KEF Reference 207/2 Stereo Speakers Page 2

The Short Form

Price $10,000 each / kef.com / 732-683-2356
Snapshot
At $20,000 a pair, these superlative loudspeakers celebrate the rich heritage of British loudspeaker manufacturing and deliver everything they promise.
Plus
•Impeccable sound quality •Drop-dead gorgeous cabinets •Built-in equalization
Minus
•If you have to ask the price, you can't afford them
Key Features
Model 207/2 •61/2-in Uni-Q midrange with 1-in titanium tweeter; 10-in low/mid; (2) 10-in woofers; 481/4 in high; 145 lb •Finishes: piano black, high-gloss cherry, high-gloss American walnut, satin sycamore
Test Bench
The 633-T showed excellent bass extension, along with a bump at 100 Hz, a floor bounce notch at 200 Hz, and a 3-dB elevation near its crossover. The 634-VAC center delivered unchanged sound to off-axis seats; its Cabinet mode attenuates sub-500-Hz output by 2 to 3 dB. The surrounds behaved as expected, with the Dipole mode showing notably more low-end rolloff than Bipole mode. The sub averaged 104 dB SPL from 25 to 62 Hz, and hit max SPL of 112 dB at 50 Hz. - Tom Nousaine Full Lab Results

I ended up placing the speakers about 3 feet from my wall and, after experimentation, set the LF control to -2 dB and the HF control to -0.75 dB. I also decreased my usual toe-in to a very slight angle; this further attenuated the high end and warmed it up a bit. And although the black cloth grilles were mighty attractive, I listened with them removed.

Music Performance I began my audition with some CDs I know well, and it was immediately clear that the 207/2s could take music reproduction to another level. On Mark Knopfler's Sailing to Philadelphia, the vocals and Stratocaster solos sounded like a live feed from the studio's mixing console; it's hard to fully describe the immediacy of the sound. Percussion was precisely enunciated, without any sense of artificiality. Instead of a speaker reproducing a hi-hat, it was, to my ear, the sound of a hi-hat.

The dynamics of Robert Randolph & the Family Band's Colorblind really kicked on the 207/2s. The pedal steel guitar was absolutely clean throughout its broad midrange region - a particularly tricky area because of the interplay of three different speaker drivers. But they integrated perfectly to create the sound of one steel guitar.

Thanks to the KEF's wonderful woofers, I've never heard Santana's Supernatural sound quite so good. On songs like "Migra," I was getting tuneful bass from a real music speaker, not the one-note bass I hear from many standalone subs. Furthermore, the bass levels were much louder than that of many subs. A lot of subs self-destruct when trying to play the bottom half-octave at even modest levels. In contrast, these woofers - flat down to "only" perhaps 40 Hz - could more easily play loud and clean.

Other good speakers convey sonic detail (such as fingers dragging across guitar strings), but the 207/2s went beyond detail, truly lifting a veil from the music. Each instrument occupied its own acoustic space, as opposed to the ensemble smear created by many speakers. I was particularly impressed by the clarity of the rhythm guitar and the floor toms; the large midbass driver was a revelation here. In a world of sats and subs, that crucial transition between the two frequency ranges is too often deficient. Here, with a 10-inch driver dedicated to that region, the transition was seamless.

To conclude my music audition, I listened to Act III of Wagner's Die Walküre, in a performance conducted by James Levine. This is an excellent stereo recording of one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. At the end of the opera, waves of sound washed over me - and I am not ashamed to say that this music, both tender and heroic, brought tears to my eyes.

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