Our 28m² media room centres the system on the slightly longer wall, with the couch at ~2 metres from the speakers for a cozy typical video setup. Our usual hardware is an Oppo BDP105D, Wyred4Sound STP-SE and Goldmund/Job 225 driving German Physiks HRS-120 full-bandwidth omnis. The Kii bypassed the Wyred and Job and tapped the Oppo's coaxial output with a Chris Sommovigo Tombo Trøn cable. Without any tone/contour EQ and boundary gain at -6 (0 = free space, -12 = corner placement), latency set to minimum, tonal balance was spot on as was lip sync. Once again Apple's wand controlled volume from the seat.

Again the sound was cooler, drier and crisper than usual. Again, clarity, staging precision and—invaluable for video—dialogue intelligibility were higher. Bass definition and extension eclipsed the German omnis too which at the time sold for €13'500/pr in our high-gloss white lacquer. In most ways a repeat of the big room to tip a hat at predictably consistent performance, here even the non-contoured Thrii gained a bit of tone density. Facing fives times greater cubic volume with the main room's added gabled 6-metre ceiling played a bit against it. With the limiter-engage option to flash, even during LF mayhem à la Mychael Danna's Kamasutra or Jamshied Sharifi's One at stout SPL, I never got the lights to flicker. I'm sure headbangers could. At the levels our ears tolerate, Kii's headroom and motion control simply proved unassailable. Using the Three in our kind of smaller 5 x 6m room even for aspirated video, I doubt the vast majority of users would ever trigger the intelligent protection limiter (not that you'd know you did unless, under 'advanced settings', you'd activate visual feedback).

With the financial and technical resources of major film studios, the sophistication of many soundtracks eclipses average music productions. Dialogue embedded in location ambiance and mood music opens the doors to intense sonic layering. Here the Thrii's laser-specific localization powers maximized their awesome impressiveness. Because eyes dominate over ears, the on-screen action tends to distract from paying ultimate attention to its sonic accompaniment. Here eyes-closed experiments are useful to subtract the visual action entirely and relocate the sonic guides and mapping to the inner screen of one's mind. Now one can really notice the full breadth of soundtrack trickery. Again, the Kii was a space explorer par excellence and utterly liberated from having to navigate through bass boom resonance and uneven room pressurization. Given moviedom's reliance on LF—most scenes of dread involve very low-level sub bass and then there's the typical bombast of explosions, battle scenes and such—subwoofers are nearly de rigueur for video. Outside of hardcore surround-sound freaks perhaps, the Kii Three eliminates their need categorically. This reduces system complexity, integration issues and real-estate grab. Good off-axis behaviour even meant that the speakers could fire straight out and still centre on the television screen from the outermost sofa positions. Grand cinema? You better believe it!

Gavel time. Back to the question of sequenced priorities, did living with the Three reshuffle anything? Yes. It added a new quality which moved right to the very front of the line: predictable repeatable performance. That's really the most important quality a loudspeaker ought to possess yet so few do. In the hifi chain, it's where the signal escapes the tightly controlled confines of electrical circuits to face the proverbial Wild West of unknown acoustics, placement and arbitrary amp mates whose impedance, power and distortion behaviour may or may not be ideal. Consequences to the buyer are serious. That impressive show audition or dealer demo refuses to repeat once a speaker installs in an ordinary living room/spare bedroom. With adaptable DSP, inseparable Ω/power-optimized amps and dispersion which removes the front wall to virtually remodel any room's acoustics, the Kii Three's performance travels wherever it goes. Versus even the best-case magnitude of MQA playback over 'ordinary' files—a hot press topic some even called "revolutionary" at the time of writing—that predictability is an earthquake compared to a sneeze. Yet how many seismic readings take note? To put it even more succinctly: sound unheard, the Kii Three could be safely mail-ordered! What other speaker even at €100'000 could claim that with a straight face?

Priority row. Having covered priority #1 aka "the big one" with rare bravura, are tone density, inner warmth and ultimate treble finesse more important to you than top-to-bottom linearity, undistorted bass and proper timing? If you come down on the first half, the Kii Three may not be your final choice even though that'd also let go of its arguably greatest advance. If you want the latter and prioritize the second half, this fully DSP-controlled monitor system belongs into your innermost crosshairs. It also adds cosmetic simplicity from dramatically reduced box count. If the evolution of hifi were to follow reason and real engineering, not fat-cat excess and cyclical fashion trends, the Kii Three ought to be just one of many such comprehensive solutions a few years on from now. If so, it still would be remembered as the one that paved the way; the original; the pater familias; the bellwether. Should it remain the sole exception, that'd make it even more forward looking and groundbreaking than it already is.

DSP-controlled active monitors like the popular KEF LS50 Wireless, Devialet Phantom and Genelec 8351 cover similar ground already; and for less money. Where the Kii Three still goes beyond them all is in more comprehensive adaptability, then its coup de grace: cardioid dispersion down into the mid bass to remove ubiquitous setup issues in one fell swoop. If your cynical—better?—self believed that nothing truly new happens in consumer hifi, you couldn't really be faulted. Given the Kii Three's existence, it'd simply mean that of late, you hadn't paid close enough attention. For giving us what ought to be future, today, the Kii Three writes its own award ticket without any effort. What a big step forward in intelligent 21st-century speaker design. It actually leverages today's possibilities rather than repackage last century's tech in ever pricier bling. To close out, here's Bruno Putzeys answering some remaining questions.

"In terms of sample-rate conversion, it's worth mentioning that we designed our own software-based SRC because we wanted full control over jitter attenuation and impulse response. I found that filters with a relatively broad transition band (i.e. short impulse response) and extremely low in-band ripple are the most transparent. You've probably noticed that even RedBook comes rather close to high res. This is the underlying reason. Using super-high sample rates is a poor substitute for correct filter design. All data types with the Three end up converted to the same internal format but each input rate has filters designed specifically for it. The only 'disadvantage' of this is that you can't varispeed the digital signal but I guess it's not really something folks do anyway. Our internal DSP processing is 40-bit floating point. This means that no resolution is lost by digital attenuation. The connection to the DAC is fixed point but the output is fully dithered. People still don't believe it but dithering truly turns quantisation errors into pure noise that's indistinguishable from ordinary analogue noise. An item we're quite proud of is our IIR filter structure. It's completely different from the normal 'direct form' implementation that, AFAIK, literally everyone else uses.

"You've probably heard that IIR filters supposedly have significant noise problems when used at bass frequencies. Well, the direct-form types effectively do whereas our version is very quiet for a given word length. So with 40-bit floats, we're getting performance that with direct-form filters would require 64-bit DSP. Finally, floor bounce is not addressed - or only marginally if probably a tiny bit better than normal. Doing so would have either required even more woofers; or a larger cabinet. When we started the project, we settled on the dictum "choose your battles", meaning we didn't want to invent the perfect beast, then never finish the project." Not only has the Kii Three finalized with fanfare, it's turned into quite the beast. Now it's up to the punter. Pick your battles when it comes to getting the perfect speaker for your room. If you feel that making excuses on that count is getting old, the Thrii strategically circumvents them. That makes it a terrifically smart choice indeed. And, it avoids having to fret over whether you're getting the best ancillaries for it or not. The word that encompasses the lot is foolproof...

Kii Audio website