Engineering the Sound: Kali IN-UNF

Friday, 3 November 2023
UNF stands for ultra near field and check them out, I bet you haven’t come across a studio monitor like these before. The IN-UNF comes in three parts – 2 satellite speakers – which share the same tweeters and drivers as Kali’s IN-5 and IN-8 – and a bass unit.

Written by Oliver Ashby, for happymag.tv

Hear the sweet spot in the mix, without having to find it in your room.

Let’s have a dive into some new studio monitors from Kali Audio. The IN-UNF, a fresh new spin on the speakers in Kali’s project independence line.

UNF stands for ultra near field and check them out, I bet you haven’t come across a studio monitor like these before. The IN-UNF comes in three parts – 2 satellite speakers – which share the same tweeters and drivers as Kali’s IN-5 and IN-8 – and a bass unit.

And let’s be clear – this is a bass unit, not a subwoofer. It has a frequency response range from 40hz up to 280hz so it’s doing a lot of grunt work. The satellites then stretch the rest of the frequency range up to 21khz.

The IN-UNF sets out to be the best option for producers and engineers who are working on a budget in an untreated space. Of course there are plenty of nearfield speakers out there but an ultra near field speaker option for those working in a small rented space that can’t be acoustically treated is a bit of an untapped market.

In keeping with a convenience oriented mindset, Kali has provided plenty of input options. You can of course use trs cables from your interface, but you can also connect via a standard 3.5mm audio jack, a digital optical cable or you can just go straight in with USB-C, which is super handy for keeping the setup quick and simple.

Kali has accounted for lots of different configurations of the unit to make sure you get the best fit for your workspace. You can place the bass unit behind your monitor to keep it out of the way or if you’re really pressed for space you can use it as a monitor stand.

The IN-UNF has a bunch of inbuilt dip switches. These come paired with a cheat sheet on how to set them up to account for any boundary effects, or reflections off your desk. All of these configurations keep the satellites at just an arm’s distance from your ears.

I have a bit of a soft spot for Kali. I still have a pair of LP6’s at home and when I first heard them it felt like my ears were opened to a whole new dimension in my mixes that I hadn’t heard before.

Since then that’s always kind of been the way that I judge monitors. If I don’t listen to old mixes I’ve done and find new things to cringe at, then the monitors aren’t really doing anything special for me. Definitely a brutal way to go about deciding what’s good, but it does the job.

With the IN-UNF’s, Kali has managed to win me over again. They allow you to hear a depth to your mixes that steps up well beyond the LP6s. As an example I think many of us have trouble finding the sweet spot for the vocals in a mix, but using some quick referencing the IN-UNF’s gave a really honest sense of the vocal depth as well as the overall mix depth.

The stereo image is also really nice and clear which I was a little uncertain about given the unusual nature of the speakers. The bass response isn’t as tight as you’d expect from a set of speakers with larger ports or a dedicated sub – but it’s still really impressive given their size and convenience.

Testing out some of Kali’s claims I can confirm that they didn’t transfer any frequencies to the table I was set up on which is great considering the amount of low end the bass unit can push out.

They also do a really good job of staying highly directional so they’re not likely to bother your neighbours.

These monitors are designed to be placed up against or within a metre of a wall. Given the intention of these monitors as space saving, convenience oriented monitors I can imagine some people would like to set up on a table that isn’t backed up on a wall. I think an extra setting on the dip switches to account for that would have been nice.

There’s no need to take out a second mortgage to get your hands on these. They’ll only run you back about 1200 Aussie Dollars. If you’re in a tight space and you wanna graduate from headphone mixing – but don’t have the space for or acoustic treatment for more conventional studio monitoring. The IN-UNFs are definitely worth checking out.

Kali Audio IN-UNF