You might remember the luxurious KEF Muon series released in 2008 which were personally designed by the industrial engineer Ross Lovegrove. Those big aluminium tower were only available in limited quantity and carried a price tag of... €160 000! Anyway, these speakers had a good reputation and were a legend in the audio industry. KEF showed us several pioneering audio products over the years. This year, they've come up with something more compact, something relating to the legendary speakers of 2008. The KEF Muo has 2 miniaturised Uni-Q drivers inside which is one of KEF's greatest inventions until now.
The packaging is quite similar in exterior to what we've seen with the Bose Soundlink Mini II. A quality product with this price tag should have a solid packaging with a decent set of manuals and accessoires. The interior is properly structured like we expected it to be. There are also 2 different plug heads to give you the ability to easily charge your speaker on holiday. It's a pity they didn't include a mini-jack.
Design and Features
As follow-up of the famous Muon series, it isn't quite in line with some things. For one the size and on the other side the price which became affordable for more people. The needs of society have changed, there is more and more demand for compact audio solutions with a decent output and portability. KEF promises both with their new KEF Muo speaker, a speaker descended from their legendary Muon towers. Offering the Uni-Q driver techology it's set to impress all who are looking for this kind of thing.
The KEF Muo has some ressemblance with it's predecessor, whereas it uses an aluminium sculpture and other premium materials which should clear out all fatal vibrations. It has rubber feet, but you can easily put the speaker in a vertical position. You might also notice that this structural decision causes quite a weight, but it also feels very robust. As far as the design goes, it scored great esteem. A simple, modern design with fluent lines and a matt finish.
The speaker is provided with two 5cm drives and an auxiliary bass radiator. These are less drivers than the JBL Xtreme or Creative SB roar, but don't be fooled by quantity, it's the quality that counts. It has a built in battery that can withstand 12 hours of playback on moderate settings. KEF introduced the bluetooth speaker with some interesting settings like the ability to pair two of them together and use them in stereo mode or multi-room party mode. Also their highly advanced bluetooth aptX feature is praised on the website:
Streaming your tracks via Bluetooth aptX, you’ll be astonished by the sweet, natural treble, fluid midrange and clean, tightly controlled bass.
However, compared to creative's and JBL's offering, the KEF Muo lacks of a certain amount of features. Most of these other features aren't even used by the majority of people which makes is less relevant.
Another example of dummy-proof systems. The interface exists of only 4 little buttons: the volume buttons, a power button (2 secs to enable/disable) and a button to pair two of them together. Combinations for hands-free calling and so on can be found in the manual. The speaker has only ports, one for power supply and one port to use a mini-jack.
Performance & Battery
The performance of the speaker is quite impressive. KEF's high volume levels accompanied with a rich bass and bright high-mids deliver a spacious audio experience. One that well exceeded any of my expectations towards the speaker. The compact size has its limitations, but KEF was able to simulate a stereo-like sound within the given space in this bluetooth speaker. I'm a great fan of the Uni-Q drivers as they deliver a detailed full-range audio output from which you can easily get the chills. For example, the beginning track of Iron Sky from Paolo Nutini gave me an impression of the strength and profound bass of the speaker. While the Muo sounds impressive on a low-volume, it only gets better when turning the volume up a notch. No distortion and the bass isn't notably limited by digital signal processing. This bluetooth speaker is suitable for outdoors and slightly larger rooms. When compared to the JBL Xtreme, you'll notice that JBL's offering is better in filling a room with a more spacious sound, KEF's offering however, relies on detail and sublety.
Idem for its battery performance, the speaker can easily entertain you for more than 10 hours on moderate volume levels. It's on par or slightly exceeds the battery life of JBL's offering in this price range.
The KEF Muo may not have as many features as the JBL Xtreme or Creative SoundBlaster, but it possesses great audio performance. Its strength is not measured in volume, but in its profound and detailed Lows, mids and highs. KEF managed to simulate a stereo-like audio experience within a bottle sized aluminium construction. Design-wise they kept it simple and modern. You could compare it with the premium speakers they once sold for 150 000 euro in 2008 (Muon Series). The speaker looks expensive and fits almost anywhere with its unprecedented shape and matt color. Horizontally placed results in the most spacious sound, but also when placed vertically, you'll experience the full range chills generated by this compact bluetooth speaker. They rubberised the stands to prevent all possible vibrations.
Also the battery life is on top of its class, there's no extra charge needed to play a full afternoon or evening(night) on moderate settings. The interface is dummy-proof and exists of only a small amount of buttons. All of this comes at a premium price which is pretty much not affordable for the majority of people. This is probably the most significant turning point of the speaker.
KEF's new bluetooth speaker delivers premium design and audio quality with a decent set of features, but has a premium price which will deter most buyers.
Performance / Sound Quality = 10/10
Battery = 5/5
Design = 5/5
Value = 3.5/5
Total Score ≈ 9.2/10
We decided to give the KEF Muo a Gold award!
More Information about our awards and High resolution versions can be found here