AXPONA 2017: Kii Audio Is Under Your Thumb

He may not realize it but Bruno Putzeys had a VERY good show.  I say this because I don’t believe Bruno was at AXPONA.  But he had two intriguing systems at the show.  One was a YG Acoustics system with Carmel 2 speakers and Bruno Putzeys Mola Mola gear.  Don’t you just love that name?  Of course, the highlight of that room may have been Joe Kubala’s new Kubala-Sosna Realization cable.  Liquid, detailed sound kept me there for a few songs before moving on to the Kii Audio room.

I’ve written about Kii Audio in the past.  They are a fascinating all in one system which includes lot of features for the money:

  • Full range speaker system that includes per side: four 6.5 inch woofers, a 4.5 inch midrange and a 1 inch waveguide tweeter.
  • Built-in DAC and DSP.  Six channels of DSP controlled conversion.
  • Built-in amplification for each speaker that is designed in connection with the digital signal processing to control the speaker in a way that uses filter to manage a safe operating range. Each unit has six 250 watt Ncore amplifiers.
  • Connectivity options that include an analog source and ethernet-based connection for your digital source.
  • Reasonable all in system price of $13,900 for the speakers, $1,650 for the dedicated stands, and $1,760 for the Controller.

To me the big news was the addition of the “Kii Controller.”  This device acts as a digital preamplifier and controls source selection.  It has inputs for SPDIF, USB (pcm to 24/384, DSD 64 and DSD 128), and a Toslink connection.  A very slick OLED display and handy rotating dial-based control only requires a thumb and index finger to operate. 😉  The sonic benefit here is that the Controller talks to the DSP chips in the drive units for completely lossless volume control.

The bottom line is you have a speaker system that is a “one and done” purchase of very high quality.  They don’t sound like monitors which is what kept me in my seat even under show pressure of having to hit a good number of rooms in a short period of time.  If you close your eyes, you hear a full range of sound that would suggest a multi-driver tower is being deployed.  The genius of what Bruno and his team have done is to create, digitally, a new way of controlling more drivers in a compact space of a mini-monitor.  This has implications for the pro audio world that Bruno came from and the traditional high-end market.

The process of making this work is something called “Active Wave” which controls the four woofers: two rear-firing and one on each side of the speaker (!).  Active Wave ensures that the sound emanating is “thrown forward” in a manner that exhibits clean timing and creates an ability to reach peak SPL of 115db.  These speakers exhibit +/- 0.5 db flatness from 25khz down to 20hz.  You can learn more about Active Wave and also animation of its application here.

The sound quality reminded me, oddly enough, of the superb Wilson rooms at the show.  Even so compact, the bass definition and clarity and just overall coherence were satisfying to my ears.  Rock sounded wonderful, acoustic was present and lifelike, jazz performance sublime.  I wish I had the money to put these in the living room of our new town home as a separate system.  On balance, they sound a lot more than they cost even though $14k+ is certainly nothing to sneeze at.  But you don’t have to buy any more electronics.  And Bruno and Bart Van Der Laan are top designers.  It’s really quite a bargain.  Simpler can be better.

The demo pair was in a cool graphite finish which looked excellent.  This is one of the most “wife-friendly” systems an audiophile can purchase given good looks and the “all-in-one” configuration.

Thank you GTT Audio, Bruno Putzeys and team for another great room.  One of the best sounding rooms at AXPONA in my humble opinion.

AXPONA coverage generously provided by NOBLE AUDIO.