Best Vintage Kenwood Speakers – Tested – 2022 Edition


Kenwood kl-777d speaker

The under-appreciation of Kenwood audio equipment has long bewildered me. Kenwood manufactured some of the best speakers out there, altough they are rare.

You will hear many so-called audiophiles call Kenwood speakers “Kabuki nonsense.” However, if you like listening to good music more than talking about it, you will be impressed with some of its models.

Their first known audiophile-quality speaker was a large and heavy Model 7, introduced in August 1975. From then on, until the 90s, people could easily find a pair of Kenwoods that suited their ears. 

In this article, I’ll list the best vintage Kenwood speakers and try to explain through reviews why Kenwood had more than a few high-quality models. 

Keep in mind that many parameters can profoundly affect the sound speakers produce. 

1. Kenwood LS 1900

At the top of the food chain is the LS-1900, the best loudspeaker Kenwood has ever built. 

Technical data:

  • Power handling (nominal / music): 115 W / 170 W
  • Frequency response: 30 – 21,000 Hz (DIN)
  • Efficiency: 92 dB / W / m
  • Impedance: 8 Ohm
  • Crossover transitions: at 600 and 5,000 Hz

A few weeks ago, I had two giant Kenwood LS 1900 speakers in front of me that impressively proved Kenwood in the 70s could produce products with the highest sound quality, artistry, and design. 

The speakers are visually not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like them greatly, primarily since these are real men’s speakers. 

For example, the Sony SS G7 is undoubtedly a very good speaker, but it does not reach the class of an LS 1900 by far. 

These are such serious differences that no one would believe until they had the opportunity to hear the Kenwoods.

I heard a pair of Klipschhorns (here’s my review of the best vintage Klipsch speakers) a few weeks ago, which are fantastic speakers. Super dynamic, clear, and punchy. 

The same virtues have the LS 1900 but with the advantage that when increasing volume, nothing discolors, and the 30 HZ also does not collapse. So at full volume, the basses still bring 30 Hz(!).

Comparison with the legendary Technics SB E-100 

I also directly compared them with the Technics SB-E100, although the Technics, according to the data sheet (same power handling 100w RMS and frequency response), should deliver about 3-5dB more (and that’s a lot of steam).

The SB-E100 had no chance against the LS 1900 in the bass. In the middle and above, the LS 1900 is far superior to the Technics despite the alleged 5 more dB.

The Kenwood LS-1900 are exceptional speakers and belong to the five to ten best speakers of the 70s to 80s (e.g., JBL, Klipsch, Bose, SentryIII, etc.).

2. Kenwood LS-1200

The LS-1200s come from a very, very good series of speakers that Kenwood produced around 1980.

Then there is the LS-1900 we mentioned first, LS-1600 (effectively the LS-1200 in Gross), and the LS-1000, an extremely rare and sought-after loudspeaker with planar diaphragms.

Technical data :

  • Power handling: 70 watts, maximum 100 watts
  • Frequency response: 35-20000Hz, drops below 50Hz a bit
  • Efficiency : 90dB/W at 1m
  • Impedance: 8 Ohm
  • Crossover transitions: at 1000Hz and 6000Hz
  • Explicitly intended for near wall placement

This is a classic Japanese bass-reflex compact monitor in a 3-way design. The cabinet is made of 20mm thick MDF with a plastic veneer. 

As far as the tweeter is concerned, this is certainly an unusual configuration for a speaker of this caliber.

I would describe the LS-1200 sound as quite linear, with a very “round” sound. 

The bass is always there (even played softly!) but rather restrained. 

Similarly, the cone tweeter is very finely resolved but is not over-present and is not annoying at any time. There are also mids, of course.

Overall, a sound where I miss nothing. On the contrary, the speakers sound enormously homogeneous, loud, fun, and swallow no details.

The tweeter does a very good job in this speaker, which is not necessarily self-evident.

From the positioning, you just have to look: Since especially the cone tweeter but rather strong bundles, you have to take a small compromise in terms of stage vs. treble. 

If you angle the speakers more, a bit of stage is lost, or the other way around. But it’s not a big drama and is manageable. 

I listen in a 3m stereo triangle, which works quite well and I have the speakers currently not angled at all.

And yes, the speakers definitely belong directly on the wall. That’s how they sound best. I had them additionally on a heavy (35kg), 50cm high stones stand that did the bass very well and promoted the tweeters on “listening height.”

The LS-1200 are good-natured and undemanding as far as amplifiers are concerned. 

They are certainly not bass monsters. However, if you are looking for speakers with fine, detailed, and balanced reproduction, these might be the speakers for you.

If you look at old selling prices on eBay, you can assume an absolute bargain – most of the time, the speakers go well under 200 dollars, which is a joke considering the quality. 

3. Kenwood KL-888D

Kenwood KL-888D speaker

I can confidently say that this speaker does it all after four days of listening to the KL-888D. 

With a neat efficiency of 98 dB, 150-watt power rating, and a bottom end that reaches down to 20 Hz, nothing is lacking. 

They look fantastic, with or without lattices, and blend in as pieces of furniture rather nicely.

They have that 70s/80s design white cone 15″ woofers, 5-way, with tune selector overs adjustment (soft/normal/clear).

Completely boxless, open, swift, smooth, precise, extended on the top and bottom, deep bass, the praises go on and on.

Initially, I had them playing with a Quadrophonic Sansui AU-D5, but that amp went broke. However, I picked up for $150 a Pioneer SX-3700, which has filled my appetite for an excellent quad stereo once again.

Nice and rich, these speakers stand up to anything I pitched at them with no distortion at high volumes, and man, do I put them through some volumes too. 

The sound is clear and has a very rich bass. Tone controls on speakers allow for flexibility when putting these in different types of spaces. 

They also have a full-range sound with great full range and are excellent for those that want them loud.

The KL-888Ds also can handle lots of power.

They also have a reasonable low range for a speaker of this design, and the horn tweeters can scream as well as anything. 

The only drawback is they are heavy.

Listening to old Rock & Roll, 80’s metal, 90’s industrial, 70’s hard rock, and all the other nice stuff out there never sounded so right in my life.

If you run across a pair of these, buy them immediately. The only comparable speakers I saw for sale online was a pair of KL-777D on eBay for $344, which is pretty good. 

A Brief History of Kenwood Vintage Series

It was from the Japanese Model 7 that Kenwood USA spawned the LS-400 line, starting with the LS-403, LS-405 & LS-406, then those were replaced by the “A” line with LS-403A, LS-405A, LS-407A & LS-408A, then “B” line, LS-404B, LS-405B, LS-407B & LS-408B, and finishing at the “C” line, LS-405C, LS-407C & LS-408C. 

The C series used aluminum frames for all drivers, but unfortunately, none of the C’s could be had with a real walnut surface. 

The only LSs with real walnut veneer were LS-403, LS-405, LS-406, LS-408A, & LS-408B. 

Those LS Series were much cheaper than the Model Seven, which was over $2500 per pair from 1975 to 1977. 

They all used the same design techniques and were the closest thing sound-wise to the Model 7. 

However, the other TOTL Model that Kenwood manufactured later, the LS-1900, while not sharing anything visually or sound-wise with the 7 Series, had another line generated from it those were not made in the USA, the LS-660/770/880/990. 

The LS-880 and 880G were Kenwood’s clones of the Yamaha NS-690/1000. 

Most spawned lines can be had with a limited budget nowadays. However, finding a pair that is intact and 100% working can prove extremely challenging. 

After 1988, the focus on sound/construction quality went downhill. Although the LSC & LSK-Series-B employed the same midrange and tweeter cones as the earlier LSs, they were the departure sound-wise and quality-wise far. 

Other lines that come to mind are the LS & LSP with four numbers 5000/6000/7000/8000/9000, and some had a letter at the end of the number like K. 

The “thousand” series, as I call them, were nothing more than steroid-ed versions of their earlier “KL” brothers, having a line array of multiple drivers which were created for nothing but “loud.” 

Tray Fiddy

Tray has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous DJ.... but that hasn't stopped him from mixing and throwing parties around the town. Tray has over 10 years experience of DJing at home and events.

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