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KK Labs bridges the gap between studio and live

Industry veteran Keith R Klawitter is back in the game with big plans and new products to dominate both live and studio markets, reveals Paul Watson.

KK Labs, founded by Keith R Klawitter (also founder of KRK Systems back in 1986) made its Prolight + Sound debut this year. The California-headquartered company is out to span the traditional divide between studio and live products by not only specialising in high-end studio monitors, but also offering a whole line of live products ranging from stage monitoring and loudspeakers to complete line array systems, all powered using DSP technology.

Unique in its structure, Klawitter (pictured) believes that KK Labs will be competing with – if not surpassing – some of the big boys in both fields in the very near future. They are already in discussions with The Jacksons to provide a full PA system for their reunion tour. George Olson, FOH for country music legend George Strait, was very impressed by the performance of the DS-8 studio monitors he used at FOH position in a recent concert. Grammy Award-winning drummer Ricky Lawson also invested in a pair of DS-8s for his studio, hailing them as “the best speakers in a decade”.

“A lot of my clients are in the studio for six months and then on the road for six months. Because they’re constantly going back and forth between live and studio, I wanted to give them a constant reference that catered for both their needs,” says Klawitter. “I brought in my old engineers to help with the studio range, and Timothy Thornton (VP of KK Labs and formerly of Apogee Sound) brought his PA knowledge to the table. I basically oversee the whole process.”

There are two speakers currently in the studio range: the DS-6 and DS-8.

The DS-8 studio monitor is a 2-way, DSP/Ethernet controlled powered speaker system with an 8” LF proprietary cone material and a 1” titanium HF composite diaphragm. The smaller DS-6 model is identical in build, but with a 6” cone.

Stage products include the RAPTOR 12 and the TAZ 15c.

The RAPTOR 12 is a 2-way, DSP powered FOH speaker featuring a single 12” neodymium woofer (700W) and a 1.4” exit compression driver. Its 80° x 70° horn provides smooth, even coverage and it features 1,000W Class D amplification.

The TAZ 15c is KK Labs’ stage monitor. It’s a 2-way coax, DSP/Ethernet controlled powered stage monitor with a 15” proprietary cone material and a 1.4” HF composite diaphragm.

All speakers in both the studio and the live ranges are designed using KK Labs’ own ACC (Acoustic Cabinet Control) which aligns and tunes the low frequencies, resulting in what KK claims are “a quick transient response, big bass impact and low distortion”. All models also have analogue and digital ASE/EBU inputs, a full 48kHz sampling rate and a 0.25” Neutrik input connector.

Having just moved in to a new 1,500sqft (139sqm) HQ in Long Beach, and invested in state-of-the-art production machinery, Klawitter clearly has big plans for this new venture. He promises a raft of products including a complete line array system and a 21” subwoofer, all of which are under development at the time of writing – possibly for a launch at London’s PLASA show in September.

And there’s more: as well as hitting the market with studio monitors and stage products, Klawitter says KK Labs is also a solution company, fully prepared to cater for any custom jobs individual clients might come to them with.

“We can adapt and make solutions very quickly – we have a number of them in the pipeline that you’ll hear about eventually – we’re all on NDAs right now. But if somebody comes to us with a large installation – let’s say they need a box with certain geometry – we could actually conform to that pretty quickly and provide whatever they needed.”

Shipping is expected to begin shortly and the company is signing up distributors already – some of them are in fact coming to them for orders – and all of this has been achieved in a very short time frame; the company’s first trade show outing was at NAMM in Anaheim in January 2010.

Klawitter believes that a combination of three important elements makes a great audio product: accuracy, power and soul; and after 30 years in the business, he should know. His RAPTOR 12s and DS-8s have already started to make waves in the live and the recording sides of the industry respectively – and that’s before they’ve been shipped.