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KEF Reference 4C Review (Center Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 1.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 6 1.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 73 22.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 243 74.3%

  • Total voters
    327

JD_Spoon

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Sorry sarumbear; I am having a visualization problem with what you said [no: not the way you spell 'theatre' and 'centre':)]
Wouldn't what you say mandate that the center/centre be as large (WxHxD) as the L/R (edit: Left or Right)? And wouldn't that immediately fail the WAF; smack in the middle of the system?
I'm no expert here, but I'd have thought you'd want to have a matching or bigger-sized woofer on the center, but its speaker body might not need to be as physically large as the L/R pair. This is true with the Reference 5/4c pair, and similar to how the Revel Salon2 and Voice2 have 8" drivers, or the C426Be using 6.5" and the F226 using 6" drivers, but none of the matched centers are as wide as its parent is tall.
 
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Mnyb

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Correct - that's what they do for most of their range. But they step it up for the Reference series. Jack Oclee-Brown discusses that here at 28:00. The Reference speakers come with a choice of two port lengths to let you adjust the tuning.

And the specs suggest that this includes the Reference 4c. Amir didn't mention a choice of port, but it looks like the long ports were in use.

Were there short ports in the box? There should have been.

From their Reference White Paper, the ports roughly give you these two performance choices relative to a sealed box. Long = blue, short = purple.

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This I like I would go for the purple curve then , more bass where the music lives . any residual bass problems fixed by room correction. Especially as this is a center channel it will live in a HT where room eq is there by default and also I would use a sub anyway so that nothing below the port tuning would be reproduced by the mains or center .
 

Mnyb

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Hilarious to suggest companies should drop their prices because their product has longevity. It has longevity because it’s a good product that people want.

If you can come up with a better product, better sales channel, and better marketing then you can go sell your center channels for $8000. I don’t think it’s so easy.

Also at the “analog” part of the hifi chain . The tech does not change as fast as manufacturers would have us to believe . This is not a graphics card or a laptop. And human hearing have not changed either so the goal is exactly the same as ever . Speakers are more evolution than revolution imo .

And from experience I would buy the matching center speaker . You always buy the matching centre it should be of equal sq and capability as the L and R speaker .

In the this case the L and R would also be from the reference series and also cost a fortune :)
 

jhaider

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It's hard for me to love this speaker even though it has excellent measured performance. Perhaps I feel a center speaker doesn't need great bass, and great bass is what makes speakers more expensive. I also have trouble with the entire Reference series from a value point of view when compared to the R series.

None the less, thank you @amirm for the work that went into reviewing this speaker.

I don't know...Reference has some pretty big differences from R-Series. First is the coax itself. R has a giant mud magnet that constricts the backwave radiation, while Reference has a svelte neo motor that doesn't get in the way. There are other internal differences as well. It's also not just bass. Those woofers play pretty high, and the crossover slope is lowish. So you have more power in the lower mids, too. Cabinets are very different, too.

Even more so when you consider that it's possible to get them for $5250 a speaker, rather than $7500. Assuming you're willing to accept the finish option and the possibility that what you're getting may be B-stock.

That product cost delta also doesn’t factor in the installation cost delta. Installing the Gennies consistent with a well appointed home will require installing a recessed power outlet behind each speaker, as well as line level. The KEF just requires running speaker wire.
 

TurtlePaul

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Regarding the comparison to the Genelec, why buy mahogany when you can get Ikea? In this price range the finish matters. The Genelec look too utilitarian and the Kef’s availability in many finishes and actually looking like speakers should work much better in high end homes.

Also, doesnt Kef follow the dealer model where the MSRP is before 15-25% negotiation while the Genelecs are less negotiable?
 

TurtlePaul

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Regarding DIY, I think you realize there is too much working against you to match this level. When you look at what Kef, Harmon, Genelec, Neumann, Polk, Kali, etc. are doing with their analysis, you realize that you arent getting to that level with guess and check on your workbench. With a Umik, some T/S parameter software, a table saw and off the shelf drivers you could probably make something that would have been state-of-the-art for the early 90s, but you arent going to DIY lower distortion, port resonances, dispersion, perfect frequency response, etc.
 

Lsc

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It's hard for me to love this speaker even though it has excellent measured performance. Perhaps I feel a center speaker doesn't need great bass, and great bass is what makes speakers more expensive. I also have trouble with the entire Reference series from a value point of view when compared to the R series.

None the less, thank you @amirm for the work that went into reviewing this speaker.
It is interesting and I feel the same way in that the center channel is the most important speaker in a theater setting but I have a hard time giving it as much value as the L/R speaker. Not sure if it’s because it’s horizontal or what, but I agree.
 

KMO

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This I like I would go for the purple curve then , more bass where the music lives . any residual bass problems fixed by room correction. Especially as this is a center channel it will live in a HT where room eq is there by default and also I would use a sub anyway so that nothing below the port tuning would be reproduced by the mains or center .

Yes, with a subwoofer, bass management and room EQ, the short ports and purple curve would make more sense - give the speakers more headroom in the area you will be asking them to work, making it more likely the correction is cutting rather than boosting. Possibly the correct choice even without a sub, if you don't care about <40Hz.

The long ports are for people without room EQ and in solid-walled rooms. (A quite large proportion of the purchasers, I imagine).
 

sarumbear

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Sorry sarumbear; I am having a visualization problem with what you said [no: not the way you spell 'theatre' and 'centre':)]
Wouldn't what you say mandate that the center/centre be as large (WxHxD) as the L/R (edit: Left or Right)? And wouldn't that immediately fail the WAF; smack in the middle of the system?
Use their in-wall versions like I do and make your other half happy as well. The cost of the wall alteration is not much compared to the total cost you will pay for the speakers on it.
 

sarumbear

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It is interesting and I feel the same way in that the center channel is the most important speaker in a theater setting but I have a hard time giving it as much value as the L/R speaker. Not sure if it’s because it’s horizontal or what, but I agree.
Maybe because your objectivism fails? :)
 

abdo123

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According to the specs for public and home theatre sound systems all front speakers must be full range. Also, if you search the forum you will see proof that centre channel normally have more bass information than other channels.
Yes that's standard, but almost all studios have bass management in their playback chain too so we're back to point zero.
 

Lsc

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Maybe because your objectivism fails? :)
There is value in a center channel but at the end of the day I’m glad I got pair of salon2 and a voice2 center vs. having three voice2s.

Objectively the Salons are superior speakers to the Voice but the voice is still very good…close to the studio2 probably.
 

sarumbear

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Yes that's standard, but almost all studios have bass management in their playback chain too so we're back to point zero.
First a clarification: I am talking about film.

Big budget films are always mixed at large (10m) studios. Those studios does not tend to use bass management as they are so large that speaker placement is not a problem but subwoofer use use is. Even at 80Hz wavelength is more than double the size of the room width and you can localise the subwoofer!

I do not expect you to take my words as is but I hope you will trust me not to lie. I have personally seen and/or discussed with friends who still work at the following examples that use full range speakers without bass management. I have also been to a Dolby Certifications of a large studio and was told by their engineers that all speakers should have a similar frequency response, preferably all made by the same manufacturer and the the same speaker model should be used for LCR, side, rear & top pairs. Dolby does accept bass management but as a secondary option. This is from their document: "If using speakers with limited low-frequency response, it is necessary to employ bass management to redirect low-frequency sounds to the subwoofer." It is not exactly saying you must use bass-management is it?

I am not saying that bass management is bad or that it is not used. However, for a major film to be released these days it has to have Dolby Atmos certification and a large screen to cater for larger egos of directors. Large studio and Dolby specs does not leave much room for the need of bass management. Studio designers/owners simply increase size and number of speakers instead.

Two of the most respected film sound studios in the UK, De Lane Lea Studios in London, Powell Theatre in Pinewood and Skywalker Sound and Dolby HQ in San Francisco, all use the cinema studio standard Meyer speakers with no bass management.

For music mixing things are different. Abbey Road use B&W 800 speakers for LCR also without bass management. However, Atmos for music is not as stringent as Atmos for film. As there is no screen requirement the room size can be much smaller and often is. This allows bass management to be implemented without the above localisation issues.
 

abdo123

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First a clarification: I am talking about film.

Big budget films are always mixed at large (10m) studios. Those studios does not tend to use bass management as they are so large that speaker placement is not a problem but subwoofer use use is. Even at 80Hz wavelength is more than double the size of the room width and you can localise the subwoofer!

I do not expect you to take my words as is but I hope you will trust me not to lie. I have personally seen and/or discussed with friends who still work at the following examples that use full range speakers without bass management. I have also been to a Dolby Certifications of a large studio and was told by their engineers that all speakers should have a similar frequency response, preferably all made by the same manufacturer and the the same speaker model should be used for LCR, side, rear & top pairs. Dolby does accept bass management but as a secondary option. This is from their document: "If using speakers with limited low-frequency response, it is necessary to employ bass management to redirect low-frequency sounds to the subwoofer." It is not exactly saying you must use bass-management is it?

I am not saying that bass management is bad or that it is not used. However, for a major film to be released these days it has to have Dolby Atmos certification and a large screen to cater for larger egos of directors. Large studio and Dolby specs does not leave much room for the need of bass management. Studio designers/owners simply increase size and number of speakers instead.

Two of the most respected film sound studios in the UK, De Lane Lea Studios in London, Powell Theatre in Pinewood and Skywalker Sound and Dolby HQ in San Francisco, all use the cinema studio standard Meyer speakers with no bass management.

For music mixing things are different. Abbey Road use B&W 800 speakers for LCR also without bass management. However, Atmos for music is not as stringent as Atmos for film. As there is no screen requirement the room size can be much smaller and often is. This allows bass management to be implemented without the above localisation issues.
I don't think it's fair to use extremes as in either a very big successful studio or a very shoddy studio. Many Atmos certified studios i have been to use bass management just fine, and if you're mixing something like a low tuned drum it doesn't make sense to have the fundamental in the LFE and the harmonics in the LCR, that's just counter intuitive even if the frequency of the drum is really low, just let the consumer/playback chain decide.

At the end of the day in our (relatively) limited spaces bass management will always make more sense because of smoother bass response across multiple seats and because most people won't have LCRs that can do 100dB @ 20Hz. The topic of debate is often always the crossover frequency and slope, not whether you should or shouldn't bass manage your theater.
 

sarumbear

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I don't think it's fair to use extremes as in either a very big successful studio or a very shoddy studio. Many Atmos certified studios i have been to use bass management just fine, and if you're mixing something like a low tuned drum it doesn't make sense to have the fundamental in the LFE and the harmonics in the LCR, that's just counter intuitive even if the frequency of the drum is really low, just let the consumer/playback chain decide.
Then you and I move in different quarters. We also have different understanding of film (not music) sound post production.

At the end of the day in our (relatively) limited spaces bass management will always make more sense because of smoother bass response across multiple seats and because most people won't have LCRs that can do 100dB @ 20Hz. The topic of debate is often always the crossover frequency and slope, not whether you should or shouldn't bass manage your theater.
I respectfully disagree with your premise.
 
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tifune

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. R has a giant mud magnet that constricts the backwave radiation, while Reference has a svelte neo motor that doesn't get in the way.

Hundreds of hours spent in this board and it seems I still haven't even heard all the vocabulary words, much less understand them... Can you suggest some reading material and/or point out something in the measurements I could leverage to grasp these concepts? Googling that for a bit all I find is info re: cabinets; nothing around magnets or motors.
 

abdo123

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Hundreds of hours spent in this board and it seems I still haven't even heard all the vocabulary words, much less understand them... Can you suggest some reading material and/or point out something in the measurements I could leverage to grasp these concepts? Googling that for a bit all I find is info re: cabinets; nothing around magnets or motors.
Every KEF Series has a white paper explaining the science behind the designs.
 

beagleman

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Regarding DIY, I think you realize there is too much working against you to match this level. When you look at what Kef, Harmon, Genelec, Neumann, Polk, Kali, etc. are doing with their analysis, you realize that you arent getting to that level with guess and check on your workbench. With a Umik, some T/S parameter software, a table saw and off the shelf drivers you could probably make something that would have been state-of-the-art for the early 90s, but you arent going to DIY lower distortion, port resonances, dispersion, perfect frequency response, etc.
That type of comment, shows you are (hopefully) blissfully unaware of what some great DIY designers have made in the last decade or so. Having heard some amazing speakers, using Scan Speak, Seas, SB Acoustics, Accuton and Purifi Drivers, I think your understanding of DIY and The guys that engineer the speakers may need some updating!

But I think this is a topic for another discussion.
 
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