Since launching in 2018 the Californian-based Kali Audio has brought out a bunch of popular audio gear. Their range of studio monitors is now among the most popular and recommend monitors available. In this review, we check out the companion subwoofer to their range of studio monitors, the WS-12.
Kali Audio WS-12
The Kali Audio WS-12 is a subwoofer that is ideally suited for the Kali Audio studio monitors. But, it also works well with other brands of monitors. Let’s take a closer look at this studio subwoofer.
The Kali Audio WS-12 has a lot to offer both professionals and casual users. Plus with some added flexibility for use within a PA system, it’s an appealing studio subwoofer. Let’s dive into the details to see what it has to offer.
Straight off the bat, the Kali Audio WS-12 is a beast of a subwoofer. I listen to a lot of electronic music and as a DJ bass response is always high on my list of priorities. The WS-12 delivers in spades.
The low-end is rich and full with plenty of punch. Hard kicks and warm bass translate perfectly. Likewise, explosions and other special effects in movies are delivered with bombastic clarity. And that is one of the true highlights. This subwoofer is exceptionally clean in its delivery. There isn’t any overt boominess and not a trace of muddiness. The low noise port keeps everything in check. Kali Audio knows what they are doing.
The Kali Audio WS-12 offers a great low-end response.
Connection is quick and simple. If paired with Kali Audio’s studio monitors it is even easier. Simple presets get you off to a flying start without hours of tweaking to achieve the sound you want.
But this subwoofer also plays nice with other studio monitors. Though there is a little more adjusting required before you’ll get them to work as intended.
If you like rich bass with plenty of rumble and depth, the Kali Audio WS-12 will not disappoint.
I’m also a big fan of the build quality behind the WS-12. The 18mm Plywood cabinet is solid and robust. The textured finish doesn’t attract fingerprints and does a good job of minimizing scuffs and marks. The added metal grille is also a good inclusion to protect the 12-inch woofer.
The Kali Audio WS-10 is tough enough for light PA work.
The Kali Audio WS-12 also features carry handles which indicate its potential for use beyond the studio. These are well-integrated. At 58 lbs. (26.3kg) they are also much needed if you do plan on transporting this subwoofer.
Due to the tough exterior, these are capable of light PA work for smaller events where you want a little extra punch in the low end.
The same level of high-quality and attention to detail extends to the back of the subwoofer. Connection points are secure and high-quality. The dip switches are also great although a little fiddly if you do have big fingers.
The frequency response of the Kali Audio WS-12 sits at 30Hz-160Hz (±3dB) extending to 23Hz-160Hz (-10dB). Plenty of reach here without distortion. Speaking of reach the WS-12 tops out at 123dB Max SPL. Plenty loud for any studio situation but also capable of light PA work. It’s an interesting proposition. Generally, studio gear is just for the studio. This hybrid approach offers a lot of extra value since it can pull double duty.
The Kali Audio WS-12 offers plenty of headroom.
The class D amp provides 1000W of peak power and 500W of continuous power. There is also a power-saving standby mode available. But I’ll be honest I’ve never really liked this feature on audio gear. As is often the case the level of input required is a little too much before they kick back in. This then leads to a frantic readjustment in volume levels. Thankfully you can turn this feature off if you find it as annoying as I do.
Another impressive feature of the Kail Audio WS-12 is the amount of flexibility on offer. As with other Kali Audio products all the action is in the range of dip switches.
Excellent tuning options for both beginners and professionals.
The first four give you control over the crossover. A range of presets for Kali Audios line of studio monitors followed by 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, and 140Hz settings. This gives you plenty of options to adjust to other studio monitors if required.
The presets for the Kali Audio range is as precise as it gets. It’s straightforward making it an appealing choice for novices. An LFE and External option round out your choices for crossover.
The next two dip switches allow for tweaking of the gain. With access to 0dB, -6dB, -12dB, and +6dB you can further adjust output to suit your studio space. A further 3 dip switches round out the package with access to polarity switching, RCA input adjustment, and an on/off switch for the standby mode.
This is one thing that always impresses me with Kali Audio products. While the price points to entry-level the attention to detail is more than that. Great for first-timers. But also offering extensive customization for seasoned pros that know what they want.
Appearance-wise the Kali Audio WS-12 is what you expect from a studio subwoofer. It’s a black box without much in the way of embellishments. And that is fine. The majority of its life will be spent tucked away underneath your workstation. But I do appreciate that even if you take this to an event it offers a clean and refined appearance.
The low noise port helps deliver smooth sound.
Diving into the design decisions behind the woofer does highlight some more of Kali Audio’s expertise. The low noise port is excellent and helps keep unwanted turbulence at bay.
The built-in limiter keeps the unit safe from voltage spikes but isn’t overly sensitive either. The addition of a footswitch connection point is also a welcome inclusion.
Smart, thoughtful, and professional design throughout.
The Kali Audio W-12 is a large subwoofer due to the 12-inch woofer. But utilization of space is solid. This allows the unit to comfortably fit into a small car if you are using it as part of a small PA setup.
The Kali Audio WS-12 can fit into a small studio space.
It’s also heavy at 58 lbs. (26.3kg). But once again hard to avoid when you want a stable, tough, and reliable subwoofer. I am glad that there are carry handles. It certainly makes it easier to load the subwoofer in and out of your vehicle.
On the connectivity front, you’ll have access to XLR output for connecting to your studio monitors. You’ll also have combo jacks for inputs like mixers, controllers, and interfaces. An RCA connection point is also available for laptops, smartphones, or media players.
The Kali Audio WS-12 offers a solid range of connection options.
It is a comprehensive suite that can handle most configurations. The system also supports up to a 5.1 array thanks to a large amount of power on offer.
Finally, the footswitch connection point rounds out the options. For serious studio work, it’s great to have access to switch the woofer off and on via a pedal. There are plenty of third-party options available and they are relatively inexpensive.
There is plenty to like about the Kali Audio WS-12 but its value proposition is among my favorite aspects. As with other Kali Audio products, the balance between features and price is superb. When you factor in the attention to detail and the excellent sound quality it becomes an amazing deal. It’s a solid subwoofer that is worth every dollar.
Kali Audio products have garnered plenty of positive reviews and the WS-12 is no different. It is extremely difficult to find anyone that is not happy with its performance.
Quick Setup Hack For Studio Subwoofers
It is not easy to find the correct position for a studio subwoofer. Every studio is different. Smaller rooms in particular can be a challenge. You’ll be battling reflections and low-end build-up. But there is a simple way to establish the optimum position.
Setting up a studio subwoofer in a small studio can be a challenge.
First set your subwoofer up in your chair where you normally sit. This position should already be optimized for your studio monitors so it is the perfect place to start.
From there start playing some music and get down on the floor. At this stage crawl around the room until you find the perfect spot where the bass sounds just right. I’d also suggest ignoring the confused look from anyone around as you do this!
Once you’ve found the ideal position place something to mark the spot. This is where you should place your subwoofer.
You may need to slightly adjust your monitor placement afterward but you’ll already be 95% of the way there. Quick, simple, and easy. As long as you don’t mind getting down on your hands and knees!
There are lots of quality studio subwoofers available. If you are looking to buy one here are some alternatives to the Kali Audio WS-12 worth considering.
KRK S12.4 Review
KRK is a popular brand for studio monitors and their complementary subwoofer is also a favorite. It features the same iconic KRK design and quality that has made it a go-to option for many studios.
- 12-inch Kevlar aramid composite woofer offers plenty of punch.
- Wide frequency response and a solid range of inputs and outputs.
- More expensive than the Kali Audio WS-12.
JBL LSR310S Review
The JBL LSR310S is another highly regarded studio subwoofer. The 10-inch down-firing woofer delivers a satisfying amount of bass and rumble.
- Deep and full bass response with added XLF Extended Low-Frequency Setting.
- Lightweight compared to the WS-12 at just 34.3 lbs. (15.5kg).
- Is not as powerful as the WS-12 with a much lower Max SPL.
Mackie MRS 10 Review
The Mackie MRS 10 is the premium subwoofer in the Mackie lineup. It delivers a satisfying punch and a healthy amount of warmth in the low-end.
- Deep and tonally rich bass. Also comes with a footswitch.
- Attractive-looking subwoofer with an all-wood cabinet.
- Only has a 10-inch woofer so it doesn’t hit as hard.
Mackie MRS 10
Should You Buy?
I have to admit that Kali Audio is gradually becoming one of my favorite brands. Over the last few years, their monitors continue to improve. The WS-12 is a perfect companion. If you already have Kali Audio monitors this woofer is a no-brainer. It’s perfectly tuned and easy to set up and use. But even if you don’t have Kali Audio monitors this subwoofer is still a great buy. Fantastic build quality, intelligent design, and an excellent price point.
Kali Audio WS-12