I have used Kef 105/4s on and off for over 14 years now , I listen to all types of music , from Hip hop , ambient , 70s rock to classical .
My 105/4s have been modified though , these had given me a good few years service and had a lot of heavy use , they had been passed around relatives homes , and been a second hand purchase .
I had also been using other speakers , and was starting to question the 105/4s performance .
I found the bass to lack definition during complex music , treble and mids also seemed a little restrained , and I was having problems with the protection circuits cutting in , they seemed to enjoy high power amps but not volume .
Considering the condition and age of these I decided on a little diy .
Now I am not an Expert nor do I assume to know better , but the first item that was holding back performance was those silly wheels , they had to go .
And I am not a fan of skirting round the base of a speaker , I am sure these add colourations .
So I filled the base with concrete , fitted a 1" birch ply base , and added spikes . This brought them back to the correct height , with improvements in bass definition , slam , and detail .
The S stop and protection from the heads was next , this prevents you from blowing your mid and high frequency units .
There was a rumour it also sent part of the midrange to the upper bass driver , or adjusted the midrange level .
Now the two 4ohm bass drivers are wired together to create an 8ohm load , and both drivers share a cab , so this is seems unlikely .
Would lowering the power to the mid at high volume not also adjust the speakers signature ? Sounded like a compromise to me , better to use a decent amp which you dont run into clipping .
Anyway the s stop circuit was removed , along with that rubbish conection at the bottom of the head assembly , and yes I thought it was a huge improvement , like a curtain had been removed .
There was more punch to the mids , treble seemed less grainy , more detailed .
I also fitted Audioquest cable throughout with silver solder (an absolute pain to fit) , and used an xlr connection to the head as the 107 uses , i also fitted the newer T33 faceplate to the treble units .
Now I was happy with the performance of these speakers , considering their age etc , and I only carried out these mods because of the condition mine were in .
I would not go as far with a mint condition pair .
I feel these modifications added to their performance , like adjusting fine focus on a camera .
I recommend these speakers highly , their performance and engineering is still top class by todays standards , and their weak points are easily modified .
WBT or Neutrik speakon terminals on heads and body .
Rewiring with decent cable and soldering .
Bolting base to a concrete , marble or slate plinth .
Overall these are a great speaker , with the right recording they have the ability to disapear , leaving you with a performance in the listening room .
The soundstage has superb width and depth , with images firmly located within the soundstage , which can also seem to reach behind you .
With slight modification these sounded livier and more open , more transparent .
Bass lost some of its slightly rich quality , with improved weight and definition . Though I do have reservations about removing the protection circuits , and the resulting reduction in power handling this brings .
Difficult to sum up this speaker. The guy who sold these particular 107mk2's to me (£1500 in the UK) bought some expensive Proac's after letting these go. To cut a long story short I helped him find another pair of these (Raymond Cook special editions no less) as he was having extremely pronounced withdrawal symptoms. Now he is happy and smiling again even if his wife is grimacing at the dark finish. They are superb. Read the other reviews posted they do not lie. I heard these and I had never heard a speaker anything like them before. They are transparent as, hell bass crazy, detailed, balanced and seductive. I don't really see the point anymore at listening to another speaker in a hi fi shop. I couldn't afford another speaker to better them anyway. I would guess I would have to spend about £10,000 or more. Mick who sold them to me said he listened to speakers around that price but was not at all convinced they were any better. I drive mine with a big brutish BGW 750a (fan taken out of circuit as it is just too noisy). The BGW is a trifle boring as it is a studio monitor amp but it gives endless amounts of power at a supremely low price (you can pick them up for next to nothing). It is detailed and very controlled and unburstable. It gives the Kef 107's what they need and it means I can get on with listening to music. I use a bargain basement old Rotel 965BX for cd's and a Kenwood monster direct drive turntable. Friends come around and sit there gobsmacked and then ask me about my record collection. The speakers therefore are doing their job. I may have said it earlier but I will repeat myself if I did I can see no reason for selling these. I walked into a shop recently and heard a pair of £4000 speakers playing. My immediate reaction was what a waste of money and what a coloured sound. Compared to the Kef's that is. If you like music try and listen to a pair of these. If you have the money (sell the wife and the kids but keep the car so you can pick the speakers up!) and can find a pair buy them and never let them out of your sight. Another friend and hi fi freak has a pair and he would prefer his house got repossessed rather than lose his! When I finally get the high end valve amp that is in my dreams I will post another review. Obviously I could do with a better CD player and record deck but when you have speakers such as these and listen to music you soon forget the minor details about changing cables etc (although I do have some decent ones). I write my own music and it is just brilliant to be able to play demo’s on them and know whether or not the recording is up to scratch. The speakers at least give you a good representation of the truth. Playing a good recording, something like Travelogue by Joni Mitchell for instance, is a truly awesome experience. I rarely if ever use the word awesome. It is bandied about a lot and is almost commonplace. These speakers mean you can use the word accurately.
As an aside I have just acquired a pair of Kef 105 series 2 speakers on Ebay for the insane amount of £31! I kid you not that is what I paid! They are not up to the 107's in anyway but I think they could probably do with a lot of TLC. Still they are now living in my studio as monitors and are doing double duty as mega fronts for my home cinema setup. I see from another gentleman’s review that they could do with new capacitors etc. but that will happen some distance down the line.
If you have managed to get through this rambling review I would just like to say well done and try and at least get a listen to a pair of old skool Kef reference series speakers. Particularly the 107’s. You will be shocked, surprised and enlightened (and a little bit poorer financially).
These are one of the last pairs of Reference Monitor 105.4s produced prior to Raymond Cook's demise. Each and every Reference Monitor 105.4 was handcrafted by a KEF engineer who made sure that all tolerances were within 1db of the factory reference. Used as a secondary system in my house, I am continually amazed how every new piece of electronics and/or cable/interconnect upgrade opens a new window to the sound of these loudspeakers. This is one of the best indicators for a classic piece of revealing and accurate audio hardware.
The sound is effortless and non-fatigueing. Incredibly smooth, detailed and accurate mid and high frequencies. Dual 200 mm bass units per speaker provides some very fast and accurate low frequencies. Bass is slightly colored relative to the mid & highs but only evident due to the extraordinary capabilities of the mid/high module. However it will not produce a pipe organ with weight due to the size of the enclosure. Use of the KEF KUBE 200 to extend the bass is NOT reccomended due to coloration and distortion injected by the KUBE as well as the additional sets of interconnects. For low bass lovers I point to the larger 107.2s
Every few years I go to an audio shop to see if I can beat them and every few years I am amazed that nothing comes close. Unless you spend tens of thousands of dollars that is! (The one exception is the new Maggie line. They are wow!! But they require lots of breathing room due to their planar nature.)
I used to be a KEF dealer in the mid 80's and early 90s so I had access to all the KEF Models to compare (also compared them against Maggies, MLs, Carver Amazings, ADS, Clestion, Polk, Vandersteen, Infinity and many others.) The bottom line: If you find a good pair of these on the used market don't hesitate. You will not be dissapointed. Also recommended are the lesser 104.2s and the greater 107.2s
104.2s if you like loud music such as rock because they are far more efficient than the 105.4. 105.4s are excellent for classical, jazz, instrumentals vocals etc. For real earthshaking bass performance 107.2s are the way to go.
Associated equipment used with my 105.4s for this review:
ALL amplifiers are Musical Concepts modified Platinum upgrades: 2 ADCOM GFA-565 Monoblocks (Final editions) 1 ADCOM GFP-750 Preamp (used mostly in Passive mode) 1 ADCOM GCD-700 MultiDisc Player 2 ADCOM ACE-515 AC Enhancer (one per channel/monoblock) 1 ADCOM GFA-535 Dual Mono amp (rear channels) 1 Sony DVP-S9000 ES SACD Player 1 Kyocera Ceramic Table 1 Kyocera Carbon Fibre Floating Tonearm & Shell 1 Benz Micro MC-3 with Step-up RIAA Preamp 2 Adcom Crosscoil Cartridge XC/MRII
I purchased these speakers S/H over 10 years ago, they are "cleanly" driven by a Hitachi HCA-8500 mk2 pre amp and two HPA-8500 mk 2 power amps with LINN cabling. I cannot fault them,I hammer them with heavy bass line dance music (I am a Pro DJ)via AR P77 cartridges on SME-3009 arms,connected to Technics 1200 decks and a Pioneer DJM-500 mixer etc etc.
I seach quality of sound that I can afford ??? In my "limited" opinion they are the ultimate speaker for me. The "quality" of the sound reproduction, even over long periods of time, at high volume (10+hours) is superb. > Note: I dont believe in ratings, you must listen to them for a while (min 1 hour) and then choose for your self. Gook luck punters, you will not be disappointed
My parents bought these speakers way back when (maybe 1983?). When they moved to a smaller house, I begged for the KEFs & got them.
The KEFs went to University with me & suffered all sorts of physical abuse & many, many moves. At a party we managed to burn out the X-over in one and the tweeter in another - despite the S-STOP protection. KEF were amazing with their response to my request for repairs or replacement components. Very polite & reasonably-priced. Replacing parts was a breeze & the speakers have performed well since.
The speakers do need lots of room around them (manual suggests 100cm at the side & 50cm behind). This is not easy in most british homes (rooms of 14'*14').
They perform well with everything I've played on them (80's stuff; baroque classical; Jazz; industrial; voice radio (they sound very "BBC" with voices)). They never seem to run out of 'leg-room' when it comes to volume and are never phazed by some of the brutal noises they're given.
They are VERY directional (perhaps enhanced by crowding them). Repositioning the "heads" helps, but despite the "listening window" you can easily get a different impression of the soundstage by leaning across your sofa. The directionality does reduce with increasing volume (expected I suppose), but beyond a certain point your neighbours could get a bit bent out of shape.
They are VERY accurate. I've tried other speaker systems & whenever I hear a friend's hi-fi I always want a change. But then, after a quick reminder I wonder how much better mine could sound.
If you find a pair of these quirky speakers, give them a go. I'm sure they must crop up used in loads of places at reasonable prices. Get them serviced & give them some music.
If you like accurate reproduction of music, weird-looking functional design, have a powerful (>50W RMS) amp, have a decent primary source, have a large room and don't mind older products give these a go.