The eagle-eyed and bat-eared amongst you may recall that Arcam chose KEF Reference loudspeakers for their astonishing home theatre installation that toured the serious Hi-Fi shows of Europe, including our very own Sound and Vision Show in Bristol.
Nic, Chris, myself (Ade) and a number of the Audio T Swansea faithful heard them in action and were impressed enough to want to hear more. We persuaded the lovely Alex from KEF to lend us a pair of their delightful Reference 3s for evaluation. We were very reluctant to let them go, even though we did have them here for quite a while...*cough* (Thanks Alex!).
Hooked up to our Chord Electronics Dave DAC, CPA3000 pre-amplifier and SPM1200 power amplifier we bathed in their lush, glossy, even, wide and deep soundstage. Virtually every track we played we looked at each other puff-cheeked in admiration and realised we really had to stock them. Fast-forward a few weeks and we're the proud owners of a pair of KEF Reference 1s and a pair of KEF Reference 3s. (Yay!)
As you can see in the picture above and below, the Reference 1's look a million bucks in Gloss Rosewood with that brushed aluminium front baffle. Fitted with the latest iteration of KEF's speciality, the UniQ combined tweeter/midrange unit - here in 125mm (5 inch) - it's designed to provide a common point source for high and mid frequency sound. This gives us a better sense of integration, yielding a much larger sweet-spot and a more natural sound. The all-new 165mm (6.5 inch) alloy woofer that KEF is rather proud of, are beautifully finished and look very pretty too.
Around the back are what can only be described as luxury Bi-Amp/Bi-Wire terminals. In case you were wondering, the centre wing bolts connect the low and high frequency terminals together should you choose to single wire them. (We happen to be using Black Rhodium Encore Bi-Wire in this instance, so have them wound out.)
Initial listening is pretty encouraging as the soundstage is wide open, but they clearly need running in. After a couple of hours they'd fleshed out a fair bit, but are nowhere near their potential yet. We're going to give them a run overnight and report back in the morning. We need to get them singing soon as we've had our first request for a home demonstration - that didn't take long!
KEF Reference loudspeakers are available from Audio T Swansea and Audio T Preston