But what is Kii (pronounced “key”)? Kii Audio is a new audio brand, one I had never heard (or heard of) before stepping into an Atrium room at RMAF. Odd shaped speakers from Europe, rounded on the left and right edge on the front baffle, and more rounded corners on the back of the speaker. Beautiful design actually — and also very musical sounding.
Like you can sometimes tell a great sounding recording by its recording engineer or mastering engineer, an audiophile can often expect greatness with a designer with a good track record. The ELAC speakers that were such a hit at the show were of course done by renowned designer Andrew Jones. Kii’s designer, Bruno Putzeys is in many ways known better for his groundbreaking work on electronics, such as Class D amplification for Hypex and digital converters and for Grimm Audio. Many engineers tell me that the Grimm AD1 analog to digital converter remains one of the best ever. But speakers? Yes — and they’re damn good ones at that.
On demo were the Kii Three active speakers. Active speakers are showing up in unexpected places these days — and they are clearly not just for desktops anymore. The Three were on stands and designed to be a good portion of a serious reference system. The sound quality was commensurate with top systems. Not inexpensive at $13,900, but then again one gets some nCore amplifiers included in that bargain. In this room, they used Kubala-Sosna cabling and as a digital source, a DirectStream FPGA-based DAC with a matching PerfectWave transport, both from PS Audio. Electronics from German manufacturer Audionet rounded out the system.
The Kii Three uses four 6.5” woofers, one 5” midrange driver and a 1” wave-guided tweeter. Amplification is provided by a 250 watt Ncore amplifier, one for each of the drivers. Size is a smallish 8”x16”x16” and they weigh 33 lbs each.
What I heard was a glorious midrange and really wonderful coherence across the spectrum, with a tremendous amount of resolution on offer. Highs were extended and imaging was absolutely terrific. The bass, coming from four powered woofers (one on each side and two in the back of the speaker), was also excellent. These stand-mounts really sounded like a set of big tower speakers.
Just wonderful. An amazing sound here.