Saturday, October 23, 2010

KEF: Back to boxes

For the past few years we had become used to seeing KEF speakers with curved backs. This design was to reduce standing waves inside the cabinet and some B & W speakers also used a similar design.


However, in the new range of Q speakers that were just launched, KEF has gone back to the conventional - the good old simple box.


Paradoxically, while KEF has abandoned a modern cabinet shape for a conventional box, it has abandoned the traditional paper cone for metal - aluminium.


Of course, KEF is not the first speaker manufacturer to discover that aluminium is light and stiff and has break-up resonances higher up the frequency range.


According to Franco Lock, senior business manager of GP Acoustics (HK) Ltd, who is in charge of marketing KEF speakers in the Asia-Pacific region, KEF conducted market research in the past two years in preparation for an upturn in the world economy.


"The feedback was that the people wanted better highs and a stronger bass," he said.


That's why KEF decided to use the box cabinet again - its internal volume is 30% larger than a cabinet with a curved back of the same dimensions and the larger amount of air inside would enable lower bass to be produced.


The KEF Q700. Note the two Auxiliary Bass
Radiators sandwiching the active woofer.
The latest-generation Uni-Q driver is at the top.


To boost the bass, aluminium cones were used for the woofers and in the floorstanding models - Q500, Q700 and Q900 (which will be shipped soon) - two ABRs (Auxiliary Bass Radiators, which are passive bass units) are used with one active bass unit.


And to extend the high frequencies, a new Uni-Q driver was developed. Using an aluminium dome with Stiffened Dome and Vented Tweeter technology that trickled down from the top-end Muon, Concept Blade and Reference series, the tweeters now provide clean highs that go up to 40kHz.


Franco Lock, senior business manager of GP
Acoustics (HK) Ltd (right) and Calvin Yeung, his business
 development executive at Perfect Hi-Fi on Friday.


Franco, who was at Perfect Hi-Fi in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, on Friday with Calvin Yeung, his business development executive, to launch the Q and T series in Malaysia, said he conducted launches in Bangkok, Jakarta and India in the past few weeks and everybody was impressed by the sound of the new Q series.


The Q series comprise the Q100 and Q300 bookshelf speakers and the Q500, Q700 and Q900 floorstanders. Centre and dipole speakers, and an active sub-woofer complete the range which can be used for two-channel and home-theatre purposes.


The T series are slim speakers designed to match the slim LCD TVs in the market these days. They can be placed on stands or fixed to walls.


"The T series are not only about sound but home decor as well," said Franco.


Essentially, they comprise woofers and tweeters that have been squashed to 27mm thick.


"Our designer in England said it would be like Superman having squashed a normal woofer," said Franco. Some out-of-box thinking was required and some radical changes were made to the placement of the voice coil and magnet.


The T series can be used for two-channel listening, but it is more of a home-theatre design. It even includes a slim active sub-woofer.

Franco Lock explaining how a normal
 woofer was squashed to become...
...merely 27mm thick for the KEF T series slim speakers.

Owner of Perfect Hi-Fi, Andy Tan, said the Q and T series have been set up for demo in his showroom at 140 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar. Call 03-20921693 for an appointment.



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