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Kef Innovation

KEF was founded on innovation and new technology. We are recognised in the history of loudspeaker development as one of the most important contributors and a great deal of our research has been published at well respected professional institutions, including the Audio Engineering Society and the Institute of Acoustics. KEF's research legacy includes contributions from some of the greatest and most respected loudspeaker designers of the last five decades. Today, KEF are the company to beat in computer analysis of loudspeakers. The software that we use to run our analyse is also used to power eighty-five percent of the world's supercomputers. We strive always to better understand the instruments that we design and manufacture.

Uni-Q®

Of the many landmark innovations KEF has pioneered, arguably the greatest of all is the Uni-Q point source driver array, with its outstanding acoustic clarity and off-axis dispersion. With over twenty years of continuous innovation and development the Uni-Q driver array achieves a level of sound quality over a broad area simply not achieved from conventional speakers.

With Uni-Q, sounds come at you so naturally that it seems as if the musicians or actors are actually there in front of you. Whether you are in the centre of the room or off to one side, recordings sound uncannily real and utterly convincing. Uni-Q achieves this because, unlike conventional speakers, the sound that is critical to the experience comes from the same point in space, and is produced in a controlled and continuous way over the whole audio range.

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.

Always innovating

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.

Generation 1

1988

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 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.

Generation 2

1989

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.

Generation 3

1994

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.

Generation 4

1997

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.

Generation 5

2001

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.

Generation 6

2006

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.

Generation 7

2006

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.

Generation 8

2007

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.

Generation 9

2009

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.

Generation 10

2010

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.

Generation 11

2014

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.

Generation 12

2018

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.

Generation 13

2020

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.

  • 1988
  • 1989
  • 1994
  • 1997
  • 2001
  • 2006
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2014
  • 2018
  • 2020

Uni-CoreTM

 

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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.

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METAMATERIAL ABSORPTION TECHNOLOGY

REVOLUTIONARY SOUND ABSORPTION

UNI-CORE

REDEFINES SIZE
VERSUS PERFORMANCE

KEF’s innovative, patent-pending Uni-Core™ technology redefines the physical space high-performance speakers and subwoofers required to deliver deep and accurate bass. Through exceptional engineering and creativity, KEF’s engineers have revolutionised the traditional force cancelling arrangement with a Uni-Core™ design that delivers deeper bass from ultra-compact cabinets.

MAXIMISES BASS,
MINIMISES SPACE

The innovative Uni-Core™ system overcomes the performance compromises when placing force cancelling drivers into a smaller cabinet. Uni-Core™ combines both back-to-back drivers into a single motor system. The overlapping, concentrically arranged voice coils allows for far more driver excursion than in other force cancelling design, unlocking more output and depth from less space.

METAMATERIAL ABSORPTION TECHNOLOGY

Revolutionary sound absorption

UNI-CORE

REDEFINES SIZE
VERSUS PERFORMANCE

KEF’s innovative, patent-pending Uni-Core™ technology redefines the physical space high-performance speakers and subwoofers required to deliver deep and accurate bass. Through exceptional engineering and creativity, KEF’s engineers have revolutionised the traditional force cancelling arrangement with a Uni-Core™ design that delivers deeper bass from ultra-compact cabinets.

MAXIMISES BASS,
MINIMISES SPACE

The innovative Uni-Core™ system overcomes the performance compromises when placing force cancelling drivers into a smaller cabinet. Uni-Core™ combines both back-to-back drivers into a single motor system. The overlapping, concentrically arranged voice coils allows for far more driver excursion than in other force cancelling design, unlocking more output and depth from less space.

Ultra wide dispersion

Whether you are in the centre of the room or off to one side, recordings sound uncannily real and utterly convincing.

As a listener moves away from the main axis, the output of the treble unit falls off at approximately the same rate as that of the bass unit, thus improving the uniformity of tonal balance across the listening area, and improving the off-axis stereo imaging.

Unparalleled audio quality

Sound must come at you so naturally that it seems as if the musicians or actors are actually there in front of you. Whether you are in the centre of the room or off to one side, recordings sound uncannily real and utterly convincing. Sound that is critical to the experience comes from the same point in space, and is produced in a controlled and continuous way over the whole audio range.

KEF’s Music integrity engineTM

Bespoke Digital Signal Processing that helps the speakers deliver transparent bass with great extension, while reducing distortion. So you can fill your room with rich, full-bodied sound.

Shadow flare

Shadow Flare is an innovative method of reducing harmful cabinet diffraction for delicate high-frequencies. Shadow Flare is a carefully profiled transition surface which extends the waveguide effect of Uni-Q.

single apparent sourceTM

High-performance sound reproduction requires the drivers of a multi-way loudspeaker to generate very similar individual sound fields, especially at the crossover frequencies where the acoustic output switches from one driver to another. KEF's Single Apparent Source technology allows this ideal to be achieved over the entire frequency range.

The bass drivers are placed on both sides of the loudspeaker in force-cancelling pairs, thus forming a compact symmetrical group centered around the Uni-Q driver array. This way their combined acoustic centre can be arranged to coincide with those of the midrange and tweeter drivers. KEF's Single Apparent Source technology perfectly complements the characteristics of the Uni-Q driver array to deliver unrivalled coherence throughout the frequency range.

constrained
layer damping

This system utilises internal braces joined by a ‘lossy’ interface and is highly effective at dissipating unwanted vibrations that would otherwise artificially change the sound and music.

constrained
layer damping

This system utilises internal braces joined by a ‘lossy’ interface and is highly effective at dissipating unwanted vibrations that would otherwise artificially change the sound and music.

Flexible Ports

When it comes to generating deep, articulate bass, port design is crucial. Using computational fluid dynamics, the flare and profile of each port is calculated to delay the onset of turbulence, while the flexible port walls prevent longitudinal resonances from colouring the midrange.

Low profile driver

KEF's low profile driver technology has been developed to meet the demand for ultra-shallow loudspeakers that can physically match the new generation of LED and OLED televisions and displays. The key to achieving this is the ability to reduce the bass driver depth from a typical 70mm down to less than 30mm, without sacrificing acoustic performance.

IBX

This Intelligent Bass Extension algorithm creates an extended depth that unlocks the full potential of the custom driver. Giving you unparalleled precision and ultimate synchronicity between amplifier, driver and sealed cabinet.

P-FLEX (AKA ORIGAMI SURROUND)

The P-Flex driver surround has a unique pleated design inspired by Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, engineered to better resist the acoustic pressure in the cabinet to allow the driver to move more precisely compared to traditional surround designs. The result is deeper bass extension and a more accurate and detailed bass reproduction.

Selecta-mount

Obviously not all loudspeakers can be placed wherever the user wants due to space constraints or the inflexibility of interior design schemes. Typical freestanding loudspeakers can suffer from unwanted 'boundary effects' when wall-mounted, which leads to 'bass coloration' and an unnatural midrange response. Conversely, loudspeakers designed specifically for wall mounting can sound 'thin' and 'lightweight' when positioned in free space.

KEF's innovative Selecta-mount system uses a clever internal connecting system to automatically adjust the crossover depending on how the loudspeaker is mounted, gives you the freedom to place the loudspeakers wherever you want and still enjoy great sound.

Obtaining good bass performance from small speaker boxes has always been the 'holy grail' of loudspeaker design. Typically a small box will have less bass performance than a larger one. However, after years of research KEF has overcome this problem with the development of Acoustic Compliance Enhancement (ACE), where activated charcoal, just like in a water filter, is placed inside the loudspeaker cabinet.

Tiny holes in the porous ACE material act like the small air sacks in a lung by absorbing and giving out air molecules as the drive unit moves in and out. This helps the bass driver 'breathe' more easily allowing improved bass performance. In fact, a speaker using ACE technology can have the same bass performance as a conventional speaker of twice the size.