5.1-channel loudspeaker package can potentially occupy a good deal of floor space — indeed, with some systems, a noticeable proportion of the entire volume of a room. So it isn’t surprising that satellite loudspeaker/subwoofer systems enjoy some popularity.
But of course they are highly variable in quality. Fortunately with a brand name like KEF, you can be fairly confident that your purchase of this T305 system will put you at the pleasing end of that spectrum of variability.
The KEF T305 system seems to have been designed to fit rather well with a large flat-panel screen. The flat panel you can deduce from the sizes of the satellites, while the ‘large’ we assess from the fact that their performance turns out to be more than adequate for a properly large home cinema set-up. But more on that shortly.
The flat-panel matching is, as we said, clear from their size. The five main speakers are designated model T301 (T301c for the centre channel). All are identical in their dimensions, at 140mm wide, 600mm tall and an impressively slim 35mm deep. At 1.5kg each, they can be flexibly mounted.
The centre channel differs from the other four only by the orientation of the KEF logo and in the hardware that comes included for physical installation.
Finished in black, the speakers would look good screwed onto the wall around any high-quality plasma or LCD TV (obviously the surround ones will adopt their own places at the back of the room).
Within each of these speakers there are three drivers: two 115mm midrange units and a single 25mm aluminium-dome tweeter. The tweeter is at the midpoint between the larger drivers. KEF says that these are configured into a ‘Two-and-a-half way’ arrangement. The satellite enclosures are of a sealed design.
All five of these units are rated at a frequency response of 80Hz to 30,000Hz. KEF says their nominal impedance is eight ohms and that they are suitable for use with receivers rated at 10 to 150W per channel. It says that their sensitivity is 91dB (for 2.83 volts input, measured at one metre) when they are wall attached, and 88dB when free-standing. Which is all the more reason to attach them to a wall, of course.
KEF says that satellites are rated to produce up to 110 decibels of sound pressure level.
Their grilles did not appear to be removable — we didn’t want to force the issue to the point of damage to make certain. Non-standard grub-screw-secured terminals were provided for wiring and these will accept a decent gauge of speaker cable. We loosened the grub screws and used regular banana plugs on our speaker cables with no problems. Allen keys are provided both for the grub screws and for the screws for attaching the stands.
The supplied mounting hardware is generous. You get five ‘desktop’ stands, the centre-channel one being quite different in design from the four other speakers, because of their different orientation. All five stands allow their respective satellites to be set to a slightly upwards-firing angle, or to be directed straight ahead.
There are five metal plates included, which can be screwed to the wall and to which the satellites can be clipped.
Generally with such satellite subwoofer systems the subwoofer is fairly small, but still chunky. With this system, the T-2 subwoofer is small, but very much unchunky. That’s because it is only 177mm thick, including the removable grille on front. There aren’t even any ‘protrusions’ on the back, because the connections and controls are underneath.
The subwoofer is 370mm wide and 380mm tall. Yet despite the small dimensions, it packs a good-sized 250mm driver. This is driven by a 250W Class D amplifier — quite a bit of power is required since the enclosure is so small and is sealed, so just moving the cone requires a lot of energy.
On the underside four rubber feet lift the subwoofer free from the floor, allowing its power cable and your signal cable to be attached in an inset. There are three slide switches for the main controls. One provides three level settings at 6dB intervals; one switches the phase between 0 and 180 degrees; and the third chooses between the subwoofer switching on automatically, or being on all the time.
KEF says that this subwoofer’s frequency response is 30 to 250Hz, ±3dB, and that it is capable of reaching output levels of 110dB SPL. Both the subwoofer and the satellite speakers are available only in ‘classic black’.