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

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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. We've also brought together the best Black Friday deals on each. Enjoy!

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF LS50 Meta

(Image credit: KEF)

1. KEF LS50 Meta

These standmounters set new standards at the price.

Specifications
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 2021 What Hi_Fi? Award-winning 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. The best KEF speakers you can buy right now.

Read the full KEF LS50 Meta review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF LSX

(Image credit: KEF)

2. KEF LSX

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

Specifications
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.

Specifications
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: some of the best KEF speakers around.

Specifications
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. Superb.

Read the full KEF R3 review

Best KEF speakers 2021: KEF LS50 Wireless

(Image credit: KEF)

5. KEF LS50 Wireless

Not just some of the best KEF speakers, one of the best all-in-one streaming hi-fi systems.

Specifications
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.

Specifications
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

The KEF R5 are impeccably built with a sleek design and a bunch of innovative features – a lot of work has evidently gone into making them what they are. You 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.

Specifications
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, and some of the best KEF speakers going.

Specifications
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+Versatile
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

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.