Transform your desktop with the KEF X300A powered PC loudspeakers

kef_x300A_1bxCheck out our review of the KEF X300A desktop speakers.

Fifty years is a long time in any industry, but it’s an eternity for an electronics manufacturer. It’s easy to understand why the folks at KEF have been in a party mood for the past 12 months. Its flagship Blade model (which runs a cool $30,000 per pair) utilizes its state-of-the-art Uni-Q drivers. That technology has trickled down to its R-series and can now be found on its LS50 ($1,500) 50th anniversary model, and brand new X300A powered loudspeakers, which, at $800, may be the biggest bargain of all.

Desktop audio has matured a lot in recent years, and it’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on a pair of monitors, amplification, and DAC. Laptops and Mac minis have replaced expensive single-disc players, and – combined with third-party playback software like JRiver Music Center or Pure Music – offer sound quality that mega-buck players used to offer for ten times the price.

Digital audio has taken a quantum leap, and it’s now very possible to build a truly outstanding system for your desktop for under $1,000. KEF, apparently, thinks they can do it for even less.

The heart of the X300A is its Uni-Q single-source driver, which is incredibly lightweight and rigid. The Uni-Q combines a 1-inch aluminum tweeter and 5.25-inch midrange woofer in one driver, offering amazing dispersion. The first thing you notice about the Uni-Q designs is the coherency of the sound – the resolution, clarity, soundstage, and dynamic capabilities are second to none. You may be listening to one driver, but it actually sounds like three or four working together to cover the entire frequency range. Being able to do this in a box that measures 11 inches by 7 inches by 9 inches (HWD), is no small feat.

The X300A powered loudspeakers utilize two class AB 50W/channel audiophile-grade amplifiers that use high performance toroidal transformers to minimize noise and electromagnetic interference. This means that because each driver has an amplifier delivering its own power, the tweeter won’t be negatively affected when the woofers are being driven hard, and won’t sound hard when the woofer is reaching its limit.

KEF has also stuck a rather impressive 24/96 DAC inside the enclosure. When connected to your laptop or desktop computer via USB cable, the DAC will playback HD resolution music files up to 24/96. The X300A also includes a 3.5mm analog input for either an iPod, another DAC via stereo-to-mini cable, or even a phono stage. Yes, you can play your turntable through these and control the volume via the speakers.

If wireless audio is important to you, KEF will send you a free dongle when you register the speakers after purchase (a $99 value). You can stream via AirPlay and it works very well.

The frequency response of the X300As is 58Hz – 28kHz, and, based on our experience with the LS50s, we’re going to give KEF the benefit of the doubt. Depending on the music and how hard you drive the speakers, the X300A placed on your desk (a few inches from the wall is a good idea) will deliver a lot of volume and bass.

The gunmetal finish is a bit industrial looking, but the sound quality is state-of-the-art. For $800, the quality of the entire package makes it the desktop loudspeaker to audition in 2013.

Product Review

Vizio's best-ever soundbar brings Dolby Atmos theater magic to the living room

Soundbars with true Dolby Atmos surround sound have historically been a rich man’s game, but Vizio’s 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar undercuts similar competitors by hundreds of dollars. Can this budget Atmos system stand up to the big boys?
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as hard as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.
Home Theater

Boy dies after being electrocuted through his headphones

A 16-year-old Malaysian boy appears to be the latest victim in a growing list of people who have been electrocuted by their smartphones via their headphones. It's believed that a faulty charging cable is the culprit.
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Product Review

AKG's signature studio sound goes straight to your head with these stunning cans

With gorgeous looks and great sound, AKG’s N700NC are a formidable entry into the wireless noise-canceling headphone race. We put them to the test to see if they can beat out the absolute best in the business.
Home Theater

Here's how to pick out the best TV stand to enhance your viewing experience

This TV stand buying guide will cover how much space you need for equipment, how the stand manages cables, and the size of the stand you need as you look for a new model that fits in your home.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best wireless earbuds around.
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.
Home Theater

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Home Theater

Get ready to ditch your amplifier: New LG TVs add a powerful way to go wireless

WiSA, a wireless technology designed for high-end home theaters, might finally start seeing more love. LG's top-tier 2019 TVs will be WiSA certified, and that could mean a new wireless future for premium surround sound.