KEF is without doubt one of the most well-respected British manufacturers in world hi-fi and has been for properly over 50 years.
The corporate’s ethos relies round engineering, design and growth present in trademark know-how such because the Uni-Q driver, which nonetheless options closely in its merchandise immediately.
In recent times the model hasn’t been afraid to diversify, both, and now covers a variety of classes, from stereo audio system to customized set up options to headphones, wi-fi audio system and all-in-one streaming methods.
To rejoice British Hi-Fi Week, we’ve rounded up 11 of the most effective KEF merchandise to move via our take a look at rooms because the start of What Hello-Fi? In 1976. So sit back, chill out and reminisce.
KEF Coda III (1985)
The oldest mannequin on this checklist, the KEF Coda Three initially featured in What Hello-Fi? approach again in 1985. At simply £99, the Codas had been a severe cut price and though they didn’t characteristic KEF’s trademark Uni-Q driver, they nonetheless managed to impress. We famous their “glorious stereo imagery” and “clear, managed and well-extended bass”, in addition to their tendency to sound “barely dry and splashy” with “excessive stage rock”. The Coda III used a KEF designed and Japanese constructed 3cm cloth dome tweeter, plus a 20cm paper pulp mid-bass driver which was glued into the cupboard to make sure a strong seal. Correct finances audio system did not get significantly better in 1985.
KEF 105/3 (1990)
The 105/3 (pictured above, center) had been intelligent audio system that mixed a few completely different KEF applied sciences. The corporate’s trademark Uni-Q driver was current, nevertheless it was additionally joined by what KEF known as its coupled-cavity bass loading tech, which had two drive items really firing throughout the speaker’s cupboard. Bass frequencies would then emit from a solitary opening on the entrance of every speaker. This was finished to decrease distortion, enhance energy dealing with and ship extra bass from a small cupboard. The audio system served a strong, tangible soundstage and wealthy, textured bass.
KEF Coda 7 (1995)
Within the mid 1990s, the finances speaker market place was a tricky place to be. Mission had a stranglehold and had been proving tough to beat. Enter the Coda 7, KEF’s courageous try to wrestle again a few of that market share. Their 30cm cupboards used an upside-down driver structure with a 13cm coated paper bass driver sat above a 25mm smooth dome tweeter. Not essentially the most high-tech design, then, however they nonetheless managed to supply an impressive sound. On the time we mentioned the KEFs “not solely throw down the gauntlet to the likes of the Mission 732, they cock a snook and thumb their nostril too!” Excessive reward certainly.
KEF Q35 (1997)
Small and compact floorstanders have a sure attraction and this was undoubtedly the case with the diminutive KEF Q35, which debuted in 1997. They weren’t eager on being cranked to the max, but when the standard of your recordings was as much as scratch, the KEFs had been able to delivering one of the vital real looking sonic experiences obtainable at their £349 value level. We described the standard of their imaging as “virtually eerie”, and in a position to “give a three-dimensional, virtually tactile impact”. We additionally strongly suggested that you simply hearken to them bi-wired, which we discovered solely additional enhanced their decision, which was “unrivalled on the value”.
KEF Cresta 2 (1999)
The Coda 7 had been all the time going to be a tricky act to observe, however KEF managed to keep up its lofty requirements with the arrival of its new Cresta 2 standmounters. At 37cm excessive, they had been comparatively tall for finances standmounters and this further measurement was mirrored within the distinctive sense of scale and openness. Just like the Coda 7, the Cresta 2 used a easy 25mm smooth dome tweeter with a 13cm coated paper cone, however in a extra conventional association, with the previous positioned above the latter. Tonal evenness and subtlety weren’t their forte, nevertheless it was the beautiful musicality that gained us over.
KEF KHT2005 (2001)
If you would like a house cinema icon, then look no additional than the KHT2005 from 2001. Affectionately often known as the KEF ‘eggs’, this sub/sat system provided not solely efficiency in spades, however a severe dose of fashion too. The forged aluminium, egg-shaped satellites regarded the enterprise and had been a welcome distraction from extra traditional-looking boxy options. Along with the system’s 150W subwoofer, they mixed to supply an thrilling, entertaining and cohesive encompass sound expertise that entertained us for a lot of a 12 months.
KEF Reference Mannequin 203 (2001)
KEF fully revamped its flagship Reference vary of loudspeakers in 2001. The Reference Three had been four-way child towers that boasted stunning curved cupboards, and a time-aligned tweeter sat on high of a Uni-Q driver. The configuration of the speaker meant KEF had 5 separate drivers to combine, but the 203 nonetheless managed to supply a “superbly seamless” sense of cohesion throughout the board. We mentioned the audio system delivered a “dynamic, thrilling efficiency that offers a crystal-clear view of the music.” Even at £3k we felt they had been value each penny.
KEF iQ5SE (2007)
The Q35 developed through the years and 2007 noticed the launch of the iQ5SE variant, which battled it out with the really distinctive Monitor Audio BR5 and B&W 685 audio system. Like its ancestors, the iQ35SEs had been a compact and enticing pair of vastly proficient floorstanders. The audio system majored in pace and punch and mixed this spectacular rhythmic accuracy withn glorious dynamics and stereo imaging, even when they couldn’t fairly knock the B&Ws off the highest spot.
KEF LS50 (2013)
In 2013, to mark KEF’s 50th anniversary, the corporate celebrated by launching the LS50 standmounters. They weren’t a high-end, mega-money pair of loudspeakers, however they nonetheless made fairly the impression, blowing the competitors out of the water and receiving a glowing five-star evaluation for his or her troubles. The LS50 boasted putting appears to be like and noticed KEF use a brand new DMC (Dough Moulding Compound) materials for his or her curved entrance panels. Additionally they featured unusually versatile bass reflex ports designed to cut back undesirable midrange distortions. For sure the LS50 sounded distinctive, with spectacular dispersion, an enormous stereo picture and large, communicative bass. They’ve left a long-lasting impression, too, laying the foundations for additional LS50 fashions we’ve famous under.
KEF Reference 1 (2018)
The value tag may be excessive however the Reference 1 are value each penny – you will not discover a higher bookshelf speaker in KEF’s whole steady. They seem to be a shining (and glossy) instance of KEF’s high-end engineering at its finest, and set a benchmark that few rivals can match. They give the impression of being beautiful within the flesh, with superbly completed cupboards that you simply bolt onto KEF’s matching stands. A merely beautiful speaker with the sound to match, the Reference 1 audio system are sensible all-rounders that work fantastically throughout throughout a variety of music, methods and rooms.
KEF R3 (2018)
You don’t should trawl again very far via the What Hello-Fi? Archive to seek out the KEF R3. They’re on web page 62 of our 2018 Awards problem, full with the stereo speaker Product of the Yr stamp of approval. Such an accolade doesn’t get handed out to any outdated pair of audio system so that you’d be proper to imagine the R3 are one thing particular. We famous “a stage of perception and element decision approach past most rivals” and the very fact they ship “a sound adequate to fret most audio system under the 2 grand mark”. The KEF R3 are the whole package deal and one of the vital proficient all-rounders we’ve heard from the model in recent times, solely just lately eclipsed by the model’s personal LS50 Meta.
KEF LS50 Wi-fi II (2020)
Which brings us to a different LS50 descendent.
In relation to revolutionary and entertaining sequels, Wayne’s World 2 or Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo could spring to thoughts, however in 2020 KEF launched the LS50 Wi-fi II all-in-one streaming speaker system and shortly earned a status as a follow-up of uncommon high quality in addition to a What Hello-Fi? Award. The Wi-fi II deal with the LS50 Wi-fi’ minor imperfections and, whereas proudly sustaining the acquainted chassis and Uni-Q driver association, handle to squeeze out much more efficiency by introducing a brand new KEF innovation known as Metamaterial Absorption Expertise (additionally discovered on its LS50 Meta passive audio system, and hopefully on many extra KEF fashions to come back).
MAT is mainly a intelligent approach of absorbing sound waves that radiate from the rear of the tweeter dome in order that they don’t distort the unit’s ahead output, successfully creating an ‘acoustic black gap’ and absorbing 99 per cent of the undesirable sound. The impact was a purer treble, clear mids, and a extra outlined bass, with the entire presentation, opened out, providing subtler however extra exact element and better instrument separation.