, I've had people explore that, without prompting... wanting to see what they sounded like HERE, and THERE, and OVER THERE.

 

When I came back to the US, these speakers performed beautifully no matter how imperfect the listening room. Yeah, they're light on bass, and don't reach very low. A subwoofer fixes that. I've gone through a few different speakers in the 15 years for other rooms in my home and studios, and I've not found many with the imaging and clarity and lack of fussiness of the Revolutions. I've got GoldenEar speakers for my home AV system, and they have some similar characteristics - an enormous amount of the energy that the speakers put out comes from side radiators, which (for me, YMMV) makes the sweet spot bigger, makes the sound stage rounder.

 

My studio system is all compromises, particularly the speakers. Your review makes me think these may work.

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I am glad that you finally got to review these!I have had mine for about a year and have absolutely no complaints. 

 

@MikeJazz I am a bit surprised by the lack of "tone" you describe. As Mitchco suggested, perhaps something was off in the setup. One of my revelations with the Kiis has been listening to is older, but excellent recordings of vocals like Sam Cooke or Nina Simone. The depth of texture and dimension that was captured in some of those old recordings is something I had never appreciated before I got the Kiis, even with high end headphone setups. 


Roon ->allo Sparky-USBridge w/ SBooster 5V LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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2 hours ago, Em2016 said:

 

Best review of these speakers I've seen. Lots of technical stuff for those interested but good non-technical language for those that prefer that too.

 

 

 

 

Thank you! That's the balance I am trying to achieve with speaker and headphone reviews here on CA.

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10 hours ago, Danny Kaey said:

nice review Mitch! I think that high-end audio is facing an ever increasing dilemma... move forward with technology or fall way, way behind... the issue we have is driven by fundamentals of our fractured industry where on one end we have something like Kii, and on the other hand, royal Japanese paper cone 6" full-range speakers; you can't possibly sell these side by side with a straight face. Thus, what's a manufacturer to do: design for the old school guard and lose marketing ability to the new generation, or design for the new generation and leave the old guard behind. 

 

Thanks Danny! Yes, this is the conundrum isn't it... I am an early tech adopter for using DSP to control the frequency and timing response of speakers using customer FIR filter designers. Some FIR designers are better than others, but the top ones are very good. Now we are seeing some of that capability come with the loudspeaker itself. Plus new capabilities like controlled directivity with some level of room correction (e.g. SBIR control).  These new capabilities sound and measure better than older designs... Not saying older designs are losing their appeal, but it will be interesting to see what manufacturers come up with design wise and what audio consumers gravitate to... 

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5 hours ago, input username here said:

Thanks for the great review.  I wonder how much closer the BXT system would get you to your big subs' bass performance...it'll be interesting too to hear what you think of these vs. the D&Ds, they are clear competitors in a category of, really, only two speakers at the moment (not having seen the D&D in person, I was really shocked to see how BIG they are--and I thought the Kii's were pretty large monitor speakers!). 

 

Also, love that blue color!  The only regret I have with buying my own my Kii's is that I went with the rather dull, stock gray color.  Every time I see a pair in an adventurous colorway, I get (very) jealous. 

 

I got the stock gray, too. I actually think it looks nice and it matches my decor. I thought about ordering a cobalt blue color, but also thought that if I ever want to sell them the standard color will be much easier to sell. 
The D&D so far have gotten pretty much the same reaction as the Kiis. Some people think they sound a bit warmer and have a bit more bass "punch" and therefore prefer them. It will be interesting to see Mitchco's measurements and subjective reaction. 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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5 hours ago, MikeJazz said:

But I also heard a speaker with some issues on presenting tone. Tone was not rich, voices did not sound natural, but a bit harsh. On the end it was a bit disappointing hear that the speaker was lacking on the tone department. Tone is very important to get me involved in the music. 

Not my experience. But everyone hears differently. It's clear the Kiis aren't for everyone. I'm sure you are not the only one that won't like them. I've heard some very expensive, well regarded speakers that I didn't like at all. 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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6 hours ago, mitchco said:

It would be interesting to hear the BXT extension module...  But it is surprising to hear how much and how low the THREE's go!

 

... I've (almost) never wanted for more bass with my Kii's.  But then, one never knows what they're missing until they get their next shiny object.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (various cables from Kubala Sosna and Audioquest)

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1 hour ago, firedog said:

Not my experience. But everyone hears differently. It's clear the Kiis aren't for everyone. I'm sure you are not the only one that won't like them. I've heard some very expensive, well regarded speakers that I didn't like at all. 

 

I'm certainly not knocking your tastes--or anyone else's.  But, personally, I really love some of the wilder colors I've seen floating around the internet (maybe someone should start a company doing vinyl wraps for speakers like people are doing on cars these days). 

 

That said, you're probably right: resale will likely be higher in gray than with a more "quirky" color.


Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (various cables from Kubala Sosna and Audioquest)

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Well I for one will never buy these speakers. I always apply the Rolls Royce principle. If I have to ask the price, I obviously cannot afford it. Beggars belief a manufacturer has the arrogance to not pay potential purchasers the common courtesy of giving a price.  Shame really, interesting review.

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3 hours ago, Gnnett said:

Well I for one will never buy these speakers. I always apply the Rolls Royce principle. If I have to ask the price, I obviously cannot afford it. Beggars belief a manufacturer has the arrogance to not pay potential purchasers the common courtesy of giving a price.  Shame really, interesting review.

Huh? What are you talking about?


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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6 hours ago, input username here said:

 

... I've (almost) never wanted for more bass with my Kii's.  But then, one never knows what they're missing until they get their next shiny object.

An execelent and informative review.

After living with the Kii Three speakers for over a year,  these speakers never stop and impress me the way they handle all kind of music from old prog rock, jazz, blues to modern electronic music in my living room. I really don't miss anything from the overall soundstage but I will soon have an audition of the BXT modules and after the first reports I have heard  the BXT modules do something positive with the overall soundstage, not only in the lower bass area. And the Kii Three/BXT system will also work extremely well even in smaller rooms. 

 

IMG_3457.jpg

 


Auralic Aries G2 - Kii Control -  Kii Three active speakers -  OPPO BDP 95 - Clearaudio Concept turtable / AT-33 PTG II pu /Clearaudio Maestro Wood pu - Rega Fono MC riaa / Musical Surrondings riaa

Head-fi:

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro - Shure SE846w/Silver Dragon - Chord Mojo

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