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Kali Audio LP-8 Monitor Measurements & Conclusion

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 lp8 outdoor testing

The Kali Audio LP-8 speaker was measured in free-air at a height of 7.5 feet at a 1-meter distance from the microphone, and the measurements were gated at an 11-millisecond delay. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 250 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 110 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/12 octave resolution.

lp8 spin-o-rama 

The above graph shows the direct-axis frequency response and other curves that describe the speaker’s amplitude response in a number of ways. For more information about the meaning of these curves, please refer to our article Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part 1. The first thing to notice is that it is a terrifically flat response overall. There is a high-Q dip around 800Hz, but existing research has shown is that narrow dips like that one are not very audible. 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 listening window curve and early reflections curve have a very good correspondence to the on-axis response, so the LP-8 should have the same sound over a wide angle from the on-axis direction. This graph depicts what I had heard in listening to these speakers: neutrality. They are a balanced, accurate loudspeaker, and that is exactly what you would hope to see in a studio monitor.

 lp8 waterfal response 3D

lp8 waterfal response 2D

The above graphs depict the speaker’s lateral responses out to 100 degrees in five-degree increments. More information about how to interpret these graphs can be read in this article: Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II.

The LP-8s should work well in a wide variety of acoustic conditions.

Looking at the horizontal axis in individual measurement angles, we get a close look at just how superbly the LP-8 waveguide is controlling directivity. This waveguide is excellent. There is also outstanding directivity matching between the woofer and tweeter. I can’t even see a hint of the crossover point in here. This speaker will sound the same at any reasonable listening angle in front of it. Another advantage of such good directivity behavior is that any acoustic reflection will resemble the direct sound at the listening position, so this speaker should work well in a wide variety of acoustic conditions. You shouldn’t need to resort to using acoustic treatments to get these speakers to sound good. It is apparent that a uniform dispersion pattern was taken very seriously as a design goal in the LP-8s. 

 lp8 polar map

The above polar map graphs show the same information that the preceding graphs do but depict it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, these polar maps use color to portray amplitude, and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s behavior more easily. For more information about the meaning of these graphs, we again refer the reader to Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II.

Here we can better see how far off-axis the listener can be in before we start losing output versus frequency. What can be seen is that you could be listening out to a 50-degree angle from the front axis while still getting a full, even sound up to 15kHz. This adds up to a 100-degree angle of a good tonal balance and loudness in front of the speaker. Probably not many people will be listening at a 50-degree angle, but, with the LP-8s, you could, and they would still sound good. There are advantages to this sort of dispersion pattern even if you only listen directly on-axis; the early reflections are a major contribution to what we perceive as sound quality, and for the best sound, they should have as close correlation to the on-axis sound as possible. These speakers do that admirably well.

lp8 vertical waterfal response 3D 

The above graph shows the LP-8’s response behavior along its vertical axis where zero degrees is directly in front of the tweeter, negative degree values are below the tweeter, and positive degree values are above the tweeter. The LP-8s make a good showing here for a two-way speaker of their design type. They maintain a full and even response down to 20 degrees below the on-axis angle and 10 degrees above. This is a bit better than normal, and most listening positions will fall within this angle. Nulls from crossover cancellation don’t really kick in until outside of this angle. This means that for the best sound, as always, try to listen around tweeter height, but the sound won’t change much if listened at a somewhat lower angle as well, so you don’t need the speakers aimed directly at you if they are mounted at a slightly higher elevation than your listening position.

lp8 low frequency response2 

The above graphs show the LP-8’s low-frequency responses that I captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground in a wide-open area). Again, we see an admirably flat response, here down to 50 Hz with a strong response down to 40 Hz. These things have real bass, and it is accurate bass. This bass extension covers almost any kind of acoustic music with a few extreme exceptions such as some pipe organ music. This is enough to handle much of the range that electronic music uses as well. Even the rowdiest dubstep music rarely reaches below 40 Hz. Most music listeners could easily get by without subwoofers using the LP-8s. 

lp8 HF Trim changes

lp8 LF Trim changes

The above two graphs exhibit a few of the changes that can be made to the response using some of the dip switch toggles on the amp plate (note the “LF Trim” graph has a much tighter Y-axis window than preceding graphs). There are a lot of different ways to alter the response, and these are just a handful of some of those altered responses. For those using these speakers for applications where accuracy is a must such as mixing and content creation, there are a bunch of different boundary compensation settings that can be used, but it is strongly advised that the response is verified with measurements in situ, as no two acoustic settings are exactly alike, and they will impact the low-end frequency response in different ways that can’t be perfectly anticipated. 

Conclusion

Like I always do, before wrapping uplp8 close up this review, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product and, as usual, I will start with the weaknesses. The Kali Audio LP-8 does have one shortcoming and that is the background noise present when the speakers are turned on. As I mentioned before, it is a soft noise, but for near-field monitoring it is audible. I wasn’t annoyed by it personally, but some others might be. However, these speakers are overkill for near-field monitors. I should say that by near-field, I mean on a PC desktop or a small mixing console, so about a meter away or less. In my home theater room, which puts me about eight feet away from the speakers, I could hardly hear it, as I said before.

Aside from the very soft noise that the speaker emits, I really have nothing to complain about, especially for the price, so let’s go over the strengths of the LP-8s. First and foremost is the sound; these do their job in recreating sound accurately, and they do it well. The LP-8s boasts a superbly accurate response on and off-axis. Some people complain about accurate sound with criticisms like “it sounds too clinical,” but to me, having heard so many speakers, these things just sound plain old good. Accuracy means a balanced sound, and a balanced sound is a good sound. They are not ‘voiced,’ although users may be able to alter the response to something they might favor more with the multitude of settings that can be changed on the dip switch toggles.

Another strength of the LP-8 is their dynamic range; they can get loud without running into audible problems. I think they could be used for a mid-sized home theater with no problem. If you like to rock, they can do that. A large room may require beefier speakers, but these would kill it in a bedroom or an average-sized living room. They have excellent bass extension as well with real bass down to 40 Hz. If you aren’t blasting the latest Hollywood effects-fest, and if you don’t normally listen to those particular types of music that have really deep bass or really loud bass, there isn’t much need for the addition of a subwoofer.

What I admire the most is the performance for the costlp8 emblem: I don’t see many traditional passive home-audio speakers with baseline performance this good in this price range, and if there were, I would recommend them all the time. And the LP-8s come with their own amplifier. This is a true high-fidelity speaker system, and it can be had for around $500. If this is what active speakers can do at this price point, the question becomes why are passive speakers still so prevalent in home audio? The Kali Audio LP-8 speakers are, in my opinion, an outstanding value. If you are on a tight budget but want a great sounding and accurate system, these should be on your shortlist whether you are making music or just listening to it.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarStar

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About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Matthew J Poes posts on August 03, 2020 10:54
38508
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.
38509

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
KEW posts on August 03, 2020 07:44
lovinthehd, post: 1408442, member: 61636
@Danzilla31 Good golly what were you doing to that poor little 530?
There are some things you just don't ask, and this is one of them!
Fortunately, Dan is aware enough to simply go with an “I didn't do it” defense!
shadyJ posts on August 03, 2020 01:08
User5910, post: 1408488, member: 65805
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.
User5910 posts on August 03, 2020 00:26
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.
Danzilla31 posts on August 02, 2020 22:53
lovinthehd, post: 1408442, member: 61636
@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
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