In action, the T205 is sensational. Running through our regular gamut of test discs – Inception, Hellboy II, Avatar and Iron Man 2 – the system delivers an explosive and aggressive sound that thrills in ways only previously achievable through the use of hard drugs.
We’re particularly impressed by the ferocity with which it spits out the Monaco Grand Prix scene in Iron Man 2. As drivers rev their engines on the grid, the KEFs nail the paint-stripping rasp of the engines and back it up with a bed of bass so deep and powerful you might want to stock up on Blu-Tack for your treasured ornaments.
During the race, the system doesn’t let up for a second, firing out effects with breathtaking force, whether it’s sliced-up car parts crashing to the floor, the crackle of electricity, screeching tyres or the pounding score in the background. These effects lose none of their clarity with our Onkyo amp’s volume cranked up to 75 per cent – no mean feat given the slimness of those cabinets.
And as we listened to these scenes, we always had the sense that the speakers were all singing from the same hymn sheet – there’s a seamless crossover between the sats and sub, and there’s absolutely no variation in tone as sounds are pinged between the centre, rears and fronts. The centre speaker consistently projects dialogue with remarkable clarity, but with a hint of depth that makes speech seem life-like.
Despite its unassuming appearance, the T-2 sub is actually the heart of the system. Not only can it muster dollops of powerful, punchy bass during showcase action scenes without suffocating the other speakers, but it’s also agile and subtle enough to discreetly pad out quiet scenes without you really knowing it’s there.
But the T205 is about more than flat-out muscle-flexing. During quiet passages the speakers create an immersive soundstage by filling it out with subtle details, and this is most apparent during Avatar’s frequent forest expeditions. You’re plunged into a cloud of chattering creatures, softly rustling foliage and swirling, other-worldly effects that some inferior systems struggle to reproduce with the same level of clarity. Whether it’s quiet or loud, action scene or talky bit, high-frequency reproduction is mesmerising.
Its superior power, drive and clarity are what set this system apart from cheaper speaker systems like the superb Tannoy HTS-101, which is great but not in the same league. That’s not surprising with a price tag around £1,000 dearer, but even so it’s the perfect demonstration of getting what you pay for. It also compares very well with similarly-priced systems like the Jamo D500 or the Monitor Audio Bronze, although we fancy that the Jamo’s levels of all-round depth and THX-mandated potency give it a slight edge – but with those, you don’t get the KEF’s super-sexy design. Swings and roundabouts…
With music – in this case Dolby’s The Sound of High-Definition sampler Blu-ray, Adele’s 21 on CD and a couple of Japanese jazz DVD-Audio discs – the T205 reveals KEF’s true musical colours with a smooth, neutral rendition of every track we threw at it. Voices are clean and pure, rhythms are water tight and the intricate detail handling means instruments are accompanied by the subtle sounds of the person playing them, such as breaths and nails on guitar strings. Using the front speakers as a stereo pair isn’t advisable, however, as they lose the warmth and punch afforded by the subwoofer – possibly the only time we lamented the lack of more voluminous cabinets.
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The T205’s main selling point is their chic slim-profile design, but thankfully that doesn’t mean they compromise on sound quality. Far from it. They deliver an astonishingly potent sound, which is a remarkable feat from such slim enclosures, plus the T-2 sub backs it up with ferocious low-end grunt. They’re not cheap, but after spending some time in their company we guarantee you’ll think it’s money well spent.
Score in detail