Sound Tasting with KEF
Sound Tasting with KEF

Forget wine, it's all about sound tasting. Ahead of their time, as usual, KEF has come up with the new concept of tasting sound.

Britains best loudspeaker manufacturer (sorry Bowers & Wilkins fans) have come up with a new way to appreciate their goliath £20,000 speakers… Sound tasting, and it tasted great! Hosted by Tileyard Studios – Sean Hargreaves and KEF’s Dr Jack Oclee-Brown, we were introduced to the KEF Blade, LS50 and LS50 Wireless speakers.

Whilst we have tasting notes for fine wine and an appreciation of 4K/8K screens, there is nothing to help us understand the complexities of hi-fidelity music.

The KEF Blade 2’s are literally out of this world, for the songs we knew already, the tracks felt like remasters, even though some of the songs are less than a year old. At first glance at the design of the Blade’s, they’re a treat for the eyes. Then you hear what comes out of them and become instantly immersed into each and every track, hearing new sounds you’ve never heard before in familiar tracks. The sound subconsciously making your mind feel as if you’ve upgraded your ears, rather than speakers. 

We were treated to Sean Hargreaves, professional producer and Dr Jack Oclee-Brown to be our sound sommeliers for the evening where we discussed and dissected each track chosen by the journalists of the evening. In the studio were the Blade 2’s the three-way bass-reflex design features a Li-Mg-Al/ LCP hybrid cone with a 25mm (1-inch) vented aluminium dome in KEF’s natty Uni-Q array. Bolstering that mid/tweeter arrangement are four 165mm (6.5-inch) bass units aligned for force cancelling. 

Those drivers sit in the distinctive Blade shaped enclosures that measure 1461 x 338 x 475mm (HxWxD). Frequency response is quoted at 40Hz-35kHz (±3dB) with the crossovers at 320Hz and 2.4kH. Additionally,  a pair of LS50 bookshelf speakers in the control room and the wireless cousins in another room.

The Track List

You can listen to KEF Sound Tasting Tracklist here: https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/f39d3369-55f4-412a-981f-5ffc1ec1b37d

Sean Hargreaves, engineer and producer at Tileyard Studios, has uncovered details in each of the recordings that you have previously unheard, helping you to hear the layers and depth that the original music recordings were intended to have.

 

TRACKS

DETAILS

Bruno Mars, 24k magic

Listen out for the clarity and width of the vocals, the secret “woop woop” and the synth imaging and bass depth. 

Paul is Alive, El Vy (Return to the Moon)

There is a beautiful vocal that you can hear is well recorded. You can hear the differences between the real guitar vs. the synth elements. You can also clearly hear the tail of the processed snare.

Sandro Perri, Wrong about the Rain

You can hear the clav clearly and at the beginning, the drums get slightly out of sync.  Look out for the delay, it was probably due to a tape, and there is a spring reverb on the vocal. 

Little Simz, Wounds

Listening to this track on the Blade 2 allows you to hear the fret noise on the guitars. Look out for the beautifully recorded electric guitar at the beginning because you can clearly hear the amp. The beat when it comes in is programmed and there is a slight delay on the backing vocals. 

Mahalia Jackson, Trouble of the World 

You can tell that they made a decision in production to make this sound vintage as it has less treble, less deep sound and a less glossy vocal. The snare is also very noticeable. 

Bebe, Amimales hambrientos 

You can very clearly hear the digital reverbs, higher bass extension and treble response in this recording. Look out for the dulcimer. 

Capuleti e I Montecci, Act 2: “Tu sola, o mia Giulietta… Deh! tu, bell’anima” (Romeo) – Joyce DiDonato [Stella di Napoli]

This is one is brilliant at 1’26 it sounds like there is an audience noise which hasn’t been removed – watch out for it. You can also hear the reverb of the concert callin which it was recorded and the clarinet. 

Human, Sevdelizer

This track is very filmic, you can really hear all of the ambiences on each element of the track. The vocal has great clarity, you can hear how it has been tracked and the delay. 

The Package, A Perfect Circle

A lot of care has been taken with the trashy, roomy backbeat at the beginning of this track. You can also hear a sharp contrast with the close miked snare once the track picks up. 

Nick Cave, Red Right Hand

This has a very close vocal it almost sounds ‘furry’. 

Lorde, Royals

With this track you can hear that they used a chamber on the lead vocal, the imaging on the backing vocals is crips and there is a really great bass extension. 

NIN with David Bowie, I’m Afraid of Americans

With this track the constituent synths are very clear, you can also hear how the panning on the ‘uh uh uh’ backing vocal. 

Soundgarden, Let me Drown 

There is a slapback delay on the local that is very cool, you can also tell that this is a deliberately lo fi recording. 

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Jubilee Street 

This has a great vocal and the drum sounds roomy. What’s really exciting is that you can hear that the tambourine player drops the tambourine during the recording. 

BB King and Eric Clapton, Riding with the King 

There’s a lot of reverb on this track on everything and listen to how the vocal sits relatively at the back of the mix. 

Cave In, Shake my Blood

Listen out for how clear the compression on the snare is. The producer took a lot of care with the guitar it sounds almost furry and roomy at the same time. 

Azelia Banks, Fierce

There is an excellent bass extension on this track and you can also hear how they tried to give the vocal a ‘telephone’ quality. 

Marilyn Manson, Deep Six

Listen to this one at full volume. The mix is brilliant and the speakers really capture how balanced each of the elements in the speaker are. 

Motley Crü – Kickstart My Heart 

Can hear chugging low guitars v clearly. Really well recorded How far back in mix LVs are (as you’d expect)

Azealia Banks, Heavy Metal and Reflective

You can really hear that this is a digital recording, it has reverbs on everything. 

Mabel, Mad Love

The male backing vocal on this is heavily distorted, look out for it. Also, the lead vocal is very delayed and you won’t have noticed this previously. 

 

For more information on KEF visit www.kef.co.uk

We’ll be reviewing the new KEF LSX next week…