Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Audio Conjuring don't come easy! - A Case Study: the Kii Audio Three

This audio replay component is an interesting example of the dilemma the industry is in at the moment. It's an active speaker system, which includes the capability of digital input - meaning, that all is needed for reproduction to occur is to feed the right input with material from any capable source, a very cheap storage device that can output digital audio would be sufficient; it has been designed and developed by a highly capable audio circuitry design engineer, Bruno Putzeys, he has an excellent reputation for conceiving and bringing into existence fresh approaches to elements of the audio reproduction chain, high levels of praise have been bestowed upon products originating from him, both people coming from a technical viewpoint and those only interested in "what it sounds like" are impressed by his efforts ... but, this new product, under the banner Kii, has been getting very mixed reports - everything from "dreadful to listen to", to "can't imagine it being better!!"... so, what's going on ??

Particular of note is that very negative reports have been garnered from its presence at major audio shows in the USA, the two most recent being RMAF and CES. People who are familiar with decent audio sound are completely unimpressed, indeed found its sound quite offputting - at CES 2016 nearly every well known reviewer completely ignored it in their summaries. Why??

Luckily, a means of hearing what it sounded like at CES 2016, at least at one point of time, is available:, a video report by AVshowreports on YouTube. This includes a long segment at the end of the clip of the speakers in operation - and, it is relatively easy, even on a YouTube video(!), to hear that the sound is deficient - it has a "shouty", uncomfortable quality to it, which seems to get worse as the clip progresses ... what is happening?

And ... just read a post on What's Best Forum: These are the impressions by a buyer of the units, who will use them to analyse recording mixes ... and his comments are extremely familiar: the quality is close, very, oh so very close to being "there" - yet, there is something not quite right ...

To me, these are the classic symptoms of digitally based replay which has the potential of producing superb sound ... when it is in the "zone" the result is music which is immensely satisfying to experience, but, the slightest weakness in the integrity of the complete chain can easily cause a quality which is very unpleasant to listen to, a complete contrast to the previous situation - Jekyll and Hyde, if you will ... hopefully, the degradation is not too great; but if it is not resolved then the playback will never totally satisfy ... which it is always capable of achieving, if the right efforts are made.

The big question is, will anyone go to this effort? If it doesn't happen then it's likely this product will also join the long, long list of also-rans, it will slowly fade as a prime target for enthusiasm by searching music lovers ...

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