On the planet of lover speakers, couple of names stand apart as much as KEF. The British speaker business has actually been an impact on high-end audio considering that the 60 s, and to date makes a few of the most popular hi-fi speakers on the marketplace.

Though the business has actually just recently turned its attention to cordless speakers like the exceptional LS50 W and LSX— which utilize digital signal processing to boost their noise– it hasn’t quit on conventional passive speakers. For this reason today’s topic: the KEF R3. It’s the tiniest speaker in KEF’s brand-new R-Series, and it’s a well-rounded excellent speaker that I believe might be end-game product for numerous lovers. At $1,999, the R3 is not precisely low-cost, however it’s a rewarding financial investment for music enthusiasts happy to conserve up.

Obviously, prior to you put down that type of case on a set of speakers, you’ll most likely desire something to make certain it in fact looks good too. No matter how great your speakers sound, you’ll invest more time looking than listening to them. Fortunately, the R3s must be simple to accommodate in many any decoration, with a tidy blocky appearance that is smooth however not extravagant. And though I never ever utilize speaker grilles since I choose the appearance and noise without, the ones consisted of with the R3 are elegant and appear to have no substantial impact on the noise.

That stated, after the rainbow of colorways for the LSX and LS50 household, I lament that the R3 just can be found in white, black, and wood veneers. You’ll likewise wish to bear in mind the R3s are huge. At 30 pounds each, they’re reassuringly large, however you’ll wish to position them on stands or a media console– racks are not suggested.

When located, setting the R3 up is a basic matter of linking them to your amplifier through the terminals on the back. I checked them running straight from a Yamaha RX-A3080 A/V receiver also through a set of Emotiva PA-1 monoblock amplifiers. The speakers sounded exceptional from both sources, albeit I feel they were a little bit more vibrant with the Emotiva’s additional power and devoted amplification. KEF suggests an amplifier efficient in 15 to 180 Watts into 8 Ohms, however I ‘d recommend going for the greater end of that scale, (having too little power is even worse than excessive).

Presuming they’re fed by adequate tidy power, the R3’s appear to do almost whatever right. While numerous hi-fi speaker business like to “tune” their noise to have a focus on the treble and/or bass, KEF go for a ‘flat’ or neutral noise that does not alter much in character even if you’re not completely placed in between the speakers.

Do not puzzle flat with uninteresting though. It’s simple to presume everybody has various tastes, however research study in fact recommends a substantial bulk of listeners choose speakers that show a flat frequency action when gotten rid of from the impacts of the space (such as when determined in an anechoic chamber).

In a normal space with widespread reflections, a flat speaker’s frequency action will in fact be slanted such that the bass is greater than the treble. Nevertheless, as our hearing adapts to our environments, the speaker will still be viewed as neutral. It likewise assists if the noise does not alter significantly in character to the speaker’s sides, as we hear a mix of the direct noise and the sound originating from other angles and bouncing off our walls.

I offer this background since these are all style concepts evident in the R3. It’s a speaker of extremely neutral character, the kind where absolutely nothing feels especially stressed or left out. It likewise is amongst the very best I have actually heard in my house in regards to spatial discussion– the type of speaker that appears to welcome artists to play in your house.

Credit: KEF
The R3 with its grille on

The midrange and treble on the R3’s are beautiful. Cellos and pianos have correct tone. Vocals sound natural, without little evident pigmentation or focus. They are maybe a little laid back in their discussion, pressing voices back in the mix ever so somewhat, so the R3 might not be the very best option for those who like in advance vocals, however it’s a total well balanced noise that’s difficult to fault.

The treble is smooth– drifting just to sharpness or dullness if present in the recording. In this regard, it likewise sounds more refined than KEF’s own LS50 or LS50 W. It’s a speaker that you can listen to for hours without tiredness, however all the while still having the information resolution you anticipate from a high-end speaker.

You can observe a number of these qualities in fundamental measurements. The blue line listed below represents the R3’s frequency action utilizing a gated measurement method that mimics the action you may obtain from an anechoic chamber. It’s ineffective in the most affordable part of the frequency action, so that location has actually been truncated, however you can still see a fairly direct action throughout the frequency variety.

In red is the action as determined at the real listening position– it’s a lot ‘messier’ since all the space interaction now enters play, however it offers you a concept of what I was hearing when in fact listening to music, and assists show real-world bass extension.

The bass is among the more remarkable aspects of the R3, particularly compared to KEF’s uber-popular LS50, which was understood to be light in the bass. The business ranks the R3s are reaching down to 30 hz in-room, which’s almost what I discovered in my house with the speakers 2 feet far from the front wall (you can get a little bit more bass by positioning the speakers closer to the wall, at the cost of some muddiness). It’s remarkably low for a passive speaker its size– much better than some towers– with sensible amounts for almost all acoustic music and most music. You aren’t going to discover far better than the R3’s in a passive style.

However to me, the specifying of KEF’s speakers has actually constantly been their soundstage.

The majority of speakers utilize different motorists for the mids and the treble since it’s hard to make a motorist that can manage all frequencies without distortion. Some speakers utilize a coaxial style, which puts the tweeter within the midrange motorist so that they are lined up in on both the X and Y measurements. KEF’s ‘coincident’ style– which the business brand names ‘Uni-Q’– goes an action even more, lining up the motorists in depth also, such that both high and midrange frequencies originate from the very same point in area.

( The factor the bass motorist is normally not consisted of in a coaxial setup is that it’s more difficult for individuals to specify area with lower frequencies. That’s why subwoofers are so versatile about positioning.)

In theory, coincident motorists permit a more meaningful, sensible noise. In practice, they have their own problems and their advantages are less visible the even more you are from the speakers. Still, my constant impression is that KEF’s Uni-Q motorists offer a few of the very best noise in regards to spatial discussion– a noise that does not alter much in quality as I walk around the listening location.

Horizontal Reaction 0-75 degrees and Listening Window. The Listening Window is approximately the action at 0, +/- 15, +/-30 degrees horizontal, along with +/- 10 degrees vertical.

The measurements mean this too. In the above chart, I have actually put the speaker on a turntable and determined frequency action at 15- degree periods. You can see how the sound modifications efficiently as procedure more towards the speaker’s sides; the downwards tilt is anticipated, however the vital part is that the modifications are fairly smooth. On numerous other speakers, you’ll see a dip kind around specific frequencies. Often this is done to stabilize issues with the on-axis noise, however normally, it simply sounds even worse.

The vertical action, at 0, 5, 10, 15, and 30 degrees above and listed below the tweeter, reveals comparable outcomes, recommending the speaker is likewise not picky about sound whether you are taking a seat or standing:

There may be small distinctions in the vertical action compared to the horizontal action due to various placing for measurements, nevertheless, the measurements must still be a sign of general patterns.

This regulated dispersion assists provide the speakers a large listening ‘sweet area’ that is not picky about where you plant your butt. Prior to I ‘d even taken measurements, I saw I might walk around my open-floor-plan house and still preserve a well balanced noise and intelligible discussion. In reality, the horizontal measurements recommend the speakers are in fact somewhat smoother around 15 to 30 degrees off-axis. The majority of speakers must be angled intended towards the listening position for the very best noise, however I discovered the R3’s sounded finest dealing with right out. Your mileage might differ.

This isn’t to state whatever about the R3 is fantastic. I do not get rather the very same sense of characteristics and information I did from Focal’s Kanta No 3 speaker I evaluated just recently, although it’s unjust to compare the R3 with a $13,000 speaker. I likewise tend to choose a bit more focus on the highs and for that reason missed out on a few of the ‘crisper’ treble on the Bowers and Wilkins Development Duo ($ 4,000) I checked along with the R3. If you like your hi-fi speakers with more in-your-face information, theR3 may appear simply a laid back compared to some high-end competitors.

However those are very little problems in the higher context of the speaker’s efficiency. While I think cordless systems with DSP are the future, the KEF R3 is a tip of how great speakers can still be with totally passive elements. The R3 is quite, sounds fantastic no matter where you’re listening from, and it’s not picky about positioning. If you’re trying to find brand-new speakers and have $2,000 to blow, the R3 benefit major factor to consider.

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Released June 21, 2019– 23: 23 UTC.