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1980s (the birth of Uni-Q)
A wonderful endorsement of the KEF Reference Series' accuracy happened at the Edinburgh Festival in 1980. A performance of Belioz' Te Deum conducted by Claudio Abbado was to take place in the Usher Hall yet the organ used was that of St Mary's Cathedral some one mile away. The sound from the organ was relayed via a BBC FM radio link and reproduced through 36 KEF Reference 105.2s. Andrew Clements of the Financial Times said of the event "…… with eyes closed I would not have known that Gillian Weir was not playing in the same hall as the orchestra" The concert was a notable success and another innovative BBC/KEF collaboration.
Throughout the 1980s, KEF maintained its reputation for excellence with the now highly respected Reference Series through a series of technical enhancements. These included: Coupled-Cavity bass loading that considerably boosted bass performance; force-cancelling and driver decoupling to eliminate cabinet colouration from the mechanical vibrations of the drive unit chassis; conjugate load matching to ease the electrical load presented to the amplifier and the KEF Universal Bass Equaliser (KUBE) that allowed extended bass from compact enclosures. Incorporating all these features was the Reference 104/2 released in 1984 of which substantial numbers were sold around the world.
In 1985 a range of car audio products was released including a subwoofer using the coupled cavity system developed in the 104/2, and 1987 saw the introduction of the Custom Series of in-wall products, harking back to the K1 and K2 baffles of the 1960s and heralding a new era of application-focussed ingenuity in this expanding market.
In 1988, incorporating a new neodymium/iron/boron magnetic material, developed by NASA, with ten times the power of standard speaker magnets, the revolutionary KEF Uni-Q was born. This major innovation allowed KEF engineers to make a tweeter small enough to be mounted at the acoustic heart of the bass unit coil, providing for the first time a single point source of sound. In layman's terms, this considerably enlarged the optimum listening area in any room. Searching for that elusive acoustic 'sweet spot' was now a thing of the past and Uni-Q remains a key KEF differentiator today.