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KEF reveals latest “Blade” flagship floor-standing speakers and new “Reference” models

Premium British audio brand KEF has announced the launch of the latest upgrades to both its Blade and The Reference speaker models.

Both the Blade and The Reference series now feature Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) – the result of joint development with the Acoustic Metamaterials Group, which promises to eliminate distortion and provide a “purer, more natural acoustic performance”.

Metamaterials are specially developed structures that use existing materials in such a way that they exhibit new, desirable properties that are simply not found in naturally occurring substances, the company says.

Other upgrades to both speakers is the inclusion of a bespoke driver which promises pristine performance – the state-of-the-art Uni-Q.

According to KEF, the driver array can deliver “consistently sweet, lucid and lyrical treble, irrespective of the volume”. A new ultra-low distortion midrange motor design lowers the total harmonic distortion (THD) in the midrange and reduces thermal compression, improving efficiency.

Blade also benefits from Single Apparent Source technology, which is said to extend the Uni-Q driver array, the building block of the KEF signature sound. The technology aims to achieve the acoustic ideal of a point source, KEF says, where low, mid and high frequencies radiate from one point. This makes Blade incredibly coherent across all audible frequencies, the company claims.

The contours of the dome within The Reference’s midrange horn and surround, meanwhile, are all computer-optimised to ensure a perfectly smooth transition to the cabinet. KEF’s patented tangerine waveguide technology manages the airflow to recreate the wide, even spread of a natural sound field, dispersing the astonishingly pure high-frequency imaging throughout the room, KEF says.

The result of these innovations and developments for both Blade and The Reference is that the Uni-Q with MAT promise to reproduce more transparent and life-like sound than previously possible.

Next, Blade’s four robust, low-frequency drivers are said to be perfectly integrated with the Uni-Q and MAT to deliver clean, massively extended, immaculately controlled bass. In line with the purity of the original Blade concept, decoupling the voice coil from the diaphragm allows low order crossovers to be used, for purer, silkier bass response, KEF says.

These drivers are mounted back-to-back to avoid exciting the cabinet when playing loud to cancel out kinetic forces that might otherwise colour the output. Each pair occupies a separate chamber to reduce the need for damping.

The crossover design has been enhanced in the latest Blade to fine-tune the signal path for maximum clarity. Plus, two pairs of audiophile-quality WBT connectors allow bi-wiring or bi-amping for lossless transmission.

Finally, the Reference also boasts clean, rich, highly articulate bass. Intelligent engineering and attention to design detail enable the bass to blend seamlessly with the pure midrange and treble response, KEF says.

The Reference’s bass driver also benefits from a massive, vented magnet assembly, a large aluminium voice coil and an exceptionally light and stiff alloy cone – all resulting in greatly improved volume, dynamics and power handling, the company adds.

Design

Where Blade’s form is concerned, acoustics dictate the sculptural design. The gentle front radius tapers from top to bottom and from front to rear and the complex parabolic curves of are engineered to eliminate standing waves that might blur the sound.

Blade is available in eight finishes, created by blending five cabinet finishes with six driver cone colours. Customers can also create their customised speaker cabinet colour scheme by supplying a Pantone of their choice.

The Reference series is finished in a sumptuous high-gloss or richly detailed, pair-matched wood veneer to complement the front baffle designed to eliminate anomalies caused by diffraction, KEF says. Five finishes are available – a combination of three cabinet finishes and five driver cone colours: Satin Walnut/Silver, High-Gloss White/Blue, High-Gloss White/Champagne, High-Gloss Black/Grey, High-Gloss Black/Copper.

Key Selling Points

  • Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT)
  • Uni-Q drivers
  • Premium design and materials

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