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KEF T101 Review (Thin Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 156 92.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 10 5.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 1.8%

  • Total voters
    169

DanielT

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So, somehow, did KEF lose against... IKEA? ;) (or Sonos)
Mainly the Ikea speaker I was impressed with. First time I read about it today.

Kef T101 is perhaps placement sensitive? Otherwise I say about both that Ikea speakers and this Kef: It was like hell that they could produce something like that. Unexpectedly.:) ..and :(
 

restorer-john

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Kef T101 is perhaps placement sensitive?

Absolutely. Correct placement is everything.

I suggest here would be a good place to start:
1641201823149.png
 

DanielT

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Absolutely. Correct placement is everything.

I suggest here would be a good place to start:
View attachment 176360
Ha ha :D

... and it's KEF, thats annoying. Had there been some other ignorant thugs who created this, it would mostly have been just a blasé statement regarding its performance but now ..
 
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Chr1

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I love this new trend for thin/small/tiny speakers and other components...plus sonos, soundbars etc... I suspect it is often because folks are harassed into changing to gear that fits better with furniture, less obtrusive or whatever.

For me, it means that there are often very good deals available on full sized Good quality components, at great prices second hand. (Plus, if you don't need a phono preamp, those vintage integrated amps fetch big sums to this young generation of bearded hipsters who just discovered vinyl a few years back.)

Win win. Thanks KEF!
 

KellenVancouver

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31 votes and 100% headless panther???? That is quite cool, I never see that before.

The driver itself performed pretty good, considering the mid range is only 27mm tall. The distortion is excellent in mid range duty, but falls off at low bass as expected. They mentioned they have waveguide on the tweeter, but sadly did not address the directivity mismatch. I think the crossover is clearly flawed or maybe damaged, I guess anyone taking half an hour can do even better than this. If someone can ask KEF about this review that might solve some mistery in crossover.
Not trying to throw a Molotov cocktail here, but observing a frequent phenomenon on ASR: when Amir's review produces a lackluster result the question will invariably be raised about whether he tested a broken unit, a lemon, an anomaly. This especially seems to occur with more "high end"/expensive items. It leaves the distinct impression that audio manufacturers are somehow consistently prone to quality control failures, or at least perceived to be.
 
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Vladimir Filevski

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I have no idea about KEF's EQ curves, but your results look like tuning for wall mounting to me.

If bracket + speaker placed the baffle ~90mm from the front wall, SBIR would create dips at 900Hz & 4.5kHz and peaks at ~2.7 & 6.3kHz. You still have a hole at 1.5kHz, but the nulls complement Klippel's PIR nicely enough.
No, T101 is only 35mm deep, with wall back-mounting plate is 40mm deep at most, so it is not designed for 90mm distance mounting from the wall.

Edit: here is a video about wall mounting with KEF wall mounting plates (frantic time-lapse up to 0:33, than normal speed video):
 
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MacCali

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That's hilarious, went into Bestbuy today and I saw these speakers in their home theater section, and I was like what in gods name is this lol. No interest in ever purchasing anything like that, but common... really lol
 

MarkWinston

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Im going to save this down. Anytime anyone tells me KEF has never made a bad speaker Im goin to shove this review down their throats. On a side note, this is truly a disgrace to KEF.
 

anphex

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You can get a 50 $ bluetooth speaker and it performs about the same lol.

Here are the engineers in this brief marketing video:


"Flat screen TVs can't get good sound because of the flatness, but our flat speakers do." Did he just disprove his own logic?
 

KMO

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This was always going to be KEF's objectively worst speaker. If it was possible for good speakers to be 35mm deep, people here would be generally using them, rather than all the 20cm+ deep boxes we own. This is design within an ultra-thin profile constraint.

The Ikea/Sonos one that measured better was nearly twice the thickness at 60mm . If you really want a 35mm-deep wall-mount speaker, for whatever reason, I'm not aware of anything better. If I needed something with this profile (and I'm glad I don't), I don't know what else I should choose.

Maybe you could argue that respected companies shouldn't be attempting to address the market to save consumers from themselves. If no-one offered 35mm-deep wall mount speakers, consumers would be forced to buy more-sensibly-shaped ones. :)
 

Dennis_FL

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I bought the Martin Logan thin passive soundbar and it was also horrible. I sold it, pronto. I understand the objective of thin speakers, but if it doesn't fit you must quit.
 

sarumbear

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I was impressed with the ability of the T101 to play loud. Yes, there is zero deep bass but still, this is a little flat panel speaker so this much power handling was impressive.
@amirm thank you for the test. I do however cannot understand how you use the word "bass". You say there is zero deep bass, but is there any bass? The f3 is almost at 200Hz!

This speaker misses the entire four octaves at the bottom and one at the top, in other words half of the audible spectrum. How can it be considered as a Hi-Fi speaker?
 

KMO

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This speaker misses the entire four octaves at the bottom and one at the top, in other words half of the audible spectrum. How can it be considered as a Hi-Fi speaker?
I don't think it can be. KEF themselves call it a satellite speaker.

And the manual tells you to use bass management, or else:

1641216945028.png
 

sarumbear

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I don't think it can be. KEF themselves call it a satellite speaker.

And the manual tells you to use bass management, or else:

View attachment 176385
In which case they should be tested with the subwoofer that KEF has designed the speakers to work with. Otherwise we are testing and commenting on a part of a speaker.
 

Vladimir Filevski

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As discussed in the T301 review thread, this is specifically tuned for wall placement, and the floor stand they provide has a signal path with a passive filter in it to correct the response for free-standing.
Using it as free-standing without that filter is not the design intent.
Although my educated guess is that filter is probably only a shelf filter lowering stuff above the midrange by 3-6dB, similar to the "band 3" Amir applied.
The other spikes (which may be intentional anti-SBIR for wall mounting) would probably remain.
KEF's explanation about their own Selecta-mount is conflicting and confusing:
https://us.kef.com/explore-kef/kef-innovation/selecta-mount
Here it shows KHT9000 measurements comparing free space placement away from walls (say, flat) and on-wall (with obvious bass-boost and comb-effect). Then, there are KHT9000 measurements comparing free space, and on-wall with Selecta-mount, where bass is shelved down (with high-pass filter integrated in on-wall Selecta-mount), to match free space measurements. But, the T-series of loudspeakers are not mentioned at all and there are no T101 or T301(C) measurements with and without Selecta-mount intended for T-series loudspeakers.

On the other hand, in their T-series brochure:
https://www.shop.us.kef.com/pub/media/wysiwyg/documents/tseries/t_tech_explained.pdf
on the page 8 there is an explanation "...when they (T-series) are used on the floor stand ... the KEF Selecta-mount system automatically adjusts the balance", with see-through rendered image of the floor-stand Selecta-mount, exposing parts which looks like a cored inductor and a ceramic resistor. It resembles a low-pass filter for baffle step compensation (parallel LCR, in series with the loudspeaker).

This Selecta-mount low-pass filter will not help T101 much, because there is a huge peak at 850Hz and massive dip around 1.5kHz, which can not be corrected with a simple LCR filter. Likewise, it will not help T301 either. It seems the problem is inherent to the midbass driver. Interestingly, T101 speakers don't have those bad resonances around 1kHz as T301 have.

I was under the wrong impression that all Selecta-mounts have the same high-pass type of filter built-in, but clearly only the name Selecta-mount is the same. KHT9000 on-wall Selecta-mount contains high-pass filter, and T-series floor-stand Selecta-mount contains low-pass filter. So, @KMO was right in his post #64 in the T301 review thread, and I stand corrected. As a man of honour, I apologize to @KMO.

Edit: LR, not LC.
 
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sarumbear

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On the other hand, in their T-series brochure:
https://www.shop.us.kef.com/pub/media/wysiwyg/documents/tseries/t_tech_explained.pdf
on the page 8 there is an explanation "...when they (T-series) are used on the floor stand ... the KEF Selecta-mount system automatically adjusts the balance", with see-through rendered image of the floor-stand Selecta-mount, exposing parts which looks like a cored inductor and a ceramic resistor. It resembles a low-pass filter for baffle step compensation (parallel LC, in series with the loudspeaker).
An passive filter in a speaker stand...to compensate 2Pi to 4Pi transition of a speaker must be the best wishful thinking based engineering I have heard.
 

KMO

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An passive filter in a speaker stand...to compensate 2Pi to 4Pi transition of a speaker must be the best wishful thinking based engineering I have heard.
Aye. But it's better than nothing, right? Doing nothing and hoping they'd work fine would be even more wishful thinking. It's just a simpler form of what Amir did with his EQ:

I put in the shelf quickly to get rid of the brightness. A more precise filter may have done better as the sound was still on the bright side. But compared to before, at least it was not flat broken sounding.

My best-guess backstory is that the engineers had done the best they could given the marketing design spec of "35mm, wall mounted".

Knowing that the financial folks wanted to sell high-mark-up floor stands for them, they persuaded them to pop a couple of components in for the money so that they wouldn't be "flat broken sounding", as Amir put it. And they got to use a silly "Select-mount" marketing name for it, and probably added even more margin to the stands...
 

DSJR

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B&O made wall hanging speakers of various types some decades back. The later models from the 80's had an optional amp pack that could be slung on the bottom (so passive speakers amplified...). The Beolab 5000 model sounded ok in non-critical client's homes and one couple hid them behind their curtains, the resulting noise not as muffled as one would think..

Different market, different objectives...
 

Vladimir Filevski

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An passive filter in a speaker stand...to compensate 2Pi to 4Pi transition of a speaker must be the best wishful thinking based engineering I have heard.
The main problem is very bad frequency response of T101 (and T3001C), which can not be corrected with simple LR filter when mounted in free space - so yes, a wishful thinking, for T-series loudspeakers at least.
But with other loudspeakers with good frequency response tailored to on-wall mounting, this approach has (some) merit.
 
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