Auditioning advice

How did the audition go in the end?
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Short story, bought the KEF's - amazing!

Longer version... Started of with B&W 707s2's, unfortunately they didn't get the 703's in time but this at least gave me an impression of the top end of the B&W's without the separate tweeter housing. Sounded good, clearly not much body and low end but to focus on the top end it was detailed and probably what you might term bright. On the last track I played on them (Kodaline Love Like This, there is a harmonica (I think) and that really sounded harsh.

Next up was the MA Silver 300's, these straight away you could tell sounded different, none of the brightness/edgyness - I think you'd say these were very polite and non-fatiguing. Voices were a touch subdued but still very good, bass was not quite what I was expecting but my point of reference at this point was only my own setup in my room.
Overall I could have bought these and listened to them for a long time, but I think subdued is probably best to describe them. But I would have wanted to listen to some Dali Oberon 7 or Opticon 6's though against these I feel, not a gut feeling from them that just said buy.

Next up were the KEF. Well pretty much from the first note I was a weird mix of smiling and jaw open! You could tell these were something else to the other 2. Voices were so open and clear, treble I believe you'd label as insightful but not even remotely a harsh edge to them. Bass, far better than the MA's. These were such an incredibly smooth speaker, sound stage was far more evident and on every track I played just sounded fantastic.
I'd ruled out the R5's a long while back based on the spec sheet numbers, how wrong was I to do that. So glad I saw them in the shop the week before, noticed how striking they looked and was like yeah we'll add those to the list why not!!
Overall the KEF were smooth and everything about their presentation was what I was looking for, these speakers knocked the MA's for six. Now, given the price it's probably fair enough but that was the purpose of this trip establish how much gets you what quality essentially.

And then lastly were the 702s2's. Having just heard the difference between the MA and KEF I was excited to roll these out as their price is another level again. However, whilst they sounded different to the KEF, it was not better different. Voices very good, treble very detailed but it was closing in on the cusp of harsh on a couple of tracks. Certainly not edgy like the 707's (though I suspect they would be on poorly recorded tracks), but these were no doubt a bright presentation. Don't get me wrong I liked them a lot, and if I hadn't listened to the KEF I might have bought these, although truth be told I think I'd have gone MA's over these because of the money. These didn't in my mind justify the extra which is almost 3 times at list price over the MA.
They had a good fullness to the music, reasonable bass (i.e about the same as the MA, worse than KEF), but I was sat listening thinking these just don't sound as good as the KEF. Each track just lacked a little something, smoothness I think and also the overall brighter tonality that may have grated over time.

I swapped back to the KEF after just to be sure and it compounded everything I'd thought, back to grinning like an idiot and it was no question I needed them! Not even tempted to try anything else at the price point, these literally sound exactly how I'd imagine my next speakers to be in every way and are without doubt the best speakers I've heard (yes I do know I'm pretty fresh to this!) :)
If there was anything I could have considered to compare them against it was the R7's basically. They didn't have any there but in the end I think the R5's are the sensible choice. Bass would have been more again sure but I'm not sure I need it, the bass on R5's was very good and easily able to deliver what I need for 99% of music I listen to. And when you consider the location of my speakers in my room it is not completely ideal and is probably why I get such strong bass from wall reinforcement now, so there's a a real chance the R7's could make things overblown in my room (3.5mx5.5m). Reason being is my speakers are sat in a sort of large recess at the end of the room where the stairs come across over the top of the left speaker. It also means I'm height limited as the taller the speaker is the narrower the width between them becomes as I have to move that speaker inboard to get clearance above and the R5's are a tall speaker as it is so right at the limit of what I measured really before the width gets compromised. I have a BKXXLS400 to use for times when I'm feeling uncouth anyway and the £600 difference between them also all but pays for the R2C which I'll look to get in the next month or so. (I mis-measured and the R2C will fit my cab!)

This was all run through my Audiolab too, didn't apparently struggle to drive any of them and whilst none of it was level matched I was adjusting the volume at will. You could tell when you swapped speakers as the volume did need changing, I think it was the 702's that required the least volume (90dB sensitivity on them) so makes sense. So I don't think you need hundreds of watts to run them like I've seen suggested.
The Audio-T guys were great also, bringing the speakers in and leaving me alone to listen away. No hard sell at all or bias to any product either.

All in all very good day and hoping next weekend I'll be back to pick them up :D
 
Congratulation on your choice!

I must say I would have pushed to listen to the R5's in my own space, there may be a night and day difference to a dealer's room...

Let us know how you get on when they arrive!
 
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TB Rich

Active Member
Thanks! Yeah I suppose I could have asked but the KEF's blew me away so I can't see how they'll sound anything be mega when I get them in! :D

I've taken a pic of the room sat from my listening spot (about 4.5m from speaker fronts), the Tannoy's are fairly small so I have them pushed out fairly wide with about 0.4m from the side wall and similar rear distance. I'll need to bring the KEF in a touch and I'll stand them forward another 10cm I think. So roughly speaking they'll be at 0.5m from both rear and sides - of course the left speaker has a tapering side wall so at the lower half of the speaker out to around 1m.
You can see why the R7 being yet taller could really start to raise concerns by infringing on the centre width too much. I think between them when I measured was 1.8m between nearside edges - it was a while back now(!) but given the unit is 1.2m I think that's correct as it looks about that.

I would say acoustically the room is good, not contributing in anyway to a harsh or bright sound, if there are any faults maybe the bass is accentuated, but I've only heard my M3's in there so no point of reference really. Also to my preference this is not a bad thing anyway.
It'll be nice to have the KEF in there which I've at least heard in another room, and their listening room was a very similar overall size. They had the speakers and sofa near the walls as I do (both about 0.5m out), the only difference was there room was probably 4.5x4.5 and so there was more like 1m to the side walls.

edit to add: I cannot believe how shocking bad quality the camera on my phone is :rotfl:(OnePlus 3T, it's time to replace it I think!)
 

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0.5m from both rear and sides should be fine, as long as you have at least 1.5m between the speakers.

Maybe a slight 2-5 deg toe in would be good, listening will tell you what works best.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Yep that'll be about where it ends up, the KEF are narrower than the Tannoy so even though they'll need bringing in, the nearside edges won't move as much because I'll gain some width back from being narrower. I suspect the UniQ will want similar or less toe than I have which isn't too much.
I'm happy it'll work, though be on the limit I think for the room size (I'm just justifying not trying 7's - but I do feel I made the right choice) :)
 
The 7's would be too big for your space, many would argue the 5's are too big!
 
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eastsoutheast

Well-known Member
I remember the first time i spent a lot of money on a amp and speaker upgrade (tag mclaren amp, power amp and Epos ES30’s), my brother listened and said he preferred his cheap Rotel RB970 (which he bought from me) and his B&W 601’s.

My thoughts were, as long as you are happy with the sound thats all that matters.

If you like the way they sound thats all that matters and they should make you smile.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
The 7's would be too big for your space, many would argue the 5's are too big!
Yeah I think that would be the case, I think 5's will be fine, they're a slim speaker and I sit the long length away from them, doesn't look it in the pic but it's 4.5m to speaker fronts.

I remember the first time i spent a lot of money on a amp and speaker upgrade (tag mclaren amp, power amp and Epos ES30’s), my brother listened and said he preferred his cheap Rotel RB970 (which he bought from me) and his B&W 601’s.

My thoughts were, as long as you are happy with the sound thats all that matters.

If you like the way they sound thats all that matters and they should make you smile.
Yep for sure, just as everyone sees colours slightly differently everyone must hear slightly differently too with ear shapes and what not. I can't see me needing or wanting to replace these for a very long time - but things like the TV and AVR are getting on a bit so they're next in the firing line. The TV is too small for the distance and at 40inches with the thick frame it has, it all but physically occupies that of a modern 55"! So that's the next big purchase which can wait til Black Friday :)
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
That’s a nice account of how you decided- and the text book way of choosing, by listening to the different speakers. I’ve always done the same, usually at Sevenoaks, switching between speakers and adjusting the volume to compensate for sensitivities.

At least, now you will have the piece of mind that you chose the right speakers.
By the way, I am a fan of B&W and KEF having owned both. I find the KEF UniQ tweeters to be very detailed and the sound very focussed. The B&W equally good, but their strength was a bolder sound- at least on the model I had.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
That’s a nice account of how you decided- and the text book way of choosing, by listening to the different speakers. I’ve always done the same, usually at Sevenoaks, switching between speakers and adjusting the volume to compensate for sensitivities.

At least, now you will have the piece of mind that you chose the right speakers.
By the way, I am a fan of B&W and KEF having owned both. I find the KEF UniQ tweeters to be very detailed and the sound very focussed. The B&W equally good, but their strength was a bolder sound- at least on the model I had.
Yeah it just goes to show you can't put any stock in the numbers on the spec pages etc, you really do need to go and listen! Obvious really and I always knew I'd need to listen, but with the internet making it so easy to research and compare it's easy to get caught up in numbers and specs and try and do it all online.

They've arrived so hopefully I can pick them up tomorrow if I can get the time :)
 

Hampy1972

Well-known Member
Movie soundtracks are quite good too, there is this one, the recent Poltergiest movie when a ping pong goes down a stairwell one step at a time, each sound comes through a different speaker if you have surround sound.
Another is when you heard a car or motorcycle in the distance off screen and it's coming.........

Those are pretty awesome.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
I will be using surround sound but for me it's a case of 'might as well because its there'. To a point I don't overly care about how it sounds - I believe what excels for me at music reproduction will therefore be more than good enough for movie usage.
As it happens the R2C is supposed to be an excellent centre (albeit quite dear), so I'll get one in a month or 2 and just run phantom centre for now (my setup lends itself well to phantom centre). And I'm going to have to bite the bullet and buy new KEF T101 for surround because I've been looking for ages for some decent 2nd hand ones in white and haven't found any.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Got them home, setup and they sound incredible! Exactly as I wanted and the bass is stronger at home for sure. It's as deep as I was getting on the Tannoys but tighter and more controlled, I'm not driving them hard mind, I'll be babying them for a while to come!
I can definitely say that the R7 would have been too much in the room though, both from an over powering bass perspective (I can see my room making them behave more like the Tannoys and creating a somewhat one dimensional note to the bass, i.e too much even for me!), and also from a physical point of view! Any taller and it would move the left speaker in further and compromise the positioning, and not to mention these look big in the room, but just acceptable! I think it helps that they look very modern for sure.
I've not played with distances etc and just sat them down where they look about right, they sound spot on so I'll probably not mess about.

So not cheap, but worth every penny 😁
 

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Got them home, setup and they sound incredible! Exactly as I wanted and the bass is stronger at home for sure. It's as deep as I was getting on the Tannoys but tighter and more controlled, I'm not driving them hard mind, I'll be babying them for a while to come!
I can definitely say that the R7 would have been too much in the room though, both from an over powering bass perspective (I can see my room making them behave more like the Tannoys and creating a somewhat one dimensional note to the bass, i.e too much even for me!), and also from a physical point of view! Any taller and it would move the left speaker in further and compromise the positioning, and not to mention these look big in the room, but just acceptable! I think it helps that they look very modern for sure.
I've not played with distances etc and just sat them down where they look about right, they sound spot on so I'll probably not mess about.

So not cheap, but worth every penny 😁
Congrats, they look great! 🍻

Life's to short for bad audio!
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Congrats, they look great! 🍻

Life's to short for bad audio!
Thanks, and yes it is! Which is very apt. as I've taken the Amazon HD upgrade too. I didn't use it a lot as it was only 320k so was toying with the idea of getting Tidal Hifi and cancelling Amazon. So with the HD release this week and at the price it is, is a total result as I did not know it was coming :)
I still think I'll buy CDs from Music Magpie when I find stuff I really like, but I can see Amazon now being an equal if not eventually my main source.
 

daddy999

Active Member
Having just gone through this process, I would suggest you take your own amp if possible, some sample music, be it vinyl, cd, stream, and a predefined play list. Ask them to use source equipment that is realistically similar to your own and insist on being in charge of the volume control. 😂

interestingly, for me anyway, the biggest difference in sound at the price point I was at was when playing music a low (normal living room) volumes, i.e., levels that don’t annoy the neighbours.

Enjoy.
 

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