Bowers and Wilkins vs. KEF – Which Is Better?


Loudspeakers, wireless or not, have already been an integral part of every family’s home entertainment system. With the help of technology, high-quality speakers have become smaller and smaller, ideal for houses with smaller living rooms. Wireless technology also eliminates the problem of using long cables, which can be a reason for more problems in the future.

Two of the top manufacturers of professional loudspeakers compete for superiority in the audio industry: Bowers and Wilkins and KEF.

Bowers and Wilkins is a company known for manufacturing professional loudspeakers and headphones, perfect for today’s audio necessities. They are also known to make some uniquely-shaped speakers that you don’t typically find in other brands.

KEF is known for their patented technologies that are an integral part of its success in the audio industry. Their speakers perform excellently with their award-winning Uni-Q drivers.

Deciding which is better between the two companies can be a hard decision, so we are going to make a Bowers and Wilkins vs KEF side by side comparison to see which comes out on top.

Sound Quality

Bowers And Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins is a known company for making high-quality wireless speakers, earphones and headphones, loudspeakers, and soundbars. Their products have received numerous prestigious awards from different institutions for their outstanding sound quality. Bowers and Wilkins have established a reputation for manufacturing speakers with brilliant sound and clarity.

The B&W 603 under the Bowers and Wilkens’s 600 Series Anniversary Edition Loudspeakers is an excellent example of the company’s performance in sound quality. It is only an entry-level speaker, but it produces fantastic sound. The speaker has an impressive soundstage, where you hear the audio produced from most of the angles of the speaker.

The B&W Formation duo is a mid-level wireless speaker under the Bowers and Wilkins Formation Series. The speaker is equipped with the company’s patented carbon dome tweeter, giving it clean and crisp high frequencies. It also has the award-winning Continuum cone, which results in a punchy, tight, and authoritative bass.

Bowers and Wilkins make home entertainment systems, including the B&W MT-50, which is the company’s mid-level home theatre system. It comes with five compact speakers that produce a crisp and clear sound. Its subwoofer is deep and punchy, and its low frequencies are controlled.

The B&W PX7 is the company’s flagship wireless headphone and is one of the best available headphones in the market. The headphone produces a balanced sound that is perfect for listening to any music, and its frequency response is precise and detailed. It is compatible with high-quality audio formats, giving it an overall beautiful sound when used to listen to music and movies.

Overall, the Bowens and Wilkins produce excellent products that have high-quality sounds. There is no doubt why the company’s audio products have been sought-after by audiophiles, as they perform exceptionally. Although they are a little bit expensive, they have one of the best-sounding products for their value.

KEF

The KEF is known for making high-quality floor-standing speakers, bookshelf speakers, subwoofers, and other wireless audio devices. Their patented technologies have garnered some awards and have been an integral part of their success in the audio industry, as they significantly improved the overall qualities of their products.

The KEF Q550 is an entry-level floor-standing speaker from KEF’s award-winning Q-series. The speaker has an omnidirectional response, which eliminates the sweet spot so you can listen anywhere with the speaker’s perfect sound quality. Its frequency response is perfect for watching movies and listening to music. This is only an entry-level speaker, but it can match other high-end speakers sound-wise.

For mid-level wireless speakers, the KEF LSX is an excellent option. It produces beautiful highs and mids from its award-winning Q-driver. It portrays audio from movies very well, as well as any songs. Its bass is tight and punchy, even with the speaker’s small size.  

Another mid-level wireless speaker with excellent sound quality is the KEF LSX Soundwave Edition. Like other speakers from KEF, it has a Uni-Q driver, which gives the speaker a superb mid-range and high-frequency performance. Vocals and instruments are very clear and accurate when listening to these speakers, making them one of the best mid-level speakers in the market.

Last but not least, the KEF Reference 8b subwoofer is an excellent option for flagship subwoofers with excellent sound quality. The subwoofer can produce exceptional low frequencies without any distortion. It is a powerful subwoofer as it has a max output of 110dB for a home entertainment speaker.

Overall, KEF products produce excellent sound quality, and the technologies used in these speakers significantly improve them to another level. Their omnidirectional speakers are one of the company’s advantages that would be hard to beat.

Build Quality

Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins’s audio products have one of the best build qualities available. Most of their products also have a unique design and a very appealing aesthetics. The company is known for using high-quality and durable materials for their products, so you can expect them to last for a long time.

An excellent example of the company’s reputation for building unique and durable speakers is the B&W Zeppelin. The speaker has wireless features and a unique extroverted elliptical shape that looks like a classic airship or football. It comes with a fabric-clad grille to cover the speaker. It also comes with high-quality drivers and an amplifier to complete the package.

Another quirky speaker design from Bowers and Wilkins is the B&W Formation Wedge. The wireless speaker is only advertised as a mid-level one, but it has a vibe of a high-end wireless speaker from its aesthetics. Its wedge design enables the speaker to sit well in a corner. The speaker also comes with top-quality and durable tweeters, woofers, and sub to expect it to work for a long time.

The B&W Panorama 3 is a mid-level soundbar from Bowers and Wilkins that is exceptionally built and comes with top-quality materials, so you can be sure that it will work for a long time. The soundbar has a sleek, low-profile design and has a weighty bottom end. It comes with 13 drivers, two subwoofers, and an amplifier to give the listener the high-quality audio they deserve.

Lastly, the flagship of the Bowers and Wilkins loudspeakers, the B&W 801 D4, is the perfect representation of the company’s reputation for making high-end speakers with unique physical designs. The speaker has a quirky turbine head that significantly improves the speaker’s performance for higher frequencies. It has a reverse wrap cabinet, which improves sound dispersion, and the cabinet reflection is reduced.

Overall, Bowers & Wilkins products are exceptionally made, and they all come with high-quality materials. Their designs are also unique, which is a great plus compared to other top brands in the market.

KEF

Aside from their excellent sound quality, KEF products are also exceptionally built. The materials used in every speaker and earphones are top-notch, so you can expect them to last for a long time. The technologies employed in their speakers improved their sound and build quality.

The KEF MUO is an excellent example of KEF’s performance in building durable speakers with high-quality materials. The speaker wireless speaker inherits the company’s flagship speaker’s design, which has a sculptural organic form. Additionally, it comes with high-quality speaker designs that significantly improve speaker performance.

If you are looking for a mid-level subwoofer with a build quality that can last for a long time without regularly maintaining, you should go for the KEF KC62. The subwoofer comes with a P-flex driver surround that resists acoustic pressure, resulting in a deeper and more accurate bass. Its cabinet is made from extruded aluminum as well.

Last but not least, the KEF Muon, which is the company’s flagship loudspeaker, is an excellent example of KEF’s renowned creativity for its speakers. The speaker is equipped with Uni-Q drivers, a unique speaker itself, and the cabinet looks like a curvy torso, all made from polished aluminum. Its thick aluminum shell reduces vibrations from the sound.

Overall, KEF has built an excellent reputation for making greatly-built speakers; from the materials used up to the designs and technologies implemented to improve their speakers, they are all exceptional.

Noise Isolation

Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins have one of the best noise isolation features in the market. The company’s technologies have been up to par with the standards, as they can compete with other top brands when it comes to noise-canceling solutions.

The Bowers and Wilkins PX5 is an excellent entry-level headphone that is perfect for listening to any songs without disturbing other people, as it has an impressive noise-isolation feature. The headphone does an excellent job of filtering out background noise. The noise-isolation feature can also block out noises from bus engines, which improves the bass and low-mid range.

Another Bowers & Wilkins entry-level wireless earphone is the B&W PI5, which has the active noise canceling feature. The earphone performs well in isolating noise, and it can dial back deep low frequencies; however, it is not that successful on some high frequencies. Overall, its active noise canceling mode is still solid compared to other entry-level wireless earphones.

Lastly, the Bowers and Wilkins flagship wireless earphone, B&W PI7, is an excellent example of the company’s reputation for manufacturing high-quality earphones with an excellent noise-isolation feature. The earphone can block out bass-range noises like the rumble of plane and bus engines. Even without turning on the ANC mode, its design can still reduce unnecessary noise.

Overall, Bowers and Wilkins have impressive products with fantastic noise isolation features, which can match other products from top brands. Their products are an excellent option if you are looking for an earphone or headphone with an impressive noise isolation feature.

KEF

Aside from top-quality speakers, KEF also makes high-quality earphones and headphones with active and passive noise cancellation features. Their products are perfect if you want to have a peaceful listening to your music or even some privacy.

One of KEF’s headphones with noise isolation features is the KEF M500. Although it is passive, it still works great for home use and if you don’t want to disturb other people. For noisy environments, the headphone can still work fine, as you will not be distracted by what you are doing, especially when you are in your office.

One of KEF’s headphones with active noise cancellation features is the KEF Porsche Design Space One. It’s ANC mode is pretty good as it can cancel out noise from vehicles like buses and trains. It does not take up too much battery, which is pretty great to have more privacy if you are listening to music and do not want to be distracted.

For flagship wireless earphones with an active noise cancellation feature, then you should look into the KEF Mu3. The earphone does a great job of keeping outside interference to a minimum. Its ANC mode can eliminate external sound and preserve the nuance and detail of the sound.

Overall, KEF’s wireless earphones and headphones have excellent noise isolation features and can do their job if needed. Although most of their products only have passive noise cancellation, it still greatly works when you need your privacy or do not want to disturb others.

Price

Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins offer premium, high-quality audio devices like loudspeakers, wireless earphones and headphones, soundbars, home theatre systems, etc. Their products produce excellent sound quality and are exceptionally built. Their earphones and headphones have impressive noise-isolation features.

Although Bowers and Wilkins’s products are a little bit expensive compared to other companies, their price points are an excellent deal for their qualities.

KEF

KEF offers top-quality floor-standing speakers, bookshelf speakers, subwoofers, wireless speakers, wireless earphones and headphones, and many more. Looking at their sound and build quality and the noise isolation for their earphones and headphone, all in all, they are excellent products for their value.

KEF products are more expensive than other brands, but for their overall qualities, purchasing their products is still an excellent investment to make.

Pros and Cons

Bowers & Wilkins

Pros:

  • Top-notch sound quality
  • Excellent build quality
  • Impressive noise-isolation features
  • All their products are compatible with high-quality audio formats
  • Stable wireless connections

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Minor design issues
  • No featured application

KEF

Pros:

  • Excellent Uni-Q drivers
  • Patented technologies that are utilized in their products are impressive
  • Beautiful designs
  • Compatible with high-quality audio formats
  • Durable and sturdy

Cons:

  • A little bit expensive compared to other brands
  • Some of their speakers are a little bit heavy
  • A little difficult to use with its built-in apps

Which Is Better?

All products from Bowers and Wilkins and KEF have great sound and build quality, while their headphones and earphones have impressive noise isolation features, but if I have to choose which of the company is better, I have to choose KEF.

KEF products are more affordable, and almost all of their loudspeakers are omnidirectional, which is an excellent feature if you do not want to find the sweet spot in your place.

Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!

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