KEF Blade Dali Epicon

KEF Blade Dali Epicon

Several years ago I fell in love with the KEF Blades and while I was a KEF dealer they were my top performing speaker. Time has moved on but with a pre-owned set of Blades in my new showroom it is a great opportunity to see if the fabulous sound I recall is still there. My previous showroom was never ideal for the Blades as they require a good bit of space to breathe but my new space is perfect with plenty of room available behind and crucially left and right.

The JBL 4365 is the closest speaker I currently have in terms of price point but for this test I have compared the Blades to the Dali Epicon 8. The Epicon series is a strong favourite of mine and the 8’s in particular with the dedicated mid driver and 8″ bass units really tick the boxes for me. The performance on offer for the price is exceptional but at nearly twice the price when new the Blades should be a step above. Conveniently this pre-owned set is all but the same price as the Dali and it is very likely I will run this comparison for potential customers.

Normally I listen to a couple of tracks that I know really well and a couple that I have been playing over the past few days. With this comparison it was a far greater list – not because I was reaching for more music in the hungry way I normally do when things are just right but because the differences between the overall presentation were so marked. In isolation the Blades are amazing, lots of deep controlled bass and a refreshing and detailed top end. Switching to the Epicon and there was an instant flatness to the sound, like a lid had been added to the top end, and I was not expecting that given the glorious insight they have revealed previously. The bass on the Dali is more complete and extended but with the top end seemingly throttled the initial impression was of too little control. Back to the Blades and the sound sharpened up, the bass getting back in line but all with a slightly official edge.

Many tracks later and lots of different volume levels didn’t really make the choice any easier but the differences began to show themselves regularly. With female vocals the Blades gave the huge sound that I aim for but when the volume was up the singing became more like reading as the flow was diminished. With electronica the Blades thunder along with the best of them – Hold Tight London by The Chemical Brothers had me pushing the system as hard as my room will allow and grinning quite the thing. The sound is one of a slightly overly tightened drum and that precision to the bass is a treat in certain music but cold in others. The Dalis grow on you – the first track after the Blades sounds flat but the detail and the insight is there just not with the same attention in the mix.  The bass is very fast but the tightness from the Blades makes it sound slightly bloated. A few more tracks later and the body to the bass and the quantity help bring a size and involvement that I love.

Looks aside the choice is a tricky as the sound is quite different between the two. The KEF speakers do present more detail in a cleaner fashion albeit without the richness I usually favour. The Blades are a very well cut suit against a great pair of jeans. Today I will be smartly dressed.