KEF X300A review
British hi-fi manufacturer KEF has been producing top-quality traditional speakers for years, but it has only recently begun its move into the world of digital music. The X300A speakers represent its first serious attempt in this space, and it’s no tentative toe in the water – it’s a full-on, high dive into the world of premium computer audio.
Ostensibly, the X300As are USB PC speakers. Plug each cabinet into the mains, connect the left speaker to a spare USB port on your PC or laptop, and the speakers’ integrated amplifiers and DACs take care of the rest.
They’re pretty large, measuring 180mm wide and 243mm deep, and heavy, too, weighing 7.5kg each; it’s clear these are no ordinary PC speakers. In fact, at £599, they sit alongside mid-range hi-fi speakers and studio monitors in price – you’d have to be pretty serious about your music to leave these on your desk.
Thankfully, the X300As are easily good enough to replace a pair of standard, passive speakers atop your living room speaker stands. And with 50W amps powering the 5.25in mid/low frequency drivers in each speaker, plus 20W amps behind the exciting-looking Uni-Q tweeters, there’s more than enough power to fill a medium-sized room.
Listening to music on these speakers is a visceral experience: vocals and solo instruments are delivered with astonishing clarity and realism, and although the bass response is limited – the X300As roll off at around 58Hz – bass drums and beats are delivered with such solidity and control that we never felt we were missing out.
In terms of sound quality, the X300As are the match of any speaker system we’ve heard at the price. We compared them with our reference pair of £800 Adam Audio A7x’s, and in some respects we preferred the smaller KEFs – less deep bass, perhaps, but a more forward, appealing mid-range.
The only downside with the KEF X300As is connectivity. The single USB input is accompanied by a 3.5mm analogue, but this becomes active only when you pull out the USB cable, making it fiddly to switch between sources.
Still, if a laptop or PC is your primary source of music, or if you’re looking to simplify an existing hi-fi separates system the KEF X300As are appealing. They’re stupendously good, even at this price.
|Speaker power ouput||70W|
|RCA (phono) inputs||0|
|3.5mm audio input jacks||1|
|Optical S/PDIF inputs||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF inputs||0|
|USB audio inputs||1|
|Wired remote power/volume control||no|