It’s Monday again and I’ve been looking forwards to sharing my demo-room musings. The chaps at the shop have left me a real treat today in the form of the Kef Blades and the T+A HV SDV/A3000, so I thought it would be incredibly rude of me not to give it a quick spin. Where to begin?
Kef Blades – what a truly underrated piece of acoustic art. Standing at 5 foot tall and the better part of 3 foot deep, the Blades are a rather intimidating looking speaker. The four 10″ woofers on each speaker send the message that this is a device meant for the teenagers down the street rather than reproducing Rossini or Rachmaninoff. I believe that this first impression has made many audiophiles neglect one of the most accomplished speakers in our store. When you take the time to set the Blades up, (oh, they’re fussy about positioning!) you’re rewarded with a speaker that can resolve the most complex of passages with ease and casts out a soundstage to rival the very best. The detail and spaciousness is underpinned by one of the most full-band and tuneful bass performances seen on a reflex-design speaker. Driving the Kefs are two Brutal-Bauhaus-Behemoths from T+A’s HV series – the new Streaming Dac Variable and Stereo power amplifier to be specific! The SDV is part of a new breed of preamplifier for the modern era, offering a fully analogue volume control and an analogue input whilst also offering onboard network functionality and every digital input under the sun. The integrated DAC was recently lauded in HiFi News as one of the most technologically advanced and does a phenomenal job in creating a completely life-like sound. The matched power amplifier is unique in operation, working in pure Class A for the most part with the ability to operate in AB for sudden demands of power from the loudspeaker, the A3000 offers a sweet, valve-like sound with the flexibility of pairing that you’ll only find with chunky solid state designs.
I found myself flitting across genres and albums again today (always a good sign that a system is enticing you in) and there were several real highlights. The first of these was a track that has haunted HiFi shops for 30 years – Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes”. To say that I am familiar with the track would be somewhat of an understatement, it being played on a daily basis inside of the store, but I was totally unfamiliar with how supremely well the Blades and SDV conjured up the amazing vocals from Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Voices hung in the air, each in their own free space, with every sigh and breath resolved until the sweet guitar lick rolled into the front of the soundstage and the rhythm sections of the track began to bounce along. The same phenomena happened with Black Label Society’s track “Rust”, the combination bringing the gruff, throaty vocals of Zak Wylde to life in our demo room whilst the decay of notes and reverb in the track happened around him. By this point Jon had called to make sure that I had not permanently bonded to the demo room sofa so I decided to end my listening by revisiting the amazing 2013 album “If You Wait” by London Grammar which highlighted all of the brilliant traits of the system, Hannah Reid’s voice was reproduced with a delicacy and intimacy that few systems can muster and the dreamscapy backings served up with all of the dynamic power and scale of an atomic bomb.
The combination may be unconventional, but this may be the industry’s best-kept-secret.
See you next Monday