KEF R500 Floor standing speakers

The tiniest floorstander in KEF's latest mid-cost speaker range, its standmounting R300 little brother, so expectations are quite high. As with its sibling, the R500 isn't just another 'me too' layout and features some fascinating technology, not least of which is the Uni-Q driver array that shares some similarities with Tannoy's Dual Concentric system. The speaker is a three way design with the two drivers that are lower working just as woofers; this gives a better level of separation involving the frequencies which if done well gives a simpler and much more effortless sound, and a cleaner one at that.

Taking care of treble responsibilities is the 25mm vented aluminium dome tweeter, which can be mounted in the centre of the 125mm braced magnesium/aluminium midrange cone and crosses over at 2.8kHz. This hands around to one of the two 125mm bass units which runs to 500Hz, then on to the lower one, promised to drop to 48Hz. Constrained layer damping panels are fitted in the cabinet to minimise resonances, and round the back is KEF's superb terminal board with built-in, selectable bi-wiring links. The overall finish is quite superb.

Sound quality

Despite being the least sensitive in the group at 88dB/1W/1m, the KEF is definitely simple to location, seeming great even close to the back wall, toed in a few measures and doesn't look a particular chore to drive. Indeed, it is a pretty unfussy speaker in a number of methods, showing little preference for any type of music and sounding punchy whatever you choose to play on it and nicely worked out. For instance, the Madness track reveals this loudspeaker's bright and engaging sound from the away. You had never call it harsh, but tonally it is a little better lit in relation to the creamy sounding Q Acoustics Concept 40.

Kate Bush's Misty reveals the R500 to be a class act and serves a broad recorded acoustic guitar above which the vocals hang in an almost ethereal manner up. It sounds tonally somewhat smarter than most here, but does not beam the sound in a way that is particularly directional. There's a lot of low level detail from this loudspeaker, but it can't quite match the likes of the Tannoy Revolution XT 8F or Q Acoustics across the group. This is additionally confirmed by the Love track; there is an extremely subtle opacity to the loudspeaker using a loss of focus to low-level detail. Yet the R500 flatters to deceive; its tight bass and crisp treble gives the impression of a speaker that is somewhat more clear than it truly is.

The Kraftwerk track is great fun, and reveals the bad and good sides of the KEF. Dexterity and its total speed is truly satisfactory, as is not the right -to-correct soundstaging, but stage depth isn't quite the finest. However, the overall competence of the R500 is obvious, making virtually whatever you and a great deal of pleasure play.

KEF R500 Floor standing speakers photo

Review price £1500 / $2250