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Shoppers ought to know right off that a core strength of any UniQ array no matter the model range still results in a most precise occasionally scalpel-sharp rendering of the midband. This makes for brilliant speech intelligibility and near 3D capture of vocals. If you arrive here from another maker’s conventional compact box, you could feel nearly irritated with your own because it could seem restrained and soft by contrast. And that’s factual. All KEFs I’ve ever heard express this very immediate very present vocal range. But one very quickly gets used to it. Take the interesting "Ghost of Tom Joad" from Springsteen’s atmospheric very dense High Hopes production. The typically hoarse timbre of the boss peeled out from the surrounding action to appear as such and very tangible without any added warm-up. Nubert’s nuVero3 which I recently reviewed did this similarly with equivalent internal volume and comparable sticker. Of course the Schwabian’s passive nature doesn’t compare with KEF’s fully active drive but sonic comparisons still count.

Again, the small Nubert had a similar flair for the important vocal range but embedded lyrics more into their accompaniment to apply less embodied nearly holographic focus. About which you could think better musical flow. Surprisingly not. I’d stay with pure matter of taste rather than call one better. If you love audio books, KEF’s midband presence will have your vote. If the X300A gets too loud for her own liking, you’ll reliably know because voices assume a peculiar nasality. Of course I had to provoke such a reaction—hey, I’m a reviewer—with well above room SPL.


Lest you assume a downright midband fixation, the KEF also take proper care of the bracketing registers whilst cleverly disguising natural limits in the bassment. Take a chart cracker like Daft Punk’s "Get Lucky" from the audiophile favourite Random Access Memories. Here one rightly assumes that the electronic infrabass and synth drums only take off properly at elevated levels. Which you’d so not expect from a 4.7-liter mini. Here I’m again reluctant to talk of good and bad. Nubert’s nuPro 300 which I recently heard can do this with more bass mass and power. But that Schwabian isn’t merely bigger but fundamentally voiced differently than the KEF which impressed as is. Here what she can’t do—low bass—is happily not faked up but replaced with potent bone-dry upper-bass punch.

Where a bigger more extended speaker starts to growl with menace, the KEF focuses on peppery freshness and attacks for drum kicks and bass runs. This had me smile. So what if 1.5 octaves were MIA? Such a tuning veritably asked for German Punk-Rock à la Jennifer Rostock’s "Du nimmst mir die Angst" from Schlaflos to blow-dry my hair in a 2-meter nearfield setup. This came off just so and demonstrated exemplarily speed and fun. Like a crazy dervish the Brit tracked the number’s brisk tempo and each impulse with dynamic alacrity. Whilst certain finest details went missing here and there which didn’t happen with our domestic nuVero 3, I couldn’t get too worked up about it. With the KEF no external amp was necessary and the Nubert had the benefit of my Magnat RV-3. The KEF retain a good view even on complex passages to remain unruffled, intelligible and suitably transparent. ‘Suitably’ here means more is possible but that’s no surprise given the very fair sticker. The passive nuVero3 dealt with busy interludes a bit calmer still. Individual events also sorted with more differentiation within such busyness to suggest a somewhat more mature speaker.