Reference series performance for a fraction of the cost? Sounds too good to be true? We take a look at the KEF R900 loudspeakers to see if that bold statement really *is* true.
We all aspire to a manufacturer’s flagship range; the ‘halo’ products which build the reputation and legend around which a brand, succeeds or fails. As with any flagship product though, there’s always one significant factor which gets in the way – cost.
KEF’s flagship, for over 30 years, has been the Reference Series; a range of speakers designed without engineering compromise to be the very best in their field. In the interest of declaring writer bias, I grew up listening to KEF Reference series speakers and recently added a pair to my own collection.
Getting back on track, however, this *isn’t* a Blog about the Reference Series; today we’re looking at the flagship of the KEF R Series, the R900. KEF’s R series aims to make “genuine audiophile standards of entertainment more affordable than ever before“.
The KEF R900 – Reference Performance on a Budget?
The KEF R900 is, as we’ve already ascertained, the range-topping model of KEF’s R Series loudspeaker range. The R series range comprises everything from bookshelf speakers to subwoofers. For a reminder, check out The Audio Affair Blog from 2016, which gives a good overview of the R-Series range.
It’s become something of a modern cliche to talk about the effect of ‘technology trickle down’, yet in the case of KEF’s R Series, that’s a very genuine factor. KEF’s Reference Series, are hand made in the UK, whereas the R Series utilises more cost efficient, globally sourced manufacturing methods. What the Reference Series pioneers today, the other speakers in the KEF range benefit from tomorrow. So it is with the KEF R900…
High-End Performance – High-End Technology
The Kef R900 series utilises many of the same technologies and research utilised in the flagship Reference series. Perhaps the most obviously notable are the use of KEF’s acclaimed ‘Uni-Q’ technology.
One of KEF’s signature technologies, since the 1990s, has been their ‘Uni-Q’ driver technology. Uni-Q combines the tweeter and mid-range unit into one combined unit, to create a single point source driver. Single point source drivers offer a number of advantages, most notable being exceptional time-alignment and matched directivity. Putting it simply – they sound great wherever you sit in the room.
The single Uni-Q driver is coupled to a pair of 8″ Woofers, which, like the Uni-Q driver, also makes use of aluminium for the cone material. The drivers are positioned in a D’appolito arrangement, which, coupled to the Uni-Q driver should once again ensure exceptional time alignment.
Don’t for one minute think, that just because the R series is the ‘affordable’ Audiophile range, that the cabinetry has taken a backseat. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As they say, “A picture says a thousand words”, and in this case, it’s clear to see that KEF’s designers have bestowed upon the KEF R900 a speaker cabinet of exceptional design. Close attention has been paid regarding the internal geometry of the baffles and ports to ensure that the enclosure is free from resonance, colouration and port noise.
The cold hard stats? A loudspeaker with a flat and wide frequency bandwidth of 40-28kHz with only +/- 3db of deviation, a very respectable 90db sensitivity with just 0.4% harmonic distortion.
As the old saying goes, “You only get what you pay for”. With the KEF R900 Loudspeakers, you get MUCH more.