CEDIA 2016: KEF Enhances ‘Extreme’ Ci Speaker Lineup, Shows Special Edition Blade

British manufacturer KEF highlighted its $10,000 Ci5160REF-THX THX-certified architectural speaker, a couple of in-wall/in-ceiling subwoofers and a Black Frost finish for its impressive Blade Two.


As usual, British loudspeaker manufacturer KEF comes to CEDIA loaded with products to enhance a CE pro’s audio arsenal.

At CEDIA 2016 in Dallas, the company is showing a range of speaker and subwoofer solutions under its Ci Series — which stands for Custom Install speakers — all the way up to its $10,000 Ci5160REF-THX, the new addition to its Extreme Home Theatre line announced at the show.

That speaker features what the company says are four powerful, extremely linear 165mm (6.5 inch) bass drivers and KEF's flagship 125mm (5 inch) MF/HF Uni-Q array with 25mm (1 inch) vented aluminium dome tweeter at the acoustic center.

It’s an acoustic match between the KEF’s current line of Extreme Home Theatre THX architectural speakers and KEF’s home Reference Series freestanding products. The in-wall speaker is finished with a brushed 11mm (7/16-inch) thick aluminium front baffle. KEF expects the speaker out in December.

“KEF has a growing family of THX Ultra2 and Select2 certified in-wall/in-ceiling speakers and subwoofers. We call them our Extreme Theater Speakers. The new Ci5160REF-THX is the newest in that family. To receive certification the product must be submitted to THX for an extensive battery of testing, both analytical and listening,” says KEF’s Dipin Sehdev.

“The Ci5160REF-THX has bespoke drivers that are derivative from the KEF’s famous Reference series,” adds Sehdev. “This results is a speaker capable of reproducing detail and resolution at a level not heard before in an in-wall speaker.”

At the opposite end of the price spectrum, but not to be overlooked, KEF is also announcing that its $600 Ci4100QL In-Wall speaker has been THX Select 2 certified for front-channel LCR use.

The Ci4100QL-THX (pictured) fits in any standard wall cavity and incorporates a 4-inch Uni-Q driver array and three 4-inch bass drivers. KEF says the slim size and profile make the Ci4100QL-THX ideal for front and rear channels, or as a center channel speaker when mounted horizontally. The product is already shipping.

To add some thump in an in-wall or in-ceiling speaker solution, KEF has a couple of new architectural subwoofers on hand to pump out the bass, the Ci200TRb and Ci200QSb-THX, both 8-inch woofer models.

The dual-voice coil Ci200TRb subwoofer ($425) uses KEF’s UTB (ultra thin bezel) design and a shallow 50mm (1.96-inch) mounting depth. It is part of the company’s thinnest ever in-ceiling speaker line that includes, the Ci160TR and the Ci160TS, both with a mounting depth of a 36mm (1.4 inches) for aiding challenging audio designs.

The subwoofer also has two operational modes for further flexibility. In passive mode, a single Ci200TRb can be wired in parallel with a set of KEF Ci speakers for more low-frequency response and emphasis, or installers can use two Ci200TRb subwoofers with a pair of KEF Ci speakers for even more low-end emphasis. In active mode, the Ci200TRb is used with KEF’s 250WPC Class-D DSP KASA500 systems amp to produce deep low-frequency extension, according to the company. Two Ci200TRb subwoofers are wired to one side of the KASA500, allowing installers to use four Ci200TRbs per KASA500 amp.

Similarly, the Ci200QSb-THX ($400) can be integrated in active or passive mode, and delivers THX-certified stamp of approval. The “Q” Series product can be used as an in-wall or in-ceiling solution.

Of course, for truly awe-inspiring aesthetic speaker solutions, KEF has been highlighting its floorstanding Blade product for several years now, and another version of it presented more photo opps this year in booth 2112 (yes, Rush fans delighted at KEF’s borrowing from the Candian rockers’ iconic progressive album).

The company was demoing the Special Edition Blade Two in “Frosted Black” finish, the first time showing off the Frosted Black Kent Edition of the loudspeaker in North America.

“The Special Edition Blade Two is the same price as the standard finishes, $24,999.99. The special editions were done in celebration of the KEF heritage,” notes Sehdev. “We have been happy with both dealer response and customer response [to the Blades].”

Speaking of their dealers, Sehdev adds that the company supports integrators with plenty of materials to help in their sales, system design and installation of the various products.

“KEF has crafted extensive programs to support the custom integrator channel. For technical or service support KEF has assembled a support team who will respond and resolve most issues and technical questions, often instantly,” Sehdev says. “For new purchases orders received by early afternoon are shipped same day. Marketing materials like literature, product images, lifestyle images, adverts, and videos are available for download from a dealer FTP site. We even have a free design software program that shows in-room coverage for all configurations of KEF ceiling speakers. KEF has an extensive library of training PowerPoints and videos. These can also be accessed online, and our extensive sales network is fully trained to deliver these live.”