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KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System - Product Review

KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System - Review - Page 2 - Evaluation - Final Take

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


KEF T205 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of Front View

KEF T205 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of Front View

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Listening Obsverations

After placing the speakers and running the Audyssey speaker setup systems (with some additional manual tweaks) on my Onkyo receivers, I was ready to watch some movies and listen to music.

Audio Performance - T301c, T301, and T101 Speakers

Whether listening at low or high volume levels, I found that the T301c center channel speaker reproduced good distortion free sound. The quality of both movie dialog and music vocals were good, but I felt that the movie dialog was reproduced a little better than music vocals.

For movies and other video programming, the T301 and T101 speakers assigned to the left, right, and surround channels delivered a sufficiently immersive surround sound image without losing important localization cues with surprisingly good pickup of detail and ambience. The surround image was free of excessive dips between speakers. Some of the scenes that provided good surround sound tests where the "Blue Room" scene from Hero, the "Echo Game" scene from House of the Flying Daggers, "Forest-Dog" attack scene from Avatar.

When called upon to reproduce music, the T205 lived up to the task. Vocals and instruments were clear and detailed. However, I did feel the T205 system did an overall better job with movie soundtracks than music. I felt that vocals and acoustical instrument sound reproduction could have used a little more brightness. Some of the cuts I used came from Norah Jones, Come Away With Me, Al Stewart's Uncorked, and Sade's Soldier of Love.

Audio Performance - T-2 Powered Subwoofer

KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of T101 Surround Satellite Speaker - Dual View

KEF T205 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of T101 Surround Satellite Speaker - Dual View

The subwoofer provided for this system provided a very interesting user experience. In terms of setup, the first thing I noticed was that unlike the other speakers in the system (and most other subwoofers), the connections and controls provided on the subwoofer are hidden on the bottom, which make them inconvenient to get to if you want to make some adjustments.

Also, although the T-2 Subwoofer is rated with a high power output, I found that in order to get good volume output for the extreme low frequencies present in DVD and Blu-ray disc movies, I needed to up the Bass Boost setting to 6 or 12db. At those settings the T-2 did well with aggressive low frequency effects, such as the "Depth Charge" scenes in U571, the sea battle in Master and Commander, and the long running battle and destruction scenes in Battle: Los Angeles.

At the boosted settings, the T-2 subwoofer also provided a good bass response in most music recordings played, such as with the bass tracks in Norah Jones' Come Away With Me and Sade's Soldier of Love.

In another test example, the subwoofer did come up a little short on the impact of the famous sliding bass riff on Heart's Magic Man, but did not lose the riff as it approached its bottom frequencies as quickly as some system subs I have reviewed. It must be be noted that even larger, more expensive, subwoofers have trouble with the bass slide in this recording. The results of this test with the KEF T205's subwoofer was better than I would have expected for its size and design, especially when you consider that it does not have an extra port or passive radiator to boost bass output acoustically.

Taking all into consideration, I found the T-2 to be a good match for the rest of the speakers, providing a smooth transition in the upper bass range with the low frequency range of the center, front, and surround speakers. The texture of the bass response was tight and clear, and while I felt the rest of the speakers did a better job with movies than music, the T-2 subwoofer provided good bass character for both movies and music. However, I actually preferred the job the T-2 did with music, such as acoustic bass.

What I Liked

1. The KEF T205 system provides a good listening experience, especially in a small to medium size room. (in this case a 13x15 foot space).

2. The KEF T205 is very easy to set up and use. The speakers and subwoofer are compact, they are easy to place and connect to your home theater receiver. In addition, their stylish design almost disappears into the room decor.

3. Slim design is perfect complement for wall mounted LCD or Plasma TVs.

4. Variety of speaker mounting options. The speakers can be placed on a shelf or mounted on a wall. I liked the easy one-screw shelf stands.

5. Table stands with required screws and Allen wrenches provided.

6. Very unique and functional hidden speaker connection terminals.

What I Didn't Like

1. The KEF T205 does a great job with movies, but is a little subdued with music.

2. Bass Boost setting needs to be set high to get best low frequency volume output.

3. Connections and adjustments for subwoofer inconveniently located on the bottom. You have to get down on your knees and tilt the subwoofer to access the connections and controls.

4. The subwoofer only has an RCA line audio input, no standard high level speaker connections provided.

Final Take

KEF T205 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of T-2 Subwoofer - Multi-View

KEF T205 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - Photo of T-2 Subwoofer - Multi-View

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Although KEF has has put a major emphasis on style with the T205 speaker system, it definitely has not ignored the substance what a good speaker system needs to do. Sometimes listening to speakers over long sessions can leave one with a feeling of listener's fatigue, but I did not have this experience with the T205 system. Although I would have preferred a slightly brighter sound (too much brightness can contribute to listening fatigue), the T205 system provided a very pleasing surround sound listening experience for movies and stereo/surround listening experience for music that many consumers will appreciate.

Another observation worth noting is that although these speakers are extremely thin (1.4-in), they have weight and when placed on a stand are very stable. Of course, their thinness makes them perfect for wall mounting. However, it must be noted that I didn't test the KEF T205 using on wall placement.

The KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System is definitely worth a look and a listen, especially if you considering a speaker system that complements a wall-hanging LCD or Plasma TV.

For a further look at the KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System, check out my supplementary Step-by-Step Photo Profile.

The KEF T205 system is priced at $1,999 (compare prices for online dealers).

Related systems, using the same design and speakers in different configurations, are also available: KEF T305 and KEF T105. All the speakers, (T101, TI01c, T301, T301c) except the subwoofer, can be purchased individually.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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