KEF Blades - first outing?

Heard the new KEF Blades today, and I believe it may have been the first public outing in the UK for the ones you can shortly buy – as opposed to the concept models that have been touring the shows.

Brief reminder if needed:-

- Price 20,000 GBP per pair

- 3-way bass reflex, with tweeter and mid-range drivers in KEF’s Uni-Q configuration, plus four (yes, four!) 9 inch woofers arranged in opposing pairs on each cabinet side.

- Almost 1.6m tall and 60kg each – phew!

The full spec is on KEF’s website, and there is a dedicated brochure. The USP is the single apparent source achieved by the driver layout.

The system auditioned was Audio Research CD player and bridged Devialet amps (yes, one per channel). Probably overkill as the speakers are rated at 91db sensitivity, but it is very easy to get carried away!

We listened to a variety of commercial and other CDs (nothing streamed or vinyl) covering many genres, including Hyperion’s recent recording of Rachmaninov’s 1st piano concerto (with Stephen Hough), and Nitin Sawnhey’s 1999 recording ‘Beyond Skin’.

So, what did they sound like, bearing in mind the unfamiliar room? As effortless and soaring as you would imagine for such a large speaker, with no obvious box or cabinet sounds. Maybe not that surprising given these must be the most un-box-like speaker I can recall, save for a few panel models. Definitely what I would call accurate, in a studio monitor sort of way, with even-handed timbres, great bass pitching (no obvious emphases) and a wide bandwidth. However, I was surprised how little I was aware of the varying acoustics of the venues/studios. Maybe they were being conveyed very authentically, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that the overall impression was a little dry and unvarying in style – a sort of subtractive colouration, if you get my drift.

I’m only too aware how glittering highs or projected mids can be entrancing yet ultimately wearisome - the Blades had no such aberrations. The dynamic range was pretty colossal too, surely at the top end of what is possible domestically. But I did miss that hairs on the back of the neck thing, when something really moves you, emotionally. I got none of that sense, despite hearing both familiar and unfamiliar recordings, and recognising an unerring cleanliness of presentation throughout. Admirable rather than lovable, you might say.

I’ve only heard the Devialet once before, and it seems to me the closest thing to a ‘piece of wire with gain’ that I’m ever likely to encounter. Utterly grain-free and transparent, it makes most other amps seem mechanical by comparison. That previous audition was with the Sonus Faber Cremona M, which are about one-third the price of the new KEFs. Recognising I am a SF user, and have always loved them in their various incarnations, I would prefer the Cremonas in my home even if there were no price difference. I’m referring only to the sound, mind you. Loving the style and finish of the Italian speakers, I’d choose them on looks too, though these particular Blades were probably not done any great favours being finished in what I took to be the standard black. They would surely look fabulous in a bright colour, and they certainly cut a distinctive profile. You cannot select a Blade in a wood finish, however.

If you like the look of the KEFs and want some outstanding British engineering, and a state of the art design, then do try to hear them. If you want to be touched by your music, you might want to cast your net wider.


Thanks for the good review!

I was under the impression though, that they were to be demo'd with the MF Titan, or was that later in the day?
Hi Darren,

I think the KEF people were relying on the dealer to provide something suitable, rather than brining their own system. The engineer did say the factory used Luxman, Mark Levinson and Naim amps (amongst others) during development, as they recognised their speakers have to work domestically with a variety of kit.

Presumably they are touring around the leading KEF dealers doing the same?

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
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There will only be a very small (very!) number of KEF dealerships that will be keeping the Blade speakers in on demo. It's down to those individual dealers to have an open day or evening - the KEF guys come along to provide info etc :)


The comment re: the Titan, I think it was Unilet that were going to use it, as they had the world first demo of them as far as I know.

Would've went for a listen myself, but it's one of the furthest dealers away in the country!
Monstrous said:
The comment re: the Titan, I think it was Unilet that were going to use it, as they had the world first demo of them as far as I know.

Would've went for a listen myself, but it's one of the furthest dealers away in the country!

Hi Darren

I had heard Unilet were going to have the KEF Blades as a first UK dealer exclusive and the speakers were to be used with Plinius Reference electronics :)

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft


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Aug 21, 2009
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Hi Nopiano

Very much enjoyed your insightful review. What I find most interesting is that it exactly mirrors my view, when I heard the Muons. The did everything right except move me. I would easily have preferred some Sonus Fabers at a 20th of the cost. Maybe they need very (very) expensive amplification (probably Class A) and source (TT) to appeal to me.

Thanks, Cno. Reassured it maybe wasn't just me. I was really looking forward to the experience, but there just wasn't that 'wow' moment I have found in a few systems.

I almost left it 48 hours before writing anything, just in case I was having a bad day. But, later at home, I popped on an old an old favourite (Ricki Lee Jones) and the magic was still there. I might have been a bit more coloured, romantic even, but it was 'real' somehow.

I'd so wanted to hear that rosin on bow, or breath on mike moment via the KEFs. I got super HD, 3D even, but I wasn't 'there' with the performers in a real venue.


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Jul 12, 2010
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lol watched the video looked at my k500s and looked back at the video again. Such a clever concept. Who would have thought you could stop case vibration totally by putting the drivers back to back. Now back to saving for something better than a pm6003 to actualy get some bass outta these 500s!


We are delighted we had such a positive response from 100% of attendees on the day, making it both enjoyable and worthwhile. The Blades are speakers, which can really connect emotionally with the listener - because of the single source technology and lack of distortion their presentation is a little different from a traditional loudspeaker and consequently the emotional connection may be hard to asses on a short demo in an unfamiliar environment, but live with these for only a few days and we are confident that you would not want to go back.

On the force cancelling note, it was something we introduced into our Reference 104/2s back in 1984.

Thanks again to all of those that attended the event, we hope to be able to carry out more events like this in the future...