HT Speaker upgrade: Kef vs B&W vs something else?

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
I have agreement for a 5.1 HT speaker upgrade :).

Agreed budget is ~£2,000, which I plan to spend on the front stage: i.e. L, R and centre channel.

Current 5.1 setup includes Wharfedale 220s along the front (~£100/pair), two of which I will use as surrounds in the new setup. In the short-mid term I plan to additionally buy a decent (like a BK PB12).

  • Room is 6m x 4m total size. "TV Area" (in the pictures) is just one end: 2.5m x 4m.
  • I have my heart fairly set on towers for front L & R.
  • AVR is a Denon 4700H. I may run the L & R through a separate amp in the future, but ideally want something that will sound ok in the meantime.
  • I know that I like warm speakers, and given the wooden flooring, want to avoid anything even slightly on the forward/bright side. From reading I've pretty much ruled out Monitor Audio, Klipsch, Dali and SVS. But do let me know if you feel incorrectly. I have had bad experiences selling expensive speakers that have proven to harsh for my tastes/environment, so am particularly concerned about tone.

I currently have my sights on Kef or Bowers and Wilkins. Although I'm confused whether to go for their budget ranges - i.e. Kef Q / B&W 6000 - where I can afford the largest towers, or instead go for their next tier, where I can just about afford the smallest towers + matching centre (Kef R5, B & W 704 S2).

Also, the speakers will have to be close to the wall, as in the pictures. Perhaps ~20cm out. I appreciate this will hamper their performance but it is non-negoitable. So any insights into how Kef vs B&W perform relatively with this constraint would be gratefully received.

As would any other suggestions/thoughts.

Many thanks.
IMG_0825.jpeg

IMG_0826.jpeg
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I'd forget about floorstanding speakers in that space, they will not perform to their potential being stuck in the alcove. As you already have 5.1 then have the sub do the deep lifting and stick with standmounts. My personal pick would be the KEF R3 and R2C with Q150s as surrounds. You don't mention what sub you have and perhaps the money saved over R5s would pay for an upgrade in that department.

As for KEF versus B&W that's really for you to decide and you should certainly audition both. A good few years ago I preferred KEF against B&W, but that's me you may be totally different. I'm using KEF R300s with a Denon X6500 so the partnering is perfect for me.
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
I'd forget about floorstanding speakers in that space, they will not perform to their potential being stuck in the alcove. As you already have 5.1 then have the sub do the deep lifting and stick with standmounts. My personal pick would be the KEF R3 and R2C with Q150s as surrounds. You don't mention what sub you have and perhaps the money saved over R5s would pay for an upgrade in that department.

As for KEF versus B&W that's really for you to decide and you should certainly audition both. A good few years ago I preferred KEF against B&W, but that's me you may be totally different. I'm using KEF R300s with a Denon X6500 so the partnering is perfect for me.

Many thanks for this! Great to hear you are happy with that combo. I have been mulling this option too, and it makes a lot of sense. My current sub is a CA Minx 201, so definitely needs an upgrade. Although I believe I can swing that as an additional purchase in the close term (eyeing up a BK P12).

I still lean towards towers because:

1) They seem a bit safer with two boisterous young kids.

2) They may end up correctly positioned one day. Plan to keep these for the long haul. So I’m not too worried about unused potential.

3) I like the idea of being less reliant on a sub for bass (incase we one day decide to remove it from the living room).

Do you think towers might actually be problematic in this space (even crossed at 80Hz) or it’s more a case of unused potential? My understanding was the Q750 is sealed so should be less of an issue?

Also, as an owner, do you have any opinions on the significance of R2c as an upgrade over the Q650c?

Thanks again.

Edit: And yes, would love to audition once I’ve narrowed down a bit. I’ve heard some places will send out for home demos for a small cost.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
My understanding was the Q750 is sealed so should be less of an issue?
The Q750s are very big speakers and I suggest you check out their physical size and the Q650C is a monster. I don't think you'll need any bigger than the Q550 and Q250C. Even though they are a sealed design with passive radiators but will still be influenced by their proximity to walls because of their actual size.

Even with their bass abilities you will still have to configure the Denon to show all speakers as being small with a crossover of 80hz. You need a good sub to take advantage of the crossover and the .LFE channel.

A good time to buy the KEF Q range as they have a 20% discount but you will have to purchase the grills for all those speakers. You'll need those to keep out little fingers.

To give you an idea of how big the Q650C is against a 65'' TV, the Q650 is 35mm higher and 80mm wider than the R200C in the photograph. The Q250C is roughly the same width and 5mm higher than the R200C.

169014423.3oX2AMVS._DSC4302.jpg
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
I have agreement for a 5.1 HT speaker upgrade :).

Agreed budget is ~£2,000, which I plan to spend on the front stage: i.e. L, R and centre channel.

Current 5.1 setup includes Wharfedale 220s along the front (~£100/pair), two of which I will use as surrounds in the new setup. In the short-mid term I plan to additionally buy a decent (like a BK PB12).

  • Room is 6m x 4m total size. "TV Area" (in the pictures) is just one end: 2.5m x 4m.
  • I have my heart fairly set on towers for front L & R.
  • AVR is a Denon 4700H. I may run the L & R through a separate amp in the future, but ideally want something that will sound ok in the meantime.
  • I know that I like warm speakers, and given the wooden flooring, want to avoid anything even slightly on the forward/bright side. From reading I've pretty much ruled out Monitor Audio, Klipsch, Dali and SVS. But do let me know if you feel incorrectly. I have had bad experiences selling expensive speakers that have proven to harsh for my tastes/environment, so am particularly concerned about tone.

I currently have my sights on Kef or Bowers and Wilkins. Although I'm confused whether to go for their budget ranges - i.e. Kef Q / B&W 6000 - where I can afford the largest towers, or instead go for their next tier, where I can just about afford the smallest towers + matching centre (Kef R5, B & W 704 S2).

Also, the speakers will have to be close to the wall, as in the pictures. Perhaps ~20cm out. I appreciate this will hamper their performance but it is non-negoitable. So any insights into how Kef vs B&W perform relatively with this constraint would be gratefully received.

As would any other suggestions/thoughts.

Many thanks.
View attachment 1627403
View attachment 1627404

Oh my how tiny the X201 sub is. That is ridiculously small now that you see it in room. 😁

Naturally if you looking the most noticeable upgrade while also keeping in mind the decent receiver you have my money would go straight to R3 + R2c or 706 S2 + HTM 71S2. The B&Ws are on sale now and before you ask yes you want the larger center channel over 72 S2! Not much reason to buy floorstanders as you already have stands there too and the whole point of upgrading would be to get something much better so step up and you have speakers for the next 10years easily or more. The next step is B&W 800 or Kef Reference, you might have to sell kidney to afford them. So basically what i´m saying if you choose these two you are at the level that satisfies most folks!



Hopefully you would be able to visit sevenoaks for example as they keep both brands/models there so you can book demo time where you compare them head to head. Also ask them to use X4700H in the demo. There could be other dealers that keep these models in stock. At least compare the main speakers R3 vs. 706 S2 with different material!!

I would want slightly better sub than the sealed BK P12, at least P12-PR which you might find as new grade-b for 430£ soon. BK Monolith Plus would be even better for movies for a 24sqm room, but you are so tight on space that i think the P12-PR would be best compromise for very low price. You really need to upgrade the sub soon as the X201 i wouldn´t even call subwoofer (6,5" drivers), it rolls off below 40hz steeply so you are missing TON of stuff!

PS. There is also some cinema speakers (standmount) which may not look as nice, but should blow you out otherwise in terms of sound. However if finish/looks play big role then stick with your plan.
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Distinguished Member
Another +1 for the Kef R3 and R2C. Fantastic speakers, with both being three way, the clarity is outstanding on them, whilst still having plenty of tight bass. I demoed the 706s2 at the same time as the Kef, and the Kef just had a better soundstage, were far clearer in the mids and just wrapped you in music. Obviously this is my view and you might think differently, a demo is a must.

I too was looking at floorstanders but guidance from @Gasp3621 helped steer me towards a more suitable setup for my room (i.e. bookshelf speakers as free space was limited), and at the same price point you'll get a better bookshelf speaker versus a floorstander. Have to say since the upgrade, music just sounds so much clearer even at higher volumes.
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
The Q750s are very big speakers and I suggest you check out their physical size and the Q650C is a monster. I don't think you'll need any bigger than the Q550 and Q250C. Even though they are a sealed design with passive radiators but will still be influenced by their proximity to walls because of their actual size.

Thank you - very useful - made me realise I hadn't stopped to think if they were too big. Don't want to go unnecessarily big because visual appeal is a part of this, being the main living room. Smaller/sleaker will certainly go down better. The picture was really useful too - thank you.

Oh my how tiny the X201 sub is. That is ridiculously small now that you see it in room. 😁
Yep. You can see now why I didn't even mention it. :rotfl:. Thank you for the sub advice - very much noted for when the time comes.

After a really useful chat on the phone earlier with a very nice and helpful guy at Seven Oaks, who is familiar with all these speakers, and I am pretty much decided now on Kef R5s + R2c.

I was swung away from Bowers & Wilkins due to 1) The wider soundstage of the Uni-Q being more appropriate for HT and 2) The Seven Oak's guy personal experience that the Bowers & Wilkins are a bit more grating at the top end.

I was swung towards R over Q series due to 1) The Seven Oaks guy saying that they are in a different league to the Q - it is not just an incremental improvement, and 2) Advice above that bigger speakers are unnecessary in my space.

There is currently a 20% discount on R series as long as I order by 9th Jan, which brings the cost of R2C + R5s to £2279 - only a little over budget.

Despite the advice above (also echoed by the Seven Oaks guy) I would like to go with R5s instead of R3s. Provided they will not sound any worse (which my understanding is the case) I am ok spending the extra on unused potential. As mentioned above - I feel the towers will be safer with my kids. Also, since I intend to keep these for a very long time - they may even end up in a cinema(ish) room following a house extension we have planned.

I am not sure that I will be able to audition before buying since I need to decide by 9th Jan, and stock is currently extremely limited everywhere for these models. I will discuss with Seven Oaks what their return policy is. If there is a reboxing cost I may decide to simply view that as a home audition fee. Especially since I have no alternatives in mind now - at that price - so would view a return as very unlikely.

Main step remaining is to run this all by the wife :).

I think I might even do a photoshop mock-up of our living room to show how damn nice these Kefs Rs would look! :laugh:

Thank you all again, I will report back on the final outcome.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
I had the biggest kef q speakers sealed design and they were actually better than the smaller ported kef w models. The ported model was too boomy (rear ported) In a small room.

Personally in that alcove I'd just keep what you have, just buy a new sub or two.

Wharfedale do have slightly warm sound I'd stick to them.
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
I had the biggest kef q speakers sealed design and they were actually better than the smaller ported kef w models. The ported model was too boomy (rear ported) In a small room.

Personally in that alcove I'd just keep what you have, just buy a new sub or two.

Wharfedale do have slightly warm sound I'd stick to them.

Thanks. It is a good point to consider just investing that in subs. I'll do sub(s) later though since our young daughter currently sleeps above the living room. Realistically, playing loud regularly is not on the horizon for a while.

Thanks for sharing your experience of Q vs R. The poor positioning of the rear ports is indeed a concern, but I still have my heart set on R over Q now, after reading more about what an upgrade they are.

I'm sure they will sound well below potential pushed into the alcove, but I'll be happy knowing I've put my money into something that I (hopefully) shouldn't ever want to upgrade, and can hopefully allow to truly sing one day.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
Correction both speakers were from q range, the bigger q sealed had cleaner less boomy bass than the smaller q ported speakers
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
...and to report back that my wife agreed to Kef R2C + R5s :).

She thought they looked "not as bad as expected" :laugh:. Which makes me pleased to have gone for smaller towers with a nicer finish. After her reaction to measuring out the size of the R5s, can't imagine if I'd been doing so for the Q950s that I originally had my eye on :laugh:.

I ordered them earlier from Doug Brady, since Seven Oaks are now out of stock of the R2C. I managed to secure the last black gloss units at Doug Brady, with the 20% discount. They were really responsive and helpful by email - despite being a non-working day - and very much lived up so far to the good stuff I've read about them.

Being shipped on Tuesday, hopefully arriving on the 5th. To say I'm excited is an understatement.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
You will find the R5s will come with a two stage bung for the rear port. I have my R300s half ported. You can also move them in and out to get the bass response you want. The KEFs have a very good, fast and precise bass response given the right amplification (Rega Elicit-R in my case). I can hear every note of a bass guitar with notes starting and finishing even from the lowest note achievable. They are a joy.

I'm sure you get much enjoyment out of them as do I and I've had mine for seven years now and no need or desire to change them.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
You will find the R5s will come with a two stage bung for the rear port. I have my R300s half ported. You can also move them in and out to get the bass response you want. The KEFs have a very good, fast and precise bass response given the right amplification (Rega Elicit-R in my case). I can hear every note of a bass guitar with notes starting and finishing even from the lowest note achievable. They are a joy.

I'm sure you get much enjoyment out of them as do I and I've had mine for seven years now and no need or desire to change them.
It's a shame sealed box speakers aren't more common I've borrowed NHT standmounts and own some sealed dipole they definitely have improved speed over on speakers and are easier to place
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
You will find the R5s will come with a two stage bung for the rear port. I have my R300s half ported. You can also move them in and out to get the bass response you want. The KEFs have a very good, fast and precise bass response given the right amplification (Rega Elicit-R in my case). I can hear every note of a bass guitar with notes starting and finishing even from the lowest note achievable. They are a joy.

I'm sure you get much enjoyment out of them as do I and I've had mine for seven years now and no need or desire to change them.

Great to hear. Thanks for the tip re the bungs.

Over the many years I plan to have these, getting dedicated amplification is something I'd love to do. Can't quite stomach the extra cost at the moment but give it a couple of years :D.

I was wondering if you might have any advice how to run these while waiting for my sub upgrade? I was thinking crossed at 60Hz, to take a bit of strain off the AVR. Or perhaps I should box up the CA minx now?

And also, I know it's a bit off topic, but since you also have a Denon AVR: Do you think these Kefs are "good enough" to run without Audyssey EQ-ing? I ask because I've been having terrible problems with Audyssey since we moved in here - I'm currently running without EQ.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I was wondering if you might have any advice how to run these while waiting for my sub upgrade? I was thinking crossed at 60Hz, to take a bit of strain off the AVR. Or perhaps I should box up the CA minx now?
The accepted crossover is 80hz with the speakers set as small. I would be surprised if they didn't roll off at 40hz as did my R300s. If you want to disengage the sub then the speakers will have to be set at full range or large. It's up to you really if you think the sub may just add a little something and save the amp itself.

The speakers will open up after some hours of running. Just don't blast them at too high a volume. I'd run Audyssey but wouldn't bother again until you have a new sub in place unless that is months away. The KEFs and the Denon will play well together.
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
Great to hear. Thanks for the tip re the bungs.

Over the many years I plan to have these, getting dedicated amplification is something I'd love to do. Can't quite stomach the extra cost at the moment but give it a couple of years :D.

I was wondering if you might have any advice how to run these while waiting for my sub upgrade? I was thinking crossed at 60Hz, to take a bit of strain off the AVR. Or perhaps I should box up the CA minx now?

And also, I know it's a bit off topic, but since you also have a Denon AVR: Do you think these Kefs are "good enough" to run without Audyssey EQ-ing? I ask because I've been having terrible problems with Audyssey since we moved in here - I'm currently running without EQ.


Have you considered buying a UMIK?

If you buy a UMIK, install REW on your laptop and measure your L&R and you'll find out at what frequency they drop off, and where your subwoofer nulls are.

You can then set your crossover exactly where it should be for your room.

Otherwise, you're essentially just guessing mate.
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Distinguished Member
...and to report back that my wife agreed to Kef R2C + R5s :).

She thought they looked "not as bad as expected" :laugh:. Which makes me pleased to have gone for smaller towers with a nicer finish. After her reaction to measuring out the size of the R5s, can't imagine if I'd been doing so for the Q950s that I originally had my eye on :laugh:.

I ordered them earlier from Doug Brady, since Seven Oaks are now out of stock of the R2C. I managed to secure the last black gloss units at Doug Brady, with the 20% discount. They were really responsive and helpful by email - despite being a non-working day - and very much lived up so far to the good stuff I've read about them.

Being shipped on Tuesday, hopefully arriving on the 5th. To say I'm excited is an understatement.
Thats where I got mine from as they are a local dealer. Got a few bits from them, and they've been really helpful each time.
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
The accepted crossover is 80hz with the speakers set as small. I would be surprised if they didn't roll off at 40hz as did my R300s. If you want to disengage the sub then the speakers will have to be set at full range or large. It's up to you really if you think the sub may just add a little something and save the amp itself.

The speakers will open up after some hours of running. Just don't blast them at too high a volume. I'd run Audyssey but wouldn't bother again until you have a new sub in place unless that is months away. The KEFs and the Denon will play well together.
Thanks very much again for all the advice.
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
Have you considered buying a UMIK?

If you buy a UMIK, install REW on your laptop and measure your L&R and you'll find out at what frequency they drop off, and where your subwoofer nulls are.

You can then set your crossover exactly where it should be for your room.

Otherwise, you're essentially just guessing mate.

Thank you. Actually I had been thinking about this since I’ve been having such issues with Audyssey since moving - I was thinking of using REL to help diagnose what’s going on.

Good to know it would also allow establishing the drop off of the L & R.

I plan to crossover at 80Hz once I get a “proper” larger sub. I was only now thinking about what to do in the meantime given how poxy my current sub is. But establishing their roll off in the room might also inform which sub I upgrade to. Ie better understanding what I am/am not currently missing.

Thanks again.
 

Built To Chill

Well-known Member
I now have the R5s :thumbsup:.

The R2C was broken on arrival, unfortunately. Something substantial was loose inside. Doug Brady were great about it, and a replacement (sadly from elsewhere) should arrive tomorrow.

They are indeed big! Glad I didn’t go for Q750s or R7s now! :laugh:

I love them. I’ve never owned speakers remotely of this quality before. Spent a few hours just listening to music. Night and day improvement feels like an understatement. I could go on and on about what I've been noticing. Everything sounds so much "real" than before. I thought it would be mainly about the bass but its everything. In particular, only because I know what it sounds like in "real life", I've been astounded by how real piano sounds coming from these.

I also played a few Atmos soundtracks in 4.0, with my Wharfedales at the back. Again, pretty blown away. So much more detail, presence, bass, and impact than I had before. Even at lower volumes and without a sub, this is instantly much more cinematic. I'm not even missing the centre yet, which I guess speaks to the wide dispersion of these things.

I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to experiment with placement forwards/backwards/toed etc? And whether to put the bungs in? Even in the limited space I've agreed to keep them, there feels a great many options... My problem is I'm not sure what I'm listening for to "fine tune" the sound, and it already sounds so good to me being such an improvement over my previous speakers. I'm sure there's lots online about this, but any quick tips would be gratefully received.

IMG_0867.jpeg
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
HT versus stereo, for tuning is slightly different, as with HT you have lots of options from bass management to room correction, and even tone controls.

With stereo you pretty much have nothing bar speaker moving or bunging, or boundry gain compensation (if it has them) minus sound panels.

You may want to put a panel on the right wall. Put up a bit of spare bit of carpet to get a idea , if there is excessive reflection (since theyre very close to wall)

I do know there is a big change in sound when plugging (speakers and sub) as own speakers/sub that allowed this, and speakers have boungry gain compensation (Kef 2.2)

See what the speakers sound in pure direct mode first, as that gets rid of any bass managment, night mode/dynmaic range compression, room correction, etc) Then have a baseline of what the speakers sounds like. Then enable bass managment mode, but with room EQ off. Then try room EQ on.
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Distinguished Member
I now have the R5s :thumbsup:.

The R2C was broken on arrival, unfortunately. Something substantial was loose inside. Doug Brady were great about it, and a replacement (sadly from elsewhere) should arrive tomorrow.

They are indeed big! Glad I didn’t go for Q750s or R7s now! :laugh:

I love them. I’ve never owned speakers remotely of this quality before. Spent a few hours just listening to music. Night and day improvement feels like an understatement. I could go on and on about what I've been noticing. Everything sounds so much "real" than before. I thought it would be mainly about the bass but its everything. In particular, only because I know what it sounds like in "real life", I've been astounded by how real piano sounds coming from these.

I also played a few Atmos soundtracks in 4.0, with my Wharfedales at the back. Again, pretty blown away. So much more detail, presence, bass, and impact than I had before. Even at lower volumes and without a sub, this is instantly much more cinematic. I'm not even missing the centre yet, which I guess speaks to the wide dispersion of these things.

I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to experiment with placement forwards/backwards/toed etc? And whether to put the bungs in? Even in the limited space I've agreed to keep them, there feels a great many options... My problem is I'm not sure what I'm listening for to "fine tune" the sound, and it already sounds so good to me being such an improvement over my previous speakers. I'm sure there's lots online about this, but any quick tips would be gratefully received.

View attachment 1631207
Congrats, shame on the centre, you'll notice a big improvement in films. I was same when I got mine setup, the clarity is fantastic. I would suggest in stereo just try a few tracks of varying genres you know well and just see what you think with bungs in out etc. I keep putting mine back in but just love the bass bump of them out. I would try a few bassy tracks if it sounds a bit too boomy for your liking then try the bigger bund with centre bit out.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
@Built To Chill

Congrats, they look lovely! With movies you might not need bungs when speakers crossed at ~80hz and Audussey XT32 in play, the same applies if you use Audussey and stereo mode for music listening over pure direct mode which cuts everything from background! Also use the Audussey Editor App (20€) and limit the correction to 300-500hz (with midrange comp off) for all speakers with the slider so it won´t correct the speakers "natural sound" too much which was the issue most people had with Audussey and it`s two target curves before the app, rather it then corrects the room modes which fall somewhere below transit frequency (~300hz). Worth the extra cost.

Hope you can buy the subwoofer next! You aren`t really in a hurry with the center channel if you sit fairly centre to mains and have turned the centre off from Denon menu, naturally you would run Audussey again anyway so you would choose no centre.
 

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