Any company that launched speakers costing £140,000 a pair (yes, you read that right; no stray zeros on that price tag – and calm down, they’re not the ones we’re looking at here) deserves to be taken seriously by anyone who takes their music-listening seriously, either because they’re selling NASA-standard kit or because they’ve got balls the size of Saturn to charge the earth for fashion-over-function ordinary.
Highly regarded speaker brand KEF are definitely the former. So when they launched their entry into the portable Bluetooth speaker pond it created beautiful ripples rather than an unsightly bomb-splash. So say “Hello, can I have your phone number?” to the KEF Muo.
“Portable Bluetooth speaker? What’s that all about?” Well, it’s a speaker (keep up!) that’s small enough to carry around, and instead of using those old-fashioned things called wires, you send your music to it from a phone, laptop, tablet or whatever, via the short-range wireless technology called Bluetooth. How that actually works is largely immaterial. What really matters is the quality of sound you get from the speaker it sends it to.
And the sound you get from the Muo really is top-notch. And if you’re wondering: “Can a speaker as small as the almost-Subway sandwich-sized Muo really pack a weighty sonic punch?” Well, a redback spider is only tiny, but if that sucker gives you a bite you’ll know you’ve been hit. In terms of sound, the Muo is very possibly as good as portable Bluetooth speakers get.
The reassuringly weighty Muo (0.8kg) is crafted from a solid piece of aluminium, and features a passive bass radiator and two 5cm drivers. Bluetooth 4.0 (pairing with a phone, tablet or other device is quick) is the main connection option, with a range of around 10m, and there’s also a useful headphone jack output. Charging is via micro-USB, and battery life is said to be around 12 hours, although don’t expect to get that if you’re running it at ‘festival in the back garden’ volume (which it isn’t really designed for) – and if you are, note that the gizmo does not dance in the rain. Unusually for a piece of top kit, it comes in five colours: blue, red and gold in addition to the frightfully common silver and grey.
Want a second opinion? Well, What Hi-Fi voted the KEF Muo the best portable wireless speaker in the £200+ bracket, and it was Stuff’s best Bluetooth speaker of 2015. Impressed? You will be when you hear it.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: You don’t have to be big to impress
Wall-to-wall Marshalls and amp rigs the size of a small house might still be popular in some quarters of the ‘check out my tackle!’ rock musician fraternity, but for many these days, the term ‘small is beautiful’ is more where it’s at. For some that means a no-nonsense amp head and speaker cab pair, for others something even smaller, with an ‘all in one’ combo such as the classic Vox AC30 or Fender Twin Reverb. Some kit is so small that a five-year-old could pick it up.
Way back in 1969, the Pignose was the first truly portable guitar amp/speaker, weighing just five pounds. Delivering just five watts, it was intended as a practice amp. But when it came off the production line in the early 70s it was picked up by some of the biggest-name guitar players of the era, such as Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh and used in the studio or even live, albeit fed into something bigger.