The British speaker maker KEF today revealed a visually stunning, state-of-the-art, not-for-sale technology concept speaker called “Concept Blade.” KEF sources say the speaker is the result of a “hush-hush engineering project” that has been under development for more than three years. While the Concept Blade may never become a commercially viable product, it embodies research concepts and technologies that, KEF sources say, “will surely trickle down to the rest of the KEF lineup.”
What makes the Concept Blade so special? In a nutshell, the speaker takes KEF’s familiar Uni-Q array concept (where a tweeter is positioned coaxially within a midrange or mid-bass driver, with the drivers sharing the same “acoustic centers”) to a much higher level. In essence, Concept Blade is designed to behave as if the entire loudspeaker has become a giant, full-range Uni-Q array.
At the heart of the Concept Blade is a 10th-generation forward-firing Uni-Q array. KEF then surrounds that array with four side-firing 10-inch bass drivers positioned symmetrically around the Uni-Q array. Together, the four bass drivers share the same combined acoustic center as the front-firing Uni-Q array, essentially become part of it. From the listener’s point of view, then, the Concept Blade behaves like a single, phase-coherent, full-range driver with very wide dispersion characteristics—or what KEF terms “Single Apparent Source” technology. The resulting sound field, says KEF acoustic engineer Jack Oclee-Brown, is “astonishingly convincing.”
But there’s more to the Concept Blade than Single Apparent Source design. For example, the new 10th-generation Uni-Q driver incorporates an injection-molded midrange driver diaphragm made of liquid crystal polymer, plus a new tweeter that is tube-loaded to the rear and that also uses KEF’s new “Tangerine” waveguide. In a video on the Concept Blade, Oclee-Brown says the new Uni-Q array is one of the most intensively studied driver arrays KEF has ever made, and that the array “behaves pistonically over 7-octaves without any trace of breakup”—a bold claim, indeed.
The Concept Blade’s 10-inch woofers are arranges as “opposing pairs” to cancel out vibrations. The forces involved are so large, however, that KEF found it necessary to both bolt and bond the pairs of woofers together.
Finally, the Concept Blade features a curved-wall enclosure made of a carbon fiber/balsa wood composite. The compound curves of the Concept Blade enclosure are said to give the cabinet much greater rigidity and resistance to resonance than conventional flat-wall enclosures.
While we can’t buy the Concept Blade, we would certainly welcome the opportunity to hear the speaker in action.
For more information and a video presentation on the Concept Blade, visit: http://www2.kef.com/us/conceptblade