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Kali Audio IN-8 Studio Monitor Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Kali Audio IN-8, 3-way powered studio monitor (speaker). It was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me. The IN-8 costs US $399 each.

Despite its rather low price, the IN-8 comes in a rather large enclosure and with good visual fit and finish:
KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Review.jpg

The tweeter is located in the center of the midrange driver ("coaxial").

Here is the back panel connectivity and EQ settings:

KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Back Panel Connectors Review.jpg

I tested the unit as shipped with all the dip switches low (EQ defeated). For listening tests, I used the RCA input so had to enable that using dip switch 8. Gain control was set to middle (0 dB) as you see. I think the drive level was 0.7 volts through XLR input. I used a microphone position that was a bit farther away from the speaker. To compensate, I had to boost the levels. They were somewhat uncomfortable to listen to from 6 to 7 feet away. I was hoping to have my microphone calibrator in today but got delayed. So can't tell you the exact SPL.

I put my ear next to the coaxial driver and there is hiss there, maybe a bit higher than my JBL 305P Mark ii monitor. It was a bit lower in tone which indicates the mid-range and tweeter may both be hissing at the same time.

EDIT: turns out this sample was physically broken (bad woofer). I purchased one myself and it measured far better. So please ignore this post and jump to: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...udio-monitor-review.10897/page-29#post-318617


Speaker Acoustic Measurements
Unless I say otherwise, the measurements are produced by the Klippel Near-field Scanner which measures the speaker at close distance and then uses math to compute the far-field response. Room reflections are computed out so there are anechoic chamber equivalent data. I suggest reading my JBL 305p Mark ii review for more information on what these graphs mean.

As usual we start with our CEA/CTA-2034 "spinorama" measurements:
KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 CTA-2034 Spinorama Acoustic Measurements.png


Our on-axis and listening window graphs (black and dashed green lines) immediately tell us there are serious problems with this speaker. The addition of mid-range is causing a substantial boost in a large range of frequencies reading up to 3000 Hz and beyond. Inverted, we are going to get less presence, upper mid-range warmth and detail from 200 to 400 Hz.

We also have some kind of cancellation (?) happening post tweeter taking over starting at 8 kHz.

Off-axis response as represented by the dashed blue line is actually smoother so you probably don't want to point the speakers at you. That said, it still shows the same step function boost from midrange driver.

If you were to use this in a situation where reflections do occur and reach your ears in a more far-field situation, you would get this response:
KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 CTA-2034 Predicted In-room Response PI...png


Smoothness of this "PIR" curve (predicted in room response) and lack of variation is a major predictor of listener preference. As you see, there is quite a bit of deviation from the imaginary line I have drawn in there. This would say that subjective performance is not going to rank high.

Story is told already. The rest is for advanced readers who want to dig in.

Advanced Acoustic Measurements
Not enough spare time to find a better way to present this data although I am working on it. For now, please don't complain about them. :)

KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 CTA-2034 Horizontal and Vertical Acous...png


Company says you can put these horizontal and vertical and that would be OK. Well, maybe compared to some other speakers but horizontal positioning does degrade performance even more:

KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Contour Polar Plot Acoustic Measurements.png


KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Contour Polar Plot Vertical Acoustic Measurements.png


The hot spots show in dark red span many frequencies which indicates acoustic design issues, not simple electro-mechanical resonances (they would have a narrow frequency impact).

These graphs are far from ideal with lack of smoothness to the sides, and changes in amplitude based on frequency (which we already know from spinorama measurements).

Finally there is the distortion measurements:

KALI AUDIO IN-8 Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 CTA-2034 Distortion Acoustic Measureme...png


These are ordinary near-field measurements so the room is impacting the measurements. I am working on getting equivalent anechoic data. Not sure if it is possible but I am working toward it.

I tested the NHT Pro M-00 the same way and saw the same peak at 50 Hz. So I am thinking that is a room mode. Using that speaker, I did notice that raising SPL proportionally raised that peak until it reached the fundamental frequency. So I think it is somewhat reliable indicator of distortion. But who knows at this point. So please don't run with these distortion measurements.

Informal Listening Tests
The Kali IN-8 gave an imposing impression once put on my desk. It is huge for any kind of computer desk. As I noted, fit and finish is good so I thought for sure it would give some kind of competition to the JBL 305P Mark ii that I was comparing it to. Well, 2 seconds of listening showed that was not the case whatsoever. This thing sounds bad! All you hear is mid-range. All other frequencies are attenuated heavily. The highs are also grungy or strange. The 305P Mark ii sounded hugely more satisfying in comparison. Tons of detail where you could hear every instrument equally and properly. It had great warmth. It did justice to my audiophile track I was using.

To put it strongly, the Kali Audio IN-8 sounded like a big clock radio for those of you old enough to know what these things are! It had some good low bass that is not in JBL 305 but otherwise, it just sounds flat and uninteresting. The highs were bothering my ears as well.

As usual, I could be accused of bias so once again I dragged my wife in for a second opinion. Without saying a word she just about replicated my impressions. She commented on how she could better hear all the instruments. On a slight positive she did say some notes came across louder from IN-8 but quickly followed with that could be tiring.

It is easy to dismiss the graphs as showing "just a few dB" peaks. Visually they don't look that bad in grand scheme of things. Audibly however, those differences are quite a bit larger pointing and correctly predicting the listening impressions so far.

As I noted, hiss and buzzing is there just as well as JBL 305P Mark II so no issue there. I did not however hear either one over faint fan noise of my PC. In my prior testing of 305 P I have them in a different spot away from the computer so could hear the hiss better.

Conclusions
Hard to imagine if proper measurements or comparative listening tests were performed in the design of the Kali Audio IN-8. Their marketing story is all about "imaging" and such. Well, if you don't produce the right timbre, it doesn't matter what else you do. I can't emphasize enough how "lo-fi" this speaker sounds in use. I have no idea who all these people online are that are praising it for studio use. I shutter to think of what kind of mix they produce with a speaker like this.

Now I am wondering how the lower end 2-way models perform.

As it stands, pretty soon I have to upgrade the status of the JBL 305P Mark ii to top of the class with the golfing pink panther! It is remarkable how much higher in fidelity it is playing at relative to these other monitors.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

You honestly want to read another lame joke to be motivate to donate??? I hope not. Just go here and give me some money and get it done: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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Sancus

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#2
Yikes. I'm the one who sent this in and needless to say, I had much higher expectations. Thanks to Amir for the review though, this will save a lot of people trouble with this speaker.

I expected better from Kali given their reputation and the measurements of the LP-6 and LP-8 that are available.
 

Blumlein 88

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#3
A comment on you mentioning the 200-400 hz range. For those who haven't read the Olive paper. Judging deviation from a reference level Olive uses 200-400 hz as the reference range. This was found to be what listeners who were evaluating speakers were using. When I read this it made immediate sense. In listening to a speaker to decide if it was bright or thin or recessed or forward it was around this male and more so female voice centered region I make those judgements. So as your graph shows that region is rather below everything else in relative terms for this Kali.

Also, I use 305 mk 1's for mixing recorded music. If you haven't heard them, and you have other good speakers, it is hard to convey how you listen to them vs other small monitors and immediately have a sense of relief, because they just have a proper balance that you pick up on in a few seconds. While in time you can find imperfections the immediate experience is they are getting out of the way of the music.

A big thanks to Sancus for sending them to Amir.
 

Thomas_A

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#4
Hm, how is the simulated room response simulated? Is the speaker supposed to be far from front wall or close to front wall?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #5
Hm, how is the simulated room response simulated? Is the speaker supposed to be far from front wall or close to front wall?
I explained it in short-hand in the JBL 305P review:



It is based on research Alan Devantier performed in analyzing what reflections hit you in a "typical" listening room. It has very high predictive power in correlating to listening tests.

You could of course have rooms and situations where this doesn't apply. A speaker that has good response though (on, and off-axis) will work well in both situations.
 

MZKM

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#6
Knew something was up when for their LP-line they provided full CLF data, yet they didn't even post FR for these.

For a near-field monitor it has really poor vertical performance, despite being coxial.

This thing sounds bad!
Obviously your ears are broken:
1908CF96-9B7C-4E3C-A172-435365979EC9.jpeg
 
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Arnandsway

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#7
This is dissapointing. Especially because @SIY gave the LP-6 a good review which showed a better frequency response...
 

Thomas_A

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#8
I explained it in short-hand in the JBL 305P review:



It is based on research Alan Devantier performed in analyzing what reflections hit you in a "typical" listening room. It has very high predictive power in correlating to listening tests.

You could of course have rooms and situations where this doesn't apply. A speaker that has good response though (on, and off-axis) will work well in both situations.
Does this include SIBR effects which is dependent on distance from front wall? Some speaker designs include wall support and need to be very close to the wall.
 

mhardy6647

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#9
Yikes. I'm the one who sent this in and needless to say, I had much higher expectations. Thanks to Amir for the review though, this will save a lot of people trouble with this speaker.

I expected better from Kali given their reputation and the measurements of the LP-6 and LP-8 that are available.
Have you had the chance to listen to it (them) yourself, or did you just have them drop-shipped?
 

mhardy6647

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#10
Oh, I guess the other question would (could) be: Is a loudspeaker like this, with a smattering of EQ options, worth testing using several (or all) of them -- not just the default (presumably 'flat') option?
 

bigx5murf

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#11
Yikes, I was expecting a better showing from coaxials, which are my personal favorite for desk usage. Hope to see Kef and Elac coaxials measured in the future.
 
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pozz

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#12
Horrendous...
Does this include SIBR effects which is dependent on distance from front wall? Some speaker designs include wall support and need to be very close to the wall.
It is a computed curve which shows a theoretical average of SBIR effects.
 

Thomas_A

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#14
Horrendous...

It is a computed curve which shows a theoretical average of SBIR effects.
So could that mean that the speaker + room response would measure quite different if it were placed close to the wall?
 

Severian

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#16
That's disappointing. I'd already ruled this one out due to the seemingly universal hiss complaints in online reviews - I know it would drive me crazy - but I'm surprised to see the poor measurements.

I appreciate the timeliness of this review - many of us have been curious about this speaker!
 

Sancus

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#17
Have you had the chance to listen to it (them) yourself, or did you just have them drop-shipped?
It was drop shipped. I haven't been able to listen to them locally because they're not yet sold by any of the local stores I checked(BC, Canada).

I was going to use it as a center channel in a surround setup, and eventually buy two more for L/R channels. I had hope that the vertical performance would be good because it was a coaxial, so it would be fine on its side. But it's definitely not, sadly.

I liked the idea of having a front coaxial setup because I really dislike the very poor sound you typically get from slightly vertical off axis listening, for example when standing up. But I don't want to sacrifice seated listening position performance for that, of course.

It seems I'm mostly left to consider whether or not the cost of Genelec Ones is in the budget or not. :p
 

mitchco

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#19
Very interesting @amirm Thanks again for doing this! I predict we are going to see a lot more of this ;)

I wonder what the size of the voice coil is for the tweeter as that looks like a major cancellation in the coax throat/waveguide, also shows up as a directivity issue. It would be interesting to compare to another coaxial speaker like the KEF LS50's to see if it is coax related issue...
 
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