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This review first appeared in the March 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of KEF
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or KEF - Ed.

Reviewer: Tobias Zoporowski
Sources: Analog - Transrotor Insigne w. Rega RB 300 and Goldring 1042 GX, Lehmann Audio Black Cube Statement, modified Sansui T-80 tuner; digital - Lua Appassionato und Yamaha CD-S 1000 CD players, modified Advance Acoustic MiP-Station iPod dock, Musical Fidelity vDAC and Naim DACs
Amplification: Symphonic Line RG 9 MK IV, Magnat RV3
Loudspeakers: Magnat Quantum 905, Klipsch RF-82 II
Cables: In-Akustik loom, alternate Eagle Cable, WireWorld
Review component retail: €1’000/pr


“Do you want your loaner in white or gunmetal grey?” That was KEF product manager Sven Schlicher’s response to my inquiry about their X300A Wireless. In what? Scurrilous Brit humour at work? [Clearly our German writer was unfamiliar with this standard colour term – Ed.] As long as the boxes arrived without assistance of full-metal jackets, I’d not care. And in the flesh these new wireless active compacts in their classily finished enclosures and Titanium grey finish really did look trick. It’s obvious fact that the number of music fans who use their computer as source is on the rise. And it’s not hard to understand why. Memory for hi-rez libraries these days neither stresses space nor wallet and the convenience of a well-tagged media collection is hard to beat. Never mind popular streaming services like Spotify & Co which put millions of titles at your beck ‘n’ call within seconds.

But – without quality playback hardware the most gigantic selection and slickest access interface don’t equate to true listening pleasure. Hence for years now various makers have filled the remaining gap with a horde of affordable and compact D/A converters which leash to your computer’s USB output to bybass its internal/infernal sound card and output your music files properly to your own hifi. That works wonders but does still rely on a conventional stereo rig.


What if for space reasons one wishes to reduce box count, cabling and setup complexities to their absolute minimum without sacrificing good sound? This question KEF’s compact X300A models (available wireless as reviewed here which also includes wired USB/Ethernet; or as a USB-only version) answers with a convincing proposition.

To call the mini Brit a computer or desktop box just because she takes up less real estate than a DIN A4 sheet of paper isn’t just understatement but insult. For that she’s far too ambitious and clever. This isn’t just about wireless drive but full digital data processing including a digital connection between the speakers. Each includes a 24-bit DAC which tolerates up to 96kHz sample rates. How then do these dwarves know what’s up and down – er, left and right? There’s no assignation switch as Dynaudio’s Xeo has for that purpose. KEF’s boxes embrace the master/slave convention whereby the one with the network sockets is master. This includes a so-called multiplexer, an electronic module which sorts out various input signals to divide stereo into left and right channels. The umbilical between the speakers then carries digital data via USB. Curious on that count? It’s the slave which sports the balance ‘round back which reports back to the master’s multiplexer to respond accordingly.