KEF

KEF logo
  • KEF AMERICA, Inc.
  • 10 Timber Lane, Marlboro, NJ 07746, USA
  • Official website
  • Email via form on site
  • +1 732 683 2356
  • +1 732 683 2358

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Equipment[add model]

KEF manufactures or has manufactured the following equipment (click to expand models list):

Dynamic Speakers
 
Furniture
 
Solid State Amplifiers
 
Tape Decks
 

General information [contribute]

KEF web site (Febuary 3, 2010): The company was founded in 1961 by Raymond Cooke MBE (1925–1995) and was initially headquartered in a Nissan Hut on the premises of Kent Engineering & Foundry (from where the name KEF is derived) – a metal-working company on the banks of the River Medway, near Maidstone in Kent, Cooke, an ex-BBC Electrical Engineer, was keen to experiment with new materials and technologies in order to create products with superior acoustic quality that could reproduce recordings as natural as the original performance. From the very beginning, the pioneering inventiveness of KEF loudspeakers was undeniable and now for several decades, audiophiles around the world have revered KEF for its innovative, high-performance loudspeakers.

History[contribute]

KEF web site (July 2002): 1960's KEF was founded in 1961 by an electrical engineer named Raymond Cooke in a Nissen Hut on the premises of a metalworking operation called Kent Engineering & Foundry (hence KEF), on the banks of the River Medway, near Maidstone in Kent.

From the beginning KEF was destined to become a company with a flair for the unusual and controversial in terms of loudspeaker engineering, design and use of materials. Within a year, KEF, under Cooke's outstanding vision, was planning loudspeakers of a three-way design with bass and midrange units using foil-stiffened, vacuum-formed, expanded polystyrene diaphragms with a Melinex or Mylar tweeter. This idea was manifested in the K1, an immediate success, followed by the bookshelf model, Celeste, a loudspeaker with an even more significant commercial success and one that helped secure the early financial stability of the new company.

Re-establishing a previous relationship with the BBC in 1966, Cooke was interested in adopting another material, Neoprene (an artificial rubber) to help maintain sound quality in the mid-band by using it as the surround to the loudspeaker diaphragm, while using new materials for the diaphragm itself. Cooke was always looking for new materials at this time and, in fact, settled on Bextrene as a solution, as its lightweight plastic sheet-like properties were flexible enough for shaping and the material remained stable under varying temperature and moisture conditions and was smooth and consistent over a wide bandwidth.

As a result, in 1967, two new drive units, the 5" B110 and 8" B200 appeared which, with their countless applications, found use in some 3 million units from KEF and many other loudspeaker brands throughout the world. A new, smaller tweeter also arrived, the T27, which led to the most famous BBC/KEF collaboration, the LS3/5a, of which some 2 million units were sold world-wide. A 1997 version of this acclaimed design is still in production today!

During the 1960s KEF flourished. Loudspeakers such as the Concord, Concerto and Cresta and then, in 1969, the Chorale began to shape the company's growing reputation as the loudspeaker engineers, a fact justly recognized in 1970 when KEF received the first of two Queen's Awards for Export Achievement.

1970's By 1973> the company was evolving the concept of computer assisted "total system design", at a time when the world's very first 4-bit microprocessor was still in its infancy! KEF engineers, using a given set of parameters, could for the first time actually "see" what the response characteristics of a loudspeaker system would be. KEF was the first loudspeaker company in the world to take the new technology available seriously in order to achieve this. Now it was the use of computers and digital test methods which provided the KEF engineers with the relevant crossover and drive unit data at a glance, thus dramatically improving their ability of KEF's to produce loudspeakers of outstanding accuracy. Amongst other benefits, KEF loudspeakers could now be computer matched as an almost identical pair - to within one-half of a dB.

1973 then saw the introduction of the first KEF Reference Series Model, the 104 which swept reviewers, distributors, retailers and customers off their feet. The archetypal 'domestic monitor' 104 provided the standards of a broadcast monitor loudspeaker in a domestic package, probably for the first time.

With the installation of a Hewlett Packard computer at the Maidstone Head Office in 1975, the Corelli, Calinda, and Cantata were all designed under the total system concept and with them came a second Queen's Award for Export in the same year.

But 1977 saw the most radical KEF design yet in the Model 105 which apart from setting new standards for flat frequency response introduced a design by which the mid and treble were split from the bass box and placed within a contoured moulded enclosure above the bass enclosure. The added ability to angle the separate unique head unit provided the opportunity for the user to tailor the 105 to his or her own environment. The loudspeaker was of such general importance and consumer interest that a leading quality UK Newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, featured the Model 105 on the front cover of its magazine supplement.

1980's Ten years of growth world-wide followed, peaking with a massive onslaught on the lucrative and influential US market in 1985 with the setting up of KEF Electronics of America, seen as the appropriate recognition of this important market place.

1986 saw more activity amongst the now world famous KEF Reference Series; the 104/2, always regarded as one of the world's truly outstanding loudspeakers since its 1984 launch spawned the 107, in reality an evolution of the 105/2 but with KEF's coupled-cavity bass loading, a system which positions the drivers internal to the enclosure, each separately loaded and firing into a third common chamber which delivers very tight and accurate bass to the listening area via a substantial front-mounted port. This combines the taut sonic character of a sealed box with the ultra-high sensitivity of a reflex design and succeeds in providing a huge boost to bass performance. Also came the 102 and the 103/3, both accepted by recording and broadcast engineers as ideal monitors.

As well as the coupled-cavity bass loading system, KEF Reference loudspeakers boasted such highly sophisticated features as a conjugate load network technique, which makes even a complicated loudspeaker design simplicity itself from the amplifier's perspective and a heavily damped midrange module which preserves low coloration and fine stereo. A Force Cancelling Rod, fitted between the vertically opposed bass units was an added introduction, eliminating the possibility for coloration caused by woofer vibrations exciting the enclosure panels.

Amidst all this excitement, 1988 also brought in the birth of the KEF Custom Installation speakers, a move made in response to new world market demands. The same exacting engineering standards were naturally applied to the range and the CR200F and its sub-bass partner, the CR250SW set new standards from in-wall/ceiling units.

Then, again in 1988, came Uni-Q®. A design process, painstakingly evolved by KEF over several years, by which a single point source at last became a reality. The HF units made use of a rare-earth magnet material,

Neodymium/Iron/Boron which was developed for the NASA Space Programme. 10 times more powerful than a conventional loudspeaker magnet, this material allowed KEF engineers to make a tweeter small enough to fit within the bass unit coil former at the precise acoustic centre of the cone. KEF's Uni-Q technology delivered well-defined stereo imaging over a much wider listening area without the need for the time honoured sacred "hot-spot" in the listening room. The 105/3 was a massive success, bringing together, not just Uni-Q (now in its second generation form), but all of KEF's magnificent technology - coupled-cavity bass loading, conjugate load matching, force cancelling rod, computer matched crossovers and drive units, even hand pair-matched veneer finishes - in fact almost everything by which KEF had made its name as the world's foremost loudspeaker engineer - in to one product. It was voted Best Imported Speaker by the Japanese Press in 1992.

1990's Under new ownership in 1992 KEF Audio found itself equipped with new ideas, new personalities and new products. But the same philosophies of solid engineering from innovation to provide the finest quality product available at its particular price-point remained firmly at the bed-rock.

In 1994 and 1995 the company brought out the versatile and appealing Q Series, offering all the benefits of a third generation Uni-Q® driver but in a shielded format for AV use, together with the multi-award winning Model 100 Centre Speaker, the Model 90, the new Model 200C and the Reference Series Models One, Two, Three and Four. KEF also introduced the new entry level Home Theatre System for true audiophile home theatre sound at a price to fit most pockets.

At the end of 1994 the company had quietly launched three loudspeakers that were to become one of the most spectacular success stories in recent KEF history.

These were simply called Coda; affordable loudspeakers that took the world's Press by storm, the baby Coda 7 clinching the coveted UK Magazine What Hi-fi?'s "Best Buy" Loudspeaker of the of the Year Award for 1995.

KEF's founding father, Raymond Cooke, sadly died during 1996, but with the knowledge that all of his original and noble principles remained intact, and would always do so.

Recognition that year for the Reference Series Model Four had reached a peak with world-wide acclaim. Reviews by internationally famed and respected writers, who were quick to praise the merits of the company's new flagship model with its fourth generation Uni-Q driver and to point out the sheer engineering excellence of the company - an unswerving KEF attribute for over 30 years. Comments such as "the best I've had in my listening room." from the US Magazine Stereophile and "KEF's best yet" from UK Magazine Hi-fi News were just two of the many plaudits showered on the Model Four.

The home theatre series boomed and the company introduced Model 20B, a baby brother for the Model 30B active sub-woofer. The Coda Series, particularly the Coda 7 continually outsold competing brands throughout the world.

1996 also saw the launch of the new KEF Q Series and the new Monitor Series, superbly crafted loudspeakers to meet the challenges of the next century. Both ranges epitomise KEF's total commitment to engineering qualities beyond all.

21st Century The four cornerstones of KEF's success over 35 years are Quality, Honesty, Dedication and Innovation. The company is professional from top to bottom. Still occupying the same river-bank site in Kent (although sadly, the Nissen Hut no longer stands), the company services export markets throughout the world. The company firmly and passionately remains true to its proven innovations and philosophies; Uni-Q® Drivers, Ferrofluid Cooled Tweeters, Rubber Isolated Decoupled Driver Mountings, Long Throw Bass Drivers, Oxygen Free Internal Wiring, Gold Plated Bi-Wire Terminals, Computer Matching (using the most sophisticated and advanced of computer techniques) and the importance of quality audiophile-standard Home Theatre Systems.

And, each and every pair of KEF Reference Series loudspeakers is still hand assembled by one expert craftsman.

External links

HifiLoudspeakers.info

Forum topics on KEF

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