KEF EGG wireless digital music system
+ Versatile self-driving unit you can hook up to any source – desktops, laptops, TV, mobile devices – for gaming, AV and overall casual listening; well-balanced with a wide spatial effect; particularly stand-out midrange, clear treble and adequate depth; quality portable audio; Bluetooth, mini USB and optical link capable along with standard 3.5mm connectivity.
– Less suited for larger spaces as the volume ceiling seems to be rather low; may be a tad pricey after you add in a sub-woofer but you’re getting a quality package.
QUICK one: which came first – the chicken or the egg? Well in the case of KEF, it’s the egg – or rather the EGG – KEF’s nifty self-contained elliptical shaped speaker system that its creators decided on as the design philosophy (I think you’d agree chicken-shaped speakers would be rather challenging to pull off as design chic).
The marketing statements on KEF’s website describe the EGGs as “the ultimate all-rounder – streaming tracks wirelessly over Bluetooth aptX or bringing your TV to life, the new EGG wireless digital music system delivers pure, clear KEF quality sound… and as a complete “plug-and-play” system with a built-in amp and DAC, it allows you to enjoy your music with the depth, clarity and detail of true high resolution sound”.
So would you like these EGGs? Let’s find out.
The speakers are available in Gloss Black, Pure White and Frosted Blue. At 2.15kg per speaker, these are literally no light weights compared to most desktop units. Build quality exudes quality with the matt finish of the Frosted Blue review unit flawless and even; high quality plastic that looks anything but cheap and removable speaker enclosures with a cloth like mesh.
The speakers are designed in a master-slave configuration where you’ll find four ports for power, sub-woofer, left speaker cable and USB. All are located on the rear of the right speaker’s base. But wait, there’s a fifth all-important 3.5mm port to connect your music source, be it a laptop, desktop, mobile phone or music player. Some reviews do mention the odd location as it’s placed on the inner side of the base of the right speaker instead of the back like the rest. Visually, I’d agree it should be placed at the rear as well to keep that minimalist aesthetic that KEF was clearly trying to go for given the smooth clean finish of the elliptical shapes of both the speaker housing and base.
Of course, you could always opt to go wireless via the Bluetooth enablement. Simply toggle the shift button located on the right speaker to switch between USB (yellow light), optical (purple), aux (green) or Bluetooth (blue, of course). Pairing was easy and fuss free: simply switch your phone’s Bluetooth on and “KEF EGG” should appear in a short while. Bluetooth connectivity was stable and reliable throughout my test sessions that lasted anywhere from one to three hours per session.
The speakers themselves are engineered using KEF’s Uni-Q (pronounced “unique Q” and not “unique”) methodology where they claim to eliminate the “sweet spot” most AV systems and desktop speakers have due to the physical construction and placements of the drive units. Typical loudspeakers stack the midrange and treble drive units above one another resulting in sounds emanating from two separate positions. KEF claims that this results in “audio confusion and losing the chance of achieving a truly natural sound”.
What they’ve done in Uni-Q is mount the midrange and treble units at the same physical point in space and according to KEF, this allows the listener to experience “convincingly natural sound” as the mids and trebles “integrate perfectly and create the ideal sound field for the listener”. This also results in not only a widening of the sweet spot no matter where you sit but also an “elongation” of the sweet spot as well i.e. you don’t have to sit at a particular height to achieve the full sound range. So both the horizontal and vertical areas are covered, giving the listener a pretty good selection of seating positions and still be within that sweet spot range. Handy if you’re using the speakers for home theatre.
I’d say the marketing statements aren’t mere hype but quite true to the promise.
With that extended explanation above on the Uni-Q tech, let’s just get straight into the point: you will get quality sound for your money.
Sonic presentation is both wide and deep, a sweet combo indeed. Nuances of instrumentals are reproduced very decently and you get a sense of power with the deeper ends. Most AV systems don’t excel in the midrange and this is what differentiates the KEF EGGs from most sub-sat combos and give them a distinct sound. You’d be able to hear details like the fingers plucking guitar strings, vocal nuances (even breathing and yes, the laughter at 0.03 seconds into Toto’s Africa), horns with vibrant movements and the thunderous impact of drums – terms you’d commonly hear when reviewing hi-fi set-ups.
Here’s a surprising tip: YouTube contains a very decent library of high quality audio tracks and these get translated very well on the EGGs (I’m gonna avoid the whole “can-you-really-get-lossless-on-YouTube” debate). You could say this is what the EGG is made for – quality reproduction on the simplest, common yet popular media that almost anyone has in this day and age. Whether you’re using a desktop for gaming, laptop for casual movie viewing or the mobile phone to stream music, the EGG introduces that extra “oomph” that elevates the commonplace entertainment to an enhanced enjoyment.
Musically the speakers have very decent detailing – layers are reproduced and separated clearly, depth is captured and there’s no hint of fatigue or cracking when pushed to volume limits. Again, with the method of having the mid and treble units mounted centrally, you will hear a discernibly wide spatial sound relative to the size of these speakers.
Playing music on Spotify and YouTube had me tapping to pop and dance songs which were appropriately fun and bouncy. These were tested right out of the box without a subwoofer. The EGG also makes a good, no make that pretty darn great pair of desktop computing speakers. With the wide sweet spot area, you’d have quite the solid sonic gaming atmosphere. Putting on some YouTube gameplay walkthroughs such as God of War 4 and Battlefront II, you immediately feel immersed in the gameplay due to the ambience the speakers create. Playing some game and movie trailers was also very satisfying with L’Orchestra Cinematique’s Battlefront II themes coming though very powerfully, the rumble of Tie-fighters zooming past in pursuit of X-Wings, Star Destroyer turbo lasers bearing down on scrambling A-wings… you get the picture. Yes, I’ve forgotten how much audio can make a big difference to give you that next level of experience and the EGG delivers.
Orchestral pieces were impressive – the speakers presented a good depth as well as sufficiently wide soundstage so it didn’t feel like you were in a small room but in an auditorium-like space. For the size and no extra amp needed, nice. The lower registers are quite decent with enough punch to give a sense of depth given the size of these speakers. I’m typing this review as Rey’s Theme from Star Wars: Force Awakens is playing and John William’s score is both stirring and imbued with a sense of power; controlled yet still sufficient to allow the nuances and movement he set out to evoke with the introduction of a new pivotal character to the canon.
Switching to the likes of Tiesto and like dance repertoire, it could use a little help from a sub-woofer. Trebles and mids were decent but you know dance just begs for generous servings of bass. It’s not by any means shabby on bass (as it was decent on orchestral pieces above) but it’s not at the level you’d want for this genre of music.
I didn’t have the benefit of hooking these up to a subwoofer at the time of review nor the optical cable to put it through its AV paces but I can imagine the extra bass depth would definitely kick it up another level.
On the flip side, cranking up the EGG to maximum volume, I found it surprisingly low in ceiling, which was rather surprising given that it packed quite a bit of power at the mid-range. I was a little disappointed because this would limit the types of use these speakers could fit. It could and probably should potentially be a soundbar alternative.
On this point, I think it just depends on what and where you’d use them for because it’s all a matter of perspective. Given the quality of the sound is not in question, the limited volume range means that if these were used as a main AV system in a medium-large room, it would be over whelmed because it won’t be able to muster sufficient volume to project enough impact. However, put said system in a smaller room, desk top or even in your vacation Airbnb homestead and you’d instantly have premium type sound that you’d be hard pressed to top.
THE LAST WORD
The KEF EGG is a very decent self-driven DAC-amp speaker system, punching above its size and stature – detailed sound with great mids, balanced trebles and bass, a wide spatial sweet spot. If you’re in the market for a sound system for multi-tasking, this should definitely feature on your short list if it meets your budget. Even if it doesn’t, go ahead and have a listen anyway. You’d be the richer for it…and maybe consider stretching your cash. They’re clearly great for use with your laptop, desktop, mobile phone and smaller room AV set-up (heck, place ’em in the kitchen if you do a lot of cooking).Streaming Spotify via Bluetooth was reliable, too.
As for the portability, you get a DAC and amp all in one set of speakers which can be easily transported to your office, home or even that vacation spot. It’s also quality portable sound – you’ll probably have a blast in most places you bring it along to. Overall, it’s a great self-driving system with multi-tasking versatility.
Sources: Samsung Note 8, Windows Surface Pro 4 playing Spotify and YouTube.