I spent the evening at KEF’s new Music Gallery and it was hi-fi and home cinema heaven

KEF Muon speakers next to a projector screen
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Is it a cafe? Is it a shop? Is it an exhibition space? After spending an hour or two in KEF’s new Music Gallery, it’s clear it’s all of the above and a whole lot more…

KEF Music Gallery London joins the KEF Music Gallery Hong Kong and KEF Music Gallery Tokyo in the brand’s portfolio. KEF wants a permanent spot in London to share its story with potential customers and to help build relationships with a wide range of partners, and believes this latest venture allows it to do that.

Grace Lo, President & Head of Global Marketing at KEF refers to it as the brand’s “permanent UK flagship experiential space. It’s important for KEF to have a real flagship destination as a British manufacturer in the UK”. 

The company acquired the space in Spring 2023, construction started in September last year and now, just days from it opening to the public, I have been invited down for an early snoop around…

LS50s all round

KEF LS50 Meta speakers mounted on a wall

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

You’ll find the Music Gallery blending in with the hustle and bustle of Great Portland Street in central London. I’m standing in the spacious main gallery on the ground floor, peering up at the ceiling. Not because I’m bored, but because I’m trying to count the number of KEF LS50 Metas I can see mounted on the walls. They’re angled down like sonic spotlights, showering music onto the people below.

The speaker arrangement looks like something straight out of a London nightclub and with 10 LS50s plus eight in-ceiling speakers and subwoofers, it’s a proper Dolby Atmos configuration that could give a few venues in the city a run for their money. KEF claims it’s the first cafe/bar in London to have this kind of Atmos set-up and I’m a big fan from the off.

The space started out life as two separate stores. It was basically a huge concrete shell which KEF has designed and kitted out with the help of several partners. KEF’s no stranger to working with industrial designers and worked closely with Conran and Partners on the look of the space while KEF also worked with the Tom Dixon design studio on all the furniture and other fittings.

KEF speakers displayed on shelves

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Back to the gallery, I’m also surrounded by displays showcasing a range of KEF products, including LS50 Meta, LSX II and R3 Meta Classic. I also spot an Audio-Technica turntable which I’m told can be used to help demo the various speakers, together with a hand-assembled collection of 100 great British vinyl records. The whole space is wired for sound, with amplification for the entire site and a whopping 20,000km of cable all hidden away.

At the back of the room is a cafe (affectionately known as the Kefé) where you can buy a pastry or coffee. There’s even a catering space on site should KEF want to host any larger, private events.

Visitors are free to explore the space and, of course, you can buy any of the KEF products in the gallery. But I’m assured it’s less about the hard sell and more about opening people’s eyes to the brand. Lo says “it’s more important for the brand to showcase the possibilities” to potential (and existing customers).

KEF's studio room with TV, speakers and sound dampening material

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

One thing I notice on my stroll to the Music Gallery is there’s a fair amount of traffic noise to contend but inside the venue, I feel well isolated from it all. KEF explains this was all factored in during the design stage – to combat the noise and make sure the industrial design doesn’t affect the space’s audio, acoustic glass has been used in the door and front windows, while both the floors and walls have been acoustically treated too. I’m also directed to look up at the ceiling which is covered in a special acoustic spray to dampen internal reflections.

We’re led off to the right of the main gallery to take a look at a smaller space dubbed ‘The Studio’. It’s a multimedia room that looks like part podcast studio, part anechoic chamber. It’s a nod to the company’s actual echo chamber which you’ll find at KEF’s Maidstone HQ.

So far, so cool, but just as I start to think the guided tour has come to a close, I’m informed there’s more to the Music Gallery than meets the eye…

Rooms with a view

KEF R11 Meta speakers in a room next to a flatscreen TV

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

I’m guided down a long staircase, which KEF refers to as “the portal”. It hasn’t escaped the speaker treatment and I count 10 in the stairwell as I make the descent. KEF has enlisted the help of a sound designer to work on an object-based sound experience to immerse you as you walk down the stairs.

We turn the corner and I’m met by the focal point of the downstairs area, a stylish meeting space where KEF can host and also train and educate dealers, distributors and installers on the brand. Walking to the end of the room, I see KEF’s first demo room. Called ‘the living room’, it’s a relaxing area which has purposely been given the feel of a high-end residential space, complete with a large flatscreen TV and super-comfy sofa.

It can be booked out for private demos with customers able to take their pick of virtually KEF’s entire speaker range and play some of their favourite tunes.

KEF R11 Meta speakers in a room next to a flatscreen TV

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The Dolby Atmos theme from upstairs continues down here too, and the room is fitted with a 7.1.4 set-up which includes in-wall speakers. And, the way the room has been wired means you can switch from in-wall to in-room speakers in just a few seconds.

We start with a demo of Layla by Eric Clapton through KEF’s striking R11 Meta floorstanders before moving on to Never Enough from The Greatest Showman which is streamed from a Kaleidescape server through the surround system. It’s suitably impressive with plenty of scale and musicality. KEF has used some panels made with acoustic wadding at the front of the room and solid panels at the back of the room so it doesn’t sound too dead.

How many subwoofers?

KEF Muon speakers next to a projector screen

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

And there’s more. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more impressed, KEF leads us to the ‘ultimate experience room’. I walk through a sliding door to be greeted by the company’s stunning £180,000 Muon floorstanders. I’ve seen a few high-end speakers in my time, but the curved, aluminium-clad Muon look mighty impressive in the flesh.

They’re such imposing figures you almost forget there are other speakers in the room.  Similar to the living room space, it’s configured for hi-fi and home cinema and features a 9.14.4 Atmos set-up. No, that’s not a typo. There are 14 KEF KC92 subwoofers running in two, seven-sub arrays via the system’s Trinnov processor. So, including the Muons, that’s 29 speakers in total.

I hear the same Eric Clapton track from the living room and it’s quite a jump, both in terms of scale and sense of occasion. Across the board you can tell this system is on a whole other level. I'm also given a blast of Top Gun: Maverick, watching on the Stewart screen via the room’s high-end Sony projector. It looks great, but the sense of scale, drama and dynamics from the speakers is something else, especially when observed from my front-row spot.

KEF Music Gallery sign on a wall

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Time’s getting on, but I’m trying to think of excuses to stay – I haven’t experienced many places like this apart from a couple of extremely high-end retailers in the Far East. It’s the chilled vibe of the Gallery which I think is it’s greatest asset. AV shops shouldn’t be intimidating and I think KEF has done a great job of blurring everything into an experience that I think a lot of people would enjoy and potentially buy into. 

If you’re thinking of dropping by or if you’re ever in the area, the store element including the listening rooms are open Tues – Sat, 10am-6pm and with the rooms available for pre-booked demos. The main gallery space on the ground floor is open Monday – Saturday with the café available from Mon-Fri 8am-6pm.


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Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.

  • Richard Brand
    Looks like a must-visit next time I am in London! A long round-trip from Sydney but not as far as 20,000-km of cable would stretch! Or should that have been a more believable 20,000-m or 20-km?

    I use a pair of KEF Reference 1 speakers as main speakers in an Atmos set up which doubles as a music system - stunningly good sound quality ...