KEF wasn’t joking when they branded this pair of monitor speakers as their Reference Ultimate. These are seriously good speakers and worthy of the “Reference” moniker. As the only bookshelf in their Reference lineup, they are fairly big bookshelf speakers. Each speaker measures 17″ tall, 8″ wide and 17″ deep and weighs approx 40lbs. The speakers are three way in design with a 6.5″ aluminum bass driver and their World famous Uni-Q driver array that consists of one 1″ vented aluminium dome tweeter and one 5″ aluminium mid-range driver. Driving them was fairly easy with where they have a nominal impedance of 8 ohm and a sensitivity of 85dB. KEF does recommend a minimum of 50W but we drove them with 200W where they sounded much better. With a frequency response of 45Hz to 35KHz, the Reference 1 Ultimate can project a soundstage that is impressively bigger than their bookshelf size may suggest. Imaging was solid and well grounded within the almost picture perfect presentation. The matching stands (included in the price) which was a $1,500 option are critical in achieving their high level of performance. With the speakers screwed on to these stands (versus mounting them on our Sound Anchor stands), they improved slightly on their focus and the bass was a bit more taut. The bass energy may not be as forceful as their floorstanders in the same series but was more than adequate for us in our medium size listening room.
Cosmetically, the speakers looks really good. The speakers are beautifully made in the first place so it is not too difficult to find the motivation to maintain its beauty (which was the case with its one previous owner). We have the original boxes and manual for them so shipping will be a multi piece shipment. Local pickup from our store can be arranged.