In this review, I’m checking out the Kali Audio LP-8 studio monitors. The LP-8 is an affordable 2-way monitor that features a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, an 8-inch woofer plus their Boundary EQ Control system which is used for room correction. It retails for $249 (each).
Kali Audio is a company that was founded in 2018. Based in California, their aim is to make products that represent the best possible value to customers.
The LP-8 is part of Kali Audio’s Project Lone Pine series. Lone Pine (LP) is a town marking the starting point for those wishing to summit Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Sierra Nevada. Each of Kali Audio’s product lines is named after locations in California.
This sample was provided by Kali Audio for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Kali Audio LP-8
Build and Design
The Kali Audio LP-8 monitors have an understated, professional aesthetic. These are monitors that are built to do a job first and foremost. They’re not flashy or distracting which makes sense given their intended purpose which is to help you concentrate on the audio.
I thought they looked fairly ordinary in photos but since I’ve had them on my desktop I’ve become quite enamoured with their low-key appearance. They kind of remind me of Batman’s mask but I digress.
Starting with the cabinet, it’s a straight-edged MDF with a black vinyl wrap. The front baffle is black matte plastic and feels very robust. You’ve probably already noticed the oval-shaped 3-D imaging waveguide that surrounds the 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. This is designed to deliver a wider and taller image.
Sitting between the tweeter and woofer is a single small blue LED. This lets you know at a glance if the monitors are powered on but because the light is small and subtle it’s never distracting.
Sitting below the LED is the 8″ woofer. At the very bottom is the front-facing bass port tube. This port tube is designed to ensure all the air leaves the port at the same velocity and thus minimizes any “chuffing”.
The LP-8 is a bi-amped monitor. It has 2 Class D amplifiers that deliver 40W of power to the tweeter and 60W to the woofer.
What’s all this on the rear panel?
There are 8 DIP switches with accompanying diagrams on the back panel. This is Kali Audio’s Boundary EQ Control system and it’s used to help you get the optimum performance from your speakers depending on your room and speaker placement. It also gives you some extra EQ options via the HP and LP filters so you can really customise the LP-8 to suit your needs.
So, for example, whether your speakers are placed close to the wall or on speaker stands, tweaking the DIP switches let you fine-tune the sound to best suit your room. In addition, there are RCA, XLR, and TRS inputs making connectivity a breeze. Here you will also find a volume dial and power switch.
Setup and Placement
I tested the LP-8 on my desktop and later tested on stands. Luckily, my desk is quite large and deep so it’s able to accommodate these rather large monitors: 16.5” (41.9 cm) x 10” (25.4 cm) x 11.25” (28.6 cm).
Setting up the Boundary EQ Control was easy: since my monitors are on a desk and close to a wall, I adjusted the DIP switches according to the recommendations (Switch 1: UP, Switch 2: DOWN, Switch 3: UP). The LP-8s were connected to my Topping DX7 Pro’s balanced XLR outputs. The DX7 Pro was then connected to my PC via USB.
For such an affordable set, these monitors shine in several areas. One is in spatial separation which the LP-8 does extremely well without having to boost the upper mids or treble to uncomfortable listening levels. These speakers are relatively easy on the ears and you can listen for long periods of time without experiencing fatigue: something that many sound engineers will appreciate.
The LP-8 can play continuously at 85 dB while maintaining 20 dB dynamic headroom. So they get plenty loud when needed and perform well in terms of power handling. In terms of accuracy, these monitors perform extremely well for something at this price point.
After doing my initial setup, I played a random song from my music library. It turned out to be Twista’s “Wanna See ‘Em Buss” and when the first sub-bass note hit I almost soiled myself! This was despite the fact that I had set the volume down fairly low for some casual preliminary listening. For a moment, I thought the world was coming to an end as I felt the sub-bass rumble in my chest. But then my face contorted into a maniacal grin.
So yes, the LP-8 has some serious low-end grunt. This is important because it means you don’t need to add a subwoofer which complicates things (phasing etc.) when you’re trying to mix. It also means that although these speakers are designed for professional work, they can also be a lot of fun to listen to.
The quality of the bass is exceptional for something at this price point. It’s accurate, it’s tight and it’s also respectably fast. Those port tubes seem to work really well too because there was no noticeable chuffing even on bass-heavy tracks.
Thanks to the large size of the driver and power output of the LP-8 the midrange doesn’t sound strained or forced. Instead, it’s transparent and honest yet maintains a pleasant musicality that makes them enjoyable to listen to. Mind you, they will reveal poorly recorded or mastered tracks but if you feed them quality audio your ears will be rewarded.
With the neutrality of the bass and treble, the midrange is able to come forward. As a result, it has a good amount of body and doesn’t sound thin. The LP-8 has fast transients and stays composed when things get busy. Voices and instruments sound accurate and the clarity throughout the mids is excellent.
In Soen’s “Covenant” the LP-8 sounds lively and clear. The vocals come to the forefront even during the busy chorus. There’s no smearing or congestion, the bass kicks with authority and speed but each element of the song is easily distinguishable. I found the LP-8 works great with all music genres: whatever I threw at them they responded effortlessly.
The treble is one of my favourite aspects of the LP-8 sound. It has a lively and forward sounding character with a touch of soft dome charm. What I mean by that is the speakers reproduce all the minute details clearly but they never sound harsh or sibilant, unless, of course, it’s in the recording. This is especially important for near field listening and working in an enclosed space.
The 3-D imaging waveguide does a great job of creating a 3-D soundstage and for a near-field speaker, their stereo image is nothing short of impressive. You can be sure you’re mixing will be on point. As an aside, the imaging also makes these speakers great for some first-person gaming sessions while you’re taking a break from work.
The Kali Audio LP-8 is an amazing speaker for less than $500 a pair. In fact, at the time of writing this review, they’re available for $199 each on Amazon. That is an insanely good price for the performance these monitors offer.
They have a professional, low-key appearance, good power handling and get more than loud enough. In addition, the LP-8 has great dynamic output with good micro-dynamics and an accurate, uncoloured presentation that’s perfect for mixing and creating.
On top of all that, the LP-8 is not only good for content creation but it’s suitable for content consumption as well. So for a small to medium-sized room, these also work great as HiFi/movie/gaming speakers too. In conclusion, if you’re on a budget and in need of some solid, transparent studio monitors I highly recommend the Kali Audio LP-8.
Amplifier: Class D Bi-amped Power: 60W LF/ 40W HF Frequency response (-10dB): 37 Hz – 25 kHz Frequency range (+/- 3dB): 45 Hz – 21 kHz LF driver: 8” woofer HF driver: 1” soft-dome tweeter Crossover frequency: 1.8 kHz Listening distance (85dB continuous 20dB of headroom): 2,8 meters. Max SPL: 114 dB System THD: <2,5% 80 Hz – 400 Hz Unbalanced inputs: 1 x RCA (-10 dB) Balanced inputs: 1 x TRS/ 1 x XLR (+4 dB) HF trim: -2 dB, +/- 0 dB, +2 dB LF trim: -2 dB, +/- 0 dB, +2 dB Height x Width x Depth: 16.5” (41.9 cm) x 10” (25.4 cm) x 11.25” (28.6 cm) Product Weight: 19.8 lbs (9 kg) Shipping Weight: 22.5 lbs (10.2 kg)