Home » Review: First acquaintance with KEF Blade One Meta
Reviews

Review: First acquaintance with KEF Blade One Meta

In this article we are introduced to the new KEF Blade One Meta during an intensive listening session at Listening Matters.

Review: First acquaintance with KEF Blade One Meta – A man-sized streamlined sculpture that looks more like a modern windmill blade than a traditional loudspeaker? That can be nothing else than the still very modern KEF Blade in 2022. A special project that came on the market in 2011 and in which the designers were given complete freedom to express KEF’s technological leadership and innovation to the fullest. The inspiration for this shape came from the marble sculpture ‘Bird in Space’. A special masterpiece by the French Romanian-born visual artist Constantin Brâncuşi. We are now eleven successful years further and insights and technology have been evaluated to such an extent that a new substantially better generation could be introduced.

Meta(material)

A word frequently used when introducing the latest generation of KEF loudspeakers (LS50, Reference and Blade) is ‘Meta’. But what does this name or description actually stand for and what does it have to do with KEF? This is fully explicit about ‘Meta material absorption technology’. What matters here is that, up to now, existing natural or synthetic materials have always been used within any loudspeaker for certain damping properties. These products are chosen because they have certain properties and where you as a development team choose the variant(s) that best match your needs at that moment. Unfortunately, you never have full control over them, so they never fully possess the properties that you actually need. The idea behind metamaterial is that instead of looking for something that best suits your needs, you create something that didn’t exist before. Even more important is that you can control this matter completely to your own liking and can therefore very precisely attune it to what you need for a certain energy control or absorption in this case.

Eliminate negative influences

One of the main reasons behind this KEF invention is that the designers knew that the motor construction of a loudspeaker unit has a negative influence on the reproduction. By developing metamaterial themselves, they finally succeeded in creating a workable solution. A kind of small flat labyrinth that possesses super absorbent properties and at the same time takes up very little space. Even so little that for the first time the possibility arose to process it in the (Uni-Q) loudspeaker unit itself! In other words, the metamaterial that eliminates no less than 99%(!) of all reflections actually creates an acoustic black hole. To my knowledge, the only drawback of this invention, which was first applied by a loudspeaker manufacturer, is that it only works in narrowband. In order to be able to use it widely, the engineers have housed thirty so-called quarter-wave absorbers in a single meta construction. As a result, the entire frequency spectrum from 620 Hz can still be covered within the remarkably limited outer dimensions.

KEF Blade One Meta

Now back to the brand new 3-way KEF Blade One Meta. A model in which the biggest change can be found in the already 12th generation Uni-Q driver for the middle and high and the crossover. So anyone who has expected major cosmetic changes will be disappointed. Also new is that the Uni-Q Meta unit is also used in the new Reference models.

Although hardly visible from the outside, this is indeed a completely redesigned loudspeaker unit. A cross-section shows no fewer than nine major changes. Below is a completely revised bezel, redesigned tweeter radiating lens reinforcement ribs (made from an alloy composed of lithium, magnesium and aluminum) and a different voice coil for the center unit. But it doesn’t stop there, because for the first time, the chassis itself and the magnet have also been decoupled from each other and more space has been created to let the tweeter sound radiated backwards as unimpeded as possible.

Disconnection but different

Now decoupling loudspeaker units on the cabinet is nothing new. This often means that a relatively soft vibration-absorbing material is placed between the unit and the cabinet. There doesn’t seem much wrong with this per se. But the big disadvantage is that this also causes uncontrollable movements of the loudspeaker unit and thus introduces unwanted coloration. Thus, in the 12th generation of the Uni-Q chassis, KEF has looked for other avenues to maintain the advantages of preventing vibrations, without introducing other disadvantages. The solution turns out to be ingeniously incorporated into the loudspeaker basket itself and consists of an all-round flexible edge that only has physical contact with the rest of the construction at a small number of points.

Typical Blade

Due to the adjustments to the Uni-Q chassis and a low order (no steep filter slopes) crossover filter, an even better integration between the mid and low range has been achieved and the radiation behavior can also be reproduced wider, better controlled and more smooth. Before I want to indulge in the auditory findings of this new KEF Blade One Meta, let’s go back to the Blade concept itself. Because all these measures, the loudspeaker units used and of course the extremely streamlined cabinet shape, are all intended to make every Blade a real point source reproducer. In other words, a loudspeaker system in which all sounds from a single point are sent to the listener in a time and phase correct manner. This offers great advantages such as an extremely realistic rendering with the least possible coloring and clouding. In particular, the focus of every facet in the display is very sharp and that from almost every position in front of and even almost next to the reproducers. In order to realize the impressive broadband (35 Hz – 35 kHz +/- 3 dB), KEF has housed six drivers in a very clever configuration in the 159 cm high, 36 cm wide (including base) and 54 cm deep Blade One. . Well above ear height, we can clearly see the 12th generation Uni-Q driver on the round front. It is a true coaxial design which features a 12.5cm aluminum center diaphragm and a 2.5cm aluminum dome tweeter. 36 cm wide (including base) and 54 cm deep Blade One, six drivers housed in a very clever configuration. Well above ear height, we can clearly see the 12th generation Uni-Q driver on the round front. It is a true coaxial design which features a 12.5cm aluminum center diaphragm and a 2.5cm aluminum dome tweeter. 36 cm wide (including base) and 54 cm deep Blade One, six drivers housed in a very clever configuration. Well above ear height, we can clearly see the 12th generation Uni-Q driver on the round front. It is a true coaxial design which features a 12.5cm aluminum center diaphragm and a 2.5cm aluminum dome tweeter.

‘Force canceling’

Immediately behind it, no fewer than four 22.5 cm woofers are also fitted with an aluminum cone in both side walls of the housing. Two on each side slightly below and above the Uni-Q driver and placed directly opposite each other in a so-called ‘force canceling’ configuration. This invention, already applied by KEF in 1984 and also by other manufacturers, ensures that by mirroring the driver units, the reactive forces of one are extinguished by the opposite copy. The logical consequence is that unwanted vibrations can no longer occur and the cabinet does not have to be provided with enormous amounts of reinforcements. So much for the explanation of this oversized 57 kilo cast sculpture. A molded form consisting of glass fiber reinforced composite material that is both highly inert and extremely rigid. Although the two Blade Meta variants (One and Two) are now available in no fewer than four matte and four polished high-gloss versions, from June 2022 you can also choose your own colors for the first time. As if that weren’t enough, this personal choice of color (Pantone or RAL) can also be accompanied by choosing from one of six differently colored Uni-Q drivers! Naturally, this will require a certain additional cost and longer delivery time, which are not yet known at this time. But it is nothing short of super and very commendable that this possibility will now become a reality. Although the two Blade Meta variants (One and Two) are now available in no fewer than four matte and four polished high-gloss versions, from June 2022 you can also choose your own colors for the first time. As if that weren’t enough, this personal choice of color (Pantone or RAL) can also be accompanied by choosing from one of six differently colored Uni-Q drivers! Of course, this will require a certain additional cost and longer delivery time, which are not yet known at the moment. But it is nothing short of super and very commendable that this possibility will now become a reality. Although the two Blade Meta variants (One and Two) are now available in no fewer than four matte and four polished high-gloss versions, from June 2022 you can also choose your own colors for the first time. As if that weren’t enough, this personal choice of color (Pantone or RAL) can also be accompanied by choosing from one of six differently colored Uni-Q drivers! Naturally, this will require a certain additional cost and longer delivery time, which are not yet known at this time. But it is nothing short of super and very commendable that this possibility will now become a reality. this personal choice of color (Pantone or RAL) can also be accompanied by choosing from one of six differently colored Uni-Q drivers! Naturally, this will require a certain additional cost and longer delivery time, which are not yet known at this time. But it is nothing short of super and very commendable that this possibility will now become a reality. this personal choice of color (Pantone or RAL) can also be accompanied by choosing from one of six differently colored Uni-Q drivers! Of course, this will require a certain additional cost and longer delivery time, which are not yet known at the moment. But it is nothing short of super and very commendable that this possibility will now become a reality.

Intensive acquaintance

Now back to what I came to The Hague for. In other words, an extensive listening session to the very first pair of production KEF Blade One Meta reproducers in the Benelux. The Blade set up fits beautifully with the tones of the Listening Matters listening room and is finished in a matte gray color that KEF calls ‘Charcoal Grey’. I also see a two-tone Uni-Q driver in a Blade for the first time, and that certainly gives it a greater visual individuality. When I take a closer look at the model, the paintwork appears to have a finer structure and I see that the type description has been supplemented with the word ‘Meta’ on the back. Furthermore, at least visually everything has remained the same and the unsuspecting layman does not see on the outside that this is a new model. To leave nothing to chance, the Listening Matters team has pulled out all the stops to make this very first impression the greatest possible success. In the very large and nowadays very pleasantly furnished listening room, there is a beautiful Grimm MU1 music server (€ 10,850) connected to a Mola Mola Makua preamplifier (€ 8,490). This example is equipped with the optionally available excellent DAC module (€ 6,490). The new Siltech Classic Legend top models have been chosen for the cabling, while a beautiful D’Agostino Progression S350 stereo power amplifier is responsible for the power transfer to the loudspeakers. This control quickly turns out to be a bull’s eye. Especially because a Blade One Meta is a seriously large system that, in addition to a large bandwidth, also has a four Ohm nominal impedance that dips at a fairly current-hungry 2.8 Ohm. The maximum achievable sound pressure of no less than 117 dB(!) only increases the demand for a preferably solid and stable output power.

Preparation

The two ‘old’ KEF Blade models have been known to me for many years. On the one hand because of the many demos at trade fairs and shops, but in the case of the Two, on the other hand, also at home in my own listening room for a glowing test in 2016. What struck me time and again is that the reproduction with an adequate setup is extremely good and complete. could come out of the speakers. Partly due to the very extensive point source configuration and the ideal cabinet shape, it almost didn’t matter where you sat or stood in the room. Other aspects that impressed were the very good dynamics and timing, the deep, powerful bass and the very desirable quality I call realism. This last feature usually only takes place when all technical and display aspects are perfectly matched and very important, the developer(s) know how a speaker system reacts to different rooms. In the room at Listening Matters, both KEFs are set up uncompromisingly. So completely free in the room, widely spaced, the right amount of screwing in and with a large distance from the rear and side walls. This is most likely not your home situation. But bear in mind that this is the first official introduction and that car brands such as Ferrari or Lamborghini do not introduce their fast cars on normal highways, and preferably on a beautiful circuit. Why? Because in the case of these brand new KEF loudspeakers, they deserve to let you hear as much as possible unhindered what has been changed and improved. In the room at Listening Matters, both KEFs are set up uncompromisingly. So completely free in the room, widely spaced, the right amount of screwing in and with a large distance from the rear and side walls. This is most likely not your home situation. But bear in mind that this is the first official introduction and that car brands such as Ferrari or Lamborghini do not introduce their fast cars on normal highways, and preferably on a beautiful circuit. Why? Because in the case of these brand new KEF loudspeakers, they deserve to let you hear as much as possible unhindered what has been changed and improved. In the room at Listening Matters, both KEFs are set up uncompromisingly. So completely free in the room, widely spaced, the right amount of screwing in and with a large distance from the rear and side walls. This is most likely not your home situation. But bear in mind that this is the first official introduction and that car brands such as Ferrari or Lamborghini do not introduce their fast cars on normal highways, and preferably on a beautiful circuit. Why? Because in the case of these brand new KEF loudspeakers, they deserve to let you hear as much as possible unhindered what has been changed and improved. But bear in mind that this is the first official introduction and that car brands such as Ferrari or Lamborghini do not introduce their fast cars on normal highways, and preferably on a beautiful circuit. Why? Because in the case of these brand new KEF loudspeakers, they deserve to let you hear as much as possible unhindered what has been changed and improved. But bear in mind that this is the first official introduction and that car brands such as Ferrari or Lamborghini do not introduce their fast cars on normal highways, and preferably on a beautiful circuit. Why? Because in the case of these brand new KEF loudspeakers, they deserve to let you hear as much as possible unhindered what has been changed and improved.

Listen

While I take a seat on the wonderfully comfortable velvet sofa and gaze at the hypnotically soft swaying VU meters of the D’Agostino power amplifier, Listening Matters colleagues Marc Bosman and Ben van Leliveld alternately pass on their first own experiences with this new KEF top system. Ben: ‘There are a remarkably many beautiful loudspeakers these days (and take a look around this shop), but none have the qualities of a KEF Blade. As you know, at trptk (Ben is also involved with this talented Dutch music production company, recording, mixing and mastering studio and music label) for mixing and mastering we use five KEF Blade 2 speakers in a stereo, 5.1 and even Auro 3D setup and that is of course not for nothing. We have also been a big fan of their impressively good qualities here in the store for years.’ Marc: ‘Although both Blade models are a natural jewel in any interior, their real strength lies in a whole series of unique properties. For me these are their musical expressiveness with a rich, generous and energetic character. This, together with the complete elimination of the speakers and the super layered stereo image, which remains intact at all times, wherever you are in the room, ensure an unforgettable experience. The new Blade One Meta cleverly builds on these already great features. But now let’s start with our demo, because you must be very curious’. their real strength lies in a whole host of unique features. For me these are their musical expressiveness with a rich, generous and energetic character. This, together with the complete elimination of the speakers and the super layered stereo image, which remains intact at all times, wherever you are in the room, ensure an unforgettable experience. The new Blade One Meta cleverly builds on these already great features. But now let’s start with our demo, because you must be very curious’. their real strength lies in a whole host of unique features. For me these are their musical expressiveness with a rich, generous and energetic character. This, together with the complete elimination of the speakers and the super layered stereo image, which remains intact at all times, wherever you are in the room, ensure an unforgettable experience. The new Blade One Meta cleverly builds on these already great features. But now let’s start with our demo, because you must be very curious’. This, together with the complete elimination of the speakers and the super layered stereo image, which remains intact at all times, wherever you are in the room, ensure an unforgettable experience. The new Blade One Meta cleverly builds on these already great features. But now let’s start with our demo, because you must be very curious’. This, together with the complete elimination of the speakers and the super layered stereo image, which remains intact at all times, wherever you are in the room, ensure an unforgettable experience. The new Blade One Meta cleverly builds on these already great features. But now let’s start with our demo, because you must be very curious’.

KEF Blade One Meta

Surprising KEF Blade One Meta 

When the gentlemen start off with a surprisingly wide range of beautiful musical examples, there are two aspects that immediately demand my attention. The first is the rock-solid stability in dynamic contrasts and the depth and power in the low range (also a direct result of the use of a very high quality (power) amplifier). While the second aspect concerns the considerably higher refinement, focus, the even further lack of coloring and above all a very good musical consistency. So you clearly hear even more music in a less complicated way, so that technical listening can be thrown overboard very quickly. Is it a completely different view now? No, because the recognizability with the original Blade is certainly still present. But it is clearly a big step forward, just like the KEF LS50 Meta, which was previously equipped with Meta absorption technology. Although it is impossible to name all the music played, I would like to pick out a few typical examples. The nice thing about these kinds of demos and people who love music is that you get new music handed to you on a silver platter. One of these sweets is the French duo Ashkabad with their album International Skankers. Two gentlemen from the reggae and dub scene who had a deep desire to fuse Jamaican influences from the 70s with busy and weighty bass lines. From the opening song Kinshasa it is immediately a party. Because boy, what an impressively good rendering is put down here. I thought I had understood the Blade concept quite well by now, but what arises in the listening room of Listening Matters with this song is almost bizarre. Because while the volume is temporarily set seriously very high, the total reproduction remains completely intact even at this almost live volume. The powerful, busy kick drum and synthesizer bass lines make my diaphragm move violently. Add to this the highly perceptible layering and razor-sharp instrument lines and a broad satanic grin is quickly visible on the faces of all present. Despite the very stable D’Agostino output stage, whose hands even reach 300 at certain moments, even then there is still no trace of stress or compression. Great class and in my opinion ideal for a top quality high-end home cinema.

Enjoy uncomplicated KEF Blade One Meta

After having played a few more songs in which muscles with expressiveness, dynamic contrasts, timbres and above all a lot of fun are united, it is time for more subtle work. The Belgian harmonica player Toots Thielemans, who unfortunately passed away in 2016, was one of the very best and most sensitive playing musicians on this instrument worldwide. His fluent timing, empathy, colors and finesse were unprecedentedly good and, above all, often movingly beautiful. Toots has been able to play on many jazz albums and for today Marc and Ben have chosen the well-known song The Shadow of Your Smile from the compilation album 1955-1978 Columbia Jazz. Despite the age of this recording, the Blade One Metas appear to be able to beautifully bring Toots back to life from the first second. Every turn and intonation is presented in such a beautiful and lifelike way that the audience involuntarily shudders. When Rolando Villazón and Klaus Florian Vogt also manage to convey their performance of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to the listener with the same inspiration and emotion, the party is complete. Few even top speakers can enjoy from whisper soft to thundering loud, while the newly implemented adjustments have clearly provided even more music enjoyment. Impressive. the party is complete. Few even top speakers can enjoy from whisper soft to thundering loud, while the newly implemented adjustments have clearly provided even more music enjoyment. Impressive. the party is complete. Few even top speakers can enjoy from whisper soft to thundering loud, while the newly implemented adjustments have clearly provided even more music enjoyment. Impressive.

Conclusion – KEF Blade One Meta 

What a beautiful and even more impressive loudspeaker than its already very strong predecessor, this new KEF Blade One Meta has become. While retaining all existing qualities, the newcomer goes even further in all facets. The end result is a display system which, especially given its large dimensions, manages to make itself even more invisible and is also a great all-rounder. Because not to cover even the smallest subtleties when the music erupts next is no mean feat and a big compliment to the design team. Together with the significantly increased finish variants, there is an even stronger range than before. The only pain is ultimately in the significantly increased pricing. Although you can’t argue with the beautiful qualities, As a result, the KEF Blade One Meta comes dangerously close to the territory of the well-known high-end loudspeaker brands. But for those who find the beautiful ‘form follows function’ design irresistible, the many finish variants and of course the point source Uni-Q principle, there are ultimately few real alternatives. With KEF Blade One Meta , KEF is once again taking a serious shot at the select list of the best loudspeaker designs of the moment.

Price:

KEF Blade One Meta € 35,000 per pair

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment