In 1988 KEF designed and patented the first coincident source speaker driver – Uni-Q. A 25mm (1 inch) tweeter sat at the neck of a 200mm (8 inch) woofer, precisely positioning the acoustic centres of both units to coincide. It also used Neodymium-Iron-Boron magnetic alloy, which was an advanced material at the time.
The building block of KEF signature sound
KEF’s many pioneering innovations are all geared towards delivering breath-takingly natural sound; sound that lets you enjoy music as it was meant to be heard. Of all these pioneering developments, it is the Uni-Q® driver array that sits at the heart of almost all our speakers.
Sit anywhere, hear every detail
Uni-Q technology places the tweeter precisely at the acoustic centre of the bass/midrange cone, so both act together as a single point source to disperse sound more evenly throughout the room. The result is the elimination of the limited ‘sweet spot’, therefore allowing everybody sitting at different spots in the room to experience and enjoy the same natural, detailed sound.
Cleaner, less distorted sound
In conventional loudspeakers, mid and high frequencies radiating from different locations interfere with each other. Uni-Q places the tweeter at the centre of the bass/midrange cone, dispersing these different frequencies from a single point source, so interference issues are avoided, and the sound is less distorted.
Perfectly timed sound
With Uni-Q’s single point source design all frequencies reach your ear at the same time. The sound is therefore more accurate and realistic than with conventional loudspeakers, where the output from each separate driver arrives at slightly different times, causing the sound to be smeared and less natural sounding.
Today’s 12th generation Uni-Q driver array is the result of over three decades of continuous innovation by the KEF engineering team. The initial concept that all the sound coming from the same place delivers improved sound is as true now as it was then, and the ensemble is a masterpiece of modern acoustic engineering.
The C95, from the 1988 C Series, was the first loudspeaker equipped with the world’s first truly coincident source driver – Uni-Q. It also inherited the coupled cavity bass loading design from the KEF Reference 104/2.
The 2nd generation Uni-Q had the midrange cone switched to the smaller size of 160mm (6.5 inch) to work with two symmetrically placed 160mm (6.5 inch) low/mid drive units. This helped to achieve a narrower frontal area resulting in improved stereo imaging.
The Model 105/3 was the flagship of 1989’s ‘The Reference’ series. A four-way floorstanding speaker, it employed the 2nd-generation Uni-Q, two 160mm (6.5 inch) low/mid drive units and two 200mm (8 inch) drivers mounted in twin coupled-cavity configuration.
The 3rd generation Uni-Q introduced a new low-profile surround for a smoother high frequency response. It employed a 160mm (6.5 inch) polypropylene cone midrange unit coupled with a coincident-mounted 25mm (1 inch) fabric dome tweeter.
Model Four represents the pinnacle of 1994’s ‘The Reference’ series. A four-way floorstanding speaker, it featured the 3rd generation Uni-Q, two 160mm (6.5mm) low/mid drive units and a twin coupled cavity bass section driven by two 250mm (10 inch) bass drivers.
The 4th generation Uni-Q saw the low-profile surround moulded onto the cone for an improved cone/surround mechanical termination and a subsequently smoother mid-band response. It also offered a more continuous waveguide for the high-frequency tweeter radiation, delivering a step-up in smoothness and tonal naturality.
The Q15 was the most compact model in 1997’s Q Series. A two-way bookshelf speaker, it employed a centrally mounted 4th generation Uni-Q driver array with a 160mm (6.5 inch) clear polypropylene cone bass/midrange driver and 19mm (3/4 inch) soft dome tweeter.
The 5th generation Uni-Q was the first to employ a metal dome tweeter; the 25mm (1 inch) titanium dome had an elliptical profile optimised by computer modelling techniques. The result of this change was that it was able to achieve exceptional vocal clarity.
The Reference Model 201 was a four-way reflex standmount speaker from the 2001 ‘The Reference’ series. It was equipped with the 5th generation Uni-Q, a 19mm (3/4 inch) Hyper-tweeter and a 165mm (6.5 inch) low-frequency driver.
The key update to the 6th generation Uni-Q was a new titanium dome tweeter. It used a vented motor system to drive the patented Stiffened Dome, which was made from two parts: one elliptical ring, one spherical cap. It operated with exceptionally accurate pistonic motion, reproducing higher frequencies with effortless clarity.
The flagship of 2006’s award-winning Reference Series, the Model 207/2 was a four-way floorstanding speaker. It employed two 250mm (10 inch) ultra-low distortion drivers independently housed in 70-litre reflex enclosures, a dedicated lower midrange driver of the same size and the 6th generation Uni-Q.
Radial reinforcing ribs were added to the 7th generation Uni-Q’s polypropylene cone. Adding stiffness ensured the cone moved as a simple piston, so the response was smooth, therefore minimising distortion. The 110mm Uni-Q also featured Sealed Suspension Technology, dramatically improving sound quality at higher volumes.
The KHT3000 was a well-respected home theatre speaker range that became known as the ‘EGG’ thanks to its signature design. The compact HTS3001 satellite speaker employed a centrally mounted 7th generation Uni-Q driver array.
The 115mm (4.5 inch) Uni-Q driver was enhanced by the addition of the ingenious, patented Tangerine Waveguide. This improved sensitivity and sound dispersion, which helped the 8th generation Uni-Q to deliver an even cleaner, smoother response.
An evolution of the award-winning 3000 Series, the KHT3005SE employed the updated 8th generation Uni-Q to provide an even stronger performance with improved clarity and detail, while at the same time maintaining the beauty and style of the iconic ‘EGG’ home theatre system.
The 9th generation Uni-Q used a hybrid cone with a lithium / magnesium / aluminium alloy outer skin braced by a precision-engineered ribbed structure of Liquid Crystal Polymer. This combination reproduced upper midrange frequencies with incredible accuracy.
The aim of Concept BLADE was to produce a point source speaker that delivered a coherent sound wave rather than the diffuse sound that can result from cone breakup and enclosure radiation. Thanks in part to the 9th generation Uni-Q, KEF was able to build the world’s first Single Apparent Source Speaker.
In the 10th generation Uni-Q, the Tangerine Waveguide was redesigned to further enhance the coupling between the tweeter dome and the air directly in front. It acoustically optimised the radiated sound from the tweeter, so it appeared more like a point source, resulting in increased sensitivity and better dispersion.
Q300 was the largest bookshelf speaker of the 2010 Q Series. It was a two-way reflex system that employed the 10th generation Uni-Q, which had a 165mm (6.5 inch) aluminium cone and a 25mm (1 inch) vented aluminium dome tweeter.
In the 11th generation Uni-Q, a new cone neck control delivered considerably smoother driver response. A resilient high damping link was used to connect the cone and the voice coil, so that only signal that’s within the waveband of the driver is transferred to the cone.
The three-way Reference 5 was the flagship model of the 2014 ‘The Reference’ Series. The four 165mm (6.5 inch) aluminium LF drivers and a 125mm (5 inch) 11th generation Uni-Q were arranged in a D’Appplito configuration to ensure the acoustic source stays at the position of the Uni-Q over the entire frequency range of the loudspeaker.
A tweeter gap damper was added to the 12th generation Uni-Q to absorb any sound escaping into the annular gap between the tweeter and the cone. The result was a much smoother high-frequency response, improving detail and clarity.
The R11 was the flagship model of the 2018 R Series. Taking inspiration from the exceptional REFERENCE 5, it employed four 165mm (6.5 inch) aluminium LF drivers and a 125mm (5 inch) 12th generation Uni-Q in a D’Appplito configuration.
The 12th generation Uni-Q with MAT added Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) and new features to reduce coloration and distortion, including additional strengthening ribs behind the Tangerine Waveguide, redesigned tweeter gap damper, Mk2 Cone Neck Control, and an improved mid-frequency motor system.
The LS50 Meta is the world’s first speaker with metamaterial, incorporating the 12th generation Uni-Q with MAT driver array. This new driver array offers reduced coloration, less distortion and a sound that is more transparent and life-like than previously possible, all dispersed evenly throughout the room.
Metamaterial Absorption Technology
A truly revolutionary tool in the KEF acoustic armoury, Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) is a highly complex maze-like structure that absorbs 99% of the unwanted sound from the rear of the driver, eliminating the resulting distortion and providing purer, more natural sound.