When sizing up 5.1 systems on a budget, it’s reassuring to see a trusted audiophile brand on the box – and KEF is certainly one of those. The KHT-1505 sees the company squeezing its sonic expertise into an affordable compact package, designed to deliver a touch of class without taking up half the living room and all your savings.

The package comprises five identical satellites and the active subwoofer. There’s no dedicated centre speaker, but a rubber cradle lets you lay one of the sats on its side.

This may be cut-price KEF, but you wouldn’t know it from the build quality. The sats’ glossy black cabinets are fashioned from solid die-cast aluminium, with neat rounded edges. The 200W, 8in subwoofer is bulky but well-built, pimped up in a classy black ash veneer. A bevy of controls on the back help optimise performance, including knobs to tweak the bass level and crossover frequency, plus phase reversal and Bass Boost switches. The latter ups the level by +6 or +12dB at the crucial 40Hz mark.

Compact speakers sometimes sport single full-range drivers to cut costs but these are two-way, sealed satellites each with a pair of 2in midrange drivers and a 0.75in tweeter, claimed to cover a frequency range of 120Hz-22kHz.

That all translates into a first-rate performance. Like a boxer with a PhD, the KHT-1505 is hard-hitting yet articulate, able to pound the room with taut, tangible bass while keeping speech audible and showering you in clean, crisp high-frequencies. The robo-chaos of Transformers: Dark of the Moon was handled with impressive power and poise. Identical satellites ensure seamless tonal matching, and I can’t fault the integration between satellites and subwoofer, either.

In fact, much of the system’s success lies with the agile sub, which nails the delicate balance between authority and anonymity. I’d put the KHT-1505 among the compact systems elite. There are cheaper systems out there, but the KEF paints sonic pictures in ways others can’t.


HCC VERDICT

KEF KHT-1505
Price:
£500 Approx

Highs: Poised, coherent sound; excellent subwoofer; build quality and design
Lows: No dedicated centre channel; rivals are more affordable

Performance: 5/5
Design: 5/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 5/5


Specifications

Satellites
Drive units: 2 x 2in low-frequency drivers; 1 x 0.75mm aluminium tweeter
Frequency response: 120Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity: 85dB
Power handling: 10-100W
Dimensions: 81(w) x 198(h) x 61(d)mm
Weight: 0.5kg

Subwoofer
Drive units: 1 x 8in driver
Frequency response: 29Hz-140Hz
On board power: 200W
Dimensions: 320(w) x  345(h) x 377(d)mm
Weight: 12.2kg
Connections: Line-level cinch