Once you’ve deciphered the doorstop of a manual that covers ten different system configurations in nine languages, you’ll discover that installation is a complete doddle. The DVD unit and speakers both connect to the back of the sub using one cable each, and when activated the system runs though a few basic settings. A handy onscreen calibration menu is also included, which lets you set channel levels using a white noise test tone.
The slim remote has been fashioned with the same weighty build quality as the DVD unit and is terrific to use, boasting backlit buttons that illuminate when pressed. Button placement and labelling is also thoughtful, making it a cinch to navigate the colourful and well-structured onscreen menus – all of which fits in with KEF’s ease-of-use ethos.
What better way to test the system’s audio prowess than a blast of ”The Matrix” on DVD, a movie which the KIT160 laps up like a thirsty cat. The classic lobby shoot out scene is an obvious highlight, thanks to the system’s aggressive reproduction of gunshots and the pounding score. The following scene where Neo opens fire on a skyscraper window from a helicopter will simply blow you away with its sheer visceral power.
As virtual surround sound systems go, the KIT160 is one of the best examples we’ve heard for a long time. Most impressive is the excellent centre channel reproduction, which places speech accurately between the two speakers in the centre of the screen. Surround effects, meanwhile, jump a fair distance from the speakers with remarkable clarity and clean separation.
That said, those wide-firing drivers don’t really get far enough ‘round the back’ to make us believe that this is a genuine substitute for a full 5.1 system. With the speakers placed either side of the screen, the surround effects end up half way between the seating position and the speakers. Despite this, the results are still a great deal more effective than most of the 2.1 systems we’ve tested.