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Loudspeaker manufacturer EAW used this year's NAMM show to premier the latest and most significant upgrade yet to the KF850 Virtual Array loudspeaker. The new "z" versions of the KF850 come in two application-specific variations -- the KF850zF (Flyable) and KF850zR (Road). Both include all new internal components with the latest in EAW transducer technology, as well as a host of new features designed specifically to enhance their versatility while reducing ownership costs.

The KF850z upgrade (R and F versions) begins with the integration of EAW's patented Radial Phase Plug , originally developed for the KF750 to improve vocal reproduction into the mid-frequency section. From there, the high-frequency section receives a new Orbital Magnet Array (OMA) compression driver and a newly designed high-frequency horn. The neodymium OMA driver increases the surface area of the magnet, improving both cooling and reliability. In addition, the new high-frequency horn design minimizes throat distortion and offers improved extension and fidelity. The new components and technology noticeably advance the temporal response of the KF850z, resulting in a sweeter-sounding system with even greater impact than before.

The powerful SB850R subwoofer also receives the "z" touch. New dual 18-inch low-frequency transducers are capable of handling 1000 watts each, resulting in improved dynamic response over previous designs. This, along with an increase in the enclosure volume, means that the SB850zR has vastly improved low-end authority and punch.

The KF850zR model is designed for applications where flown loudspeakers are not required. The product is acoustically identical to the KF850zF, but does not include fly hardware. The result is an almost 20% weight savings: the KF850zR weighs 41 lb / 18.6 kg, or 22%, less than the KF850zF. A stacking pad has been added to the top and a recessed opening has been added to the bottom to facilitate stable ground stacking. EAW is also offering a complete caster pallet or a caster pallet kit for those wanting to build their own.

The KF850zF's enclosure and rigging hardware are identical to the previous KF850EF version. As a result, the KF850zF is physically compatibile with KF850EF systems, but the two are not acoustically identical as a result of the significant updates made to the new KF850z. So, EAW is offering an upgrade kit that will allow users to convert existing KF850EF cabinets to "z" versions.

EAW is also offering a bi-amp crossover kit compatible with both the KF850zR and KF850zF. This low-cost kit is user-installed, and includes a passive mid/high crossover, stickers for the input panel which depict the new input jack pin-out configuration, and installation instructions. With the kit installed, one less amplifier channel is required to run the system. Installation can be completed in about 10-15 minutes.

The new KF850zR and KF850zF models will begin shipping in February 2004.

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