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KEF To Add Entry-Level Series

8/04/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

KEF America plans to expand its customer base with the September launch of a new entry-level in-room speaker series priced from $120 each to $400 each.

The new C series of five two-way speakers and active subwoofer comes in under the entry-level iQ series, which ranges in price from $330/pair to $1,300/pair and will be replaced in the coming months with a slightly more expensive iQ series.

"The C series will expand our appeal and provide an opportunity to get into new distribution," said sales and marketing VP Paul Egan, pointing to the brand's main focus on A/V specialists and custom installers. Some regional chains also carry KEF in-room speakers. National chains are not in the distribution plans, he noted.

The new series marks the first time in the United States that KEF will actively market in-room speakers that do not use the company's hallmark Uni-Q coincident-driver design, which places the tweeter in the mechanical and acoustical center of a midrange or woofer. The configuration delivers wide dispersion in both drivers' operating range, enhancing off-axis response and expanding the stereo sweet spot. The bookshelf and floorstanding C-series speakers, in contrast, will use a tangerine waveguide with an aluminum-dome tweeter to widen high-frequency dispersion.

In the past, some KEF speakers lacking Uni-Q design were available in the United States but were developed mainly for emerging markets, Egan noted. Although available to U.S. dealers, they were not promoted by KEF America "because they were not appropriate for the U.S. brand position." Those products were dropped globally a couple years ago, he noted.

Uni-Q drivers are more expensive to produce than separate woofer and tweeter drivers, Egan said, and aren't practical to include in speakers in the C series range, particularly with the cost of materials and shipping rising sharply.

The C1 bookshelf with 4-inch woofer and 0.75-inch tweeter retails for $120 each. The C3 bookshelf with 5.25-inch woofer is $150 each. The C5 floorstander with 0.75-inch tweeter and two 5.25-inch woofers is $325 each. The C7 floorstander with two 6.5-inch woofers is $400 each. All are bass-reflex. The $250 6LCR is an acoustic-suspension speaker that can be used as a left-right or center speaker. It features two 5.25-inch woofers flanking a 0.75-inch tweeter. All are available with European walnut or black ash finishes with high-gloss black baffle.

The C series subwoofer is a bass-reflex model with 200-watt Class D amp and 8-inch driver.

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