A Grand Day Out – Chord Co visit KEF

A Grand Day Out – Chord Co visit KEF

kef-visit-001 It all started a couple of winters ago, when KEF very kindly offered to lend us their Blade speakers over the festive season.  Ron from KEF spent some time setting up the speakers in our demonstration room and straight away we were all very impressed with their performance.  They very quickly became one of our reference speakers,  used to compare cables we had in development.

Collection day came too soon and we were all left wanting to hear them again!  (I’m fairly fortunate as several of the retailers I look after have them on demonstration!)

Since that day,  Alan (our MD) had been saying how we must get a pair for our demonstration facility.  Time flew – until this summer, when we decided to actually make this happen.

We contacted KEF to look at purchasing a pair to add to our broad range of speakers that we use for product testing and development.  We feel better cables improve most systems, irrespective of their components and we always like to test our new products on a broad range of speakers – including type, manufacturer and placement.

kef-visit-004December last year, we were invited to the KEF factory in Maidstone and were able to witness our set of Blades being built.  It was fascinating to see the care and attention taken during the construction.  Our Blades are a little different to all the others in the market – they aren’t a different colour or design, but we have wired them internally with Chord Sarum cable.  Before the visit, KEF gave us a list of the lengths required and we prepared all the cables here at the factory, so we arrived with them ready to solder.

We departed for the KEF factory at dawn, clutching our precious Sarum cable.  We met the production team who would be building the Blades. The cabinets were already resting in a custom made ‘caddy’ which allows the engineers to easily work and run the cables internally.

kef-visit-002Our Blades were being built by engineers Mark and Carl.  We were able to witness them run all the cables through the cabinets, fit the crossovers and drivers. The first cables were fitted to the Uni-Q driver and then immediately tested to ensure they met the strict performance standards that KEF set.  Mark explained that even small things like not sealing the exit holes correctly on the back of the driver casing can have significant effects on the performance.  The process to wire and fit the drivers on the Blades takes pretty much the whole day to complete.

kef-visit-003Mark and Carl carefully installed the Sarum cable – a few working modifications were made to allow the cables to be fitted.  Once all cables had been run through the cabinet, the crossovers were fitted, the cables were terminated onto the crossovers and finally the low frequency drivers were fitted.  The speakers were soon completed (we were taken for lunch, which allowed Mark and Carl to get on without us interrupting!).  Upon our return we were greeted by a completed pair of Blades. The speakers were moved along the production to Graham who is in charge of testing and packaging.  The speakers were individually placed into a chamber and a series of full frequency range tests were carried out.

Once the speakers were tested (and passed) they were hand polished in a dedicated booth before being packaged and dispatched.

We then had the opportunity to meet Jack who is the principle designer behind the Blade speaker. He gave us a tour through their testing facilities including the anechoic chamber, which is a very odd experience if you ever get to stand in one!

kef-visit-005We finished our tour in the KEF Museum where they have on display nearly every speaker they have produced from the early 60’s until today.  They also have a number of concept speakers that were the ideas behind products we see today – a great place to finish the day.  Just as we were about to leave, the guys from production wheeled in our Blades to have a quick listen to and bearing in mind they had not been run in at all – we were pretty happy with the results!

We made our way back to Chord HQ that evening, looking forward to the arrival of our Blades at the factory.

Ron returned recently, bringing our new Blades.  We have had them running in ever since and they are just getting better and better!  We are looking forward to inviting our retailers to the factory for training this year to show these off!

Matt Peddle



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