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Since 1961 from their UK home, KEF has created remarkable award-winning speakers. KEF exists to fill rooms with music as it was made to be heard, to move souls with truly authentic soundscapes.

KEF is named after Kent Engineering and Foundry where the story began. Founder Raymond Cooke was propelled by a love of music and a refusal to compromise, and he leveraged technology at every turn to ensure KEF’s position at the cutting edge of audio. A list of breakthroughs spanning more than half a century shores up that promise. Patents and academic papers testify to decades of consistent progress, from the early use of synthetic materials to their Reference Series (our focus) which determines industry standards to this day. KEF’s insistence on excellence is at the heart of a virtuous circle, which attracts the world’s most gifted acoustic engineers to join us in the pursuit of good, better, best.

1960s

KEF was initially headquartered in a Nissen Hut on the premises of Kent Engineering & Foundry in Maidstone, Kent in the UK since 1961. Cooke, an ex-BBC electrical engineer, was keen to experiment with new materials and technologies to create products that could reproduce recordings as natural as the original performance. The first KEF speaker, the three-way K1, incorporated the use of synthetic materials. In the following year, the first ultra compact two-way speaker system designed to give true high-fidelity performance Celeste was born. 

Raymond Cooke re-established his working relationship with the BBC as KEF took on the exclusive manufacture of the LS5/1a monitor. The B110 and T27 drivers followed in 1967 and were successfully utilised in the Cresta and later selected by the BBC for use in the LS3/5a monitor. The manufacture of monitor loudspeakers for the BBC provided KEF with useful experience in working to tight acoustic tolerances.​ By the end of the decade, KEF was established as a leading company in the audio industry with commercial and critical success not only for the KEF loudspeaker systems but for the drive units which were adopted by numerous companies around the world into their own systems.​

1970s

In 1970, KEF received the first prestigious Queen’s Awards for export achievement as the company became known beyond the UK. In 1973, KEF became the first loudspeaker manufacturer in the world to implement the use of computers in loudspeaker design and measurement. Pioneering the use of digital technologies to achieve the highest audio accuracy, every pair of Reference Model 104 can be matched within 0.5dB to the laboratory-maintained reference standard. ​

The legendary LS3/5a was the original mini monitor inspired by KEF drivers and designed at the BBC that transformed the audio experience in 1975. It was renowned for delivering accurate precise sound for the recording and broadcast industry and is still spoken about in reverential tones today.​

In 1976, the design methodology was refined into a new approach to loudspeaker development – computer assisted ‘Total System Design’ – with the release of the Corelli, Calinda and Cantata. A year later in 1977, Reference Model 105 was launched as one of the most radical and sophisticated loudspeakers ever made. The Reference Series has continually set the benchmark of loudspeakers since its launch. ​

1980s to now

KEF has maintained its reputation for excellence with the highly respected Reference Series through a series of technical enhancements, decade after decade. Founder Raymond Cooke OBE sadly passed away in 1995. However, Cooke left the company with firm guiding principles encapsulated in his core values of ‘Quality, Honesty, Dedication and Innovation’. 

KEF has been steadily developing the use of advanced acoustical, magnetic and mechanical modelling techniques in speaker designs. The Reference Series Model 207/2 was launched in 2001 established itself as one of the world’s finest loudspeakers with major upgrades from the previous Reference Series. 

Now in their seventh decade, KEF is staying at the forefront of audio excellence. They introduced the ground-breaking use of Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) in speaker design, which was awarded the ‘Innovation of the Year’ by What Hi-Fi? Awards in 2020. MAT absorbs 99% of the unwanted sound from the rear of the driver. MAT, and the technology that they continue to develop allows KEF to design new ranges of revolutionary products.

Bookshelf Speakers

  • Kef Reference 1 Meta Bookshelf Speakers

Floorstanding Speakers

  • Kef Reference 3 Meta Floorstanding Speakers


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