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Best KEF speakers 2021: budget, premium, bookshelf and standmount

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. 

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF LS50 Meta

(Image credit: KEF)

1. KEF LS50 Meta

These standmounters set new standards at the price.


Speaker terminals: Single | Frequency response: 79-28,000Hz | Sensitivity: 85dB/W/m | Dimensions (hwd): 30.2 x 20 x 27.8cm

Reasons to Buy

Exceptional sonic transparency
Subtle and precise presentation
Innovative technology

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

The KEF LS50 Meta don’t look any different from the LS50, 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 LS50 have improved significantly. While the basic sonic character is instantly familiar, the LS50 Meta have gained a level of clarity and finesse the originals only hinted at.

Read the full KEF LS50 Meta review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF LSX

(Image credit: KEF)


A splendid, rhythmic all-in-one hi-fi system.


Driver: 11.5cm Uni-Q mid/bass with integrated 19mm aluminium dome tweeter | Features: Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX codec, Hi-res audio support | Dimensions: 24 x 15.5 x 18 cm (H x W x D)

Reasons to Buy

Class-leading insight
Extensive connectivity
Colourful design

Reasons to Avoid

Some app snaps

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 are some of the best KEF speakers around.

Read the full KEF LSX review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF Q350

(Image credit: KEF)

3. KEF Q350

Elegant, detailed and surprisingly affordable.


Driver: 16.5cm Uni-Q mid/bass with integrated 25mm aluminium dome tweeter | Features: 2-way bass reflex | Dimensions: 35.8 x 21 x 30cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy

Stunning levels of clarity and detail
Huge scale of sound
Good timing

Reasons to Avoid

Lack some punch and drive
Not best at low volumes

Looking for some of the best KEF speakers that are a) standmounters and b) affordable? You're in the right place. Redesigned to reduce distortion and improve performance, the updated Q350 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 Q350 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 KEF Q350 review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF R3

(Image credit: KEF)

4. KEF R3

Stunning sonic ability at a reasonable price.


Driver: 16.5cm bass and 12.5 Uni-Q midrange driver with integrated 25mm aluminium dome tweeter | Dimensions: 42.2 x 20 x 31.2 cm (H x W x D)

Reasons to Buy

Exceptional insight and resolution
Balanced, entertaining sound
Excellent build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

The R3 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 pricier R1 – 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 similarly-priced competitors to shame. Well-engineered, outstanding value for money and darn stylish to boot.

Read the full KEF R3 review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF LS50 Wireless

(Image credit: KEF)

5. KEF LS50 Wireless

A premium all-in-one streaming hi-fi system.


Driver: 13cm Uni-Q mid/bass driver with 25mm aluminium dome tweeter | Features: Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, Hi-res audio support | Dimensions: 30 x 20 x 30.8 cm (H x W x D)

Reasons to Buy

Great clarity
Impressive bass and dynamics
Brilliant build quality

Reasons to Avoid

Could be more usable

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 KEF LS50 Wireless review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF R5

(Image credit: KEF)

6. KEF R5

These floorstanders are classy and refined performers.


Driver: 2 x 13cm bass and 12.5cm Uni-Q mid with integrated 25mm aluminium dome tweeter | Features: Bi-wireable | Dimensions: 103 x 18 x 34cm ( H x W x D)

Reasons to Buy

Weighty and refined sound
Good detail and seamless integration
Excellent stereo imaging

Reasons to Avoid

Lack dynamic subtlety of the best

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 R5 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 KEF R5 review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF Reference 1

(Image credit: KEF)

7. KEF Reference 1

Proof that British hi-fi rocks.


Driver: 16.5cm bass and 12.5 Uni-Q mid with integrated 25 aluminium dome tweeter | Features: Three-way bass reflex | Dimensions: 44 x 20.5 x 43 cm ( H x W x D)

Reasons to Buy

Sonic authority and composure
Revealing yet unfussy nature
Impressive engineering and terrific build

Reasons to Avoid

Cost of dedicated Reference 1 stands

Ready to blow the budget? The Reference 1 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 1. 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 KEF Reference 1 review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF Egg

(Image credit: KEF)

8. KEF Egg

Egg-cellent desktop speakers.


Driver: 16.5cm Uni-Q mid/bass with integrated 25mm aluminium dome tweeter | Features: Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX | Dimensions: 27.4 x 13.6 x 17.2 cm (H x W x D)

Reasons to Buy

Very good integration
Balanced audio

Reasons to Avoid

3.5mm input could be neater

These quirky miniature marvels are KEF's unique spin on desktop speakers. They work equally well either wireless or wired, 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 your brain, the Eggs are a cracking buy.

Read the full KEF Egg review

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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