KefI’m about the only person I know with decent computer sound. It’s nice to have good music while you’re working, and I know how to rig it up.

So I don’t have to put up with the itsy-bitsy speakers inside the computer itself, horrible things that have the timbre of old tuna cans. Nor do I have one of those little speaker systems they sell in electronics shops, a step up but usually not much of one. Even the ones with a separate low-range woofer are usually pretty awful.

And they vary so markedly. I’ve heard $50 ones that sound okay and $200 ones that are dreadful. Most won’t go loud enough; some will but distort the music horribly.

Me, I bought a couple of proper speakers and a special cable to connect the computer’s 3.5mm audio output to the RCA plugs of my amplifier and… uh-oh, I think I’ve lost you. Come back, there’s an easy way now. British speaker maker KEF has just unveiled it.

The X300A is a highly compact speaker that won’t take up too much space on your desk, with a footprint of just 22 by 18 cm. If that’s too much they can be wall mounted or put on stands.

The thing about the X300A is that it’s serious. Try lifting one. Yep that’s 7.5 kilograms right there. And just in case you’re wondering, nope, serious ain’t cheap.

The 13 cm mid/bass driver is obvious but nestled inside it is a separate 2.5 cm tweeter. And here’s what’s makes these serious speakers – both the tweeter and the mid/bass get their own dedicated amplifier hidden away inside the cabinet.

Most desktop speaker systems get a simple amplifier driving everything, usually a class-D digital unit, but each X300A has two class-A/B amps tuned specifically to the mid/bass or tweeter it is driving. This means the drivers are always getting the right amount of power, and good power means sweet sound.

But having the amplifiers inside the speakers brings another huge plus for a desktop system; you don’t need an external amplifier.

All you do is run a line from the computer’s audio output to the speaker system, plug in the power and bingo, music. Or perhaps in your case internet radio, catch-up TV, movies and podcasts.

As well as accepting the usual 3.5mm plug these can also be hooked up with a USB cable for an all-digital link to provide high resolution 96 kiloHertz/24 bit audio. Nice.

Place one at each end of your desk so that you’re seated equidistant from each and you’ll be amazed by how much better everything sounds.

Okay, so they cost $1345 a pair. Justify that with the knowledge that you won’t need to spend another cent for seriously good audio.

Unavoidable technical detail: KEF recommends either Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.6 and above.

By the way, KEF is an acronym for Kent Engineering & Foundry, where the company was started in a Nissen hut in 1961.

Published March 2013

 

Tags: