KEF KHT2005.3 5.1 Speaker System Review
- Review Price: £699.99
KEF’s 2000 series of 5.1-channel home cinema speakers has enjoyed huge success since it was first launched eight years ago, earning awards and admiration from the press and public alike. The KHT2005.3 is the third generation sub/sat system from this acclaimed series, and packs KEF’s sophisticated audio technology into a compact set of speakers that won’t make unreasonable demands on your space or your wallet.
The system comprises four HTS2001.3 satellites, an HTC2001.3 centre speaker and the new Kube-2 subwoofer (which is also available separately). The satellites are staggeringly good looking and beautifully built, featuring a high gloss black finish (also available in matt silver) and the distinctive egg shape that has become a much loved feature of the 2000 series. Each one is perched on a newly-tweaked multi-directional base that enables it to be positioned anywhere and placed at any angle, making it easy to tailor to your needs. The centre channel boasts the same base and styling but can be horizontally mounted, and all of the sats can be mounted on optional floor stands.
The Kube-2 powered subwoofer is pleasingly compact and styled with a gloss black top panel and three sides covered in black cloth. Inside it boasts a powerful 200W class-D amplifier and a side-firing long-throw bass driver, complimented by a 250mm active bass reflex. Its vital statistics are a frequency range of 35Hz to 150Hz, a maximum output of 112dB and a 23 litre internal volume, all of which points towards some seriously muscular bass performance.
Its rear panel sports a healthy range of knobs and switches to fiddle with, including volume and crossover dials (the latter ranging from 40Hz to 140Hz), a 180 degree phase control switch and an EQ switch that lets you boost the bass response by +6dB or +12dB to account for differing room conditions and tastes. Connections are limited to a pair of phono line inputs.
The satellites are similarly well-specified, fitted with KEF’s 100mm UNI-Q driver with a metal dome tweeter and neodymium magnets, which is designed to deliver the type of sound that you’d get from much larger speakers – a task at which KEF has succeeded in the past. It also helps to disperse the sound over a wider area and envelop the listening position.
The high quality binding posts on the back of each satellite are easy to access, allowing you to connect speaker cables securely and conveniently. Also the moveable bases are smooth and sturdy, and enable you to turn and tilt them without fear of snapping them off. If need be the bases on any of the sats can be attached, removed and reattached for horizontal mounting.
To test their sonic prowess, we hooked the KHT2005.3 up to a Denon AVR-3802 receiver being fed audio signals from an OPPO DV-983H DVD player. They took a while to warm up, but once they did the speakers delivered a superb performance that belies their compact size, making both movies and music sound absolutely entrancing.
The first disc into the tray was ”Ice Age 2: The Meltdown”, which may be a kid’s movie but it boasts a number of big action sequences that provide a stern test for any sound system. The frenetic sound effects and jaunty score are reproduced with real bounce and vigour, but the most impressive aspect is the formidable bass output from the Kube-2 as big chunks of ice come crashing to the ground. Overall, the sound is crisp, fluid and most importantly powerful, and if you were blindfolded you’d swear blind it was coming from much bigger speakers.
Another key factor in this stellar performance is the way the sats, sub and centre blend into each other coherently thanks to an identical tonal match that makes for a pleasingly homogenous, unified sound. The crystal clear highs provide a very detailed sound, and they’re backed up by smooth mids and bass reproduction that’s deep enough to ensure a smooth and seamless handover to the sub. What’s more, whichever sat you pick as the centre does an excellent job, offering realistically reproduced voices.
Switching over to ”Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s” sensational DTS soundtrack, the KEFs turn in yet more top-notch sound quality. Their handling of the opening battle between the humans and the machines is dazzling, sounding smooth and controlled but with enough kick to get the pulse racing. Our love affair with this killer system is cemented by the breathless chase through the canal, particularly when the T1000’s truck cab makes its famous crash-dive off the edge – the depth and solidity of the crunch as it hits the ground is worth £700 alone.
And music playback gives us no cause for complaint either. The Stevie Wonder-like stylings of ”Frank McComb Live In Atlanta” on CD allows the KHT2005.3 to show off its formidable frequency range as well as injecting a great deal of warmth and openness into the proceedings, while DVD-Audio and SACD material is handled with wonderful attention to detail.
The KHT2005.3’s performance is among the best we’ve heard from a sub/sat system at this price, delivering the kind of confident and sophisticated sound quality that many people wouldn’t expect from such compact satellites. The sub does a great job too, offering deep bass that works in perfect harmony with the other channels, and KEF yet again displays its knack for eye-catching design with a glorious egg shaped design and sumptuous finish. So if you want an approachable and affordable speaker package but don’t want to compromise on performance, then the KHT2005.3 is an ideal choice.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 9