• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Used Kef Reference 3 Meta with reduced warranty

soerenssen

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 25, 2023
Messages
558
Likes
125
I am building a stereo+HT system, primarily for music (almost all genres). The listening space would be a 40sqm living room (not treated), open from one side. I went to a local hifi shop to audition the non-meta R11 in a small room, then I listened to a pair of Ref 5 Meta. Of course there was an audible difference, the Ref 5 was much more convincing overall but I couldn't test it as thoroughly (with my full playlist) as the R11. The old R11 was nice with some genres, not so nice with others, not as detailed as the Ref 5, also too much bass and quite harsh with some metal and hard rock tracks which I don't want to stop listening to just because I have new speakers. I need something that can handle all genres I throw at it. Something at least comparable or better than the Helix Ci7 / ARC8 setup in my car. Unfortunately they didn't have R series Metas in the shop, which could've been interesting to compare with. Anyways, after reading about the differences between the R series Meta and the Reference (both non-meta and meta) on the forum, I started searching for used Reference speakers. It could be an end-game speaker and since I'm 40, anything beyond it would not worth the additonal price, I would probably not hear the difference. I found a customer-returned Ref 3 Meta in another hifi shop for exactly half (!) of the new price, but - instead of 5 years - with only 12 months of warranty offered by the shop (authorized Kef distributor). I'm not 100% sure that it's a bargain at that price because of the reduced warranty. On one hand, I am planning to keep it for many years, or even decades probably (my current Yamaha HT system is 22 years old). On the other hand, I'm not sure about reliability and resale value (if I have to sell it, because you never know what life throws at you). Does anyone have experience with this? What are the usual things that can possibly go wrong in a few years down the road?
Please point me in the right direction before I do something stupid. I know, I should probably audition something like the R3 Metas too to see the "full picture".
The idea is to drive the Ref 3 Metas by a stereo NCX500 amp and Minidsp Flex balanced with Dirac initially. I have an active Magnat sub from the old system, but I would probably won't need it for stereo, Ref 3s should have plenty of grunt. For the HT, later on, I would add an R6 Meta and once prices are lower, probably Pioneer LSX805 as AVR. The R2 or R4 Meta is too expensive at the current price and my focus is stereo initially.
 
They are in perfect condition, no visible damage.
 
There's your answer. You'll know within the first minute whether they are working properly and if they are there is nothing much that can go wrong with passive speakers. Half price seems like a great deal.
Thank you!
Is the MiniDSP Flex + Audiophonics NCX500 combo good enough to pair with these Kefs or am I missing something? Btw, I was told by the salesman in that local hifi shop where I auditioned that R11 and Ref5, that pairing an analytical class D amp with analytical speakers like the Kefs is a bad idea and I should use something more musical like Marantz or Denon.
 
Thank you!
Is the MiniDSP Flex + Audiophonics NCX500 combo good enough to pair with these Kefs or am I missing something? Btw, I was told by the salesman in that local hifi shop where I auditioned that R11 and Ref5, that pairing an analytical class D amp with analytical speakers like the Kefs is a bad idea and I should use something more musical like Marantz or Denon.
Thats why he is the salesman and not an engineer creating these kind of stuff ;)

Buy the ref3 meta, its much better than the R11.
 
Thank you!
Is the MiniDSP Flex + Audiophonics NCX500 combo good enough to pair with these Kefs or am I missing something? Btw, I was told by the salesman in that local hifi shop where I auditioned that R11 and Ref5, that pairing an analytical class D amp with analytical speakers like the Kefs is a bad idea and I should use something more musical like Marantz or Denon.
It's a neutral speaker with a near perfect directivity. No need to overthink amplification. Grab a hypex or purifi amp, and a minidsp of some sort if you need to "tune" the sound to your liking.

Edit: so yeah the flex and nc500 are gonna be great with the KEFs
 
Wasn't Denon usually described as harsh and clinical by the "more advanced" hobbyists? And the Marantz was the warmer, more musical option?

;)
I raised my eyebrows too at that point. I rather tried to rely on my ears and distinguish how the R11s sound with different amps, switching back and forth. But no matter what amp was driving it, I was literally watching the lemon squeezers all the time. The bass was overwhelming in that (too) small room, I didn't quite like pianos and even the better recorded rock/metal tracks sounded weird - too shrill most of the time and no separation between instruments (I have the same problem in my car btw, so I'm really looking forward to find a speaker that can excel in that area too). I had the same problem with the old non-meta LS50s during a previous listening session. In both cases, placement was not ideal. The Ref series were in a much larger room, 1m from the back wall and the listening position around 4-5 meters from them, and as you can expect, powered by much more expensive amps (I didn't even bother to check because I already made up my mind about the NCx500). Listening to the Ref 5s I immediately noticed that I didn't look at the speakers (except because of the looks, they are really nice), it finally had a proper soundstage and much better imaging. I couldn't AB test them next to each other, because they were in different rooms, so I tried to remember what I heard and was literally running back and forth between the two studios. I'm not a professional, so it's hard to put into words what I was hearing or missing, but I had the final conclusion that I don't quite like the R11s. Listening to the same tracks back and forth, it was not that detailed (I just hope that it has nothing to do with placement and room), I was missing that live experience that I got from the Ref 5 Metas, they can literally place the singer in your room. So I decided that instead of paying 2500-3000 Euros for a speaker that is mostly OK, sounds as good as my car, but not an allrounder and would probably be too much in my home listening environment (living room), I rather pay 7700 Euros for an end-game solution and be done with it for the second half of my life :). I spent only a short period of time with the Refs, didn't have a chance to go through all the genres I usually listen to have a better picture, but those 2-3 tracks I heard already made such a good impression that I immediately knew that at some point I will want to have this experience at home. I already ordered them and I really hope that they turn out to be good for other genres too, like heavy metal, rock, electronic music, pop, jazz, blues, classical, etc.

Off-topic:
I also ordered the NCx500 from France (Audiophonics). I am still missing a couple of things, like a proper pre-amp/DAC/DSP combo, decent cables, some panels on the walls. Since the budget is limited and I want to build a system around the speakers (as the most important part of the system), not the other way around. I'm now trying to figure out how to integrate them into a HT system, spending the minimum on AVR, center and surrounds. So there are a couple of open questions left (let me know if I should ask them in the respective topics or they can be answered here - I just need a little nodge into the right direction ;) ):
- Can I combine them with a center from another line like the R6 Metas? They have good measurements and based on the charts, except the bass extension, they look similar to the Ref 2 and 4, for 1/3 of the price.
- Dedicated MiniDSP Flex Balanced for stereo (for better measurements and 4V RMS output) + Denon x4800, or a single x4800 for both stereo and HT? Based on the Ref reviews it's good to have a chain with good quality components end-to-end, so it probably deserves a MiniDSP Flex or better DAC. Switching back and forth between XLR and RCA inputs can be done on the back of the NCx500, but I was thinking about an external switch as a more convenient solution (RCA from AVR, TRS/XLR from MiniDSP, XLR to power amp).
 
Last edited:
I raised my eyebrows too at that point. I rather tried to rely on my ears and distinguish how the R11s sound with different amps, switching back and forth. But no matter what amp was driving it, I was literally watching the lemon squeezers all the time. The bass was overwhelming in that (too) small room, I didn't quite like pianos and even the better recorded rock/metal tracks sounded weird - too shrill most of the time and no separation between instruments (I have the same problem in my car btw, so I'm really looking forward to find a speaker that can excel in that area too). I had the same problem with the old non-meta LS50s during a previous listening session. In both cases, placement was not ideal. The Ref series were in a much larger room, 1m from the back wall and the listening position around 4-5 meters from them, and as you can expect, powered by much more expensive amps (I didn't even bother to check because I already made up my mind about the NCx500). Listening to the Ref 5s I immediately noticed that I didn't look at the speakers (except because of the looks, they are really nice), it finally had a proper soundstage and much better imaging. I couldn't AB test them next to each other, because they were in different rooms, so I tried to remember what I heard and was literally running back and forth between the two studios. I'm not a professional, so it's hard to put into words what I was hearing or missing, but I had the final conclusion that I don't quite like the R11s. Listening to the same tracks back and forth, it was not that detailed (I just hope that it has nothing to do with placement and room), I was missing that live experience that I got from the Ref 5 Metas, they can literally place the singer in your room. So I decided that instead of paying 2500-3000 Euros for a speaker that is mostly OK, sounds as good as my car, but not an allrounder and would probably be too much in my home listening environment (living room), I rather pay 7700 Euros for an end-game solution and be done with it for the second half of my life :). I spent only a short period of time with the Refs, didn't have a chance to go through all the genres I usually listen to have a better picture, but those 2-3 tracks I heard already made such a good impression that I immediately knew that at some point I will want to have this experience at home. I already ordered them and I really hope that they turn out to be good for other genres too, like heavy metal, rock, electronic music, pop, jazz, blues, classical, etc.

Off-topic:
I also ordered the NCx500 from France (Audiophonics). I am still missing a couple of things, like a proper pre-amp/DAC/DSP combo, decent cables, some panels on the walls. Since the budget is limited and I want to build a system around the speakers (as the most important part of the system), not the other way around. I'm now trying to figure out how to integrate them into a HT system, spending the minimum on AVR, center and surrounds. So there are a couple of open questions left (let me know if I should ask them in the respective topics or they can be answered here - I just need a little nodge into the right direction ;) ):
- Can I combine them with a center from another line like the R6 Metas? They have good measurements and based on the charts, except the bass extension, they look similar to the Ref 2 and 4, for 1/3 of the price.
- Dedicated MiniDSP Flex Balanced for stereo (for better measurements and 4V RMS output) + Denon x4800, or a single x4800 for both stereo and HT? Based on the Ref reviews it's good to have a chain with good quality components end-to-end, so it probably deserves a MiniDSP Flex or better DAC. Switching back and forth between XLR and RCA inputs can be done on the back of the NCx500, but I was thinking about an external switch as a more convenient solution (RCA from AVR, TRS/XLR from MiniDSP, XLR to power amp).
Placement must be ideal, always. It has so much impact in the performance, the bigger diference vs your car system is you can have a lot of separation between the speakers and also the wall, if you put the speaker like you do in the car you aren't going to do much different.

I would pick the R6M, is not necessary to have a high-end center channel, save the money and got the reference meta series.
minidsp flex -> NC 500, you done. Don't buy expensive cables, they are the same as the cheap/good one, is hard to do a bad cable.

Buy acoustic treatment for your room when you listen the whole system together.

If you really want a L&R&C, i guess you can order the NC500 with 3 modules for Left right and center. But if the room is not that large i find quite of unnecesary a center channel, since the center image is fine. I dont know about this stuff, since i only like the typical L&R channel.
 
Placement must be ideal, always. It has so much impact in the performance, the bigger diference vs your car system is you can have a lot of separation between the speakers and also the wall, if you put the speaker like you do in the car you aren't going to do much different.

I would pick the R6M, is not necessary to have a high-end center channel, save the money and got the reference meta series.
minidsp flex -> NC 500, you done. Don't buy expensive cables, they are the same as the cheap/good one, is hard to do a bad cable.

Buy acoustic treatment for your room when you listen the whole system together.

If you really want a L&R&C, i guess you can order the NC500 with 3 modules for Left right and center. But if the room is not that large i find quite of unnecesary a center channel, since the center image is fine. I dont know about this stuff, since i only like the typical L&R channel.
I already ordered the stereo NCx500 amp. The only 3 channel amp available at Audiophonics is Purifi 1ET400A based and due to the low sensitivity of the Kefs, I opted for the more powerful NCx500 (600Wpc on 4ohm). If the Denon x4800h is not enough to power the R6M plus the surrounds, I will add a mono NC252 amp for the center (or bite the bullet and buy a Pioneer LX805) - hopefully the AVR can turn on both power amps at the same time. For stereo I will rely on the MiniDSP, but I was wondering whether it is possible to have any kind of triggering, from the Wiim Pro all the way the power amp.
 
I am building a stereo+HT system, primarily for music (almost all genres). The listening space would be a 40sqm living room (not treated), open from one side. I went to a local hifi shop to audition the non-meta R11 in a small room, then I listened to a pair of Ref 5 Meta. Of course there was an audible difference, the Ref 5 was much more convincing overall but I couldn't test it as thoroughly (with my full playlist) as the R11. The old R11 was nice with some genres, not so nice with others, not as detailed as the Ref 5, also too much bass and quite harsh with some metal and hard rock tracks which I don't want to stop listening to just because I have new speakers. I need something that can handle all genres I throw at it. Something at least comparable or better than the Helix Ci7 / ARC8 setup in my car. Unfortunately they didn't have R series Metas in the shop, which could've been interesting to compare with. Anyways, after reading about the differences between the R series Meta and the Reference (both non-meta and meta) on the forum, I started searching for used Reference speakers. It could be an end-game speaker and since I'm 40, anything beyond it would not worth the additonal price, I would probably not hear the difference. I found a customer-returned Ref 3 Meta in another hifi shop for exactly half (!) of the new price, but - instead of 5 years - with only 12 months of warranty offered by the shop (authorized Kef distributor). I'm not 100% sure that it's a bargain at that price because of the reduced warranty. On one hand, I am planning to keep it for many years, or even decades probably (my current Yamaha HT system is 22 years old). On the other hand, I'm not sure about reliability and resale value (if I have to sell it, because you never know what life throws at you). Does anyone have experience with this? What are the usual things that can possibly go wrong in a few years down the road?
Please point me in the right direction before I do something stupid. I know, I should probably audition something like the R3 Metas too to see the "full picture".
The idea is to drive the Ref 3 Metas by a stereo NCX500 amp and Minidsp Flex balanced with Dirac initially. I have an active Magnat sub from the old system, but I would probably won't need it for stereo, Ref 3s should have plenty of grunt. For the HT, later on, I would add an R6 Meta and once prices are lower, probably Pioneer LSX805 as AVR. The R2 or R4 Meta is too expensive at the current price and my focus is stereo initially.
Buy it. They are bullet proof speakers. I asked dealers this question before and they all said that the references came for only for repairs when they had some physical damage. At half the price it’s a steal even without warranty
 
Buy it. They are bullet proof speakers. I asked dealers this question before and they all said that the references came for only for repairs when they had some physical damage. At half the price it’s a steal even without warranty
I have a bit of a buyers' remorse to be honest.
I am completely missing the low frequencies of the Reference 3 Meta in my room without EQ/DSP (Denon x4800h in pure direct mode + NCx500 stereo). I don't know if it's the lack of power from the amps or it's the speaker or placement. If I boost frequencies below 120Hz by 8-12dB in Audyssey or Dirac, it's better, but I have to stand up or go to the corners, because it's cancelled completely at my seated listening position. I can hear the Kefs struggling when I boost sub-bass. The NCx500 can move those membranes easily when boosted, but I can barely hear any bass even if I put my ear directly to one of the ports of the speaker. They can get loud (mids and highs unbearable), but no bass. I was really hoping that I won't need my old active sub to fill in those lower frequencies...
I'll do some REW measurements later today to see what's going on. I tried to move the speakers closer to the wall, nothing's changed in terms of bass, only the soundstage was impacted.. I cannot move them much further away from the front wall because the current listening distance is 3m and I'm already 1.5m close to the back wall.

According to soundnews:
"Each Reference 3 has two bass ports that are adding a lot of oomph, punch in the chest and rumble down low. In the package you can find shorter bass ports that are limiting the low-end delivery by a little, making it tighter and clearer sounding in untreated rooms."
"They were delivering a chest pounding impact, with bass notes reaching as low as 30 Hz on some particular tracks."
"When it comes to bass definition, punch and cleanness, Reference 3 are taking the iron throne as the most impressive ones."

Sandu replaced his dual mono Benchmark AHB2 with a single Chord Ultima 5 power amp + Ultima 3 Pre recently, he recommends "full-bodied and organic sounding amplifier/s" for. But, looking at the spec sheet of my NCx500, if it's really the bottleneck, I just don't get it why. What am I missing and where should I start? Is it the pre-out voltage of the Denon that's not enough for the Audiophonics power amp with 25dB gain?

20230822_101700.jpg
 
I'll do some REW measurements later today to see what's going on.
Why u didnt do the rew measurements before listen?xD
Im pretty sure u didn't treat your room with acoustic things


about the denon i couldn't find the output VRMS, i also dont know how much VRMS needs your ncx500...


if you wanna do a short test for the bass thing, move the speaker to the center of the room and then listen them at 1.5m distance.
Remember the ref3 only has dual 6.5'' is not a 12'' woofer btw
 
Last edited:
Why u didnt do the rew measurements before listen?xD
Im pretty sure u didn't treat your room with acoustic things


about the denon i couldn't find the output VRMS, i also dont know how much VRMS needs your ncx500...


if you wanna do a short test for the bass thing, move the speaker to the center of the room and then listen them at 1.5m distance.
Remember the ref3 only has dual 6.5'' is not a 12'' woofer btw
Even without any measurements, it's obvious that bass at lower volumes is non-existent, doesn't matter which part of the room, even if I put my ear to the rear ports, there's barely any pressure. if I boost it via EQ, it is there, but it's close to distortion, the woofers sound weird, muffled, sometimes "skipping" a few seconds in the track so probably the boost is too much.

Denon have 2V pre-outs, the NCx500 at its current 25dB gain setting requires 2.67Vrms.
I didn't try increasing to 31dB (1.5V required) yet because of the extra noise.
I can crank it up quite loud and mid/high quickly becomes too much. Can the complete lack of bass (without EQ boost) indicate the lack of input voltage?
I can also try direct speaker cable connections instead of banana plugs, or connecting the KEFs directly to the Denon's internal amp.
 
Even without any measurements, it's obvious that bass at lower volumes is non-existent, doesn't matter which part of the room, even if I put my ear to the rear ports, there's barely any pressure. if I boost it via EQ, it is there, but it's close to distortion, the woofers sound weird, muffled, sometimes "skipping" a few seconds in the track so probably the boost is too much.

Denon have 2V pre-outs, the NCx500 at its current 25dB gain setting requires 2.67Vrms.
I didn't try increasing to 31dB (1.5V required) yet because of the extra noise.
I can crank it up quite loud and mid/high quickly becomes too much. Can the complete lack of bass (without EQ boost) indicate the lack of input voltage?
I can also try direct speaker cable connections instead of banana plugs, or connecting the KEFs directly to the Denon's internal amp.
well, 2 Vrms is not enough for your amp.. my amp is kind of similar but my pre has 3 Vrms (even tought i dont know if the speaker support the max output from your amp)

BTW, measure and then we well keep talking


because of the '' if you boost the sub using EQ the bass is there '' i guess you got a bad in-room cancelation... thats bad news, you got a bad room. Also, the filter you do will not solve the bass cancelation, you have to measure the speaker and specificaly fill the hole... not the whole subbass..

Well, anyway in that room at 3m the ref5 should be the speaker... or the ref3 but with subs, dual 6.5'' wih not shake that big room
Anyway, do the measurements and then posting, do not keeping doing things until you measure the system with your (you have one?) UMIK-1 using REW at 5dB scale 90dB.
 
I have a bit of a buyers' remorse to be honest.
I am completely missing the low frequencies of the Reference 3 Meta in my room without EQ/DSP (Denon x4800h in pure direct mode + NCx500 stereo). I don't know if it's the lack of power from the amps or it's the speaker or placement. If I boost frequencies below 120Hz by 8-12dB in Audyssey or Dirac, it's better, but I have to stand up or go to the corners, because it's cancelled completely at my seated listening position. I can hear the Kefs struggling when I boost sub-bass. The NCx500 can move those membranes easily when boosted, but I can barely hear any bass even if I put my ear directly to one of the ports of the speaker. They can get loud (mids and highs unbearable), but no bass. I was really hoping that I won't need my old active sub to fill in those lower frequencies...
I'll do some REW measurements later today to see what's going on. I tried to move the speakers closer to the wall, nothing's changed in terms of bass, only the soundstage was impacted.. I cannot move them much further away from the front wall because the current listening distance is 3m and I'm already 1.5m close to the back wall.

According to soundnews:
"Each Reference 3 has two bass ports that are adding a lot of oomph, punch in the chest and rumble down low. In the package you can find shorter bass ports that are limiting the low-end delivery by a little, making it tighter and clearer sounding in untreated rooms."
"They were delivering a chest pounding impact, with bass notes reaching as low as 30 Hz on some particular tracks."
"When it comes to bass definition, punch and cleanness, Reference 3 are taking the iron throne as the most impressive ones."

Sandu replaced his dual mono Benchmark AHB2 with a single Chord Ultima 5 power amp + Ultima 3 Pre recently, he recommends "full-bodied and organic sounding amplifier/s" for. But, looking at the spec sheet of my NCx500, if it's really the bottleneck, I just don't get it why. What am I missing and where should I start? Is it the pre-out voltage of the Denon that's not enough for the Audiophonics power amp with 25dB gain?

View attachment 307209
12 db boost???
If I remember well you need the power x16 times to get there,amp will not be happy and so the speakers.
 
You have a problem with your room/ placement/ listening position, take some measurements and report back
 
well, 2 Vrms is not enough for your amp.. my amp is kind of similar but my pre has 3 Vrms (even tought i dont know if the speaker support the max output from your amp)

BTW, measure and then we well keep talking


because of the '' if you boost the sub using EQ the bass is there '' i guess you got a bad in-room cancelation... thats bad news, you got a bad room. Also, the filter you do will not solve the bass cancelation, you have to measure the speaker and specificaly fill the hole... not the whole subbass..

Well, anyway in that room at 3m the ref5 should be the speaker... or the ref3 but with subs, dual 6.5'' wih not shake that big room
Anyway, do the measurements and then posting, do not keeping doing things until you measure the system with your (you have one?) UMIK-1 using REW at 5dB scale 90dB.
I chose the Ref 3 based on the following guidance, I thought that an R11 or Ref 5 would be too big. Maybe I should've gone with the old non-meta R11 for less than half the price... but in the showroom its bass was overwhelming (still, maybe better to have more and EQ it).

Screenshot_20230822-125530_Firefox.jpg



I have an Umik-1 here, will try to connect REW to the Denon today.

I noticed that in the Denon's menu Audyssey or Dirac changed the crossover, so I manually changed it (again) to Full Range for the Fronts.
Bass is back, but not at the listening position.

I've put on some bass-heavy hip-hop and was walking around the room, listening carefully. In front of the couch and behind the couch I can hear plenty of low frequencies, maybe too much. I guess the cancellation happens right at the couch.
 
Back
Top Bottom