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KEF blew us away last year with the original version of the KHT2005.3, which punched above its weight with the sort of scintillating sound performance you'd expect from a more expensive system.
To widen the appeal of this 5.1 package even further, KEF has given it a subtle refresh for 2009 by replacing the KUBE-2 subwoofer (itself a new addition last time) with the more affordable KUBE-1 - hence the K1 part of the model number. In theory this should make it a more affordable option, but with the same suggested retail price as the original (and similar online prices) it really comes down to which subwoofer you prefer.
Both are similar in appearance but there are some differences in spec that could make all the difference to performance. The KUBE-1 features a built-in 150W class-D amplifier with a maximum output of 108dB, whereas the KUBE-2 offers 200W with 112dB output. KUBE-1 dips down to a frequency of 38Hz, compared with KUBE-2's 35Hz, and from a physical perspective the KUBE-1 is slightly smaller and uses smaller long-throw/bass reflex drivers (200mm compared with 250mm).
KUBE-1 is also one of the most attractive subwoofers we've seen. Cute and compact, it won't take up much floor space, plus its gloss-black top section and cloth covered sides turn a plain black box into a work of art. Build quality is also impressive - you'll find rubber feet on the bottom to minimise vibration and the sealed cabinet is strong and sturdy.
The rest of the speaker line-up comprises four HTS2001.3 speakers for the fronts and rears and an HTC2001.3 centre channel, which look every bit as stunning as we remember. Dressed in a fashionable gloss-black finish with a distinctive 'egg' shape, these bookshelf style speakers are effortlessly elegant, and in your hands you can feel their exceptional build quality straight away.
Also pleasing is the multi-directional base that lets you tilt and turn each speaker to achieve the most precise surround soundstage. They can also be wall-mounted or placed on optional stands.
Inside each satellite speaker is a cast aluminium enclosure, which houses KEF's celebrated 100mm Uni-Q driver array and 19mm metal dome tweeters. If you're not familiar with Uni-Q, it places the tweeter in the middle of the bass/midrange cone and fires out a single stream of sound that can be heard from anywhere in the room without the need for you to sit in the ‘sweet spot'.
Each one is magnetically shielded and handles up to 100W of power, while on the back are silver-plated binding posts that feel firm and robust.