KEF KHT3005SE review

Great performance, looks and build, but after two years at the top, the KEF now faces some tough competition Tested at £1000.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

It's back to £1000 and back to five stars, but the '3005SE might not be the no-brainer choice it once was


  • +

    A seamless surround field combined with a direct and focused centre channel

  • +

    deep, refined, weighty and powerful sound will fill even large rooms


  • -

    Occasional touch of tubbiness to the bass

  • -

    not quite as fast or agile as the B&W MT-25s

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This has been a favourite system of ours for years, and we can understand why KEF might have thought the '3005SE could remain so at £1200.

It might have, too, were it not for the arrival of the B&W MT-25. With £246 between them, the choice was fairly straightforward. Now the KEFs are down to £1000, it's anything but.

This system's biggest strength is its 3005 satellites, and specifically, the Uni-Q driver that resides in the centre of each one.

Stunning dispersion
It's this driver that creates the system's stunning dispersion, ensuring each speaker blends seamlessly with the next, regardless of room size or how close you're sitting to the speakers.

If this makes it sound as though the delivery might be a touch on the vague side, perish the thought. The centre speaker is a little bigger than the rest of the satellites, and it uses a pair of extra drivers to increase the clarity and directness of its midrange.

What this means is that, if you play an action scene, you get spot-on ambient noise and surround effects that are steered seamlessly around the room, but without losing any of the dialogue.

Smooth and refined
Still, although it's exciting, the KEF system doesn't quite have the attack of its B&W rival. The upside of this is that it's more smooth and refined, and refuses to be baited into harshness by even the brightest partnering kit.

The HTB2SE subwoofer goes deeper than the B&W's ASW608, too, making for a more authoritative and weighty delivery that adds extra scale to big Hollywood blockbusters.

A touch of tubbiness creeps in at times, and it's generally less agile than the dinky '608, making the system slightly less suited to music than the MT-25, but that extra depth will be ample compensation for many movie fans.

And that, in a nutshell, is what makes this such a tough test to call: each system has its strengths, each is more suited for different situations and source material.

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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, Reading 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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