What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 11 Oct 2012, 3:42pm

KEF R100 5.1

Tested at £2850
100100
5

Best traditional package £2500-£3500, Awards 2013. It looks gorgeous and it sounds fantastic – what more could you want?

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For

  • Great scale and fluid dynamics
  • seamless integration
  • excellent definition
  • expressive midrange
  • cohesive and engaging sound

Against

  • You’ll need to budget for stands

We raved about the KEF R100 speakers when we first tested them, so we couldn’t wait to get our hands on a cinema system assembled from the rest of KEF’s R Series.

First things first. The KEF R100 5.1 system is made up of two identical pairs of R100 speakers for the front and rear channels, a R200c centre channel, and a R400b subwoofer.

MORE: Awards 2013

The construction of each speaker unit demands a closer look, thanks to KEF’s distinctive Uni-Q driver arrangement. The R100 standmounters each contain a 25mm aluminium dome tweeter, using refinements borrowed from KEF’s state-of-the-art Blade speakers, sitting at the centre of a new 12.5cm magnesium/aluminium alloy mid/bass driver.

The centre speaker is a three-way design with the same Uni-Q tweeter/mid driver (with a slightly different surround) in the middle, flanked by two 13cm bass drivers. Twin 250W Class D amps power the subwoofer’s side-firing 22.5cm drivers.
 
KEF R100 5.1: Sound quality
And the effect is astounding. We’ve watched J J Abrams’ Star Trek a few dozen times, but played through this system the movie felt fresh and exciting all over again.

The first thing you’ll notice is the incredible scale of this package. That tweeter is a key ingredient to the sound. The vented design aims to disperse the higher frequencies evenly across the room, which results in a wide and unified soundfield.

The KEFs are relatively compact, but deliver heaps of easy dynamics that fill our generously sized listening room. Play the Romulan attack scene and you’ll be amazed at the system’s ability to convey the movement of such large objects moving in the vastness of space to such a impressive degree.

KEF R100 5.1

It’s not just show-stopping explosions that get all the attention. It’s an immersive experience no matter what the scene: every sound effect can be easily tracked across a spacious and detailed soundstage.

Integration is stunning across the front channels, with all three working as if a single entity. Dialogue is crisp and clear, with a startling directness.

KEF R100 5.1: Subwoofer
The compact sub is a key element, delivering precision and punch to all sorts of impactful effects. More impressively, it maintains that steady hum of the ship’s engines without ever being obtrusive.

We can’t end without mentioning the KEF system’s looks: in short, it’s stunning. The entire system has a sleek and clean design, with magnetic grilles negating the need for any unsightly fascia holes.

The cabinets are sturdy and feel like high-end quality constructions that belie their price tag. The ‘tangerine’ tweeter looks shiny enough, and we rather love the high gloss piano white finish. Other equally good-looking finishes include glossy piano black, rosewood or walnut veneers.

KEF R100 5.1: Verdict
We’re struggling to find any fault with this system: the fact that you’ll need to spend extra money on quality speaker stands is the only thing that comes to mind, and that just goes to show how impressive this KEF speaker package really is.

Is it worth every penny of its asking price? Without a doubt.

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