The KEF Reference Series – A Benchmark in High-End Audio
KEF Reference is Equally at Home in Stereo and Multichannel Systems
The KEF Reference Series is the company's longest-running speaker line, dating back to the late 1970s. From the beginning, KEF has always set out lofty objectives for this high-end audio line. Even back in the 1970s, when computers were not common in labs, KEF used computer measurement to ensure that their high objective standards were met.
Unlike some of the other high-fidelity flagship speakers for which the company is known – the brilliant Blade, Muon, and the superb LS50 – the KEF Reference line is a complete line of speakers that encompasses towers, bookshelves, center channels, a subwoofer, and even architectural models. The goal is to provide the famous clear, transparent, detailed sound quality of KEF for any application.
To learn more about the beautiful and masterfully engineered KEF Reference Series and see if it’s right for your St. Louis home, keep reading!
The KEF Reference Design Principles
KEF has several primary objectives in the design of a speaker, and in the Reference Series, they take these to a very high level. First, some speakers from other manufacturers have a certain character or "house sound." KEF believes a speaker should be completely transparent and transmit no character or coloring of its own to the purity of the sound. Second, the company uses its tried and true Uni-Q concentric drivers to ensure coherency of the sound, so that no drivers stand out. Third, KEF wants you to hear just the drivers' sound and no resonances of any kind from the speaker. Fourth, the drivers should impart no character of their own on the sound. Bass, midrange, or treble should come through uncolored. Lastly, the speaker should lose nothing in translation – all the sound information coming over the wire should be accurately transduced.
The KEF Reference 5
To better understand how the KEF design philosophy plays out in practice, a good start is to look at what goes into the line's flagship speaker, the Reference 5 towers. At its heart is the Uni-Q driver array for midrange and tweeter, which also features the unique and beautiful waveguide for improved clarity. The 1-inch vented aluminum dome tweeter is at the exact acoustic center of the 5-inch midrange driver to deliver perfectly balanced, natural sound to the ear. Four 6.5-inch bass drivers with light, stiff cones, and massive vented magnets can provide a bass response as low as 25Hz in a typical room. The cabinet is computer-modeled to optimize the bracing, and KEF's Constrained Layer Damping turns other vibration into heat, so the sound stays as pure as possible. The speaker features a user-adjustable port to enable you to tune the bass to the room and your liking. And while computer modeling is used heavily in the design, ultimately the crossover network components are picked by hand, and the final measurement test is with a trained human ear.
The Reference Line
The Reference Line is equally comfortable in a two-channel rig as in a home theater setup. To fit the needs of different spaces, multiple models are available. The Reference 3 towers feature two 6.5-inch bass drivers in a similar design to its big brother in a slightly smaller size and weight. The Reference 1 stand mount would make a fine speaker for any channel, front or surround, with depth and power that belie its size.
Two center channel speakers offer incredible immersion for the movie or multichannel audio enthusiast. The massive 4C is the perfect complement to the Reference 5 or 3 towers, with similar drivers to form a powerful and even front soundstage. The 2C center is ideal for smaller rooms and can complement a setup with the Reference 3 towers or the Reference 1 standmount. Rounding out the home theater experience is the Reference 8b subwoofer, which sports dual nine-inch opposed drivers for potent and articulate bass powered by twin 500-watt class D amplifiers.
As you might expect from speakers of this caliber, the finishes and build quality are commensurate with the performance. Copper Black Aluminum, Blue Ice White, and Silver Satin Walnut finishes are designed to complement modern, traditional, and transitional décor. In the long tradition of KEF Reference speakers, they are still hand-built by expert technicians in Maidstone, Kent.
Are you ready to step up to ultimate sound performance with KEF Reference? Call us today at (636) 939-4474, schedule a showroom visit, or reach out on our contact page. We look forward to working with you!