Kali Audio LP-8 Powered Monitor Loudspeaker Review

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Reviewing the Kali Audio LP-8 studio monitor might seem slightly unusual for regular readers of Audioholics. We are a home-audio focused site and do not normally deal in pro audio gear. However, studio monitors often find their way into home use with the prevalence of ‘bedroom studios’ where people have made a room in their home into a recording or mixing space. The performance demands of studio monitors and home audio speakers have a lot in common; they are both sound reproduction tools that, one would hope, strive for accurate reproduction of the source content. Whether that content is an album or a movie or a work-in-progress shouldn’t really change the behavior of the loudspeaker; it should be blind to content. This being the case, a monitor should be as adept for recreational home audio listening as conventional home audio loudspeakers. One of the things we will be looking at is how these monitors fare for that purpose as well as monitoring purposes. Read our full review to see our thoughts on the Kali Audio LP-8.



Read: Kali Audio LP-8 Studio Monitor Review
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Reviewing the Kali Audio LP-8 studio monitor might seem slightly unusual for regular readers of Audioholics. We are a home-audio focused site and do not normally deal in pro audio gear. However, studio monitors often find their way into home use with the prevalence of ‘bedroom studios’ where people have made a room in their home into a recording or mixing space. The performance demands of studio monitors and home audio speakers have a lot in common; they are both sound reproduction tools that, one would hope, strive for accurate reproduction of the source content. Whether that content is an album or a movie or a work-in-progress shouldn’t really change the behavior of the loudspeaker; it should be blind to content. This being the case, a monitor should be as adept for recreational home audio listening as conventional home audio loudspeakers. One of the things we will be looking at is how these monitors fare for that purpose as well as monitoring purposes. Read our full review to see our thoughts on the Kali Audio LP-8.



Read: Kali Audio LP-8 Studio Monitor Review
It is too bad about the poor S/N they should address that. I have long thought that passive speakers basically need to be phased out. With all the channels now, a receiver and passive crossovers are just not fit for purpose anymore.

One thing that might be an issue with the poor S/N, is that the woofers may have, and likely do have, a peak above crossover. Since there is a direct connection between the speaker and amp, a speaker peak above crossover will allow hiss to be heard.

This is a real problem. My SEAS 10" drivers have a huge peak out of band. Even with my Quad 909s with their 105 db unweighted S/N you can hear hiss from those drivers easily at the seated position. So I had to design and build notch filters for the speaker leads, to notch out the peak. Then the hiss was totally eliminated.

I have mentioned this before, but people fail to understand why I would put a passive notch filter in the connection to a speaker in an active system. To me the reason is obvious, but apparently not to others.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
It is too bad about the poor S/N they should address that. I have long thought that passive speakers basically need to be phased out. With all the channels now, a receiver and passive crossovers are just not fit for purpose anymore.

One thing that might be an issue with the poor S/N, is that the woofers may have, and likely do have, a peak above crossover. Since there is a direct connection between the speaker and amp, a speaker peak above crossover will allow hiss to be heard.

This is a real problem. My SEAS 10" drivers have a huge peak out of band. Even with my Quad 909s with their 105 db unweighted S/N you can hear hiss from those drivers easily at the seated position. So I had to design and build notch filters for the speaker leads, to notch out the peak. Then the hiss was totally eliminated.

I have mentioned this before, but people fail to understand why I would put a passive notch filter in the connection to a speaker in an active system. To me the reason is obvious, but apparently not to others.
Supposedly the hiss is an inevitable byproduct of the kind of dynamic range they wanted while using a class D amp with DSP. They have told me that they are looking at ways of reducing it. I don't think they want to sacrifice the dynamic range though. It is pretty outstanding on these speakers.

One thing I would add is that I fear I might be overstating the hiss. It is soft but audible in near-field placement but not so much in far-field, like 2+ meters. It's not really a concern so long as you are not using them as desktop speakers, and even then it isn't that intrusive.
 
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TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Supposedly the hiss is an inevitable byproduct of the kind of dynamic range they wanted while using a class D amp with DSP. They have told me that they are looking at ways of reducing it. I don't think they want to sacrifice the dynamic range though. It is pretty outstanding on these speakers.

One thing I would add is that I fear I might be overstating the hiss. It is soft but audible in near-field placement but not so much in far-field, like 2+ meters. It's not really a concern so long as you are not using them as desktop speakers, and even then it isn't that intrusive.
I would still like to see the acoustic response of those woofers. It would be most unusual if there were not break up modes. Those will exaggerate and make amp hiss audible that otherwise would not be. You absolutely need to notch those out. I design acceptor circuits tuned to the height and width of those peaks in parallel with the woofer. This does the trick, otherwise you will have the problem you describe. I do not like to use series rejector circuits in series with driver as that increases series resistance because of the DC resistance of the inductor.



You can see the board for the tuned circuits for the four SEAS 10" Excel woofers.
 
ErinH

ErinH

Audioholic Chief
Thanks for the review! Some comments...


You stated the following:
"The response rises to a bump past 15kHz, but there isn’t much content in that range, and many people’s hearing isn’t very good in that range either, so that bump is not very consequential."
"The Kali Audio LP-8 does have one shortcoming and that is the background noise present when the speakers are turned on."

Speaking from 10+ years experience of using active systems, a boosted signal above 10kHz will often bring out "noise", especially if the components already have a low SNR. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the 15kHz +5dB peak being the reason this noise is audible (if only in the nearfield).


I am assuming port resonance around 800Hz. I can say from experience with the last couple speakers I tested, this wasn't an audible issue. At least not glaringly so. But it stinks to see from Kali.


For the price, I guess this isn't terrible. But, at the same time, I was hoping for better if I am being honest.



At any rate, thanks again for the testing.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Thanks for the review! Some comments...


You stated the following:





Speaking from 10+ years experience of using active systems, a boosted signal above 10kHz will often bring out "noise", especially if the components already have a low SNR. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the 15kHz +5dB peak being the reason this noise is audible (if only in the nearfield).


I am assuming port resonance around 800Hz. I can say from experience with the last couple speakers I tested, this wasn't an audible issue. At least not glaringly so. But it stinks to see from Kali.


For the price, I guess this isn't terrible. But, at the same time, I was hoping for better if I am being honest.



At any rate, thanks again for the testing.
Your standards are very high for a $250 speaker. I can't think of any other speaker that has as flat of a response on and off-axis at this price point. In my opinion, this is a modern marvel. This is a speaker that A: is highly accurate, B: has such a wide dynamic range, C: has honest to god bass down to 40 Hz without being a floor-stander, D: comes with its own amp and an efficient one at that, E: allows users to customize the sound in so many different ways. This can get you a no-nonsense true hi-fi system for just $500/pair. It ain't perfect but it is a tremendous value for what it is.

As for the upper treble boost causing the hiss, that may be part of it, but it sounded more like a broadband noise like a white noise or pink noise.
 
ErinH

ErinH

Audioholic Chief
Your listing has $500/pair which has a different tinge than "$250 speaker". Regardless, I didn't say much about the linearity or bass extension. I commented on the 800Hz null and 15kHz bump. I would have expected Kali (a well regarded brand) to not have a significant port resonance at 800Hz. Namely because there is an $90/pair speaker I tested that shows the same. Regardless of how audible it is, it seems like a "throwaway" attitude to have to simply let it ride from such a brand and at the price point. The same for the 15kHz bump. It's not terrible. I just would have expected better from Kali.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Your listing has $500/pair which has a different tinge than "$250 speaker". Regardless, I didn't say much about the linearity or bass extension. I commented on the 800Hz null and 15kHz bump. I would have expected Kali (a well regarded brand) to not have a significant port resonance at 800Hz. Namely because there is an $90/pair speaker I tested that shows the same. Regardless of how audible it is, it seems like a "throwaway" attitude to have to simply let it ride from such a brand and at the price point. The same for the 15kHz bump. It's not terrible. I just would have expected better from Kali.
Hiss is very much a 4 to 6KHz phenomenon. maximal around 5 KHz.

Now here is the acoustic response of a 10" SEAS Excel woofer.



Now when a power amp with S/N of 105db unweighted is connected directly to one of those speakers your hear hiss. The fact that there is an active crossover does NOT limit noise downstream. Now you have to notch that out after power amplification.

That type of FR is not uncommon to greater or lesser degrees in woofers. The larger the woofer and the ore rigid the cone, the more likely it is to be large and abrupt.

Now I have noted hiss on a number of active speakers. I have never had anybody advise that in an active design this has to be dealt with. As far as I know I am the only one that has addressed this issue for active designs. My solution not only works perfectly, but is essential. When it come to speakers, I seem to do a variety of things not done before.
 
ErinH

ErinH

Audioholic Chief
Hiss is very much a 4 to 6KHz phenomenon. maximal around 5 KHz.
If you have ever tried to boost a tweeter's falling response you know that it can bring out poor SNR features. Therefore, a speaker like that, that naturally boosts >10kHz is very likely to be the cause of audible hiss.


There is no hint of the woofer's cone breakup in the early reflection or sound power graphics which are designed to show these type of resonances. In fact, the only resonance I see in the data provided is around 3kHz. That may be more a function of the resolution (gating to 200Hz), though, but negligible at high frequencies. So, if you are indeed suggesting the hiss is caused by a cone breakup in the 4-6kHz region then I disagree as there is no evidence of this.

I believe the 15kHz is more likely the culprit for the audibility. But I won't go round and round on this. That's just my take based on the data presented.

- Erin
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
If you have ever tried to boost a tweeter's falling response you know that it can bring out poor SNR features. Therefore, a speaker like that, that naturally boosts >10kHz is very likely to be the cause of audible hiss.


There is no hint of the woofer's cone breakup in the early reflection or sound power graphics which are designed to show these type of resonances. In fact, the only resonance I see in the data provided is around 3kHz. That may be more a function of the resolution (gating to 200Hz), though, but negligible at high frequencies. So, if you are indeed suggesting the hiss is caused by a cone breakup in the 4-6kHz region then I disagree as there is no evidence of this.

I believe the 15kHz is more likely the culprit for the audibility. But I won't go round and round on this. That's just my take based on the data presented.

- Erin
You are not getting my point like everyone else. You will not see the break up in the speaker response, because the crossover which is before the power amp, controls that break up. However the power amp, which is AFTER the crossover will excite that break up mode, which you will NOT see in measurements. So that is why you have to equalize for those peaks, before and after power amplification. The reason being that in the example I showed, the major hiss frequency band will be elevated by 20 db. In other words the hiss will be 20 db higher in the active solution than the passive one, if you do not deal with that break up peak before and after power amplification.

I have been involved in active systems for about 50 years now, and I know what I'm talking about on this. That is why you so often hear hiss in active systems, and the solution is actually simple.

In these active speakers here, using those woofer I used to illustrate the point, hiss is reduced by 20 db with my approach.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
Your standards are very high for a $250 speaker. I can't think of any other speaker that has as flat of a response on and off-axis at this price point. In my opinion, this is a modern marvel. This is a speaker that A: is highly accurate, B: has such a wide dynamic range, C: has honest to god bass down to 40 Hz without being a floor-stander, D: comes with its own amp and an efficient one at that, E: allows users to customize the sound in so many different ways. This can get you a no-nonsense true hi-fi system for just $500/pair. It ain't perfect but it is a tremendous value for what it is.

As for the upper treble boost causing the hiss, that may be part of it, but it sounded more like a broadband noise like a white noise or pink noise.
Hey Shady great review I had a tweeter blow on one of the 530's in the theater room so I switched out the 530's for my 580's in the bedroom.

So I think I'll be your guinea pig I've been wanting to do powered studios for awhile I think I'll be going with the Kalis but not this line.

The one above it the Independence! Five of those should rock with my PB 2000 pro in the bedroom!
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
@Danzilla31 Good golly what were you doing to that poor little 530? :)
Honestly lovin nothing I kid you not I was listening well below reference I was actually in between shows and heard a buzzing like a ground hum like sound coming from that speaker then just it just went quiet

When I ran the pink noise you could tell sound only from the woofer nothing from the tweeter dead kaput gone

I'd always kind off worried about it it's a big room there not very sensitive or efficient I should say not the easiest speaker to drive compared to the 590's and it takes a fair bit of power to get em going I figured in that room size I might run into that issue

I want all floor standers anyways I'll probably just use the 580's for now and then buy my end game speakers in the long run

Or if I just want to stay with the 590's because they are pretty Damn awesome just get 4 more for 7 for the floor standers and then just call it a day
 
U

User5910

Enthusiast
Thank you for reviewing "pro" powered speakers. It's great to see how they compare to passive home speakers in all the usual Audioholics tests.

For a future review consider powered speakers further upmarket to see what more investment can do, something like the Kii Three.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Thank you for reviewing "pro" powered speakers. It's great to see how they compare to passive home speakers in all the usual Audioholics tests.

For a future review consider powered speakers further upmarket to see what more investment can do, something like the Kii Three.
More powered speaker reviews are in the pipe. We are trying to review more powered monitors, and we tried to get as many monitor manufacturers involved as we could, but only a handful responded to our requests for review samples. If you want to see more monitor reviews, tell monitor manufacturers that you want Audioholics to review their products, perhaps via social media. If they get enough requests to have us review their products, they may be more responsive to the idea of a review from us.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Senior Audioholic
58DB9328-4AF6-41C1-964C-C53E314BAB00.jpeg

this is the spectrum of the speaker on with input shorted. I measured it using a calibrated app mic connected to my phone into AudioTools. It was SPL calibrated with a Larsen Davis SPL calibrator. The mic I used is cheap so it has a lot of self noise, and the room I was in is my office which itself isn’t the quietest.

so here is the background noise in that room with the speaker off.
0AA19ADE-AC41-4FE7-8E07-200101904F89.jpeg


in both cases I averaged the sound energy over the face is the speaker at a distance of 1 foot. Had I measured the noise at a distance of 2 meters, a normal listening distance, the level of hiss would be too low to discern in this graph from ambient noise (which doesn’t mean it isn’t audible, you just couldn’t easily tell from this kind of graph).

when I get a chance I’ll try to do a more scientific test in my theater and with a better mic.

Matt
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Not to steal any thunder away from my latest powered monitor review, but Kali has recently had a price drop on their LP-8 monitors and they are now $400 a pair. That is just a bonkers good value for such high-performing loudspeakers. No passive loudspeakers can really compete at that pricing not that they could even at their $500/pair pricing. In other Kali news, their IN-8 coaxial speakers can now be had in white but only from Sweetwater. That is kind of nifty.
 
B

bounce

Audiophyte
Professional studio monitors. I once spoke with a man who had been a recording engineer. He said do NOT buy studio monitors because they are designed to be listened to nearfield (3 to 4 feet)> I have heeded his advice. Ilisten to speakers at 10-12 feet. Please comment.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Professional studio monitors. I once spoke with a man who had been a recording engineer. He said do NOT buy studio monitors because they are designed to be listened to nearfield (3 to 4 feet)> I have heeded his advice. Ilisten to speakers at 10-12 feet. Please comment.
That just isn't the case. There are monitors that are made for near-field, mid-field, and far-field mixing. There are several factors involved in differentiating the design of each, and one of them is dynamic range. Many monitors made for near-field mixing are only limited in terms of dynamic range. If they had greater dynamic range, you could use them for far-field mixing, like a dubbing stage, very easily. Audioholics is going to be publishing a review on some near-field monitors soon. These Kali monitors are good for both near-field and mid-field (insofar as those terms have definition).
 

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