High-Fidelity audio came of age in the 1970’s and KEF invested heavily in digital technology to push the Hi-Fi envelope even further. You might not think of the 1970’s as a digital decade but everything we use today in our new digital world had its origins back in the age of polyester suits, really wide garish ties and bad haircuts. We were pioneers in the use of main-frame and super-mini-computers (still the size of a Kia) and Fourier analysis to collect and analyze the data that helped us design speakers that sounded unlike anything previously available to the masses.
In 1973, the first consumer-targeted speaker designed with the aid of a computer was the Model 104, the first product in KEF’s all new Reference series.
KEF founder Raymond Cooke said of the Reference Series when it was first released, “finding a new name for this product was a challenge. I wanted to avoid using misleading words like ‘monitor,’ which had been over-used and discredited. A description was needed to convey the idea that every loudspeaker [in the series] is subject to test and scrutiny at all significant stages of assembly – culminating in a final test comparison with a laboratory-maintained reference standard.” Hence the method of quality control for this amazing new loudspeaker became the name of a new series: “Reference.”
For forty-five years KEF Reference has been synonymous with a level of quality that only the best loudspeaker can deliver. Sure, anyone can use the word 'reference' to name their loudspeakers but if they aren’t tested to a rigorous and exacting standard like KEF’s Reference Series, well then, they’re simply not reference speakers.
Reference. It wasn’t just some cool name the marketing department came up with. The name came after the method of ensuring the highest standard of quality was developed. So even to this day, when we say ‘reference’ we actually mean it.
We were the first to use the term and we were the first to test a consumer loudspeaker with a laboratory reference as a control. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but to us, the word reference still has special meaning – even forty-five years later.