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1970s (the birth of Reference)
In 1970, KEF received the first of two prestigious Queen's Awards for Export Achievement as the company became known beyond the UK. Three years later, KEF became the first loudspeaker manufacturer in the world to implement computer-assisted 'total system design'. New and revolutionary digital testing equipment gave KEF’s engineers access to relevant crossover and drive unit data at a glance, assisting them enormously in the development of a highly advanced generation of audio equipment.
This pioneering use of computer-generated data enabled KEF’s engineers to match pairs of speakers to within one half of a decibel, making them the audio-technology equivalent of identical twins. Exact pair matching results in perfect stereo and these revolutionary speaker systems became renowned for their superior acoustic accuracy. Models in the range included the widely celebrated Model 104 – the first domestic unit to match the standards of a broadcast monitor loudspeaker.
Remarkable for its outstanding acoustic precision and wonderfully clean bass performance (despite its relatively small size), the Model 104 'swept reviewers, distributors, retailers and customers off their feet' when it was launched in 1973. As a classic high-output yet high-sensitivity system, the Model 104 was also the first product from KEF's world-famous Reference Series.
Three years later, the design methodology was refined into a new approach to loudspeaker development – computer assisted 'total system design' - with the release of the Corelli, Calinda and Cantata, and a year later, in 1977, came one of the most radical and sophisticated loudspeakers ever made – Reference Model 105. With separate enclosures for the bass and mid/high sections to allow time-alignment and even sound dispersion over the entire audio range, fourth order Linkwitz-Riley acoustic crossovers and a striking form following its acoustic function, it set new standards for domestic loudspeakers.