KEF C3 Bookshelf speakers

The handsome C3 comes in two finishes, European walnut and the Black Ash of the review sample. Measuring 290x177x256mm the cabinets are armed with a 130mm bass driver and a 19mm aluminium tweeter with 'tangerine waveguide' attached, a segmented cover for the tweeter claimed to disperse output. Bass output is supplemented by a forward firing rectangular bass port mounted below the bass/mid driver.


With Beethoven, I was greeted by a forward sound at higher frequencies with decent rumbling bass, but not a lot of definition in-between. Violins were sharp to the point of shrieking on a couple of occasions; as the music rose to a crescendo the speakers could get shouty. Stereo imaging was impressively wide, though.

Cueing up the Mamas and the Papas LP and things improved, although this recording's thinness was exacerbated by the unflinching output of the tweeters. The best part was the stereo imaging; the shape of the soundstage was well marked. I was very aware of who was standing next to who in the line up, though I didn't get a great impression of space between them.

The Morcheeba album fared better. 'Big Calm' is a very well recorded piece of work, and I was immediately aware of the texture of Skye's voice, although felt that it was not sounding quite a smooth as it can. I'd normally describe it as sounding like thick pile velvet, with a slight gloss to the surface; if it was a material, you'd instinctively run your fingers through it for the sensual experience! Here though, it had a tactile quality, but some depth was missing, making seem a bit more like velour.

Bass was fast and had real energy, but lacked much in the way of shape, and served merely to give some sort of balance to the higher registers. Listening to everything again with the speakers bi-wired improved things subtly, so I'd urge C3 owners to do precisely this. Here's a bouncy, vivid sounding small floorstander that's great for rock or pop, but one not to all tastes, especially if you crave smoothness and finesse.

KEF C3 Bookshelf speakers photo