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Kali IN-8 8-inch 3-way coincident mid/tweeter monitors - first impressions

ripvw

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#1
I received the Kali IN-8's on Monday - about 10-days earlier than Kali originally stated - from Sweetwater.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/IN8--kali-audio-in-8-8-inch-powered-studio-monitor

https://www.kaliaudio.com/independence

https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...Monitor_Speaker_Full_Specifications_Sheet.pdf

https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...onitor_Speaker_Users_Manual_Guide_English.pdf

They are replacing my JBL 308P MKII monitors which replaced my Presonus 5" 2-way/sub combo - see both threads below:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/presonus-eris-e5-temblor-t10-review.4089/

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...8-inch-2-way-monitors-first-impressions.7977/

The Kali's are slightly larger and heavier than the JBL's but fit nicely on the same 32" sand-filled stands that hosted the JBL's. The tweeters are at ear height, the speakers located about 1 meter from the rear wall and about 1 meter away from me - closer than Kali would like them to be used. The speakers use DIP switches for environmental and tone settings. To make them correct for stand mounting more than .5 meter from the wall with neutral tone settings I put all the switches in the UP position. My system consists of a Topping D50S/P50 combo into a JDS Labs Atom with one-foot of Blue Jeans Cable RCA's. I am using 6-foot RCA/XLR cables from Benchmark to connect the Kali's through their XLR inputs. As required by JDS Labs when using the Atom with powered speakers the unit is set for low gain. I set the gain on the Kali's at their recommended center detent position and found that max volume for me ranges from 12 o'clock to 2 o'clock - they will play plenty loud but of course I'm using them as nearfield monitors.

I spent the last 2 days comparing them to the JBL's but it was not an ideal situation. After using pink noise to calibrate the monitors I listened to the JBLs and then the Kali's back and forth, adjusting the gain on the back of the JBL's to match the dB settings I was getting with the Kali's at the midpoint detent - the JBL's have multiple detents on their gain controls. Listening critically to the JBL's again I was unsure that I had made the right decision buying the Kali's but after several comparison sessions I came to the following conclusions:

- The bass on both is good, about the same level of low frequency capability - good for an 8" driver but I would add subwoofers if I could
- the bass on the Kali sounds "tighter" to me, whether that is the result of different bass tuning (lower Q), front ported Kali vs rear ported JBL or some other speaker/room interaction I can't say for sure
- the Kali's reveal more information - details are easier to hear, vocals sound more natural and clearer - likely the result of crossing over the 8" woofer at 330 Hz and letting the 4" midrange and coincident 1" dome tweeter handle the rest. In my experience a well-designed 3-way speaker will always outperform a well-designed 2-way - but the 3-way is MUCH harder to get right
- both speakers image very well and both speakers did exceptionally well on the LEDR "shaker" test - see my previous speaker threads for more details
- the Kali's play louder with less stress than the JBL's - the tweeter on the 308P's can sound "edgy" by comparison to the Kali's when driven hard - something I never noticed before but now audible in comparison to the Kali's.
- I really like both speakers but I really like the Kali's more so I'm keeping them
- I used Tidal as my source, running in CD-quality HiFi mode. I used albums recommended by engineer Bob Katz on his Digital Domain site here:

https://www.digido.com/honor-roll/

Now about the hiss...

I cranked up the Atom to full gain and the Kali's to full gain as well - could not hear hiss from 1 meter away or with my almost 64 year-old ears up close and personal to the tweeters. I didn't hear the hiss on the JBL's under the same circumstances either. But my 30-something niece did when she put her ears up close to the tweeters on the JBL. As soon as she is available to listen to the Kali's I will update you.

In terms of perceived value it's a tough one. If you had to pay $500 list price for the JBL's this upgrade is a no-brainer - get the Kali IN-8's for another $300. But I bought the JBL's new for $150 each shipped and so can you in a few days - I can't imagine the price will be higher than that come Thanksgiving. That makes the Kali's more than twice as expensive and that is a tough proposition. As long as the Kali monitors continue to sell for their list price in the marketplace the JBL's will always be serious competition - I did not buy the Kali LP-6 or LP-8 for that reason. I suggest you try and find a local dealer that has both and compare them. If you do as I did and take a chance buying them unseen and unheard remember this - yeah it's free shipping TO YOU but if you decide to send them back to Sweetwater or wherever you will pay some serious money.
 
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Blumlein 88

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#2
Thanks for writing this listening impression up. You laid everything out nicely and your comments seem sensible.
 

Neddy

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#3
Good review - thanks for taking the time (so I don't have to!).
One other difference between them is the that Kali IN8s can be placed horizontally - not so with the 308s waveguide.
This is the main reason I purchased them instead of the 308s.
I think at 1M, with my (slightly older) ears, I'd find the hiss pretty annoying except that it goes away when they drop into standby mode.
Thanks!
 

ripvw

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#4
Hiss update: I had my 30+ niece take a listen just a little while ago - she could not hear any noise initially from 1 meter away with both the Atom and Kali on max gain, however she could hear a noise like "air" from a few inches away. However, once she heard this she was able to identify the same noise from 1 meter away. On the other hand, when I backed the Kali gain down to the recommended mid-detent position I've been using for my listening, the "air" sound from 1 meter away was no longer audible - only up close to the tweeter.

My take on all this is that for you younger listeners who have protected your hearing you may hear noise from this monitor, and it may be more noticeable than the JBL 308P MKII's I used to run.
 

Neddy

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#5
Ok, since 'hiss' is so ear and be-hearer dependent, and I have my Venu RTA mic up all the time, I thought I'd just measure 'em, in the spirit of ASR, if not at all close to the rigor usually demonstrated, but here's (sic) what I got.
305 no input -40db cr - Copy.JPG in8 no input  -40db cr - Copy.JPG
Measurements taken with the mic at 1" from the dome tweeter on each, with no inputs connected.
The 305 is a MkI, not MkII.
I haven't powered up the other IN8 yet, so don't know if they both do it (vastly different SNs, though).
Both 305s sound & measure the same.
Graph offset is -40db, and the RTA is roughly calibrated so that 0db is pretty close to 100db SPL, say +/- 5db?
(So you can see that my room's background, in a quiet winter night (but with other stuff on in the room) is about -80db. (?)
But what matters is the relative difference (and bandwidth, to a lesser degree), anyway.
So the IN8 appears to be about 10db louder, and a broader bandwidth.
Neither is audible to me at more than about 2 feet, so a 'mute' point for me. :) YMMV
(Sounds of footsteps running away, door slamming.)
 

maty

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#6
If I am not wrong, the designer is the same. JBL 3xx monitor works better with 4 Vrms, aka true balanced -> less hiss. ATOM is unbalanced, RCA 2 Vrms.
 
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617

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#7
If I am not wrong, the designer is the same. JBL 3xx monitor works better with 4 V, aka true balanced -> less hiss. ATOM is unbalanced, RCA 2 V.
Atom RCA outputs are same as headphone outs, but more than 2V:
  • Max Output @ 600Ω125mW (8.68 VRMS)
  • Max Output @ 150Ω502 mW (8.66 VRMS)
  • Max Output @ 32Ω1 Watt (5.66 VRMS)
 

Ron Texas

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#8
Somehow, I could never fall in love with nearfield listening. Then again, that's how most music is mixed. Glad the Kali's are working out.
 

jseaber

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#10
I have just sent an e-mail to JDS Labs. https://jdslabs.com/support/contact/


Oh, the new is the EL AMP II.
I'm not sure I fully understand the question (maybe out of context?).

Output voltage from the RCA outputs of Atom and Element II are determined by the input signal strength and volume knob position. With the knob at max, a 2VRMS source will result in 2VRMS output.
 

maty

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#11
What better than the company so that nobody doubts about it.

RCA -> 2 Vrms is the standard.
Balanced -> 4 Vrms.

Thank you very much for the very fast answer!
 

617

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#12
I'm not sure I fully understand the question (maybe out of context?).

Output voltage from the RCA outputs of Atom and Element II are determined by the input signal strength and volume knob position. With the knob at max, a 2VRMS source will result in 2VRMS output.
Wait - I was worried about this - I have a DAC which outputs ~2v and I wanted to run a minidsp from the Atom. The minidsp will clip above 2v or so. Am I correct in understanding that the Atom won't output above 2V at max volume?
 

jseaber

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#13
Wait - I was worried about this - I have a DAC which outputs ~2v and I wanted to run a minidsp from the Atom. The minidsp will clip above 2v or so. Am I correct in understanding that the Atom won't output above 2V at max volume?
Output voltage at unity gain cannot exceed the input voltage, even at max volume.
 

maty

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#15
BTW, the AVR that have RCA preamp out do not usually meet the standard. 1.1 - 1.2 Vrms is an usual value. Data that they almost hide even in the tech manuals!
 

dreite

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#16
OK. I was assuming from a diagram on the JDS website that the RCA outputs provided the same signal as the headphone out.
There's a gain switch on the ATOM. (Unity gain or 13db.) So, you can easily achieve > 2 VRMS on the outputs. The limit is 8.6 VRMS.
All of this is laid out on the spec. sheet for the ATOM on the JDS website.

Dave.
 

daftcombo

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#19
If I am not wrong, the designer is the same. JBL 3xx monitor works better with 4 Vrms, aka true balanced -> less hiss. ATOM is unbalanced, RCA 2 Vrms.
With my 305mkII I can hear hiss from one meter away even when nothing is plugged in the inputs.
When fed by my Atom (RCA), hiss is the same EXCEPT if I plug the Atom, CD player and the JLBs on the same outlet.
So I plug the JBLs on a power bar on a different outlet.
 

ripvw

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#20
about that sleep function: I'm getting used to it - wish I could switch in on or off from the back - but perhaps the IN-8 has the same internal mod capability as the Kali LP-6 as demonstrated here:


If any of the rest of you early adopters decide to permanently turn off the sleep function on the IN-8 the same way please consider making a video or at least some how-to instructions. I'm pretty sure it will void the 1-year warranty - I got an extra year from Sweetwater. Gotta hand it to JBL Pro for giving users a 5-year TRANSFERABLE warranty...
 
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