Best KEF speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best KEF speakers you can buy in 2021.
KEF is one of the finest purveyors of British hi-fi, with an illustrious heritage that stretches back more than 50 years. It's had a few ups and downs in that time, but hasn't lost its talent for engineering classy, superb-sounding speakers.
Most of KEF's speakers feature the firm's innovative Uni-Q driver. Rather than having a separately mounted tweeter and midrange driver, the tweeter is set into the centre of the mid. A simple idea – but it's what sets the company apart from the pack.
More importantly, KEF has kept pace with the times and diversified into wireless speakers, including Bluetooth desktop speakers and wireless all-in-one streaming systems such as the magnificent LSX (below).
With more choice than ever, you might be wondering where to start. The good news is that we've done the legwork and rounded up the very best that KEF has to offer.
The KEF LS50 Metas don’t look any different from the LS50s, and in many ways they aren’t. The company considered revising that beautifully made enclosure but concluded that little could be improved.
The one area ripe for improvement was the LS50’s Uni-Q driver array, where the tweeter sits in the throat of the mid/bass unit. This has been thoroughly reworked, taking in all the refinements that KEF has developed over the past eight years and adding something new in the form of Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) – KEF’s way of coping with the sound that comes off the back of the 25mm aluminium tweeter dome.
It doesn’t take long to realise that the LS50s have improved significantly. While the basic sonic character is instantly familiar, the new ones have gained a level of clarity and finesse the originals only hinted at.
Read the full review: KEF LS50 Meta
Despite their dinky proportions, these active bookshelf speakers wowed us with their accomplished, expressive and full-bodied sound. There’s much more to them than just sonic supremacy, though, as they double as a wireless all-in-one system capable of handling hi-res files up to 24-bit/192KHz.
They might look like they've been zapped with a shrink ray when compared to the LS50 Wireless speakers, their older sibling, but they're no less impressive. Blessed with Uni-Q drivers, 200W Class-D amplification and a choice of stylish colours that would put Farrow & Ball to shame, these come top of KEF's class.
Read the full review: KEF LSX
Looking for the best sub-£500 standmount speakers? You're in the right place. Redesigned to reduce distortion and improve performance, the updated Q350s now offer a winning combination of sleek, sophisticated looks and stunning presence.
The sturdy, beautifully-crafted cabinets come in a choice of black or white satin finishes, accented with black or silver Uni-Q drivers. What the the Q350s lack in punch, they more than make up for in clarity, depth and composure. If they're within your budget, these are a no-brainer.
Read the full review: KEF Q350
The R3s won our stamp of approval back in 2018 thanks to their exceptional level of detail and insight. You’ll find them sonically balanced and extremely capable. In fact, we think they deliver a big chunk of the performance of the pricer R1s – but at a fraction of the cost.
They're brilliant all-rounders and pair well with almost any system; give them a decent feed and you’ll discover that they put most sub-£2000 competitors to shame. Well-engineered, outstanding value for money and darn stylish to boot.
Read the full review: KEF R3
This impressive all-in-one streaming music system is a bigger, more powerful take on the KEF LSX. Sound quality is nothing short of masterful, delivering effortless clarity and plenty of maturity – especially when it comes to tricky dynamic shifts.
They might be built for the digital age, but KEF hasn’t abandoned its hi-fi pedigree, so you can expect a good array of analogue inputs. Like most wireless active speakers, these aren't truly ‘wireless’: both the master and slave speaker need to be plugged into the mains, with a cable run between the two. But that's a small price to pay for this level of performance in a sleek, stylish package.
Read the full review: KEF LS50 Wireless
Impeccably built with sleek design and a bunch of innovative features, there is evidently a lot of work gone into making the KEF R5. You'll get two bass drivers top and tailing the Uni-Q midrange, both paired with a tuned reflex port, so you can imagine the kind of heft these floorstanders can deliver.
But it isn't just power the R5s have on their side. There's brilliant detail on offer and stereo imaging is superb, while those drivers all integrate wonderfully for an even and controlled presentation.
Read the full review: KEF R5
Ready to blow the budget? The Reference 1s deliver a thrilling, beautifully-layered sound that will lift and enhance almost any track. Bass is a particular highlight: refined yet punchy, it underscores KEF’s talent for balancing firepower with precision.
Some high-end speakers tend to suit a certain genre of music, but that’s not the case with the Reference 1s. They're stellar all-rounders, aren’t too demanding when it comes to positioning, and are constructed to KEF’s exacting standards. If you have a healthy bank balance, they’re worth every penny.
Read the full review: KEF Reference 1
These quirky miniature marvels are KEF's unique spin on desktop speakers. They work equally well as wireless or wired speakers, so they're a real master of all trades. And since they're kitted out with a built-in 50W amplifier, they have the necessary oomph to upgrade the sound of your laptop or TV.
When it comes to sound dispersion, the Eggs are no yolk, projecting a surprisingly lively and immersive soundstage. Assuming that their retro, "1960s sci-fi film prop" looks don't scramble you brain, the Eggs are a cracking buy.
Read the full review: KEF Egg