Review: KEF T305 speaker system

Key Features
T301 speaker
• (2) 4[1/2]-inch woofers
• 1-inch tweeter
• Included wall mount plate and desktop stand
• Horizontal T301c center speaker also available
• 23.6 x 5.5 x 1.4 in; 3.3 lb.

T2 subwoofer
• 10-inch driver powered by 250-watt Class D amp
• Line-level input only
• 15 x 14.6 x 7 in; 28.6 lb.

Speaker ads are getting to be as misleading as online dating profiles. Just as someone with a borderline-obese body-mass index of 30 might claim their physique is "average," speaker manufacturers are claiming their new lines of on-walls have profiles as slim as those of the very latest flat-panel TVs. But many of them really don't - some are as much as 2.5-inches thick, while many of the latest thin TVs are less than 1-inch thick.

When it comes to skinny, the KEF T301 speakers are the real deal. They're just 1.4 inches thick. Even when wall-mounted, they stick out a mere 1.5 inches - and these are my measurements, not KEF's. What's more, KEF also offers a slim subwoofer, the 7-inch-thick T2, to go along with the T301 and its smaller sibling, the T101. They're available in various system packages; the T305 package includes four T301s, a T301c center speaker (apparently identical to the T301 except for placement of the KEF logo), and a T2.

The T301's dual 4.5-inch woofers are compacted to fit inside the slim enclosure. KEF calls it the Twin-Layered MF Driver, "MF" referring (I assume) to mid frequencies. The diaphragm of the MF is made from a dual layer of plastic, with the two layers joined by ribs to form a super-stiff yet light structure. To keep the driver slim, the spider (the pleated fabric structure that joins the back of the driver to the speaker's frame) is not attached to the front of the voice coil as usual. Instead, it's attached to a separate, stubby cylinder that is in turn attached to the diaphragm - so the cylinder is actually concentric with the voice coil. I'm confident we'll see this great idea copied in short order.

The dome of the 1-inch tweeter sits behind KEF's Tangerine Waveguide, a series of vanes intended to increase sensitivity and dispersion of the tweeter. The tweeter design must be damned robust, because KEF uses a very low 1.7 kHz crossover point. Most tweeters would distort or self-destruct with a crossover point that low.

Speaker cognoscenti may wonder if the tweeter is mounted concentrically inside the midwoofer, as in the Uni-Q designs for which KEF is known. It's not. Although this is no downside - Uni-Q has its pros and cons - the audio geek in me is a little disappointed.

Each T301 comes with a mounting plate that makes vertical or horizontal wall-mounting easy. A small desktop stand is also supplied. Optional floor-mount stands are available.

The T2 subwoofer looks kind of like some of the practice amps made for guitar players. It's only 7 inches wide and about 15 inches on either side. What few controls you get are hidden on the bottom, along with a single RCA input and the jack for the power cord. One switch lets you boost bass by +6 or +12 dB; another lets you flip the phase 180 degrees. The sealed-box design, slim chassis and bottom-mounted controls and input make it easy to snug the T2 very close to a wall, improving both its output and its appearance.