Kali Audio’s studio monitors are the pinnacle of transparency. They help artists of all skill levels, focusing on those who are just starting their careers, getting the ideas in their heads out into the world. Speaking with the very passionate Nate Baglyos, Director of Marketing for the California-based company—and one of five Co-Founders—you quickly realize Kali Audio exists to solve a serious problem. That is, artists are getting priced out of using key tools in the music-making process.
“This is a no-brainer,” Baglyos says. The goal is to ensure people do not get priced out of their passion. “If we can solve that problem for people, that’s great.”
The Kali Audio ethos is all about producing the best products for the price. With studio monitors ranging from 150 dollars to 400 dollars, you won’t find a better pair of monitors, in sound quality, at the Kali Audio price points. With an emphasis on their love of small California towns, the homegrown company considers all user feedback, rolling out a new wave of products addressing user concerns and supporting the home studio crowd.
In all, Kali Audio is for the people. They stand for the musicians and music lovers who are making their first tracks, ensuring those early cuts are the furthest things from throwaways.
Kali Audio wants to ensure the little guy doesn’t get boxed out of the music industry. “Anybody who has it in them can make a great record today,” Nate Baglyos concludes. “I hope we empower people to do that.”
Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
Let’s start with the Kali Audio elevator pitch.
We have the best studio monitors for under 500 dollars. We are continuing to innovate and bring new studio monitors to market at very accessible price points.
Who is the ideal Kali Audio customer, and what do you provide them that competitors don’t?
It’s anybody who’s making music or critically listening. It’s people who are cutting records, mixing, artists recording their music. In terms of an ideal customer, that’s hard to say. One of the things we offer is we’re in a similar position to a lot of our customers. We’re a new company, just getting started, we don’t have the resources of a big corporation. A lot of people using our speakers don’t have a record label behind them. We know what it’s like to figure things out for yourself but not being able to spend untold amounts of money. The biggest thing we offer is thinking about what is the best speaker we can build for a certain price. We have products as inexpensive as 150 dollars; products as expensive as 400 dollars. I would say that, at every one of those price points, that’s the best speaker you’re gonna find for that amount of money. We set out to build the best speaker people could afford.
I love the hometown feel of the Kali Audio products. Why was it important to your team to engineer everything in California and to name products after towns or cities in the state?
It is homegrown! As the Director of Marketing, I get to drive those choices, and I am in love with California. This is a marvelous place. One of the things California offers for people who are making music is this chaos of meeting people and making connections, even in the midst of a pandemic. People are able to work together, collaboratively, in a special way. That focus and worldview are what drives the company. It’s a love letter to this place.
It makes the consumer feel good.
I hope so! We’re not some big corporation. All of the places we’re referencing are places we know, love, and spend time. That makes me feel good.
What problem on the market did Kali Audio identify, and how does Kali offer a solution?
There’s this big question of “What should I get?” and all these compromises you need to make. We wanted to bring to market, thinking about the person who’s buying their first pair of studio monitors, something they could rely on and trust. If I mix on these, will it sound good when somebody listens to it on something else? We wanted to take that question out of the equation entirely. Nothing’s boosted. Nothing’s hyped. Everything you hear through an LP-6 is actually on the track. When you take it to the car, it’s still going to sound good. It’s going to translate.
What does Kali Audio bring to the table for hip-hop?
Transparency gets a bad rap. For hip-hop artists, bass is so important. There are a lot of products out there that have their bass hyped. All that means is, if you make a record with that system [and] if the bass is hyped, if someone listens to it on a different system, the bass is going to be weak as f*ck. That sucks! It’s important for hip-hop artists [to have] an accurate picture of the bass. That’s something we strive for. It’s not hyped, but if the bass is on the record, it’s going to come through the speakers. It’s not controlled. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, so you can make decisions about if it’s powerful or punchy enough.
Is it all about producing an honest product?
Honesty is important, obviously. What we want to produce is a tool. [Our speakers are] a tool to help you get the music that’s in your head out to other people. That’s important. In these tumultuous times, people have a lot to say. If I can make something that allows them to say it the way they want to and sounds the way they want it to sound, I feel like I’ve contributed something substantial.
What’s been the feedback to Kali Audio thus far, and how have you fine-tuned your product for your users?
We’ve had a lot of people say the speakers should be more expensive, which is not something we’re interested in doing. People like the user-focused things we’re doing. Somebody who’s never used studio monitors before, we basically say: “Here’s what you need to do, if you’re on a desk, against a wall, set this setting.”
There’s been some things we thought weren’t going to be problems, but people have brought to our attention. Our second wave of products is coming out in February, which is the first chance we’ve gotten to take user feedback and implement it into a product. We’ve gotten feedback about the speakers [making noise]. People who are mixing at home, mixing close to the speakers, they care about that. The second wave of products has a whole host of improvements, but the biggest thing is there’s a 12db reduction in that noise. You can be sitting right next to these products, and you’re not going to hear noise.
We’re able to get the same dynamic range and keep the price at the same point, but we’ve been able to solve the problem, and that’s something I’m tremendously proud of.
Finally, which Kali Audio product are you most proud of, and why?
I am really proud of the LP-6. It represents what this company is all about: Let’s look at what’s out there and make it better without making it more expensive.