KEF vs Polk – Which Brand Is Better?

Norvan Martin
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KEF and Polk are two renowned and well respected brands in the audio industry that produces high quality speakers, headphones, soundbars, and subwoofers

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price and so on. Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however we will compare them as closely as we can.

KEF is a well-respected brand in the audio industry for its innovative speaker design, while Polk is a well-known brand in the audio industry known for its high-quality speakers and home theater systems.

KEF vs Polk Comparison Table

CriteriaKEFPolk Audio
Brand ReputationHigh-End Audio SpecialistWell-Regarded in Audio Industry
Sound QualityReference-Grade SoundClear and Balanced Sound
Build Quality/DesignPremium Build, Modern DesignDurable Build, Contemporary Design
Product RangeHigh-End Speakers, Audio SystemsSpeakers, Soundbars, Audio Systems
PricingModerate to HighModerate
FeaturesUni-Q Driver Technology, Advanced FeaturesAdvanced Audio Technologies, Voice Adjust Technology

Before we continue, you can check out similar comparisons in the series:

Pros and Cons of Polk Audio:

  • Pros: Known for producing a wide range of speakers, including home theater systems, soundbars, and outdoor speakers. Many of their products are well-regarded for their sound quality and value for money.
  • Cons: Some users have reported issues with durability and reliability of some of their products.

Pros and Cons of KEF:

  • Pros: Known for producing high-quality speakers with excellent sound quality and strong bass response. Many of their products are designed to be aesthetically pleasing and can be a good fit for a home theater setup.
  • Cons: Some of their products can be expensive, and some users have reported issues with durability.

Quick History

KEF Quick History

KEF has a long and distinguished history. The company was founded in 1961 in Maidstone, Kent, by Raymond Cook OBE, a BBC engineer. The British company specializes in designing and producing high-end audio products, including speakers, subwoofers, and headphones.

KEF logo

KEF introduced Uni-Q, the world’s first coincident source speaker driver, in 1988, and it still remains a landmark feature in nearly all its speakers today.

kef speakers history

The first KEF speaker, the three-way K1, was built from synthetic materials. In 1973, the company became the first loudspeaker manufacturer to implement the use of computers in loudspeaker design and measurement in the whole world.

It continued to develop the use of acoustical, mechanical, and magnetic modeling techniques in speaker design including the Finite Element Analysis in the 2000s, and revealed the Acoustic Compliance Enhancement (ACE) in 2005. In the 2010s, KEF launched the BLADE, EGG wireless speakers, and MUO portable speakers among other brands.

Polk Audio Quick History

Polk Audio is an American audio device manufacturer best known for its home and car speakers headquartered in San Diego, California.

polk audio speaker brand

A wide range of additional audio devices, such as amplifiers and FM tuners, are also produced by Polk Audio. Polk audio was purchased by Directed Electronics in 2006.

Sound Quality

KEF Sound Quality

KEF engineers classy, superb-sounding speakers and is one of the finest manufacturers of British hi-fi audio equipment. This is why audiophiles around the world revered KEF for its innovative, high-performance audio systems.

kef q series speakers

KEF’s company’s ethos are based on R&D, engineering, design, and development found in their trademark technology including:

  • Their Uni-Q driver array and Metamaterial Absorption Technology ensure that KEF speakers produce high-quality natural surround sound.
  • The Metamaterial Absorption Technology is a complex maze-like structure that helps the speaker absorb up to 99% of unwanted sound resulting in less distortion and pure, natural sound.
  • The Single Apparent Source technology helps to eliminate interference and contributes to clear, accurate, authentic, and immersive sound.

Polk Audio Sound Quality

The downside to Polk devices is that they aren’t of the best quality when it comes to sound, so if you’re looking for a high-end sound system, it could be worth stepping up your budget a little. Polk speakers are best as entry-level speakers.

This means that they may not appeal to expert audiophiles and cannot be used for professional purposes.

Features

KEF Features

Here are the main features of KEF products:

  • Uni-Q drivers for the elimination of “sweet spots” and enhancement of surround sound
  • Tweeters mounted into the center of the mid
  • Metamaterial Absorption Technology for eliminating distortion and enhancing the production of pure, natural sound
  • Flexible Port Technology
  • Single Apparent Source Technology

Polk Audio Features

Polk audio devices come with some features that make them more suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

  • Auto-off timer
  • More physical input such as (HDMI in port, AUX port)
  • All controls are on the rear edge
  • Slim, compact design that allows you to place them on walls.

Build Quality

KEF Build Quality

KEF speakers are designed to look acoustically exceptional and attractive. Besides, they are precisely built to the outstanding standards of KEF.

kef vs b&w

The Reference cabinets are built using finite element analysis to precisely determine bracing geometry and shape and reduce secondary radiation.

kef speaker build quality

The Constrained Layer Damping applied to the finish helps turn any little vibrations into heat that is quickly dissipated.

Polk Audio Build Quality

On average, Polk audio build quality is comparable to industry standards. The Polk T50 is a great example of this.

Although Polk made the T50 sound better by sacrificing some build quality, the speaker is still reasonably strong and, given its popularity, replacement parts are easy to come by.

Ease of Use

KEF Ease Of Use

The Reference speakers are clearly undemanding in terms of positioning and space as they are sleek and compact. The REF5 and REF107 are good examples.

They are easy to fine-tune to conform to your listening area using the Flexible Port Technology. Also, the speakers and subwoofers come with remote control systems that make them easier to navigate without changing your sitting position.

Polk Audio Ease Of Use

The controls on Polk Audio Bluetooth equipment are easy to use. A lightweight design and high-quality materials ensure that the user is comfortable while using them.

Cost

KEF Cost

  • Speakers: $50 to $5,000
  • Subwoofers: $40 – $2000
  • Headphones: $50 – $500

Polk Audio Cost

Polk’s speaker collection shows that good-sounding speakers do not have to be expensive. They have home speakers to suit every budget.

So do you want tower speakers but don’t want to spend more than $500 on them? There are Polk audio speakers that sell for less than $500 and still have great sound. They’re commonly available for around $300 or less a pair, and they sound fantastic.

Here are some price ranges for Polk audio products:

  • Home speakers: $200 – $2500
  • Soundbars: $100 – $500
  • Car speakers: $100 – $500

Space Requirements

KEF Space Requirements

Vintage KEF speakers do tend to be large and bulky, but this generally applies to all vintage speakers.

KEF considers placement while designing its speakers to make it easier to enjoy listening to surround, even in small spaces. They are therefore small and easy to install. The speakers are also designed with smooth edges to make it easier to place them anywhere in the room.

Polk Audio Space Requirements

Most Polk Audio devices are space-efficient. Take, for example, Polk’s LSiM 703s speakers which are 16.8-inch tall bookshelf speakers with a 6.5-inch midbass, a 3.5-inch woofer for low frequencies, and a 1-inch tweeter for high frequencies. This implies that only a minimal amount of space is needed.

Remote Controls

KEF Remote Controls

KEF speakers come with remote controls. However, KEF also sells replacement remote control systems separately to make life easier for their product users.

The replacement remote controls are classified into HiFi, standard V1, or Luxury V2. They sell at different prices and come with different features, with the Luxury V2 remote system having the most variety of features.

Polk Audio Remote Controls

Polk Audio produces speakers that are compatible with their own remote control as well as those of other remote control manufacturers such as HQRP and Motiexic.

This remote is powered by lithium batteries and has a 10-meter range. Note that no program or special setup is required.

Connectivity Options

KEF Connectivity Options

Here are the main connectivity options compatible with most KEF speakers:

  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • RCA
  • HDMI

Power Range

KEF Power Range

KEF speakers can rock up to 1000 watts of power and work perfectly well with amplifiers of between 15W and 300W.

The headphones can deliver up to 5mW maximum power output. On the other hand, the subwoofers consume up to 1000W peak power with up to 300W RMS recommended amplifier power.

Frequency Response

KEF Frequency Response

KEF specifies a frequency range of up to 47 kHz. The low end of this range depends on the bass extension setting used. However, a wide range of KEF speakers responds well between 64 Hz to 28 kHz.

Polk Audio Frequency Response

Polk audio frequency responses are usually in the region of 50Hz to 50kHz. The Polk Audio Signature Series S10 2-Way Surround speakers, for example, have a Medite MDF cabinet frequency response of around 67Hz to 40 kHz for excellent treble reproduction. It can endure 20 to 100 watts of continuous power.

Conclusion

For over 50 years, Kef remains a reputable hi-fi brand. The sound quality is superb and the speakers are easy to install. The vintage speakers are however bulky and will require large spaces for placement. 

Polk is unquestionably a fantastic option if you need a good home audio system, but there are other companies that are equivalent or even better than Polk audio. However, if you need a good entry-level speaker that doesn’t cost much, Polk Audio may be your go-to.

 

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin