The KEF Reference Speakers

My assignment at CES 2015 was to report on speakers costing less than $10,000/pair, so when I went into each room my first task was to see if they had any new (or at least new-to-me) speakers that met this criterion. I found one in the KEF room that appeared to fit the bill: the sign on the speaker identified it as the Reference 1, priced at $7500/pair. Johan Coorg of KEF explained to the assembled visitors how the design of this speaker utilized knowledge gained in designing the Blade. This involved a new Uni-Q mid/tweeter array, shown below. The speaker has adjustable ports that allow fine tuning of the port's contribution, depending on the room and personal taste. (A similar port adjustment scheme is used by PSB in their speakers.)

As I was about to leave the room, I thanked Coorg for his presentation, and asked him to confirm the price. I was then informed that the speaker being demoed was in fact the Reference 3, not the Reference 1 (which is a bookshelf-sized speaker rather than a tower). The Reference 1 is $7500/pair; the Reference 3 is $13,000/pair. The sign that happened to be placed on top of the Reference 3, which seemed to identify it as the Reference 1, was of an award received by the Reference 1. Oh, well. The technology is the same; the only difference is the size and the driver complement.