Kali’s Ultimate SM-5-C

Project Santa Monica monitor speakers.


20 April 2023

Kali’s finest speaker yet combines a proven 3-way architecture with uncompromising components and craftsmanship. The SM-Series delivers unrivalled imaging, accuracy, and detail for the most critical applications. The company’s founding principle is to deliver the best possible product for the price. Its speakers have always been praised for their accuracy, translation, and ease of use. The SM-Series builds on these ideals, and incorporates the best available materials, components, and manufacturing. The result is a high performance studio monitor that is ready for the most demanding mixing and mastering applications. 

The key to the SM-Series’ high performance is its 3-way coincident architecture. This design allows for the ultra-lifelike imaging of a coaxial speaker, while delivering the low distortion and midrange clarity that only a 3-way can achieve. Not only are the midrange and tweeter coaxial, they are also coincident, meaning that they are physically time aligned and thus phase coherent from all angles.

The SM-Series speakers are acoustic point sources, and particular care has been given to the transition from the midrange to the baffle. This transition is seamless to the edge of the speaker, resulting in an engrossing stereo image where details are lifelike and crisp.


The SM-Series’ aluminium-dome tweeter delivers excellent dynamics, resulting in clear high frequency response without distortion. The tweeter uses a unique geometry to reduce high-Q ultrasonic resonances, eliminating harshness that can make metal tweeters fatiguing over time.

The SM-5-C’s midrange is optimised not only for its own frequency band, but also for its role as the tweeter’s waveguide. The shape is precision engineered for ideal directivity, and peak-to-peak excursion is limited to under 1mm to prevent intermodulation distortion.

The SM-5-C’s woofer incorporates features that reduce magnetic flux modulation, bringing distortion down dramatically. Paper is used for both the woofer and midrange cone material. Kali’s testing has shown that, despite its humble nature, paper is ideal in terms of stiffness, weight, and natural damping characteristics.


A top-tier speaker deserves top-tier internals, and the crossover network on passive Santa Monica speakers is as fine as they come. Since the SM-5-C uses amplifier tuning to handle frequency response optimisation, the crossover network can be purely optimised for its use in directivity transition. This level of optimisation allows for premium components to be used, including ultra-low dissipation polypropylene capacitors, air-core inductors, and ultra-low inductance resistors. The crossover network is fully optimised for bi-wire (LF+MR/HF) use, but care has also been taken to allow for single-wire use.

Speaker Cabinet

The baffle around the midrange follows the shape of that driver, blending seamlessly from the edge of the driver and into the rest of the speaker cabinet. This eliminates on-axis diffraction artefacts in the frequency response, and helps reinforce the SM-Series’ excellent imaging characteristics.

Like all of Kali’s speakers, the SM-5-C uses a fluid dynamics derived port tube for high performance and low noise. On most port tubes, air leaves at different speeds from different points of the opening, creating noisy turbulence. This turbulence can be heard as ‘chuffing’, or an audible air sound coming from the system. This sound will add to the noise floor and obscure the details of the low end. The port tube on the SM-5-C was designed to ensure that all of the air leaves the port tube at the same velocity. This helps add to the low end response of the subwoofer, while keeping the bass clean, tight, and devoid of extra noise.


The SM-5-C requires a power amplifier. Kali recommends bi-amplifying the speakers using an LEA amplifier with at least 100W per channel. For example, the LEA Connect 164 160W per channel 4-channel amplifier is the minimum choice for a pair of SM-5-Cs. If you’d like to use a different amplifier, you’ll need to make sure that it can deliver 20VRMS into a 3 Ohm load. Most amplifiers rated for 100W at 4 Ohm should be sufficient, but you’ll need to verify that the amplifier you select is capable of handling a 3 Ohm load. The amplifier, or some other component after the amplifier in your signal chain, will need to include a peak limiter. Using the SM-5-Cs without a peak limiter will void your warranty.


The SM–5-C features mounting holes on both the top and bottom of the loudspeaker. Kali recommends using a speaker specific U-bracket from Triad-Orbit, but any speaker mount with a 4.25 x 2-Inch bolt pattern that is capable of holding the SM-5-C’s 21lbs weight will also work.


Self-Powered: No
Amp Options: Single Wire, Bi-Amped (Woofer, Midrange+Tweeter)
MR+HF Power Handling: 20VRMS into 3 Ohm (100W at 4 Ohm)
LF Power Handling: 20VRMS into 3 Ohm (100W at 4 Ohm)
Single Wire Power Handling: 20VRMS into 3 Ohm (100W at 4 Ohm)
HF Driver: 1-Inch Metal Dome Tweeter
Midrange Driver: 4-Inch Optimised Profile Paper Cone
LF Driver: 5-inch Optimised Paper Woofer
LF-to-Midrange Crossover: 280 Hz
Midrange-to-HF Crossover: 2800 Hz
Frequency Response: (-10 dB): 39 Hz – 28 kHz
Frequency Range: (+/-3 dB): 47 Hz – 21kHz
Recommended Listening Distance: 4 Meters
Max SPL: (Peak at 1 meter) 117 dB
Loudspeaker THD: (90dB SPL at 1M) <1%
Inputs: Single Wire Phoenix Connector & Bi-Wire Phoenix Connector
Enclosure: Front Ported
Product Height: 15.6 Inches (39.6 cm)
Product Depth: 9.8 Inches (24.8 cm)
Product Width: 7.9 Inches (20 cm)
Product Weight: 21 lbs (9.5 kg)

Prices starting at US$999


Kali Audio: kaliaudio.com
Australian Distributor: nas.solutions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More for you

Filter by
Post Page
Studio Monitoring Studio Monitors Kali Audio Reviews Issue 90 News Subwoofers Black Friday 2022 Issue 74 Issue 66 PA Systems Powered Speakers IK Multimedia Issue 94 Stocking Filler 2023 Free Stuff VSTi & Sample Banks Portable Recorder Tascam
Sort by