KEF's Jack Oclee-Brown Talks Loudspeakers

Last May, Jack Oclee-Brown, KEF's Head of Acoustics, visited John Atkinson's listening room to drop off and set up the KEF Reference 5 loudspeakers ($19,000/pair). (JA's review appears in the October Stereophile, which will hit newsstands and mailboxes later this week.) In this video, they discuss Jack's origins and the challenges of speaker design, as well as the genesis of the Reference 5, KEF's Uni-Q drive-unit, and why, to perform quasi-anechoic speaker measurements, it's best to use a chamber as large as a true anechoic chamber.

If you are a fan of feline audiophiles, speaker design, and British accents, you will find this conversation quite enjoyable.

es347's picture


John Atkinson's picture
es347 wrote:
is kitty cat declawed?

Violet's claws are in full working order, but she is well-behaved scratching-wise. However, she does have the ability, no matter where she is in the house, to detect the turning on of a camera.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

es347's picture

..are rear wheel drive and what a good thing that is as they routinely nub the grills on my Von Schweikerts

Axiom05's picture

Great interview, I really enjoyed it. However, I am wondering if the benefits of the Uni-Q co-axial driver are really worth all of the development efforts over the years. After over 30 iterations, have all of the problems finally been solved? Seems like just a trade-off for a different set of issues. I guess the proof will be in the listening. I am looking forward to your review JA, I just hope that my issue of Stereophile arrives in the mail.

georgehifi's picture

It knows what's what.

Cheers George

volvic's picture

The weight of those records behind Mr. Brown are about to become a problem.

supamark's picture

Mr. Atkinson, I notice your room has a bit of a honk (it's in most, but not all, of your in room speaker measurements - the PSB T3's were notably honk-less for example), must make finding a speaker to play solo piano a pain. I also echo the concerns for the structural integrity of your record shelves.

Also, regarding your quasi-anechoic measurements - when compared to measurements of another magazine with access to Canada's Nat'l Resch Council's actual anechoic chamber (the blade 2 for example) they tend to match pretty closely. The main difference tends to be in the rolloff of reflex loaded speakers tend to look more like your separate cone/port measurements including the valley between.

Ms. Dagdagan, some lavalier mics would make these video/podcast type things a lot easier to listen to (less room sound, more voice).

mns3dhm's picture

The interviews with designers are great

David Harper's picture

I have speakers that cost a thousand dollars a pair and they sound, I'm guessing, 90% as good as these. Not that I'm complaining.I enjoy reading about components that are astronomically priced as part of the marketing strategy. Some people just have too much money, I guess. I'm no better. If I won a lotto even though I would never spend 16 grand on speakers(not enough value for the dollar), I would be driving a BMW M6 or maybe a 600 horsepower Porsch. Now THERE'S value!!!!!

prerich45's picture

That would be perceived value ...IMHO. As a M6 or Porsche should obey the laws of the road...never realizing its true potential except on a track or on the autobahn in Europe. High end audio and sports cars have a lot in common. The M6 cost roughly $114k, that's way too much money for a car in my mind set because I can only go so fast, and more affordable and luxurious cars will get me from point A to point B just as well. Some have the same perception of Audio - they just want to get there, and others bask in the journey itself. For the price of an M6, I could have a 400hp 2018 Lincoln Continental with enough change left to buy these speakers as well plus some accompanying gear.

So in the end the value is to each his own 😉

David Harper's picture

yes, you're right . I guess the law of diminishing returns just seems much more extreme, to me, in high-end audio than in automobiles.. I'm thinking of thousand dollar digital interconnects, and such. But maybe these speakers really are worth 16 grand to certain people. For me I can think of more worthy things to spend that kind of money on.

Axiom05's picture

Hello JA. How come the speakers in this video are different from the ones reviewed in the October issue? (Despite Hurricane Irma, I actually received my October issue on time!)

John Atkinson's picture
Axiom05 wrote:
How come the speakers in this video are different from the ones reviewed in the October issue?

They are the same speakers that I reviewed. The photographs in the review, supplied by KEF, are of a different sample.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

auralenhancer's picture

I love hearing this information and geeking out on speaker construction. It really helps to know speaker design in my profession of home theater installation, especially when faced with trying to get hi fidelity from in wall or in ceiling speakers. I have a few design tricks up my sleeve.
Thank You