Sonos and Kef 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.
Sonos is known for its high-quality wireless home audio systems, while KEF is a well-respected brand in the audio industry for its innovative speaker design.
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.
Pros and Cons of Sonos:
- Pros: Sonos is known for producing high-quality, easy-to-use wireless audio systems that can be easily integrated into a home network. Many of their products have good sound quality and are easy to set up.
- Cons: Over the years, many users have complained about Sonos as it relates to connectivity and in some cases, even reliability. In addition, their products can be relatively expensive.
Sonos Quick History
Sonos, Inc. is an American company that specializes in the development and manufacture of audio devices. They are best known for their quality multi-room audio products. The company was co-founded in 2002 by John MacFarlane, Craig Shelburne, Tom Cullen, and Trung Mai.
The company displayed its first prototype at an industry event in 2004 and started shipping in early 2005. The company is always expanding its services internationally, for example to the UK in 2005 and Japan in 2018.
In January 2015, Sonos was rebranded by Bruce Mau Design, with a new visual identity and improved logotype.
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 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.
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.
Sonos Sound Quality
One of the most distinctive features of all Sonos speakers is their superb audio quality. The sound output is rich and clean, with deep bass and clear mid-tones.
Sonos has a team of seasoned musicians such as Grammy-winning music producer Giles Martin that assist in fine-tuning their speakers to ensure a natural and superior sound. Each Sonos speaker sounds really great on its own but you can connect two or more speakers together for a really immersive experience.
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’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.
Sonos is very popular for the suite of features that are incorporated into their products to ensure that you get the best out of your gadget. Most of the features ensure versatility in the speakers, which allows you to use them throughout the house, or outside.
Here are some features you can expect from your Sonos device:
Sonos App: The Sonos app is available for both iOS and Android to bring additional functionality to all your Sonos devices. Apart from functioning as a remote control for your speakers, it has a lot of other features such as the Calm app that plays relaxing music if you’re going to sleep, or you can set your alarm so that you wake up to your favorite music. It also has a sound equalizer feature to tweak the sound of your speaker to your taste.
Sonos Trueplay: To produce the best sound effect wherever you are, Sonos has a tuning feature known as Trueplay. Trueplay optimizes the sound of the speaker based on the acoustics of the room they are placed in.
Support For Multiple Music Platforms: Sonos has partnered with over 100 music service companies around the world such as Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and Amazon Music to ensure that you can listen to your favorite music, podcasts, or TV shows regardless of the platform you use.
Surround Sound: Sonos speakers can be connected to each other for a truly immersive stereo or surround sound experience.
- Support for Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplay 2 streaming
- Voice control support for Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and in-house Snips SAS
- Multiple input and output ports such as HDMI and optical audio input for TVs and type C to charge the battery-powered
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
Sonos Build Quality
Sonos uses sturdy materials like polycarbonate for the grille and a mixture of ABS and 10% glass fiber for the chassis to ensure a solid build, though this makes their speakers bulky. But if you prefer durability to portability, Sonos is the way to go.
Some of their speakers have IP ratings, which means they are water-resistant and dust-resistant, therefore allowing for outdoor use.
Kef Build Quality
KEF speakers are designed to look acoustically exceptional and attractive. Besides, they are precisely built to the outstanding standards of KEF.
The Reference cabinets are built using finite element analysis to precisely determine bracing geometry and shape and reduce secondary radiation.
The Constrained Layer Damping applied to the finish helps turn any little vibrations into heat that is quickly dissipated.
Ease of Use
Sonos Ease Of Use
Sonos products have a minimalistic design and a clean look without a clutter of buttons, which makes the products easy to operate.
Older Sonos speakers have a pause/play button that can mute if you press and hold or skip a track if you double click. Newer speakers have a touch-sensitive button that skips to the next or previous track if you slide from left-to-right or right-to-left, respectively.
Multiple speaker connectivity is easy to set up across different rooms using WiFi, Bluetooth, or connection to a single router.
Kef Ease Of Use
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.
Sonos products are quite expensive, but they are known to always deliver quality regardless of their price tag.
Sonos products are known for always delivering excellent performance, build quality, and strong connections compared to other brands in the same price range. In short, Sonos makes products that give great value for money.
Here is a price range for some Sonos products:
Soundbars: $150 – $850
Smart speakers: $150 – $500
Premium speakers: $200 – $900
Amplifier: From $600
Subwoofer: From $700
Speakers: $50 to $5,000
Subwoofers: $40 – $2000
Headphones: $50 – $500
Sonos Space Requirements
Sonos speakers tend to be bulky, so they require ample space to use. Though this doesn’t mean that it cannot be used on your desk or placed on a bookshelf.
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.
Sonos Remote Controls
There are several universal remote controls supported by Sonos products. There are some custom-made Sonos remote controls for easy operation of your devices. Sonos devices can also be remotely controlled with the Sonos app which allows you to control each device connected to the network individually.
Sonos gadgets also have Snips SAS, Sono’s custom AI technology for connected devices with the purpose of bringing a music-specific voice assistant to all its devices.
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.
Sonos Connectivity Options
Multiple Sonos gadgets in a single household can be connected to each other wirelessly, through a wired Ethernet network, or a mixture of both. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth, WiFi, and LAN network for Internet connectivity.
Wired connections include HDMI for connecting to TVs and Ethernet connection to connect to multiple devices. Sonos devices can also be connected using Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, or Snips SAS.
Sonos gadgets can be connected to any device with Bluetooth or WiFi connection such as your smartphones, digital TVs, and other Sonos devices over the same network.
Kef Connectivity Options
Here are the main connectivity options compatible with most KEF speakers:
Sonos Power Range
Sonos devices have different power ranges depending on the device’s performance. An average Sonos speaker consumes from 55 Watts to 125 Watts per channel.
Most Sonos devices do not have power buttons but have an idle/standby mode, consuming from 4-8 Watts in this standby mode.
All the information on the power range of a device is included in the product manual, so you can get information on the power range for your particular device.
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.
Sonos Frequency Response
Sonos speakers have pleasing frequency ranges to suit the various types of usage scenarios. The Sonos five, for example, has a -3 dB bass response frequency of 88 hertz, which is excellent for a speaker of its size.
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.
Sonos is a company that’s dedicated to manufacturing products with premium quality for a decent price. Their products have a wide range of features to suit each person’s needs. As said above, Sonos is a company that produces devices that give good value for money.
Kef remains a reputable hi-fi brand for over 50 years. 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.
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.