Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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KEF

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of Maidstone, maker of loudspeakers

1961 The company was founded by Raymond Cooke OBE (1925-1995), initially headquartered in a Nissen Hut on the premises of Kent Engineering and Foundry (from where the name KEF is derived).

Cooke, an ex-BBC Electrical Engineer, was keen to experiment with new materials and technologies in order to create products with superior acoustic quality that could reproduce recordings as natural as the original performance.

KEF's first speaker design, the three-way K1, incorporated drive units with foil-stiffened, vacuum-formed polystyrene diaphragms and the revolutionary T15 tweeter with a diaphragm made of Melinex – a state of the art thin but strong polyester film.

Many new products followed including the Celeste, a ground breaking compact two-way design - the first really small hi-fi speaker. It went on to achieve huge commercial success, ensuring the financial viability of the fledgling company.

By the mid 1960s a comprehensive range of products was available from KEF to cover all applications.

KEF took on the exclusive manufacture of the BBC's LS5/1A monitor.

Several new products followed taking advantage of KEF's design philosophy of using synthetic materials for the diaphragm and surrounds of the drive units.

1980s Introduced the Reference Series of loudspeakers.

1985 Released a range of car audio products.

1992 Celestion International Ltd was sold, as a separate entity from the clothing division, to Kinergetics Holdings (UK) Ltd, a holding company whose majority shareholder is Gold Peak of Hong Kong. The group acquired KEF of Maidstone, another top British loudspeaker company, at the same time. Gold Peak began in 1964 as a producer of batteries and has grown to become a multinational force in electronics and technology. [1]

2001 For the expanding home theatre market, KEF developed a range of affordable, high performance subwoofer/satellite systems.

2005 KEF released the KHT9000 system which used activated carbon inside a loudspeaker enclosure to vastly increases its effective internal volume, allowing enhanced bass extension from compact cabinets.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Celestion Website