AXPONA 2015: KEF, Parasound


My number one, must see stop on the tour was the basement room shared by KEF and Parasound. I wasn’t curious about the Reference line (I tend to agree with Kirsten’s impressions), and I didn’t much care about the LS50 unless the new color scheme made it sound worse (it didn’t). I was interested in Blade Two, the scaled down, marked down, $24,000 version of the Blade that is supposed to be friendlier to small rooms.

The original Blade has been one of my favorite speakers since Steven Monte let me listen to his demo pair back in 2012. The sound of Monty Alexander coming out of Blades powered by 805 triodes still haunts me.

But the buzz around the Internet water cooler was that Blade Two might actually be better, in some cases, than its big brother.

From what I could tell from this exhibit, I’d put my money on the buzz being right.

I walked in, pre-show, to find the KEF crew jigging around to some decent Irish Trad. A few minutes later, and I was hip deep in the Beatles, Neil Young, and the Mekons. Twenty minutes after that, and I was convinced that Blade Two is much more to my taste than its big brother. It doesn’t seem to have the same capacity for bombast that Blade does, but the drivers are (if you can imagine it) even more tightly integrated than the first Blade. My memory may be bad, but I’d venture that treble seemed just a touch less prominent, just a touch more natural than that of the original Blade (which isn’t exactly a slouch in that department).

If there was one shortcoming, it was bass. Bass was more than good enough for Rock’n’Roll (and more than good enough to remove the need for a morning coffee), but I got the feeling that I might not want to push too much bottom-octave action at the speakers without some subwoofer assistance. In a room less cavernous than this basement ballroom, I might not even feel the need for subs.

If my morning listening was any indicator, KEF’s winning streak seems likely to continue for a good while.

KEF-0583 KEF-0587 KEF-0593 KEF-0596