KEF Blade 2 loudspeakers, reviewed and rated: how do KEF’s unique and eye-catching Blade 2 speakers perform under sonic scrutiny?
KEF: one of the undisputed “power brands” within the Hi-Fi world, and progenitor of some of the greatest loudspeaker designs of the last 50 years. Always innovative, and always impressive, the KEF Blade 2 continues that great legacy.
As part of our review on the excellent Devialet Expert Pro amplifiers, we used the KEF Blade 2 loudspeakers as our reference point. It seemed fitting that we reported back on the performance of these excellent loudspeakers…
KEF Blade 2
The KEF Blade 2 fits rather neatly between KEF’s hugely successful LS50 loudspeakers and their leviathon flagship Blade loudspeakers. What all of these models have in common, is the signature KEF Uni-Q loudspeaker driver, with the now famous “tangerine waveguide”.
KEF’s Uni Q driver came about after a request for a laboratory grade reference driver for measurements and scientific testing. There are strong parallels between the Uni-Q and the original Tannoy Monitor loudspeaker in this respect.
Both the Uni-Q and the Tannoy Dual Concentric are “single point source” speaker drivers and were both originally developed to provide outstanding directional imaging and a truly transparent presentation.
Where the two differ perhaps is in execution; Tannoy’s current GR series is very much a traditional loudspeaker born from a heritage background. In contrast, the KEF Blade and LS50 speakers are unashamedly modern and futurist which is borne out in their aesthetics and sonic signature.
The KEF Blade 2 loudspeakers are like no other floor standing speakers this reviewer has seen before. Standing tall and narrow, with the signature Uni-Q driver sitting proudly up front as a focal point. The futuristic, composite, blade-shaped cabinets, also house four low-frequency drivers placed on the side of the cabinet.
With an aesthetic which is both tech-driven and modernist, yet also rather organic and natural, the KEF Blade 2 will certainly be a talking point in any room. Available in a range of colours from a subdued black through to eye-catching gloss shades, one can personalise the Blade 2 to your own taste.
Even the most arresting of aesthetics and industrial design won’t make up for a lacklustre audio experience, however. It was time to dispense with aesthetic judgements, turn up the volume and see what the KEF Blade 2 is really all about…
A Highly Competent Performer
The audio chain for these tests was provided by the remarkable Devialet Expert Pro 220 integrate DAC amplifier streaming music from an iPad via ROON. First up is Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker; the opening choir displays a nice width in the soundstage, and as the bass guitar and percussion enter, it’s clear these are speakers which don’t lack depth or confidence in their presentation.
As Cohen’s vocal enters, there’s incredible low-mid presence; Cohen’s aged characterful voice presented with force and depth which shudders the couch. By the same token, the speakers remain composed and controlled; it’s a confident start.
Switching over to MUSE’s New Born from Origin of Symmetry, it’s time to step up a gear and really see what the KEF Blade’s are capable of. This is a harmonically complex mix which could easily upset the balance of less composed loudspeakers.
As one would expect of a Uni-Q equipped loudspeaker, HF detail is superb; the hi-hats and cymbals in the opener are beautifully defined within the soundstage and appear crisp and lively without being harsh or intrusive.
As the full band enters, the dynamic capabilities of the KEF Blade 2’s shine; there’s a full and defined bandwidth with everything sitting pretty much as one would expect. Even with a fairly busy mix such as this, the vocal is clearly defined and intelligible, even against the glorious onslaught of MUSE’s distorted guitars and growling bass guitar.
Loading up Hans Zimmer’s score for Interstellar revealed another aspect to the Blade 2’s personality. The opening thunderclaps and ambient noises of the score were so real, your reviewer found himself looking out of the window to see if it had in fact begun raining!
As the organ swells rise, the sense of dynamics and scaling are noteworthy; once again the Blade’s low-frequency performance is deeply impressive. Strings are smooth, silky and wide with the atmospheric additions to Zimmer’s score presented confidently in the soundstage.
The overall impression is one of a very modern take on the classic KEF sound; there are restraint and class in the presentation, with nothing being overly forceful, brash, or shouty. By the same token, however, the KEF Blade 2 loudspeakers are only ever a twist of the volume knob away from being able to completely immerse you in the music you’re listening to.
If you’re looking for something which offers a little more scale than the KEF LS50, a loudspeaker of uncompromising modernity and style, and value transparency and neutrality in your loudspeakers, then the KEF Blade 2 loudspeakers are hugely deserving of your time.