Say what you like about the Transformers movies, they provide a brilliant test of a system’s action handling prowess, and with Dark of the Moon in the tray the KEF KHT1505 delivers a performance that’s right up there with the very best in this price class.
From the get-go the KHT1505 demonstrates poise and potency. The war between the Autobots and Decepticons in the prologue is dynamite, with spaceships roaring around and pinging laser beams all over the wonderfully expansive soundstage, giving it an epic, spacious feel. Placement is precise and the tonally matched satellites ensure flawless interaction between channels.
It’s also capable of going up to the proverbial 11 when needed, keeping composure at volumes that might make lesser speakers sound harsh and bright. The scene in which Shockwave rips through a warehouse is a demonstration of the KEF’s faultless power, agility and imaging – the carnage is thrillingly handled but never taxing on the ears.
The subwoofer’s deft bass handling and tight fusion with the satellites is key to its success, lending a menacing level of punch to explosions without drawing undue attention to itself – no mean feat.
Despite the lack of a dedicated centre channel, the KEF’s dialogue handling is first rate, giving us no intelligibility problems. The depth of Optimus Prime’s voice during his narration is amazing, while human voices are distinctive and prominent.
The movie’s few moments of quiet reflection allow the KEF to demonstrate its excellent detail handling, filling out the room with subtle atmospheric noises. You’ll get even more insight and transparency by splashing out for the pricier T205s, but as £500 systems go they’re remarkably refined.
Your CDs are in safe hands too. The KHT1505’s robust reproduction of vocals, coupled with the agile bass and crisp detail, adds up to a musical performance guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Competition is absolutely fierce in the compact 5.1 speaker market right now, but the KEF KHT1505 holds its own with killer sound quality, unusually swanky build quality and a gorgeous, space-saving design.
The fast, nimble bass from the subwoofer is a real feather in the system’s cap, while excellent detail and dialogue handling – despite the presence of a dedicated subwoofer – contribute to an accomplished and hugely enjoyable sound.
If pushed, we’d have to say that the Tannoy TFX offers better value for money, conjuring up similarly impressive sound quality for about £100 less, but there are benefits to be had if you splash out on the KEF, namely superior build quality and a slightly more polished sound.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 9