KEF Blade One Meta Loudspeaker Page 2

The cabinets are shaped with complex parabolic curves to eliminate standing waves within, and are acoustically inert. The tapering design is stabilised by a hefty base, this contributing to the 57.2kg weight of the speakers. For finishes, you can mix 'n' match enclosure colours with a range of anodising options for the Uni-Q driver. So, you can have the Piano Black of the review pair with a copper or grey driver; Frosted Blue with blue or bronze driver; Charcoal Grey with red or bronze; Racing Red with a grey driver; or Arctic White with a champagne driver. And if that lot isn't choice enough, from June KEF will offer Pantone colours at a 10% premium.

sqnote Blades Of Glory
Set up in PM's listening room in accordance with KEF's detailed instructions – they can be as close as 22.5cm from the rear wall, but need to be a metre from side walls due to those side-firing woofers – and with a slight toe-in (KEF suggests no more than 10°), the imposing visual impression created by these 1.59m-tall speakers is striking… but the sound is even more so.

Right from the subtle opening murmurs of Ravel's 'La Valse' [Sinfonia of London/John Wilson, Chandos CHSA 5280; 96kHz/24-bit], the Blade One Meta delighted with its combination of soundstaging and focus. This is clearly driven by those Meta-aided Uni-Qs, the precision being of the kind one would expect from very fine, but very small speakers. That, in essence, is just what these speakers sound like – only with a lot of added clout and extension from those big side-firing drivers, which really come into their own with the massed orchestra and the thunderous percussion. Yes, big drums can shake the room, but it's really the sheer impact that startles.

Similarly, the Blade One Metas sound magnificent with the opening of the Bach St Matthew Passion in the recently released Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon recording [Harmonia Mundi HMM90269193; 96kHz/24-bit], where the intensity of both performance and engineering is immediately apparent in the dual orchestras and the way the two choirs ask and answer. These Blade flagships maintain the unfolding drama and the running commentaries of the arias, thanks to their wonderful presence and definition, most notably in the section we always used to call the 'lightning and thunder bit' when I sung in choirs all those years ago.


Pairs of 225mm alloy-coned bass drivers work into separate chambers, each set operating back-to-back to cancel out the large kinetic forces generated. Damping pads supplement the cabinet bracing in key areas

Scintillating Sonics
But you don't need Sturm und Drang to hear the special qualities of the Blade One Meta: with the title track of Doug MacLeod's A Soul To Claim [Fresh!/Reference Recordings FR-746; 44.1kHz/24-bit], the immediate impression is of the intimacy of the voice and guitar before the band kicks in, and the solidity of the sonic picture of the whole ensemble. This kind of precision imaging is never a given with large, weighty speakers, and indeed seems to elude many big-ticket designs, however well they do scale and substance. Once again, these tall, slender KEF Blades do that 'small speakers but big' thing in scintillating fashion, and in so doing sound like no other design I can recall – in a good way, of course.

Track after track, album after album, these top Blades demonstrated that elusiv 'musicians located in space' effect. Rarely have I heard a design so entirely able to create a sonic image free from the cabinets before the listener, and with such complete focus and apparent front-to-back depth.

This was as evident with the sense of the concert hall acoustic 'breathing' around Anna Fedorova's piano on her Shaping Chopin set [Channel Classics CCS 43621; DSD128] as it was with the intertwining instrumentation and driving rhythm section on Yes's 'Yours Is No Disgrace' [The Yes Album; Rhino WPCR-80305]. These innovative loudspeakers can play hard and deliver all the dynamic impact one could want, but do so with a speed, control and sheer exuberance that's frequently breathtaking, and all the while making many contemporaries sound somewhat leaden by comparison.

Neither does one need to feed them a carefully curated selection of oh-so-audiophile recordings to be struck with just what they can do. 'My Most Beautiful Mistake', from Elvis Costello's current album [The Boy Named If, EMI CD2047], sounded like vintage Costello with the singer front and centre, band spiky and abrasive, and backing vocals sweet and well-placed. Again there was effortless soundstaging – without ever distracting from the passion of the performance by revealing the mechanics of what the speakers are doing.

Meanwhile, Franz Ferdinand's 'No You Girls' [Hits To The Head, Domino WIGCD473X] sounded glorious with its chugging rhythm section and catchy chorus. The track is big and dense, but KEF's Blade One Metas made sense of it, while proving they can get down and dirty with the best of them.


Two reflex ports serve the upper and lower pairs of bass units. KEF’s split bass/mid crossover is accessed via two sets of bi-wire/bi-amp terminals that may be linked back together via a novel screw-tight connector

Enjoyment Overload
I think I can safely say I didn't find a track I did not only enjoy, but delight in, during the time I spent with these slender but somehow ominous-looking Blades. They cruised through the ever-so-refined piano jazz of Dave Arch and John Parricelli's True Colours [Linn CKD 678; 96kHz/

24-bit], thanks to that absolute focus, tight rhythms and superb soundstage size and depth. And the very same attributes also served well John Illsley's 'The Mission Song', with its reggae-tinged beats, added horns, and inevitable overtones of Dire Straits [VIII, 100% Records; 100CD119]. The feeling of a great band making hugely enjoyable music is palpable here – taking the magical sound of the Blade One Meta loudspeakers beyond argument.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
'Marmite' industrial aesthetic aside, the magic of the Blade One Metas is realised in the sort of focus, imaging and definition you'd expect of the finest miniature, but written here into a big sonic picture without any compromise. They're weighty, fast and more than capable of shaking your chest without any slur or bloom. They really must be heard if you're shopping at this price... or even way above.

GP Acoustics (UK) Ltd
Maidstone, Kent
Supplied by: GP Acoustics (UK) Ltd
01622 672 261