KEF C3 review

Given KEF’s track record, we expected much better – these C3s are a real disappointment Tested at £180.00

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Given KEF’s track record, we expected much better – these C3s are a real disappointment

For

  • Very little indeed

Against

  • Lack the detail, dynamics and finesse of the class leaders

We have to say we're disappointed. KEF has such a great tradition of building top-class speakers that when it produces a poor one it's a bit of a shock.

But, make no mistake the C3s are poor. They cost £180, but have the air of something that costs only half as much. Up against top class (and similarly priced) rivals from the likes of Monitor Audio and Dali they look out of their league. Take a listen and that's how they sound, too.

Dynamics, detail, finesse – you name it and the C3s fall far short of the high fliers at this price point. They even struggle against far cheaper contenders like Tannoy's £110 F1 Customs.

That's not how things start, however. Initial listening suggests a rather better outcome: these are bold-sounding speakers with a direct and lively presentation.

It turns out the presentation is a bit too lively, due to a metal dome tweeter that can't quite get a handle on refinement and insight. Instead, it produces a mono-tonal sound and not a lot of fine detail.

Voices lack purity

Things don't get much better down the frequency range. Voices lack purity and suffer from a lack of projection, making even distinctive voices like Van Morrison's sound barely recognisable.

Relatively weighty low frequencies (helped by the front-firing rectangular port) aren't precise either: complex basslines such as those from Massive Attack's Teardrop become a blur.

Add vague timing and inexpressive dynamics into the mix and there's more disappointment. Sure, the C3s are unfussy about positioning – they even come with an integrated wall mount plate – and they go fairly loud. But at this price level doing those things well just isn't good enough.

The best in this class are truly musical and draw the listener into the music with ease. These KEFs don't even come close.

Specifications

View All

General Information

Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.kef.com
Brand NameKEF
Product SeriesC
Product TypeSpeaker
ManufacturerKEF Audio
Manufacturer Part NumberC3
Packaged Quantity2
Product NameKEF C3
Product ModelC3

Technical Information

Minimum Frequency Response54 Hz
Crossover Type2-way
Sensitivity88 dB
RMS Output Power125 W
Impedance8 Ohm
Maximum Frequency Response40 kHz
Driver Type19.05 mm Aluminium Tweeter, 133.35 mm Woofer

Physical Characteristics

Form FactorBookshelf
Width177.8 mm
Depth254 mm
Weight Approximate4.40 kg
Height289.6 mm
ColourBlack Ash
Dimensions289.6 mm (H): 177.8 mm (W): 254 mm (D)