The initial 'meh' impression was largely due to room modes which @amirm had not started correcting back then (R3 was one of the earliest speakers to go on the bench). He re-heard the speaker correcting for that when reviewing another (think Revel) speaker later when he realized room modes were causing problems, and his impression was a lot better.
Many people in the KEF R3 thread have asked for this correction to be included, but it has never been done. So anyone landing on that thread will come away with a bad impression, unless they get to page 20+ of the thread (which I doubt many bother with).
Room EQ helped a lot to my R7s to really shine