Getting into the audiophile scene isn’t a game for the cash-strapped. Anyone who’s ever walked into a high-end audio boutique knows that a single pair of speakers speakers can easily carry a four-digit price tag, a spool of wire can cost more than a TV, and dropping a couple hundred dollars on accessories like speaker stands and cabinets would be considered getting away cheap.
But there’s “pricy,” and there’s “pricy.” And even in a hobby already so saturated with excess, KEF Audio’s new Muon floor speakers set a new high water mark in that second category. With a price tag of £70,000 ($140,500 USD), KEF has moved the Muon out of typical price range for speakers and into that rarefied territory shared with houses, Porsches and yachts.
One need only look at the Muon to get a feeling for what set these speakers so far apart. Their wavy aluminum cabinet design makes traditional speakers constructed from medium-density fiberboard look like cardboard boxes. The six-foot-tall beauties resemble polished bars of billet aluminum that have been hit with extreme heat, melting and bending them into a more natural shape. According to KEF, prototypes had to be milled from six-foot-long blocks of solid metal – and the computer-controlled mills doing the work took a full week to complete the shape.
Image Courtesy of Muon
This unusual design is the work of Ross Lovegrove, a Welsh designer with a passion for organic shapes that push the limits of what modern manufacturing technology allows. His other works include a DNA-inspired spiral staircase, a waterbottle with a form that looks as liquid as its contents, and a washbasin that could be mistaken for a flower. And he’s dabbled in consumer electronics before as well – owners of the iconic Sony Walkman and Apple iMac are familiar with his other forays into designing technology.
Under its exotic skin, the Muon houses nine KEF drivers, seven in front and two in back. Together, they are capable of pounding out up to 118dB of sound with a frequency response from 25Hz to 60kHz in a typical room. Like KEF’s top-of-the-line reference series speakers, the Muon takes advantage of KEF’s proprietary Uni-Q coincident source array, which supposedly improves images and reduces coloration. Even the six-millimeter thick aluminum shell serves an acoustic role: The company claims its stiffness minimizes distortion.
If all of this really has convinced you to skip the new Corvette ZR1 and go for the Muon instead, don’t expect to just walk into your local audio shop and plunk down your American Express. KEF only plans to make 100 of these in a limited-edition production, so you might want to start making some calls. Chances are, if you’ve got the money to pick up a pair on a whim, exerting some sway on the folks at KEF won’t be much of a problem. You can find out more on the Muon speakers from the KEF website.