KEF R3 review
KEF is a British company with a massive influence on high-end audio, spreading from the ’60s till the current days.
Recently they got huge attention thanks to their excellent wireless speakers LS50W and LSX, which process the digital signal to enhance the sound. But they didn’t give up on passive speakers either.
That’s why now we do the review of KEF R3, the smallest speaker in the R-series.
KEF introduced the R-series as a premium one that offers sonic performance similar to the mighty KEF Reference 1, but for a more affordable cost.
- Great build and finish
- Amazing resolution and insight
- Balanced sound
- There are none
Uni-Q driver array is the distinctive mark of KEF. By positioning the tweeter in the center of the mid-range driver, the company created a unique configuration that improves the integration and the dispersion.
Although it looks like a single unit, the fact is it is a two-way arrangement.
The Uni-Q array arrived in the late 1980s, and since then, it has been a subject of many updates. Now we have the 12th generation, 25mm aluminum dome tweeter with a 12,5 cm aluminum mid-range unit; all fitted that way that reduced distortion and better performance overlap the previous versions.
The KEF R3 have a three-way design. That means they have a tweeter, mid-range, and bass optimized for work in a specific frequency band. Most audio manufacturers don’t go that road to build three drive units to work in cohesion. It is just too complicated and costs more money.
The bass driver is a 16.5 cm hybrid between aluminum and a paper cone that has the purpose of combining good damping characteristics with rigidity, tuned by a rear-firing port. We find the same port on the very popular model LS50s because of its incredible ability to reduce resonance and distortion.
KEF R3 look very nice too. They are 42 cm tall and can accommodate most of the decors, and look elegant. The grilles are also classy, toned to match the cabinets, and don’t affect the sound quality. The speakers come in white, black, and wooden finish with KEF’s matching stands available in black, grey, or white. The color-matched drivers for each of the available finishes are just aesthetic perfection.
The dimensions of the speaker are 42 x 20 x 34 cm.
Sensitivity is 87 dB, and nominal impedance is 8 ohms.
The weight is about 14 kg each.
Sound Quality of KEF R3
R3s give a precise and clear soundstage, focused and excellent resolution of instruments and voices, all supported by weighty and controlled bass.
The Uni-Q array will disperse the sound in all directions across the room, so the speakers’ positioning is not that critical, but it is best if the speakers are 70cm away from the back wall. If you prefer more bass, you should put the speakers closer to the wall. But bass is one of the impressive things about KEF R3. It is fast, snappy, and tight, relatively low for a passive speaker of this size, and much better than some towers.
But these speakers have more than their killer bass. They are also great at reproducing mid-band vocals or strings and horns.
Once you start listening to the music, you will realize that mid-range and treble are clear. Voices have natural sound, treble is smooth, and pianos have the right timbre.
KEF R3 are musical performers who will grab your attention and focus on the message. They create lots of sonic scales and sound more prominent than they are by providing you a stereo soundstage that is organized and precise. No matter if you move around the room, the stereo image follows you, thank’s to the fantastic Uni-Q array.
As far as the tone goes, it is a well-balanced neutral presentation. No particular frequency is prominent or favored, so to make the speaker’s sound more exciting. That is left to be the job of the original recording. There is no emphasis on the treble or the bass, and all musical genres have the same treatment, and they all sound even. R3s allows you to listen to music for hours and hours without getting tired or bored, providing you with detailed resolution through the process, and that is what you would expect from high-end speakers.
When connecting them to an amplifier, KEF recommends a device capable of 15 to 180 Watts into 8 Ohms. It is always better to go to the higher end of this scale. It takes about 150 hours of use for the R-series drivers to loosen up and fully develop the speaker’s sound.
The KEF R3 are excellent and well-rounded speakers. With their neutral and sonically balanced soundstage, delivering different music genres better than some more expensive competitors, these speakers are the right choice for purchase.