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HolidayBuyer's Guide

KEF HTF8003

Design

Side view

Back panel

Speaker connections

Wall-mounting hardware and rubber support pads

Sound bar speakers generally appeal to only a small portion of home audio buyers. If you've got a large budget, minimalist ethos, appreciate sound quality--but not enough to insist on a pair of standalone speakers--a sound bar speaker fits your niche. The KEF HTF8003 doesn't offer anything radically different from the competing models available, with a long, tubelike design and glossy, black finish. Its sound quality with movies was among the best we've heard on sound bars (although it doesn't do any virtual surround effects), but music fans will want something more substantial.

As usual with this product category, our major concern is the total cost of the system: in addition to the sound bar, you need an AV receiver, plus we found that a subwoofer is pretty much a must-have, too. That will probably bring the total cost to over $2,000, which could buy you a lot more sound quality from a more conventional tower speaker arrangement, but if you need the single-speaker style, the KEF HTF8003 is one of the better options available.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The KEF HTF8003 looks like most of the other sound bars on the market, with a long, tubelike design and glossy, black finish. The speaker isn't particularly heavy, but its weight distribution made it feel somewhat unstable: whenever we moved HTF 8003, it had a tendency to tip over backward. The problem: the small rubbery support pads seem a little too small to provide a stable platform for the speaker. On the plus side, the HTF8003 weighs significantly less than the competing Atlantic Technology FS-7.0; we'd feel much more comfortable wall-mounting the HTF8003 ourselves.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Viewed from the side, the HTF8003 has a skinny, oval-shaped profile, and it comes to only 3.2 inches deep.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Around back, the HTF8003 has three pairs of all-metal spring connectors that accept bare wire ends, or wires terminated with pins or spades; banana plugs won't fit.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
We appreciated that they weren't recessed into the speaker, like on the Canton CD 90 SB, but their low positioning made them slightly difficult to access with speaker wire.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The HTF8003 comes with wall-mounting hardware and small rubber support pads. We found the rubber pads to be a little too small.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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