KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System - Product Review

KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System - Combining Style with Substance

KEF T205 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of Front View
KEF T205 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of Front View. Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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Just as LCD and Plasma TV technology resulted in flatter, thinner, TVs that could be mounted on the wall. Speaker manufacturers have been inspired to do the same. The KEF T205 is a uniquely European-designed system that features an extremely flat and slim main and satellite speakers combined with a compact subwoofer. To find out more, keep reading. First is an overview of each speaker, followed by further evaluation and perspective.

After reading this review, be sure to check out my supplementary KEF T205 Photo Profile.

Product Overview - KEF T301c Center Channel Speaker

Here are the features and specifications of the KEF T301c center channel speaker provided for the T205 system:

Frequency Response: 80Hz to 30kHz.
Sensitivity: 91 dB (wall mounted), 88db (stand mounted). This represents how loud the speaker is at a distance of one meter with an input of one watt. Maximum SPL (sound pressure level) output 110db.
Impedance: 8 ohms. (can be used with amplifiers that have 8 ohm speaker connections)
Drivers: Voice-matched with dual 3-inch midrange and 1-inch-dome tweeter.
Power Handling: 10 to 150 watts.
Crossover Frequency: 1.7kHz (represents the point where frequencies higher than 1.7kHz are sent to the tweeter).
Enclosure Type: Sealed.
Connector Type: Insert with a screw.
Weight: 3.3 lb
Dimensions: 5.5 (H) x 23.6 (W) x 1.4 (D) inches.


Mounting options: On the counter, On the wall.
Finish Options: Black

Product Overview - KEF T301 Left/Right Main Channel Speakers

Here are the T301 Front Left/Right front speakers provided with the KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System:

Frequency Response: 80Hz to 30kHz.
Sensitivity: 91 dB (wall mounted), 88db (stand mounted).

This represents how loud the speaker is at a distance of one meter with an input of one watt. Maximum SPL (sound pressure level) output 110db.
Impedance: 8 ohms. (can be used with amplifiers that have 8 ohm speaker connections)
Drivers: Voice-matched with dual 4.5-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter.
Power Handling: 10 to 150 watts.
Crossover Frequency: 1.7kHz (represents the point where signal higher than 3.7kHz are sent to the tweeter).
Enclosure Type: Sealed
Connector Type: Insert with a screw.
Weight: 3.3 lb
Dimensions: 23.6 (H) x 5.5 (W) x 1.4 (D) inches.
Mounting options: On the counter, On the wall.
Finish Options: Black

Product Overview - KEF T101 Left/Right Surround Speakers

Here are the features and specifications of the T101 Front surround speakers provided with the KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System.

Frequency Response: 80Hz to 30kHz.
Sensitivity: 90 dB (wall mounted), 87db (stand mounted). This represents how loud the speaker is at a distance of one meter with an input of one watt. Maximum SPL (sound pressure level) output 107db.
Impedance: 8 ohms. (can be used with amplifiers that have 8 ohm speaker connections)
Drivers: Voice-matched with single 4.5-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter.


Power Handling: 10 to 150 watts.
Crossover Frequency: 1.7kHz (represents the point where frequencies higher than 1.7kHz are sent to the tweeter).
Enclosure Type: Sealed
Connector Type: Insert with a screw.
Weight: 2.2 lb
Dimensions: 13.0 (H) x 5.5 (W) x 1.4 (D) inches.
Mounting options: On the counter, On the wall.

Finish Options: Black

T-2 Powered Subwoofer - Product Overview

Here are the features and specifications of the T-2 Subwoofer provided with the KEF T205 speaker system.

Subwoofer Type: Powered Front firing closed-box subwoofer with a 10-inch driver.
Frequency Response: 30Hz - 250Hz
Low Pass Filter: Fixed at 250 Hz (any crossover adjustments should be made using available crossover settings available on a connected home theater receiver).


Power Output: 250 watts RMS (Continuous Power) - Class D amplifier.
Phase: Switchable to Normal (0) or Reverse (180 degrees) - synchronizes in-out motion of sub speaker with in-out motion of other speakers in system.
Bass Boost: Switchable for 0, +6, +12 dB. Increases the relative output level of the low frequencies at 40Hz and below.
Connections: 1 RCA Line Input, AC power receptacle.
Power On/Off: Two-way toggle, Additional Power Auto/Manual Switch.
Dimensions: 15-inches (H) x 14.6-inches (W) x 7-inches (D).
Weight: 28.6 lbs.
Finish: Black

Additional Hardware Used in This Review

Home Theater Receivers: Onkyo TX-SR705 and Onkyo HT-RC360 (both receivers used in 5.1 channel mode).

Blu-ray Disc/DVD Player: OPPO Digital BDP-93

CD-only Player sources included: Technics SL-PD888 and Denon DCM-370 5-disc CD Changers.

Loudspeaker System used for comparison: EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

TV/Monitor: A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor.

Additional Level checks made using a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter

Additional Software Used in This Review

Blu-ray Discs: Across The Universe, Avatar, Battle: Los Angeles, Hairspray, Inception, Iron Man 1&2, Megamind, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, Sherlock Holmes, The Expendables, The Dark Knight, The Incredibles and Tron: Legacy.

Standard DVDs used included scenes from the following: The Cave, Hero, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Moulin Rouge, and U571.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Setting up the T205 System

Unpacking and setting up the KEF T205 system was very easy. The speakers are so thin, that when you open the box, you may think that you are looking a box of speaker grills. However picking up the individually wrapped "grills" out the box, it is evident that they are the speakers. They are well-sealed to protect them from shipping damage.

Also supplied are the table stands (floor stands are optional), and the speakers can also be wall mounted if desired (additional screws required).

Attaching the table stands is very easy. The table stand for the center channel speaker just slides on (see photo), and it only takes two screws to assemble the front and surround speaker stands and only one screw to attach the stands to the speakers (see photo).

However, besides the thinness of the speakers, the one thing that is noticeable is the lack of either screw-on or push-on speaker connections, but don't be alarmed. The speaker connections are actually recessed into the profile of the speakers (see photo). There are two holes (one red for positive, one black for negative). The holes may look small, but I was able to squeeze a 16 gauge wire in.

To attach the speaker wire, you first loosen the embedded screws using on of the two Allen wrenches provided in the box, insert your speaker wire, and then refasten the screws. You are now ready to place your speakers and begin listening.

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Listening Observations

After placing the speakers and running the Audyssey speaker setup systems (with some additional manual tweaks) on my Onkyo receivers, I was ready to watch some movies and listen to music.

Audio Performance - T301c, T301, and T101 Speakers

Whether listening at low or high volume levels, I found that the T301c center channel speaker reproduced good distortion free sound. The quality of both movie dialog and music vocals were good, but I felt that the movie dialog was reproduced a little better than music vocals.

For movies and other video programming, the T301 and T101 speakers assigned to the left, right, and surround channels delivered a sufficiently immersive surround sound image without losing important localization cues with surprisingly good pickup of detail and ambience. The surround image was free of excessive dips between speakers. Some of the scenes that provided good surround sound tests where the "Blue Room" scene from Hero, the "Echo Game" scene from House of the Flying Daggers, "Forest-Dog" attack scene from Avatar.

When called upon to reproduce music, the T205 lived up to the task. Vocals and instruments were clear and detailed. However, I did feel the T205 system did an overall better job with movie soundtracks than music. I felt that vocals and acoustical instrument sound reproduction could have used a little more brightness. Some of the cuts I used came from Norah Jones, Come Away With Me, Al Stewart's Uncorked, and Sade's Soldier of Love.

Audio Performance - T-2 Powered Subwoofer

The subwoofer provided for this system provided a very interesting user experience. In terms of setup, the first thing I noticed was that unlike the other speakers in the system (and most other subwoofers), the connections and controls provided on the subwoofer are hidden on the bottom, which make them inconvenient to get to if you want to make some adjustments.

Also, although the T-2 Subwoofer is rated with a high power output, I found that in order to get good volume output for the extreme low frequencies present in DVD and Blu-ray disc movies, I needed to up the Bass Boost setting to 6 or 12db. At those settings the T-2 did well with aggressive low frequency effects, such as the "Depth Charge" scenes in U571, the sea battle in Master and Commander, and the long running battle and destruction scenes in Battle: Los Angeles.

At the boosted settings, the T-2 subwoofer also provided a good bass response in most music recordings played, such as with the bass tracks in Norah Jones' Come Away With Me and Sade's Soldier of Love.

In another test example, the subwoofer did come up a little short on the impact of the famous sliding bass riff on Heart's Magic Man, but did not lose the riff as it approached its bottom frequencies as quickly as some system subs I have reviewed. It must be noted that even larger, more expensive, subwoofers have trouble with the bass slide in this recording. The results of this test with the KEF T205's subwoofer was better than I would have expected for its size and design, especially when you consider that it does not have an extra port or passive radiator to boost bass output acoustically.

Taking all into consideration, I found the T-2 to be a good match for the rest of the speakers, providing a smooth transition in the upper bass range with the low frequency range of the center, front, and surround speakers. The texture of the bass response was tight and clear, and while I felt the rest of the speakers did a better job with movies than music, the T-2 subwoofer provided good bass character for both movies and music. However, I actually preferred the job the T-2 did with music, such as acoustic bass.

What I Liked

1. The KEF T205 system provides a good listening experience, especially in a small to medium size room. (in this case a 13x15 foot space).

2. The KEF T205 is very easy to set up and use. The speakers and subwoofer are compact, they are easy to place and connect to your home theater receiver. In addition, their stylish design almost disappears into the room decor.

3. Slim design is perfect complement for wall mounted LCD or Plasma TVs.

4. Variety of speaker mounting options. The speakers can be placed on a shelf or mounted on a wall. I liked the easy one-screw shelf stands.

5. Table stands with required screws and Allen wrenches provided.

6. Very unique and functional hidden speaker connection terminals.

What I Didn't Like

1. The KEF T205 does a great job with movies, but is a little subdued with music.

2. Bass Boost setting needs to be set high to get best low frequency volume output.

3. Connections and adjustments for subwoofer inconveniently located on the bottom. You have to get down on your knees and tilt the subwoofer to access the connections and controls.

4. The subwoofer only has an RCA line audio input, no standard high level speaker connections provided.

Final Take

Although KEF has has put a major emphasis on style with the T205 speaker system, it definitely has not ignored the substance what a good speaker system needs to do. Sometimes listening to speakers over long sessions can leave one with a feeling of listener's fatigue, but I did not have this experience with the T205 system. Although I would have preferred a slightly brighter sound (too much brightness can contribute to listening fatigue), the T205 system provided a very pleasing surround sound listening experience for movies and stereo/surround listening experience for music that many consumers will appreciate.

Another observation worth noting is that although these speakers are extremely thin (1.4-in), they have weight and when placed on a stand are very stable. Of course, their thinness makes them perfect for wall mounting. However, it must be noted that I didn't test the KEF T205 using on wall placement.

The KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System is definitely worth a look and a listen, especially if you considering a speaker system that complements a wall-hanging LCD or Plasma TV.

For a further look at the KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System, check out my supplementary Step-by-Step Photo Profile.

The KEF T205 system is priced at $1,999 (compare prices for online dealers).

Related systems, using the same design and speakers in different configurations, are also available: KEF T305 and KEF T105. All the speakers, (T101, TI01c, T301, T301c) except the subwoofer, can be purchased individually.

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