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KEF R3 Speaker Review

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well granted it’s hasn’t been long but I immediately did go ahead and swap their positions, and it was the exact same results. On a couple of classical pieces the Kef was closer, but on every song the a/b was extremely obvious and easily a win for the aria imo. Did a couple of songs blind and was easily able to spot which was which due to the differences described above, changing the positions didn’t really seem to take anything from the aria either though the Kef seemed a slight improvement. Dont have the port plugs on hand so will check the plugs tomorrow but, if I’m not crazy, the arias just pretty easily stomped the r5 in my room.
Interesting. Too bad you don't have a measurement mic. Would be nice to compare their in room measurements from your listening couch.

I have a custom 3way that in room measures mostly flat to 4 khz and then tapers off. When I eq it to fit the Harman curve it sounds much less clear, but better balanced. I guess I prefer it muffled, go figure :)
 
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Interesting. Too bad you don't have a measurement mic. Would be nice to compare their in room measurements from your listening couch.

I have a custom 3way that in room measures mostly flat to 4 khz and then tapers off. When I eq it to fit the Harman curve it sounds much less clear, but better balanced. I guess I prefer it muffled, go figure :)
I doubt what I am hearing as muffled is the same thing happening in yours. This is a pretty stark difference though if I hadn’t heard the aria a/b I would have been happy with it and never thought it was possible. I suspect it is either something about the less than ideal room or perhaps a bad sample from Kef. but now that I have heard the difference going back is not really an option.

Been thinking about a better mic but haven’t committed to it yet. Knowing me, I’ll probably order something tomorrow :)
 

napilopez

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I doubt what I am hearing as muffled is the same thing happening in yours. This is a pretty stark difference though if I hadn’t heard the aria a/b I would have been happy with it and never thought it was possible. I suspect it is either something about the less than ideal room or perhaps a bad sample from Kef. but now that I have heard the difference going back is not really an option.

Been thinking about a better mic but haven’t committed to it yet. Knowing me, I’ll probably order something tomorrow :)
Well, I sound like a broken record if you've read my past comments, but it sounds like a classic matter of directivity preference. The Aria, if they measure anything like the 906 and 936, are very wide directivity speakers, while the KEFs are relatively narrow. The Aria will sound bigger and vocals probably sound clearer. It is the expected result based on directivity characteristics.

On the other hand, the kef may sound sharper and more focused. The fact that you said classical music made the speakers sound closer reaffirms my belief this preference is directivity related, as classical recordings include more spatial information in the recording itself rather than relying on room reflections to create a sense of space, helping the KEFs feel less spatially compressed. Add to that the Focals tend to have a little more energyaround 6-10kHz and it's not surprise the focal sounds more detailed to you. Did you try EQ?

Directivity is partially a matter of preference, partially a matter of your room acoustics.
 

digitalfrost

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I compared Aria 926 and KEF R500 at a dealers years ago. The sound of the Arias was pretty much everywhere, very room filling. I liked the more focused sound of the KEFs better, but they both were really good.
 
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Im not suggesting any of you are wrong but just for clarity I’m not really experiencing an “everywhere” sound Its more a combination of open space, a wider stage and everything ( seemingly across the spectrum) is noticeably clearer but still clearly identifiable in different areas of the stage. It’s also apparent in classical, but not quite as obvious as something like thriller where it is really no comparison.
 

VintageFlanker

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Don't know what to do with all these subjective feelings...o_O

I heard the exact opposite from people here in France, saying the Arias sound "OK", with nothing in the league of Kef Rs regarding soundstage, imaging, precision etc. The main factor here would be the price (again: Arias are way cheaper than Rs here) and the fact people are expecting something really superior from pieces costing around 2,3 times much (Say 936s Vs R7s)...

Subjectively, Arias have indeed some very wide horizontal spread... But not significantly more than my previous Monitors Audio Silver 10s in the same room. And I've also red tons of people saying the opposite and so on...

Let's see what @amirm gets when he will measure the 906s.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm still waiting for my R3s (More than two weeks late now, I'm starting to get upset...:mad:). Still plan to try nearfield/outdoor captures Vs 906s
and see what's going on. Unless @amirm would review the 906 first.
 
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Yea , I was really hoping to see the review before this weekend but, no such luck:) so will have to trust my own ears haha. Have to run some final tests to make sure I can’t bring the r5 to life though.
 

napilopez

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Im not suggesting any of you are wrong but just for clarity I’m not really experiencing an “everywhere” sound Its more a combination of open space, a wider stage and everything ( seemingly across the spectrum) is noticeably clearer but still clearly identifiable in different areas of the stage. It’s also apparent in classical, but not quite as obvious as something like thriller where it is really no comparison.
Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I'm talking about with regards to directivity. That's pretty spot on to how I would describe a wider-directivty speaker compared to a narrower one with similar performance. Some people think wider directivity means you lose imaging precision. In my home at least, I don't really feel that way. Sources feel 'sharper' with narrower sources in a tighter soundstage, but that doesn't mean the wider speaker sounds less defined... it just sounds... bigger. And the unusually high extension of that directivity with the focals can keep that sense of imaging going further...

Don't know what to do with all these subjective feelings...o_O

I heard the exact opposite from people here in France, saying the Arias sound "OK", with nothing in the league of Kef Rs regarding soundstage, imaging, precision etc. The main factor here would be the price (again: Arias are way cheaper than Rs here) and the fact people are expecting something really superior from pieces costing around 2,3 times much (Say 936s Vs R7s)...

Subjectively, Arias have indeed some very wide horizontal spread... But not significantly more than my previous Monitors Audio Silver 10s in the same room. And I've also red tons of people saying the opposite and so on...

Let's see what @amirm gets when he will measure the 906s.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm still waiting for my R3s (More than two weeks late now, I'm starting to get upset...:mad:). Still plan to try nearfield/outdoor captures Vs 906s
and see what's going on. Unless @amirm would review the 906 first.
Again, it's a matter of preference =] I did not have both speakers at the same time, but I spent months reviewing the R3 and Chora. I loved the R3 and recommend them all the time. But I would personally choose the Choras, despite the price difference and lower quality cabinets and slightly more jagged measurements. I just enjoyed them more, and I don't think just 'for the price'. Usual caveats about sighted comparisons and audio memory reliability, though I do have listening notes. Also the Chora have blue drivers, so I'm very biased about that.

In any case, your Monitors, if they measure like the silver 8 and silver 10s, are also wider than average. I would not have expected them to sound all that different to the Aria's in terms of imaging if you matched toe in and positioning. The R3 in the same positioning would, I suspect, sound noticeably different, whether better or worse to your tastes.
 
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richard12511

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Some people think wider directivity means you lose imaging precision. In my home at least, I don't really feel that way. Sources feel 'sharper' with narrower sources in a tighter soundstage, but that doesn't mean the wider speaker sounds less defined... it just sounds... bigger.
This could just be a difference in what these various terms like "precision", "sharper", ect., mean to different people. I agree that wider directivity sounds "bigger", but to me that's the same thing as "less precise". "Sharper" and "better precision" mean the same thing to me. Maybe we're hearing the same thing, but just describing it differently.

I also think that different directivities can work better or worse in different rooms. For example, wide directivity designs don't work well in my living room(most noticeably for HT where I have to jack the center channel up a few db to hear dialogue), but for my office I prefer them.
 

napilopez

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This could just be a difference in what these various terms like "precision", "sharper", ect., mean to different people. I agree that wider directivity sounds "bigger", but to me that's the same thing as "less precise". "Sharper" and "better precision" mean the same thing to me. Maybe we're hearing the same thing, but just describing it differently.

I also think that different directivities can work better or worse in different rooms. For example, wide directivity designs don't work well in my living room(most noticeably for HT where I have to jack the center channel up a few db to hear dialogue), but for my office I prefer them.
Good points, and language definitely muddies up the discussion a bit. I suppose my broader point was that a speaker can have wide directivity and still create a convincing illusion of listening to a live source. To make an analogy, with a super narrow directivity speaker, I might feel like a violin seems to be emerging from a tiny point in space. It's cool because it really lets you pinpoint a source, but not necesarily more realistic than if the instrument felt 'to scale.'

Of course, stereo speakers can't properly replicate scales and spaces with every recording in every room. Just I usually feel wide is better for this, and I suspect that's what @Pepperjack is finding to his tastes/room.

For example, in my home, I have almost universally found wide directivity speakers to center voices more clearly than narrower ones -- interestingly the opposite of your impressions. But that is because I don't normally use a center channel (my preference as the visual bias is too strong and kills the imaging illusion for me). Without one, I find as narrower designs will exacerbate the interaural crosstalk dip and reduce dialogue intelligibility; I inevitably end up turning up the 'dialogue enhance' feature on my receiver with narrower designs.
 

richard12511

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For example, in my home, I have almost universally found wide directivity speakers to center voices more clearly than narrower ones -- interestingly the opposite of your impressions. But that is because I don't normally use a center channel (my preference as the visual bias is too strong and kills the imaging illusion for me). Without one, I find as narrower designs will exacerbate the interaural crosstalk dip and reduce dialogue intelligibility; I inevitably end up turning up the 'dialogue enhance' feature on my receiver with narrower designs.
My center lack of clarity issue is mainly just in my current living room. I lived with wide dispersion designs for many years and never had this problem in several different apartments. I think it's because it's an open floorplan that's open on the left and right, so I have no first reflections. Floyd talks about how good early reflections can help our brain pinpoint the location of a sound and increase clarity, but my room has no such reflections(other than the ceiling). It seems like the more energy the speaker throws to the left and right, the less clear, and more "echoey" it gets. I also don't have this problem in my office, but that's just a stereo set(JBL 308p atm) with no center, and I've never tried watching a movie in there.

Something else that may affect directivity preference is the kind of music one listens to. I know this is somewhat true for me. I tend to prefer narrow directivity on music that has a lot going on in the recording, like Tool, or Nirvana. I tend to especially prefer wide for more simple recordings like piano/violin sonatas, or simple singer arrangements like much of Nat King Cole's music.
 
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Oh my...so, it turns out the failure was apparently some combination of amplifier and spl. I had done what I could do set the spl, but when putting it on the amplifier things changed. The Aria didn't really seem to sound any different on the separate Blue Niles amplifier vs my Denon x3300w, but the Kef is noticeably different. Once I got it on the amp I was able to get the spl dialed in properly with the gain so it was exact. I now understand better what you guys are talking about. It is not very close, and I am quite torn, with the perception that the Aria still seems louder but its like the vocals are very loud and everything else is more subdued now, where as I am leaning towards the kef is much more balanced and might now have a better image. Ugh...fortunately I realized I can set the amplifier on my Wemo to remotely power it on and off, still has about a 12 second delay but...yea, now I am very torn and it turns out last night efforts were a waste other than determining that the Aria does not need the amp and the Kef does.
 
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Good points, and language definitely muddies up the discussion a bit. I suppose my broader point was that a speaker can have wide directivity and still create a convincing illusion of listening to a live source. To make an analogy, with a super narrow directivity speaker, I might feel like a violin seems to be emerging from a tiny point in space. It's cool because it really lets you pinpoint a source, but not necesarily more realistic than if the instrument felt 'to scale.'

Of course, stereo speakers can't properly replicate scales and spaces with every recording in every room. Just I usually feel wide is better for this, and I suspect that's what @Pepperjack is finding to his tastes/room.

For example, in my home, I have almost universally found wide directivity speakers to center voices more clearly than narrower ones -- interestingly the opposite of your impressions. But that is because I don't normally use a center channel (my preference as the visual bias is too strong and kills the imaging illusion for me). Without one, I find as narrower designs will exacerbate the interaural crosstalk dip and reduce dialogue intelligibility; I inevitably end up turning up the 'dialogue enhance' feature on my receiver with narrower designs.
What you're describing seems more like a difference in volume. I never had issue with dialogue intelligibility. If anything, I would like to turn the dialogue down relative to the sound effects in some movies with poor dynamic range.
 
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What you're describing seems more like a difference in volume. I never had issue with dialogue intelligibility. If anything, I would like to turn the dialogue down relative to the sound effects in some movies with poor dynamic range.
I might not have been clear, the Kef now sounds fantastic and the songs I have compared it with so far have either been been virtually the exact same or the Kef was superior. It’s not that the r5 is muffled anymore. Rather, now that it is on the amp and the spl is better set (both were apparently important as I will elaborate below) the Kef sounds great and the aria sound great but the vocals are really dominating in the aria and in comparison the rest of the instruments etc are very subdued and now sound more compressed, when compared to the Kef on the amp. Both still sound fantastic now when listened to in isolation.

It’s now more like the aria is a single loudspeaker in front of me with individual elements sometimes around the stage and the r5 is now a much wider stage and much more dynamic across instruments and vocals etc, no longer muffled but the vocals not standing out as predominatly as the aria, but it is now the more wide and rich.

Based on this initial testing-still going to do more tomorrow, and some blind comparisons. (Definitely not a big enough difference for me to spot one vs the other immediately anymore.)

For what’s its worth to set the spl :

I first used subjective settings to get it as close as we could. Then I used my little imm6 from listening position to dial it in from seated. Then played pink noise from each speaker and placed the mic 10 inches in front of the tweeter (and woofer to confirm), primarily to make sure each speaker was level. I retested the seated and found the kef was too low, and after some testing assumed that it must be because the kef is giving me both woofer and tweeter noise, and so to get an equal setting I had to set it first from the seated position then level the tweeters and allow the tweeter reading on the r5 to be a couple decibels higher than on the 926 in order to get the same spl.

Thus, I had originally left the Kef a little low (which I already noted before, and was clicking upward to try to account for) but also the Kef was just really under performing on my Denon, for whatever reason. I suspect the Aria would also improve by moving it to the external amp. However, with the aria, by the time I have moved it over to the amp I can not tell a difference in the sound quality whereas the Kef is obviously failing on the Denon, such that even when cranking the volume up everything seems compressed, and even when matching the spl as best as I could, it was still too quiet during music. I assume that just means the 926 is much easier to power than the Kef, but, I don't really know.

I had erroneously assumed my testing with the aria proved the external amp unnecessary, and since I had been listening to the Aria for a couple weeks when I hooked the Kef back up, I failed to realize that it was so different than what I was hearing before, and just thought the Aria was really that much better.

I am also making assumptions as to why this has happened, of course, its not like I have a mentor on hand to walk me through it :)
 

Frank Dernie

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It's difficult to compare a active speaker with a passive speaker but the genelec goes lower thanks to his 8 inch driver
How low a speaker goes does not only depend on the size of the driver but other aspects of the design too. There are super sensitive PA 15" bass units which don't go as low as hifi 6 ½ " units.
 

VintageFlanker

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Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I'm talking about with regards to directivity. That's pretty spot on to how I would describe a wider-directivty speaker compared to a narrower one with similar performance. Some people think wider directivity means you lose imaging precision. In my home at least, I don't really feel that way. Sources feel 'sharper' with narrower sources in a tighter soundstage, but that doesn't mean the wider speaker sounds less defined... it just sounds... bigger. And the unusually high extension of that directivity with the focals can keep that sense of imaging going further...
 

tuga

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Floyd talks about how good early reflections can help our brain pinpoint the location of a sound and increase clarity
Early reflections help with location in a real world or live situation.

With reproduced sound source location happens in your brain by use of a clever effect called stereo, you don't need side wall reflections to pinpoint anything (I'm sure you can do it just as accurately in an anechoic chamber).
 

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