By: Brent Butterworth, Soundstage Global
This year’s CEDIA Expo was the first public display of KEF’s completely revamped R Series speakers, with features and design twists that have trickled down from the company’s Reference line. The cabinets are slimmer and more stylish, with a new internal bracing system said to better dissipate vibration. Shown here, from center to left, are the top-of-the-line R11 tower ($2499.99 each), the R7 tower ($1899.99 each), and the R5 tower ($1399.99 each), with the R2c center speaker ($1199.99) at right. The speakers are available in Walnut, Black Gloss, or White Gloss finishes, and have a new magnetically attached grille in a cool suede-textured material. (A new SoundStage! InSight video about the R Series that features lead designer Chris Spear is on YouTube now.)
Normally I don’t expect much when someone revives a once-revered audio brand, but the relaunch of the KLH brand at the CEDIA Expo was beyond impressive. I expected to find someone slapping the brand on a few generic Chinese OEM products, but the line of 28 freestanding, in-wall, in-ceiling, and outdoor speakers is the creation of former Klipsch global sales president David Kelley and a team of veterans with decades of experience at such brands as Klipsch, Polk, Definitive Technology, and Carver. The flagship speaker is the Kendall tower ($1299.98 per pair) shown here, which had a neutral, open sound that reminded me of my Revel F208 tower speakers. Each Kendall packs two 6.5″ woofers, a 5.25″ midrange, and a 1″ aluminum-dome tweeter. The line will be available through brick-and-mortar audio dealers as well as through Crutchfield.
Senior Editor, Sound Stage!