Living Proof that Less Can Be More
May 6th, 2010 -- by Chris Martens
Source: The Perfect Vision
HTB2SE-W Ratings (relative to comparably-priced subwoofers).
- Bass Extension: 8
- Bass Pitch Definition: 7
- Bass Dynamics: 7.5
- Value: 7.5
Further Observations: while the HTF8003/HTB2SE-W combo is a good one, our overall impression is that the HTF8003 sound-bar is the stronger performer and the better value of the two pieces. Though undeniable stylish and cleverly executed, the HTB2SE-W wireless sub is quite expensive for what it does, and—despite its wireless features—offers less flexible setup controls than many subs in its price class.
KEF HTF8003 Front Channel Sound-Bar highlights:
- Features distinctive, two-way KEF Uni-Q driver arrays that combine a .6-inch aluminum dome tweeter and a 3-inch mid-bass driver to form a single, compact, coaxial array.
- The HTF8003 is a single-enclosure, three-channel (L/C/R) speaker system. Each channel has its own set of drivers, including one 3-inch Uni-Q array (as above), one 3-inch low frequency driver, and one 3-inch passive radiator.
- The HTF8003 enclosure is magnetically shielded.
- Clever enclosure design allows the HTF8003 to be wall-mounted (via included brackets), or tabletop-mounted (via included tilt-back legs and a rubber mounting cup).
- Robust enclosure housing is made of extruded aluminum.
- Excellent fit and finish.
- Any color you want, as long as it’s gloss black.
KEF HTB2SE-W Wireless Subwoofer highlights:
- 10-inch woofer and 10-inch passive radiator.
- 250-watt Class D amplifier.
- Wireless transmitter module (included) uses AAFHSS transmission protocol to achieve approximately 25-meter range.
- The subwoofer’s flying saucer-like enclosure normally stands up on edge, but can—via optional (included) feet—be flipped on its side for an alternate “low boy” mounting position.
- The wireless transmitter module also provides a wireless latency selector switch with settings for 15ms or 20ms maximum latency.
- The subwoofer provides control switches for wireless or wired connections, phase (0 or 180 degrees), bass boost (0db, +6dB, or +12dB at 40Hz), and power on/off.
- Crossover: fixed low pass filter set at 150Hz, with a 4th-order slope.
- Unlike many subwoofers in this price class, the HTB-2SE does not provide a variable gain control, a variable crossover control, or a variable phase control. Overall, this would be a stronger product if it incorporated these potentially helpful controls.
- In lieu of a gain control, the woofer provides a SmartBass circuit designed to sense input signals automatically and to turn the woofer on as needed. But since there is no gain control (and no way to adjust the sensitivity of the SmartBass circuit) unexpected problems can arise. During our tests, for example, the woofer sometimes would not respond to autocalibration test signals sent from an Audyssey-equipped AVR, and even when it did respond its output levels were too low to allow the calibration circuit to take reliable measurements. We came up with a workaround, which involved triggering the woofer via a fairly loud bass signal (thus causing the woofer to turn on), and then setting the woofer’s bass boost switch for +6dB of boost (so that output levels would be high enough for our test AVR’s autocalibration circuits to work). But I think these problems could be eliminated if the KEF sub had a conventional gain control.
- The wireless system is convenient, but it appears to introduce some significant time delays (or latencies), so that you may need to use higher than normal distance settings for the sub to compensate.
HTF8003: The HTF8003 offers an unusually clear, coherent, and open sound—one that to my ears seems much more sophisticated than the sound achieved by many of the sound-bar type speakers I’ve heard in the past. Tonal balance is generally smooth and accurate, though it is perhaps skewed just slightly to the lighter, brighter side of strict neutrality. The smoothness of HTF8003’s response is, I think, partly attributable to the excellent dispersion achiever by KEF’s Uni-Q arrays. As a result, there is none of the compressed, congested, or “closed-in” sound that you might hear with some comparably priced sound-bar speakers.