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KEF R3 Meta - My Experience

K-dub

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Jan 10, 2024
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Good Day,

Looking to share my experience with the KEF R3 Meta and hoping for some feedback to help guide in improving my system.

Setup:

  • KEF R3 Meta with KEF S3 Stands – Run Non-Bi-Wired
  • Yamaha A-S801 Integrated Amplifier – Primarily Run in Pure Direct
  • Denafrips Ares 12th-1 DAC
  • WIIM Pro Plus Streamer – Primarily use Qobuz
  • Speaker Cable - Micca Pure Copper, 14AWG (Amazon)
  • Interconnects – WJSTN RCA to RCA (Amazon)
  • COAX - FosPower Premium S/PDIF Digital Audio Coaxial Cable (Amazon)

Music Taste:

  • Rock and Metal – i.e. GNR, Megadeath, Metallica, ACDC
  • Oldies – Beatles, Elvis etc.
  • POP – Lady Gaga, Cardi B etc.
  • 90’s – Vanilla ICE, MC Hammer, and a lot others (Yes I’m not ashamed to admit it :cool: )

What’s important to me:

  • Ability to listen loud without cringing (95-105db)
  • I choose foot taping, good sound over “True to the source” “Uncolored” “Transparent” any day of the week.
  • Dynamics!
  • Punch and Tight Bass – not to be confused with boomy or bloated. Just to a better idea I feel the R3’s gives me exactly what I want here without a subwoofer. Feel I am a bit of an odd ball that likes to listen loud but don’t crave the room to shake. Albeit if its quality bass and the room is shaking, I’ll take it!

Room and Speaker Placement:
  • Odd Shape – approx. 250sqft
  • Ceiling height 14’ sloped to 10’
  • Pretty much everything in this room is against me. Sloped ceiling, speakers are positioned on the wrong wall both for the sloped celling and the long vs short wall. Windows everywhere. Listening position is right against the back wall. Odd shape room open to one side

Room 2.PNG


Room.PNG


The Good:

Bass from this setup exceeded my expectations for bookshelf’s. At this time do not feel the need to add in a subwoofer. **caveat to this noted below
Typical “Audiophile” tracks sound unbelievable especially at moderate volume levels (70-80db at the listening position)

The Concerning:
  • A lot of recordings – even HiRes recordings sound awful – especially above 75db
  • Bass heavy tracks will bottom out the R3 drivers around 90dB
  • Even great recoding’s can get shouty, messy and unpleasing past 85dB – Especially busy tracks.
What have I tried to correct the concerning:
  • Speaker placement – I have had these things everywhere – Close to the wall, 3 feet out, 1/5 out, 10’ apart, 7’ apart, toe in, toe out etc. etc. The only thing I can’t do I switch up the wall these are against as you can see by the photos.
  • Looked for another space in my home – this is a no go
  • Bought a Denafrips Area 12th-1 DAC as I read the R2R DACS can remove some harshness. Although it helped it really didn’t move the needle.
  • Bought a miniDSP UMIK-1 mic and ran some sweeps in REW – Results below. Don’t really know what I’m looking at. Sent these results along with the above info to GIK Acoustics for room treatment advise. I have not pulled the trigger on any room treatment yet.

OK friends to summarize I have two main issues I’m facing 1. Setup currently doesn’t give me the loud volume levels I’m after and 2. Most tracks of my taste are awful to listen to even at moderate listening volumes.

Thinking out loud – Swapping out the amplifier may help with the drivers bottoming out and may help the sound, but I feel just like the new DAC I tried the results would be minor. I could treat the room which would likely help with the sound but would do nothing for the volume levels and drivers bottoming out. Which makes me think a speaker swap is likely the best option, but It kills me to say that as when the R3’s are shinning they are just unbelievable. Then I think to myself – do I go the R7 or R11 to solve the loud listening issue but then I feel I would be in the same position just trying to find tracks that sound good rather than relax and listen to the music I love.

If you made it this far I would appreciate your feedback.

REW.PNG
 

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RobL

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Were the measurements taken at your main listening position? Looks very midrange heavy…definitely going to sound shouty playing loud. Do you have any way to apply eq?
 
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K-dub

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Were the measurements taken at your main listening position? Looks very midrange heavy…definitely going to sound shouty playing loud. Do you have any way to apply eq?
Yes they were taken at the listening position. I should have mentioned I did play around with EQ on the WIIM which made a difference but again only slightly. I only tried the pre-built EQ setting with the ROCK and CLASSICAL setting sounding the best.
 
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K-dub

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I don't understand how you can be enjoying the bass if you are bottoming out the Kefs. Seems to me like you need sub(s) for the volume you are after.
That's why I mentioned the caveat above. At 80ish dB when the drivers are not bottoming out I love the lower frequency range the R3's make. It just doesn't scale past that point.
 
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K-dub

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Indeed. And that is why you probably need subs.
Lets say I play a track that bottoms out at 90db - If I add a sub and play at the same level the R3's driver will still bottom out. Or am I missing something here? Appreciate your reply.
 

Frank2

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If all else fails you could use the bass and treble adjustments on your amp. That may iron out the bulk of the response curve.
 
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K-dub

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Is the impedance selector on the back panel of your amplifier set to "low"? The R3 meta has a minimal impedance of 3.2 ohms.
I looked into this and most advise follows the below. That being said I will give it a shot.

1704910130835.png
 

ZolaIII

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Ufff to get a desired SPL you would need a big PA speakers and even bigger sub's while being in the open.
Instead get a pair of deacent sub's and do a lot of DSP-ing the signal. Do a proper white noise (-20 dB) calibration (to the listening spot) and use equal loudness normalisation (ISO 226 2003) after that. That will get you where you want to be and sounding good on normal moderate listening levels (70~80 dB program and up to +20 dB peaks) and not bad when listening on lower levels.
For starters and with what you already have you can wisely use 4 PEQ slots on the WiiM and afterwards use SPL meter (average reeding) with wite noise from file played to desired SPL and adjusting loudness to it on Yamaha (i think it will work in direct mode, in pure direct it certainly won't).
 
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deebeez

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If all else fails you could use the bass and treble adjustments on your amp. That may iron out the bulk of the response curve.
He has PEQ in WIIM.

I like music loud myself. What I would do is add a good sub or two first, and than go for external amp with more power 200W+ after that, if it's still not loud enough. Still not loud enough ? time for some new speakers, capable of more output.

Your sloped ceiling should be fine, since, at its lowest point it is kind of high.

Also, You asked about adding a sub, would the r3's still bottom out and the answer is yes, because you need to set a x-over (not sure you have the capabilities to do that with the equipment you have now) on the r3's about 80Hz., maybe even 100Hz. if you want to play even louder. What that does is take some of the load off the woofer, which in turn will keep it from bottoming out.
 
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K-dub

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Ufff to get a desired SPL you would need a big PA speakers and even bigger sub's while being in the open.
Instead get a pair of deacent sub's and do a lot of DSP-ing the signal. Do a proper white noise (-20 dB) calibration (to the listening spot) and use equal loudness normalisation (ISO 226 2003) after that. That will get you where you want to be and sounding good on normal moderate listening levels (70~80 dB program and up to +20 dB peaks) and not bad when listening on lower levels.

He has PEQ in WIIM.

I like music loud myself. What I would do is add a good sub or two first, and than go for external amp with more power 200W+ after that, if it's still not loud enough. Still not loud enough ? time for some new speakers, capable of more output.

Your sloped ceiling should be fine, since, at its lowest point it is kind of high.

Also, You asked about adding a sub, would the r3's still bottom out and the answer is yes, because you need to set a x-over (not sure you have the capabilities to do that with the equipment you have now) on the r3's about 80Hz., maybe even 100Hz. if you want to play even louder. What that does is take the some of the load off the woofer, which in turn will keep it from bottoming out.
This makes sense to me - however I wonder is this will solve the 2nd issue I have noted above - sound quality. I don't believe I have the x-over capabilities right now. I will do some research to find out what I should purchase. Any suggestions? I did have my eye on a 200W integrated - the Rotel 1592MKII
 
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ZolaIII

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This makes sense to me - however I wonder is this will solve the 2nd issue I have noted above - sound quality. I don't believe I have the x-over capabilities right now. I will do some research to find out what I should purchase. Any suggestions? I did have my eye on a 200W integrated - the Rotel 1592MKII
It will as long as you cut mains high enough and sub's driver's can do it with low THD. Still to the reasonable SPL in the room of calibration point of 86~88 dB program.
Try to do it with what you already have and note the difference. Would say go for MiniDSP Flex or Flex HT but they don't have loudness and you can't use one on Yamaha with sub's. I use JRiver and internal sound card and it can (and so can EQ-APO) but I am certain you don't want to go that way. Some RME interfaces (along with some other) have loudness so there is that.
 

deebeez

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This makes sense to me - however I wonder is this will solve the 2nd issue I have noted above - sound quality. I don't believe I have the x-over capabilities right now. I will do some research to find out what I should purchase. Any suggestions? I did have my eye on a 200W integrated - the Rotel 1592MKII

I'm not sure what SQ. issue you are referring to. I did read your post a little better and I'd like to say, a properly designed and integrated sub should not sound boomy, if it does it's either a cheapy sub with peaky output or incorrectly set up.
As of now, you could implement some EQ. 60-70Hz. and below, maybe just a few db's to get you playing a little louder now and when your not listening so loud, you can adjust the EQ. back. EDIT: Minus a few db's not Plus. I should have stated that.

I would just go for a good amp, instead of an integrated, unless you need more input/outputs and as long as you have pre-outs, which without looking, that Yamaha should have.
 
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K-dub

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I'm not sure what SQ. issue you are referring to. I did read your post a little better and I'd like to say, a properly designed and integrated sub should not sound boomy, if it does it's either a cheapy sub with peaky output or incorrectly set up.
As of now, you could implement some EQ. 60-70Hz. and below, maybe just a few db's to get you playing a little louder now and when your not listening so loud, you can adjust the EQ. back.

I would just for a good amp, instead of an integrated, unless you need more input/outputs and as long as you have pre-outs, which without looking, that Yamaha should have.
I just re-read my post also and should shed a little more light on the audio quality issue I'm referring to. Using an example might be best. If I pull up Megadeth's Remastered countdown to extinction album - or original CD quality, it is almost unlistenable at even moderate volumes. Its sound like one big ball of shouty distorted sound that makes you cringe. Hard to explain. I play this same album on my JBL Boombox 2 and I can crank it and enjoy the music.. I know kind of a strange comparison but hoping this explains it a little better.
 

OldTimer

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Is the impedance selector on the back panel of your amplifier set to "low"? The R3 meta has a minimal impedance of 3.2 ohms.
Just try this good recommendation, or buy this and connect to the 4 ohm L/R output:
IMG_0952.jpeg
 
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