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KEF America take loudspeakers on a colour run for CES 2016

  • ces2016Personality. KEF have it in spades. Their Blade Two floorstanding loudspeaker puts a quad of side-firing 6.5″ bass drivers (instead of the bigger bro’s 9″-ers) into a cabinet that registers two thirds of the original version’s internal volume. The front-firing Uni-Q driver in Blade One and Two are identical but pricing is not: US$32K for the Blade One, US$24K for the Blade Two. The latter is intended for less generous spaces and/or wallets.

    The Blade Two isn’t new but each time I hear a pair (almost always at shows) it feels like the first time. Like a virgin! Their simultaneous projection of scale and preserve of delicacy, even in a standard-sized Venetian Hotel suite, are precisely the qualities needed to maximise one’s consumption of by Nils Frahm’s “Says”; a cut that builds and builds and builds and BUILDS before falling away just prior to boiling point. Yet another reminder that these are the loudspeakers I would own if an unlimited budget were to present. Power ’em with a Devialet 800 for the most futuristic-looking rig this side of the international space station; hardware whose sound would surpass its striking looks but remain just the right side of show pony. Red finish on the Blade Two, Sir? You betcha!

    KEF America’s Dipin Sehdev explains how the Blade Two’s accompanying electronics at CES were chosen for their simplicity. “No crazy monos!”, he exclaims. Full swing in Vegas came from a Hegel H30 DAC (US$4500) and a Hegel H369 integrated amplifier (US$5700). The latter serves up 250wpc in Class A/B operation. Hegel returned the compliment on the floor above with KEF’s Reference One standmount their loudspeaker of choice.

    Then there are KEF’s personalities – the guys and gals that handle in-room demos. Johan Coorg once again wants to talk music before he wants to talk hardware; polite, pretty, pleasant, tip-toe-through-tulips music is very much NOT his thing. He digs – and therefore spins – music that’s big on both drama and soul.

    After Blade Two re-baptism, Dipin Sehdev demonstrates the KEF MUO (US$349) Bluetooth speaker’s party favours. Specifically, two features that I’d not been made aware of at December’s Tokyo e-earphone Potafesu. The MUO’s internal DSP will auto-adjust according to the MUO’s vertical or horizontal positioning, latter being where first (surface) reflections are more prominent. A pair of vertically positioned MUO can be paired for stereophony proper but lay one flat and they revert to fully synchronised dual mono. See/hear/here:

    The MUO is available in the following colours: Light Silver, Neptune Blue, Storm Grey, Sunset Orange and Horizon Gold.

    Finally, the LS50. Last year’s limited edition finishes on KEF’s runwaway success story underscore the company’s (cautious) sense of adventure when it comes to aesthetics. What’s surprising is that in anticpiating weaker sales of the red finish, KEF apparently manufactured fewer units, only for demand to outstrip supply by a wider margin than with the blue or grey, especially in the UK and USA. The lesson? For greater relevance in the broader market, hifi gear needs to arrive in bold/er colour options.

    Take a look around KEF America’s CES demo room – not a traditional box speaker or wood veneer in sight. Says it all really.

    Further information: KEF















    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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    1. KEF does a great job! I am still enjoying my X300A’s, after a modification with subwoofer outputs it’s a superb 3-way active system for the money. If they will introduce an active LS50 I will be interested. The new colors are also nice, especally the matte black enclosure / blue driver.

    2. Honesty. Get a life. People are starving and families are struggling and you’re all orgasmic over sleazy looking speakers.


      • If you really care about those who don’t have enough to eat, maybe you could get off your arse and fundraise, volunteer or do something else worthwhile instead of spending your time trolling on the Internet.

      • This is a hifi enthusiasts’ site. Been going for years. Perhaps on the NHS , or probably your own private medical insurnce, you’ll be able to get that pole surgically removed from *yer ass* and then sling yourself of it. You can then donate your meagre cadavre to science, where the medical profession enjoys systems way above the DAR remit.

        You utter helmet.

    3. Just picked up a brand new pair of the limited edition Titanium Grey LS50s in Auckland for NZ$1,399 (approx. US$915) — screaming good deal! I went with the Kefs in no small part due to your extensive coverage and thorough reviews (and follow-up). I’m in love so far, and I know they’ve got a ways to go to properly break-in. Next up: amp upgrade. The new Rogue Sphinx v2 looks tempting–though may not be easy to source in NZ!

    What the gosh darn heck is Roon Ready?

    Dynaudio Xeo 2: entry-level future-fi at CES 2016