- Exemplary build quality
- Chic modern styling across the system
- Thrilling movie sonics
- Cables fiddly to connect with base attached
- Some rivals offer a touch more detail and bass slam
- No volume or crossover control on sub
- Review Price: £1000.00
- Available in high-gloss white or black finish
- Uni-Q driver array (115mm mid/bass cone with 19mm tweeter in centre)
- Wall or table-top mounting
- Tangerine waveguide
- Sealed Suspension Technology
Though some purists hate to admit it, these days looks play as big a role as sound quality when choosing home cinema kit. A speaker system could sound like heaven itself, but if it doesn’t complement the new sideboard then it won’t be allowed anywhere near the living room.
KEF KHT3005SE Design
KEF is only too aware of the need for products that look and sound great, and for years has been producing some of the best-looking speaker systems on the market. One of these is the KEF KHT3005SE, a stunning compact 5.1 system with unmistakable egg shaped satellites.
KEF has recently made this delectable system available in white for the first time (alongside the existing gloss black), so we thought it was high time we saw what all the fuss is about – and if it’s anything like the KEF KHT1505, we could be in for a treat.
Sure enough the HTS3001SE satellite speakers are stunning. The combination of their ‘dewdrop’ shape and white finish could have quite easily turned out tacky, but KEF’s cosmetic know-how keeps everything effortlessly chic and modern. The glossy finish catches the light beautifully and the curves ooze elegance.
The grilles covering up the front are magnetic, so there are no plug fixings to spoil the clean look when removed. Underneath, the front panel has a rubbery texture, with the silver Uni-Q driver array bang in the centre. Each satellite stands 245mm high, a manageable height that won’t impose on the landscape of your living room.
On top of that, build quality is superb. At 2kg each, the rigid cast aluminium cabinets are heavy and easily worthy of the price tag. Each one is connected to a sturdy oval base by a pivoting ball joint, which makes it easy to point in the desired direction.
On the back, two silver binding posts poke out from the bottom. Make sure you attach the cables to these prior to attaching the base, otherwise it’s rather fiddly to feed wires into the holes.
Also on the back is a port with a sponge bung shoved into it. This should be left there if positioned close to or on the wall, as it stops the sound being too boomy. But under normal circumstances the port bung should be removed.
All of the satellites can be mounted on the wall by hanging the supplied bases on screws fixed into the wall. The speakers then attach securely to the bracket using a bolt and Allen key.
The HTC3001SE centre speaker is slightly longer than the other satellites to house the twin 75mm bass drivers, which sit either side of the Uni-Q array. This is designed to give extra slam and aid dialogue clarity. It comes with a round rubber base for table top mounting.
Completing the line-up is the compact KEF HTP2SE subwoofer, which slings the subwoofer rulebook out the window, opting for an unusual round enclosure. With its white gloss finish and curves, it’s close to a work of art, a sub you’ll want out on show, not tucked away apologetically in a corner. It’s versatile too – one supplied base allows you to stand it upright, while the screw-in feet let you lay it on its side.
All of the controls are located on the bottom. There’s a line input and three switches, one of which controls the Bass Boost settings that increase the bass level at 40Hz by 6dB or 12dB. The other switches control phase and standby modes. Weirdly, there’s no volume or crossover control – that’s all governed by your amp.
KEF KHT3005SE Features
There’s a wealth of clever tech at play inside the KEF KHT3005SE satellite speakers. Firstly the Uni-Q driver array places the tweeter in the centre of the mid/bass cone, allowing them to act as a ‘single, focused source of sound’. KEF says the sound is dispersed evenly throughout the room, thus doing away with the notion of a sweet spot.
It’s helped along by the ‘Tangerine’ waveguide, a series of ‘blades’ positioned in front of the tweeter. These help achieve wide dispersion and clearer high frequencies – not to mention stopping the kids poking at it. Inside the cabinets, the speakers use KEF’s Sealed Suspension Technology to minimise internal resonance.
The subwoofer is equipped with a 250mm bass driver and a matching passive bass radiator. Power comes from a 250W Class D amplifier.
KEF KHT3005SE Performance
This all adds up to a stunning performance. Play a rowdy movie like The Dark Knight and the KEF KHT3005SE is in its element, reproducing the opening bank heist scene with outstanding drive and clarity. It’s a fast, exciting sound, laden with crisp detail, and best of all it keeps its composure at loud volumes. Sounds like the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire or a bus smashing through a wall are forceful but not harsh or overly bright.
As the Joker and Batman scrap it out on the Gotham streets, the KEF disperses the cacophony into the room evenly, creating an expansive, encompassing soundstage layered with tension-heightening ambience and snappy effects. The speakers interact with each other seamlessly and true to KEF’s claims it sounds great no matter where you’re sitting.
The KEF KHT3005SE also makes high frequencies sparkle, making for a open, detailed listen. It can’t quite match the clarity and insight of the Paradigm Cinema 100 CT, one of its immediate price rivals, but there’s not much in it.
Where the KEF really excels is in its midrange reproduction. Not only is speech clear and prominent – even during busy action scenes – but it’s also imbued with amazing depth (thanks to those dual bass drivers) and superb detail. It nails the Joker’s drawl and Batman’s razor-gargling gruffness, but also picks out the tiny inflections of normal human voices.
This wonderful performance is topped off by a solid bass reproduction from the subwoofer. It’s agile, responsive and never overbearing if set up properly. The bass it contributes is deep, tight and masterfully controlled, with no booming. It’s sensitive too – even the gentle rhythmic stabs of bass in the soundtrack have a depth and density to them. Again we’d say that Paradigm’s sub has a bit more slam and immediacy but it’s still a fine performance.
KEF KHT3005SE Verdict
The KEF KHT3005SE is that rarest of things, a style-led speaker system that sounds as good as it looks. The stunning design is distinctly modern yet elegant – made all the more swanky by its new gloss white finish – plus the compact dimensions and convenient mounting options makes it living room friendly. Build quality is every bit as robust as you’d expect for the money.
But there’s substance behind the style. With movies, the sound is powerful, detailed and articulate, with forceful dialogue reproduction and an expansive, seamless soundstage. It’s not the very best we’ve heard at this price point but the KEF is certainly up there with the compact system elite.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 9
|Number of Speakers||6|
|Power (Watt)||250 (subwoofer)W|
|Height (Millimeter)||198 (satellites)mm|
|Width (Millimeter)||130 (satellites)mm|
|Depth (Millimeter)||150 (satellites)mm|
|Weight (Gram)||2100 (satellites)g|