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KEF - On the Leading Edge Since 1961 - A Brief History

KEF was founded by former Wharfdale and BBC engineer Raymond Cooke, in Kent, England, on October 2, 1961.

KEF has a long history of innovation and technology-based solutions in the field of audio reproduction. We are proud of Cooke - KEFour history as an engineering-based company with record of innovation and fresh-thinking and although it may just sound like a catchy marketing phrase, we truly are obsessed with our goal of reproducing sound as naturally and unobtrusively as possible. 

10 Facts About KEF

1. KEF was founded on the site of the former Kent Engineering and Foundry Company. Founder Raymond Cooke decided to simply call his new company "KEF."

2. Raymond Cooke, was an electrical engineer who started his career working as a chemist for a railroad in the UK. Cooke served as a radio operator during World War II.

3. KEF's first loudspeaker, the K1, featured a small three-way design that was intended to match the need for matched pairs of speakers for the burgeoning stereo format.

4. The K1 included foil-stiffened, vacuum-formed polystyrene diaphragms and a tweeter with a diaphragm made of Melinex (Mylar). These ground-breaking materials were introduced at a time when almost every other loudspeaker had a doped-paper bass cone and a fabric tweeter.

5. In the early 1970's, KEF was at the forefront of development in computer design, modeling, and acoustic research. KEF played a major role in the development of loudspeaker frequency response measurement using computerized Fast-Fourier Transform techniques.

6. Around 1975, KEF began producing three-dimensional graphs that showed how loudspeakers behaved under “real-world” conditions—not simply with test tones—and the result of this scientific breakthrough was the Model 104. This high-efficiency, high-output small loudspeaker used three innovative synthetic laminated drivers and gave birth to the KEF Reference Series, which is still at the forefront of sound reproduction today.

7. In 1977 KEF introduced its Reference Model 105, the result of one of the most advanced loudspeaker development projects undertaken up until that time. The 105 featured separate enclosures for the bass and mid/treble sections allowing for time-alignment and even sound dispersion over the entire audio range. The Model 105 also featured fourth-order Linkwitz-Riley crossovers.

8. The Reference Model 105 came to represent the highest in loudspeaker technology and KEF received two Queen’s Awards for Export Achievement in the 1970s, and Raymond Cooke received the Order of the British Empire medal in 1979, on the heels of the Model 105's success.

9. In 1988, KEF engineers experimented with a new neodymium/iron/boron magnet material that had ten times the power of standard speaker magnets, and the revolutionary KEF Uni-Q was born. This material allowed KEF engineers to make a tweeter small enough to be mounted at the acoustic heart of the bass unit coil, which produced a single point source of sound. Searching for that elusive acoustic ‘sweet spot’ was now a thing of the past and Uni-Q remains a key KEF differentiator today.

10. In 1993 KEF revolutionized the home theatre market with the introduction of the Model 100 center channel speaker which immediately became popular among serious consumers who appreciated the clear benefits of Uni-Q’s superior dispersion characteristics. In 1994, KEF was one of the first companies to release a THX approved home theatre system–a high-end subwoofer/satellite concept with vertically directional front speakers and dipole surrounds that was revolutionary for its time. 

"Of all art, music is the most indefinable and the most expressive, the most insubstantial and the most immediate, the most transitory and the most imperishable. Transformed to a dance of electrons along a wire, its ghost lives on. When KEF returns music to its rightful habituation, your ears and mind, they aim to do so in the most natural way they can…without drama, without exaggeration, without artifice." - Raymond Cooke

After 57 years of innovation, invention and constant striving to reproduce music and sound as realistically and unobtrusively as possible, we're all excited here at KEF to see what the future has in store for music lovers and home theater enthusiasts everywhere. We're really only getting started.

Thanks to Raymond Cooke for the vision!

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