KEF R300 Review
It is available in walnut, rosewood, high-gloss black, or high-gloss white. The KEF R300 3-way bass reflex shelf speaker finds its way into the living room or music room of the experienced listener, who also focuses on a good price/performance ratio despite all his enthusiasm for music.
First of all, outstanding quality should be mentioned, which is anything but a matter of course for this price league. We only know a few loudspeakers that appear classy, even in higher price ranges. At KEF, the design doesn’t stop at the membranes. The UNI-Q driver, the coaxial chassis with a 25 mm aluminum tweeter in the center of the aluminum 125 mm midrange chassis, looks just as elegant as the flat membrane woofer (165 mm aluminum chassis). Noble rings, also made of real metal, surround the actual chassis.
Of course, the drivers are embedded in the baffle without any visible screws. Cleanly rounded corners and excellent surface quality are a matter of course for KEF. Mild criticism only for the design of the case back. It would have been nice here if KEF had installed something like a shapely base or noble speaker feet. As many competitors show, this is also becoming increasingly popular with bookshelf speakers.
But otherwise, it’s all sunshine. The connection terminals are of extremely high quality and set standards in the price range. The KEF logo is elegantly placed at the top center. The speaker grilles are magnetic – the R300 looks decidedly best open, so there are no indentations to attach to the grille.
An KEF R300 weighs 12 kg. The bookshelf speaker is 385 mm high, 210 mm wide, and 345 mm deep. KEF recommends amplifiers with an output of 25 to 120 watts per channel. However, we recommend outputs between around 50 and 100 watts/channel.
The frequency range at – 6 dB ranges from 42 Hz to 45 kHz, at – 3 dB frequencies between 50 Hz and 28 kHz. The R300 generates a maximum of 110 dB of sound pressure and, at 88 dB (2.83V/1m), has a decent but not sensational efficiency level. KEF specifies the impedance as 8 ohms, with a minimum of 3.2 ohms.
Here are a few more details on the UNI-Q driver. It features a reinforced aluminum-magnesium alloy cone and KEF’s proprietary “Z-Flex” technology. This enables a flat and correspondingly soft transition to the housing, which in turn ensures that the responsiveness in the reproduction of the presence sound range is extremely fast and at the same time extremely accurate. In addition, the die-cast, extremely solid aluminum chassis enables a particularly pure, clean sound since practically no disturbing resonances are passed on to the housing.
As is usual with a coaxial driver, the tweeter sits in the center of the midrange driver. It is ventilated and structurally related to the tweeter of the KEF high-end box Blade. Equipped with a large, particularly powerful neodymium magnet and a particularly hard, computer-optimized calotte, extremely high impulse fidelity is offered. This tweeter is said to be characterized by unbelievable responsiveness and acceleration. Enormous precision in the high and mid-range is one of the great advantages of this UNI-Q coax driver construction. KEF’s “Tangerine Waveguides” provide the perfect complement and support, spreading the high frequencies through wide control with high spatial width.
The bass driver combines a massive, ventilated magnet construction and a large, extraordinarily light aluminum voice coil. It also drives a particularly soft, elaborately stiffened hybrid cone – this creates clean, powerful bass with enormous dynamics.
- Broad, fluid dynamics
- Even tonal balance
- Excellent timing
- Spacious and open
- Elegant finish
- Tough competition
- Bass could be better integrated
We play “A Little Bit Of That” from the server by the Blues Company in Flac 96 kHz/24-bit. And the KEF R300 details very well, but the voice could be integrated a little more harmoniously. The instruments, as well as the rhythm, come out true to impulse and with lively contours. The e-guitar seems enthusiastic and emphatic; the drums could do more in detail with a little more presence.
“I Can’t Tell You Why” in the variant by Diana Krall (album “Wallflower”) in Flac 48/24 brings the two KEF bookshelf loudspeakers to their best advantage, polished and clear. Diana’s voice is reproduced charismatically, and it detaches itself quite well from the speaker chassis. The instruments impress with their presence and precision, but the two R300s still manage to give Diana’s voice that shines at all times.
The SACD “James Bond Themes” consists of purely instrumental title tunes from 007 films from the beginning to “GoldenEye” from 1995. Played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, we first listen to the title tune of the second 007 film, “From Russia With Love.” Meanwhile, the R300 shows us numerous talents. Thanks to the UNI-Q coaxial chassis, the high and mid-range reach the listener simultaneously. This ensures a closed, cultivated, precise sound pattern.
In general, “precision” is the strength of the R300. Unlike other KEF boxes that we are used to, the R300 is not so full in the bass range and appears slightly slimmer overall. You notice that right at the beginning of “Goldfinger.” There’s some punch and dynamics in the overall acoustics, but it’s more subdued than other KEF speakers we’ve tested. The smallest floor standing speaker from the R series that we tested, R500, offers audibly more volume and depth in the bass range.
What drives the R300 still deserves respect because it always manages to incorporate a lot of structure into the overall tonal event, for example, with “Thunderball.” The resolution of the tweeter, which is also located in the R500, is always impressive. The strings are very easy to hear but at the same time always appear harmonious and never too dominant.
We are now listening to Schiller’s “I’ve Seen It All.” The song comes from the SACD “Leben.” The voice sounds clear and finely resolved; it separates itself accurately from the instruments. The detachment of the sound from the R300 works well but less convincingly than with the larger R500, which detaches vocal and instrumental parts from the chassis more confidently. The bass is tight and precise. The R300 achieves good but not above-average results in the discipline “load capacity/level stability.” Anyone who pours out plenty of power and takes things very loudly will have to put up with a slightly too dominant upper midrange and expect that the ability to differentiate will be reduced over the entire frequency range. But that only applies to high levels.
If you listen to the music well above room volume for the joy of music, you don’t have to reckon with any restrictions. In the beginning, the song “Love” with the male voice speaking a few words delights us with a breadth and depth that we feel is authentic. The female voice then expresses how powerful the tweeter and midrange are fine contours, and a very charismatic overall presentation speaks for the R300.
We are now listening to “Dell’Amore Non Si Sa” by Andrea Bocelli in normal CD quality. The good modeling of the vocal presence suits the R300 here as well. The 3-way bookshelf loudspeakers convincingly represent the fascination in Andrea’s voice. The KEF sound converters work out small dynamic differences convincingly. The three-dimensionality in the high-frequency range is outstanding. The R300 manages large leaps in dynamics well to very well, but more is possible here.
The beginning of “L’Attesa,” also from the Bocelli album “Andrea,” is presented very homogeneously and coherently. Each instrument involved, keyboard or string instruments, is reproduced with a spatially dense aura. The bass is tight and very precisely staggered. With this piece, the required depth also leaves an impeccable impression. Nevertheless, the bass never lies over the vocal parts but always leaves this optimal fold-in space.
Mysterious Art’s classic “The Omen” is a one-hit-wonder from the late 80s. The sound quality of the CD can be described as average. A little too much is happening in the upper mid-range, which makes it appear too dominant. The whole thing goes hand in hand with only sufficient resolution and slightly tinny voices. What does the R300 do with these framework conditions? The sound has substance, but you can hear the slightly tinny impact, albeit to a reasonable extent. The bass also hits exactly the right spot here, but the emphasis is limited. The separation from the instruments is not 100 percent convincing when the singer starts. Overall an average performance, with such source material you better not use the R300.”
What about the extended version of the a-ha hit “The Sun Always Shine On TV”? The sound impression is significantly better here. The separation of Morten Harket’s voice from the instruments succeeds convincingly; the foundation is more perceptible. Typical for recordings from the 80s, the mid-range is also quite dominant here, but the R300 pushes with more intensity from below. However, there are passages where even more emphasis would be better. The rhythm comes out accurate; the impulse fidelity is very good. Overall, little can be said about the R300 in this piece. Excellent performance for its size and price range.
The R300 costs a pair of the neatly finished Dali Opticon 1. The Danes offer for the purchase price an elegant, compact, well-sounding box with no real weaknesses – great. On the other hand, the R300 is twice as expensive can be seen in the higher level of detail, more clarity in the high-frequency range, and the more precise bass.
Teufel Definition 3S
The Berlin Ragalbox represents a promising option. It also looks quite good, is also a three-way construction, and has a high-tech coaxial chassis for medium – and high-frequency range. Because it’s blessed with bass power, substance, enormous spatial density, and good resolution, it is difficult to find any disadvantages in the Definition 3S. The R300 has a finer resolution in the treble range, but it doesn’t quite have the expressiveness of the Definition 3S in the bass range.
Incidentally, the best bookshelf speakers in the league also come from KEF, the LS50 monitor bookshelf speaker. Only one thing should be considered; this very attractive and extremely powerful speaker needs an appropriately powerful feed. Then nothing stands in the way of a brilliant parade: tighter, astonishingly emphatic bass, excellent three-dimensionality, great resolution.
Conclusion in the KEF R300
The enormous resolving power and the overall very fine; overall cultivated characteristics are responsible for the fact that the R300 still receives an extremely pleasing rating. The high-frequency range shines with enormous spatiality; the group delay times are perfect. The R300 is also excellently processed. The bass range is good, but more emphasis and depth would be needed for greater praise. The level stability does not set any standards; it is good to very good, but not outstanding. What we like is the excellent fine dynamics over the entire frequency range.