KEF Blade Two Meta loudspeaker

It seems as if I have been waiting for these all my life. Not in any existential sense, but in a literal, practical way: The arrival of the Blade Two Meta is the culmination of a lifelong fascination with KEF. As a teenager, I was introduced to founder Raymond Cooke and his innovative “race-track” woofer, Mylar tweeter dome, and Bextrene cones in Bud Fried’s IMF Newsletter. Shortly thereafter, I commenced decades of building loudspeakers, mostly with KEF drivers, and, beginning with the 104 in 1973, pining for their Reference speakers. They always seemed to strike the right balance of intelligent engineering, solid construction, and domestic suitability. Regrettably, they were always priced out of my reach.

The project Cooke started has been sustained by a succession of notable designers and engineers (Laurie Fincham; Andrew Jones), and it seems to be flourishing under the current VP of technology, Jack Oclee-Brown. During his tenure, we have seen the maturation and refinement of the Uni-Q coaxial driver, the development and implementation of Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), the use of force-canceling woofers to minimize cabinet vibration and coloration, and the introduction of stiff, glass-reinforced composite cabinet material shaped to reduce diffraction. These technologies and others combine in what KEF calls a “Single Apparent Source.” All are incorporated in the new Blade Meta speakers.

When the original Blade was released in 2009, I was fascinated but also intimidated. They looked like no other speaker, and they were tall. The latter is significant because I enjoy the view from my Manhattan apartment, unobstructed on the inside, at least. Still, I was jealous when John Atkinson reviewed the smaller com/Blade Two in 2015. This time, anticipating updates to the Blades (and the Reference line) for KEF’s 60th birthday, I presumptuously requested a pair of the new Blade Twos well before they were announced. It worked.


Superficially, the Blade Two Meta looks just like its predecessor: same shape, same dimensions, same weight, a single Uni-Q driver on the front, two pairs of force-canceling woofers mounted on the cabinet’s two sides, and two large ports, each venting a separate chamber for each woofer pair. Even the speaker terminals look the same. Yes, the price is higher, but taking inflation into account, the new speaker is actually about 10% cheaper.

So, what’s new in 2022? Uni-Q, KEF’s unique, concentric tweeter/midrange driver, is now in its 12th generation; as the “Meta” name indicates, it incorporates Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) to reduce the influence of the reflection of the tweeter’s backwave back onto its own diaphragm. This 12th generation technology has already appeared in the LS50 Meta, and John Atkinson said that in comparing it to its predecessor, it “improves on its presentation of low-level detail and … presents a more transparent window into the recorded soundstage.” (footnote 1)

The Uni-Q in the Blade Two is a bit different. The LS50 is a two-way loudspeaker, its Uni-Q is a tweeter/midwoofer combination, while in the three-way Blade, the Uni-Q is a tweeter/midrange combination, so it’s free to operate over a narrower bandwidth.

The Meta Uni-Q’s midrange also operates over a narrower bandwidth than the Uni-Q in the original, crossing over to the woofers at 450Hz and to the tweeter at 2.2kHz, compared to 320Hz and 2.4kHz in the original Blade Two. The increase in the lower-limit frequency should improve power handling. Frequency-response linearity and dispersion control have been enhanced by a redesign of the crossover, which now incorporates a polarity inversion for the midrange. A fascinating and comprehensive document on the technical development of the Blade and Reference series is available from KEF (footnote 2).

Setting up the Blade Two Metas
Oh, my, these are lovely speakers. Our room style might be described as transitional, with traditional elements and far from modern. Yet, the Brâncusi-inspired Blades fit right in. Yes, they are tall and deep, but they are so narrow, gracefully shaped, and finished that they do not dominate the space visually no matter where they are placed.

These Charcoal Grey and Bronze Blade Two Metas were trucked in from KEF America in New Jersey and installed by a team headed by Ben Hagens, KEF’s product training manager. It was the swiftest installation of a pair of large speakers that I’ve witnessed. The KEF guys knew what they were doing, the packaging was uncomplicated, no assembly was needed, and for all their size, the Blades are relatively light, at 78lb. What’s more, Ben was happy to let me deal with the fine-tuning. We were all standing, behind the sofa where I normally sit while listening. I connected speaker cables to the upper pair of terminals on each Blade and hit Play. The sound that emerged was immediately appealing, so, after exchanging a few stories and anecdotes, Ben and his team took their leave and headed back to NJ, taking the boxes with them.


All this was in stark, welcome contrast to many lengthy, micromanaged installations in the past.

When I sat down to listen seriously, I found that the bass from the Blades was uncritical of placement: As long as each Blade remained within the magic 1m circles where almost all speakers end up, the bass was full, deep, and tight. Otherwise, the heard sound was clean and well-balanced but a little bit diffuse: A snapped-in center image was lacking.


Using Scenes in Tin Can Alley, a delightful new recording of piano music by American composer Florence Price performed by Josh Tatsuo Cullen (24/96 download, Blue Griffin), I moved the Blades around their end of the room. They were fine wherever I put them; however, to optimize the initial sense of the acoustical space of Blue Griffin’s Studio, “The Ballroom,” and to solidly place the piano in the center, the Blades needed to sit a few inches farther apart and closer to the wall behind them—farther from the listening position—than my Revel Studio2s did. Like the Studios, they were best toed-in, aimed directly at the listening position.

Now, from the listening position, I was able to enjoy the well-defined image of the piano as Cullen romped through Price’s often bluesy melodies, the ambience spread wide and deep but with little echo to obscure the music’s delicacy.


Once I had the setup I wanted, I switched to Gottlieb Wallisch’s set of four (so far) discs 20th Century Foxtrots. I had acquired the first volume (16/44.1 download, Grand Piano) out of curiosity, immediately became addicted, and grabbed the three (so far) succeeding issues as soon as they appeared.

Footnote 1: See JA’s review for a description of the MAT technology.

Footnote 2: KEF offers a comprehensive document on the Blade and Reference technical development. See shop.us.kef.com/pub/media/reference/KEF_Blade_Ref_Meta_Tech_Paper.pdf. The link is a bit wonky, so keep trying if it doesn’t work

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KEF, GP Acoustics (UK) Ltd.

US distributor: GP Acoustics (US) Inc.

10 Timber Ln.

Marlboro, NJ 07746

(732) 683-2356



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