It was a worthy setting that GP Acoustics GmbH chose for the first presentation of the high-end KEF Blade Two Meta and KEF REFERENCE 5 Meta speaker systems, namely the Spreespeicher in Berlin.
But now the much-cited light at the end of the tunnel can actually be seen, the mood is beginning to turn increasingly positive and the general situation is finally allowing a little normality to be brought into everyday business, which of course also includes direct meetings of the industry. GP Acoustics GmbH took advantage of this to provide a fitting setting for the presentation of the new reference-class solutions from KEF, which were announced for the first time in recent weeks. First of all, the specialist trade and subsequently also media representatives were invited to Berlin, where, in cooperation with the agency macheete | Büro für PR & Digitales, one of the hottest event locations of the German metropolis on the Spree was chosen, the historic Spreespeicher in the Osthafen with a direct view of the famous Oberbaumbrücke.
Coming through the crisis well
However, before the latest KEF loudspeaker systems were presented, Michael Magnutzki, General Manager of GP Acoustics GmbH and responsible for KEF sales in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, gave a very positive review of the last two years.
In view of the circumstances and the general situation on the market, it is quite remarkable that KEF has been able to achieve strong growth in the DACH region. Michael Magnutzki was proud to announce that the growth for the last two years was no less than 46 percent.
Active loudspeaker systems are gaining in importance
It was particularly remarkable that the company was able to react perfectly to the changing demands of the market, because it had recognised early on that the development was shifting away from the classic passive loudspeaker system towards active, highly integrated solutions. The fact that the share of active loudspeaker systems has more than doubled in recent years is clear evidence of this development, and we can expect a lot more exciting innovations from KEF.
High degree of independence through in-house production
According to GP Acoustics GmbH, one of the main reasons why KEF has been able to sail through the crisis of the last two years with such confidence is the high degree of independence that has characterised the KEF brand for years. With a few exceptions, KEF is largely independent and can therefore react more quickly and effectively to developments on the market, as well as better compensate for certain problems facing the industry as a whole.
This also means that the company is less affected by delivery problems, which affect many competitors on the market, and can guarantee comparatively fast availability of goods across the entire product portfolio.
Deepening Brand Affiliation
Building on the success of the last few years, GP Acoustics GmbH has set itself the goal for this year in particular of establishing the KEF brand among an even broader range of customers. Not least, the 60th anniversary of the KEF brand already mentioned in the introduction is a very good approach to this, even if it can only be celebrated this year – retrospectively – in a fitting manner.
From the point of view of GP Acoustics GmbH, a very important point is the presentation in the specialised trade, so that the company wants to actively support its partners.
GP Acoustics has developed a series of solutions that will be offered specifically to those dealers who are KEF Reference Partners and offer products ranging from the KEF REFERENCE Series to the KEF Blade Series. Michael Magnutzki quite rightly drew a comparison with other products in the luxury segment, which also benefit significantly from an appropriate presentation.
To give an idea of what GP Acoustics GmbH is planning in this direction, Michael Magnutzki presented, for example, specially branded acoustic absorbers or carpets that can be used as perfect accessories in listening studios of specialist dealers around the reference solutions of the KEF brand.
According to the General Manager of GP Acoustics GmbH, the partnership concluded last July between KEF and Lotus Cars for solutions in the automotive segment should also be understood under this aspect of deepening brand affiliation. A company has been deliberately chosen that fits the high quality standards and the image of a leading British company in the luxury segment adequately to the KEF brand.
KEF also wants to give its customers the feeling that they have purchased something truly exceptional and particularly exquisite in the high-end segment. For example, Michael Magnutzki presented the Welcome Pack Presentation Box, which customers receive after registering their KEF REFERENCE Series or KEF Blade Series loudspeaker systems. It contains various goodies that are intended to express the manufacturer’s appreciation of its customers, yes, a little true to the saying “Small gifts keep friendships alive”.
KEF REFERENCE Series and KEF Blade Series in the latest generation
The next step was to delve into the technical details of the latest generation of the KEF REFERENCE Series and KEF Blade Series. Frank Eschholz, Product Manager at GP Acoustics GmbH for KEF, Arcam and Hegel, did not miss this presentation.
He explained in detail the innovations of these two product lines, but not without going into the history of the KEF REFERENCE Series, which, as is well known, stretches back over many decades, almost to the beginnings of the English loudspeaker specialist.
The reason for the name is that the company’s founder Raymond Cooke wanted to create a loudspeaker series that would actually serve as a reference, so that each loudspeaker would have exactly the characteristics that were expected and could thus function as an unmistakable tool.
In keeping with this goal, KEF has always relied on the latest developments for this product line, especially since KEF sees itself as a technology-driven company, and is even considered the first company in the industry to have relied on state-of-the-art computer-aided calculations and simulations in the development of loudspeaker systems since the 1970s.
KEF Uni-Q 12th generation chassis with KEF MAT
The new KEF THE REFERENCE Series and the new KEF Blade One and KEF Blade Two are all about the latest KEF Uni-Q drivers with KEF Metamaterial Absorption Technology. This has been known since the announcement of the new models in mid-February 2022, but Frank Eschholz naturally paid special tribute to it.
The technology, developed together with the specialist Acoustic Metamaterials Group, is nothing less than a milestone in loudspeaker development in general, bringing performance quality to a whole new level. This has already been demonstrated in the KEF LS50 Meta and KEF LS50 Wireless II models.
Just as with these two solutions in the compact segment, KEF MAT is now set to set new standards in the “big” KEF product portfolio, in the form of the KEF Blade Two Meta, KEF Blade One Meta, and the solutions of the new KEF THE REFERENCE Series and its five models KEF REFERENCE 1 Meta, KEF REFERENCE 2 Meta, KEF REFERENCE 3 Meta, KEF REFERENCE 4 Meta and KEF REFERENCE 5 Meta.
To underline KEF’s secret of success, namely the high degree of independence in development and production, Frank Eschholz once again pointed out that all models of the KEF THE REFERENCE Series with KEF MAT and the KEF Blade One Meta as well as KEF Blade Two Meta models are exclusively handcrafted in the company’s factory in Maidstone, England, by employees with many years of experience and, as was particularly emphasised, the greatest enthusiasm for their work. By the way, each loudspeaker system is completely manufactured here by one employee.
The final part of the event, dedicated purely to entertainment, was once again the responsibility of Johan Coorg, the man who has been a brand ambassador for KEF for years and who is always able to convince with his witty presentations.
Johan Coorg also emphasised several times that he was always fascinated by the fact that KEF employees do not see their work as a mere job, but go about their work with enormous passion. This is reflected in every loudspeaker system that leaves the company.
And to back this up, he presented the KEF Blade Two Meta as well as the KEF REFERENCE 5 Meta, first of all, of course, with particularly audiophile delicacies to give a first impression of their sound potential. However, Johan Coorg, in his typical nonchalance, demonstrated that the loudspeaker systems should, above all, be fun with a playlist that was quite unusual for such occasions, including tracks from the hottest clubs in London.
But also during the musical performance, the technical features of the loudspeaker systems were discussed again and again, whereby Johan Coorg received active support from David Bosch, Research & Development Engineer at KEF in Maidstone.
KEF Blade Two Meta and KEF REFERENCE 5 Meta – A first impression
It goes without saying that a presentation of this kind can only give a first impression, and certainly not an all-embracing test result. However, and this is the really remarkable thing, both loudspeaker systems were already convincing in an acoustically demanding environment, such as a room designed for presentations and events of various kinds, with an excellent performance that ultimately lacked nothing.
Driven by fine electronics from Norway, specifically a stereo integrated amplifier from Hegel Music Systems, namely the Hegel H590 Reference Integrated Amplifier, the KEF Blade Two Meta and KEF REFERENCE 5 Meta solutions presented themselves as truly outstanding solutions that actually have the potential to set new standards in their respective classes.
For a detailed description of the loudspeaker systems, we refer you to the corresponding specials that we already offer online for the KEF THE REFERENCE Series with KEF Metamaterial Absorption Technology as well as the KEF Blade One Meta or KEF Blade Two Meta.
Getting to the point
Even though we would not allow ourselves to make an all-encompassing judgement based on our first listening impression of the new KEF Blade Two Meta and the top model of the latest generation of KEF THE REFERENCE Series, the KEF REFERENCE 5 Meta, we can nevertheless state that truly outstanding solutions are offered here that have the potential to set new standards in their respective segments. From our point of view, the most remarkable thing is that KEF’s developers have once again succeeded in raising first-class solutions with state-of-the-art technology to a completely new level of quality. Even if the latest models in both the KEF Blade Series and KEF THE REFERENCE Series can only be recognised at second glance by some of the details, the listening impression clearly reveals that there is a world of difference between the previous solutions and those of the latest generation. So when the loudspeaker specialist KEF speaks of an evolution, one can certainly speak of a revolution in terms of sound quality.