The following is an unsolicited review of the KEF T205 Home Theater Speakers from a listener (Alan Grogan). Kef is a sponsor of the Blu-ray Podcast. The opinions expressed in this review are those of Alan and do not represent those of the HT Guys.
Hello Ara and Braden. This is Alan in Springfield, Virginia. A couple of months back I emailed to ask if you could review the new KEF T-Series speakers. You were unable to do so at the time. Though I would have preferred to have your opinion first, circumstances pushed me to take the plunge and buy the KEF T-205 Home Theater Speakers. Here is my story and my review of the KEF speakers.
My home theater is in my family room. While I would love to have a dedicated theater sometime, right now it just isn’t practical. When I wrote you my setup included a Samsung HLN-61WX DLP TV, an Onkyo TX-NR809 receiver, connected to KEF 104/2 floor standing speakers for the front left & rights and a KEF center channel and small Cambridge Audio rear surround speakers and a JBL ES250PCH 400-Watt Powered 12" Subwoofer. My sources include a Mac Mini server as a HTPC an Apple TV (easy for the family), a TiVo and a Samsung BluRay player.
This setup served us well for a long time. The sound was impressive and the bass could be house shaking. Everything was working just fine until the week before Christmas, that is when the DLP color wheel decided to shatter. Nothing like watching Frosty the Snowman in black & white on a 61inch screen to dampen your holiday spirit.
After nearly 11 years I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and get a new TV. I purchased the Panasonic TC-P65VT30 plasma. Wow! What an amazing picture. The whole family was blown away by the new TV. One problem though. When I mounted it on the wall now everything was out of proportion. Because of the depth of the DLP the floor standing speakers seemed to blend in, not any more. My wife asked if we had any smaller speakers we could use instead of my beloved KEF 104s. I had some Cambridge Soundworks speakers I could borrow from the basement setup used by the kids but I explained it would only be temporary. Bingo! Now I had an excuse to buy the KEF T-Series speakers I had been reading about.
I started watching Amazon to see if I could catch them at a good price and much to my pleasure I was able to find them for $1700, $300 off the regular price. And of course I purchased them using the HTGuys Amazon store link! They were shipped quickly and arrived, much to my surprise, in one large box about the size of a small coffin (sorry couldn’t think of anything else that shape). Inside the large box were two smaller boxes, one with the subwoofer and one with all of the satellite speakers. All were very well packed.
When I first opened the box with the satellite speakers I was shocked to see just how small they are. I must admit I began to wonder if maybe I had made a mistake. Could these thin speakers really provide the full sound I had been use to with my larger speakers? The satellite speakers come with table top stands to use if you don’t plan on hanging the speakers. I used the stands for my rear speakers temporarily until I had time to hang them and to experiment with placement. For the fronts and center speaker I forged ahead and mounted them on the wall from the beginning. I did take the time to test each speaker first to make sure they all worked. KEF includes a wall mounting bracket that I used to suspend my speakers.
You may also mount them directly to the wall without the bracket using the slotted screw holes in the back of the speakers. KEF provides mounting templates printed on heavy card stock paper to aid in proper mounting. I wished they had provided a center line for both the horizontal and vertical that extended to the edge of the template. However, a straight edge ruler, careful measurements and a sharp pencil quickly filled the need.
The T-Series comes in 3 configurations, the first, the T-105 includes the T101 Satellite Speakers the smallest speakers, The T-205, which I purchased, has the 3 T301 speakers and 2 T101 speakers, finally the T-305 system comes with 5 T301 speakers. All of the combinations include the T2 powered subwoofer. I chose the T-205 system because of my room configuration. The rear speakers in my setup are fairly close to the seating area and volume from these is never a problem.
Mounting the speakers was very straight forward. Depending on the wall surface and location of studs, wall anchors may be needed to support the speakers. While they are small they are not light-weight. I used wall anchors for support. I then fished the wires through the wall to my unfinished basement below and back up to my receiver. If you can’t run the wires through the wall there are alternatives. In my basement where I have speakers mounted on an insulated wall that would be difficult to fish wires I used flat speaker wire made by Acoustic Research (AR) that is only 1/16 inch thick with selfadhesive that is paintable. It is the equivalent of 18 gauge speaker wire and works great, blends in well.
KEF’s thoughtful design included how the speaker wires attach. The terminals are recessed but easy to access. The wire slip into the terminal and are secured using the include Allen wrench, an excellent tight connection.
Now for the results, first they looked great. They are a real compliment to the Panasonic VT30. While the speakers are not hidden they look like they belong where they are mounted. My wife loves the look. It makes the whole room look neat and tidy. I was anxious to hear how they sounded so I opened up iTunes and clicked on my favorite music playlist. The sound was excellent with surprisingly good bass response but not remarkable. I then used the Onkyo Audyssey setup and did a full calibration. When it was done I played the same music and the room came alive. Crystal clear vocals and bright clean highs. The bass was solid and full. My doubts were starting to fade, these little speakers may just be better than my previous setup.
Now for the real test, I loaded one of Braden’s favorites, Transformers, and skipped to the scene where Bumblebee fights Barricade early in the movie. A good scene to hear both action sequences and dialog. I was astonished at the sound. The bass was deep and shook the floor. The balance from front to rear was perfect and the dialog sounded as if the actors were in the room.
My system has never sounded better. The KEF T205 has me convinced that size really doesn’t matter. I’m sure much of the improvement is a result of having all of the same speakers not a combination of good but unmatched parts. This has to rank as one of the best investments I have made in my home theater system.
My family and I are really enjoying the new setup. Movies we have seen many times seem new again because of the enhanced sound. While $2,000 for speakers is not cheap I feel it is a real bargain. My KEF 04/2s were about $3,000 for the pair when I bought them in 1984 and while they are still excellent speakers, for home theater there is no comparison to the T205. I’ll retire the 104s to my office where I mainly listen to music and of course the HTGuys podcast.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the KEF T205 setup. They look great and sound even better. I would recommend them to anyone looking for great home theater sound. I can’t wait to watch Hugo on my VT30 with it’s great sound track playing through my KEFs.