Wednesday, April 4, 2012

KEF Blade: The cutting edge of sound


The KEF Blade sounds and looks stunning.


One of the most exciting speakers in recent times in terms of sonic quality and, especially, of design has reached Malaysia.


I am talking about the KEF Blade, which was designed to commemorate KEF's 50 years in the hi-fi business.


It is one of the most visually exciting speakers I have ever seen with the most sensuous curves.


Seen from the side, the speaker looks like, well, a blade.


The high-end speakers, which cost RM120,000 (rrp) a pair, are at Perfect Hi-Fi's outlet in IOI Mall, Puchong and have been set up for demo purposes.




Andy Tan and his latest expensive toy.

Andy Tan, owner of Perfect Hi-Fi, said he brought in two pairs - one in glossy white and the other in glossy black. The white pair has been sold while the black pair will be his company's star attraction at the coming Kuala Lumpur International AV Show.


Andy said there is a three to six-month waiting list for the KEF Blade and the waiting time depends on the colour (there are 12 custom colours).


The KEF Blade is like no other speaker that I have seen as it is designed to be a 'single apparent source' with a Uni-Q driver in the front and four woofers mounted symmetrically equidistant from it in order for their acoustic centres to be exactly in the same point in space.


The four woofers are connected back to back in a rigid manner to cancel out vibrations. They are also housed in separate chambers that are port loaded.




The Uni-Q driver.


There are two side-firing woofers on each side of the cabinet.

The KEF Blades are hooked up to an all Audio Research system.


The cabinet is made of moulded glass-reinforced composite and braced internally extensively.


I spent more than an hour this afternoon listening to the KEF Blade in a system comprising an Audio Research CD5, an Audio Research LS27 preamp, Audio Research VS115 100 watt power amp and all Transparent cables.


The first thing I noticed was the pin-point imaging, then I noted the transparency and the large and deep soundstage. Then I noted the impressive dynamics and the clarity.


The way the images 'hovered' in mid-air reminded me of Maggies and I dare say the transparency of the KEF Blade's sound comes quite close to - and possibly even equals - the standard set by the Maggies.


The bass was adequately deep if slightly lean, but the bass quality is highly dependent on speaker placement. The Blade needs to be away from side and rear walls.


Overall the sound quality was excellent and would have been perfect if not for that lack of last bit of bass oomph - perhaps in the 20-25Hz region. Still, the Blade sounds and looks very good and is a match for many other top-end speakers.


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