Is AVR-4400H good enough for KEF R11?

basssound

Novice Member
My current 7.1 config has the following
Denon AVR-4400H
Front: KEF R500
Center: KEF R200c
Back and surround: JBL 530
Sub: Monolith 15 inch

I want to upgrade my front speaker from KEF R500 to KEP R11. Is AVR-4400H good enough or do I need to upgrade my receiver as well?
 
Well, it will drive them, but rather a mismatch in class. A high end AVR would do them more justice.
 

Mr Wolf

Active Member
Personally I'd probably be running dual subs and a Pre/Pro before I dropped £4k on a pair of main speakers.

What is your motivation for the upgrade?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The R11s will be something of a mismatch for the 4400, R500s are fine. What are you hoping to gain by going for the R11s? Won't bring much in the home cinema set up as the sub will be doing all the heavy lifting and those R11s would still have to be set as small after running Audyssey.

If it's a perceived improvement in stereo music then again a jump too far for the 4400 as that is really the impasse for good music presentation.
 

basssound

Novice Member
The R11s will be something of a mismatch for the 4400, R500s are fine. What are you hoping to gain by going for the R11s? Won't bring much in the home cinema set up as the sub will be doing all the heavy lifting and those R11s would still have to be set as small after running Audyssey.

If it's a perceived improvement in stereo music then again a jump too far for the 4400 as that is really the impasse for good music presentation.
Why the R11s will be something of a mismatch for the 4400?
The reason I want to upgrade is to improve stereo quality and also in my workout room, I have
Denon AVR-x4000
Front JBL 570
Sub: VTF-3 MK5 HP

Now, I want to replace my JBL 570 in the workout room with KEF R500 from the living room and upgrade to KEP R11 in the living room.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Why the R11s will be something of a mismatch for the 4400?
The reason I want to upgrade is to improve stereo quality and also in my workout room, I have
Denon AVR-x4000
Front JBL 570
Sub: VTF-3 MK5 HP

Now, I want to replace my JBL 570 in the workout room with KEF R500 from the living room and upgrade to KEP R11 in the living room.
Simply not good enough for the R11s. I don't consider my X6500 good enough for my R300s certainly for stereo music. In stereo the R11s will dig deeper than the R500s. You would be perhaps better off in trying to exploit the the potential of the R500s by using a stereo amp with HT by-pass and that still holds true for the R11s as well.

I use a HT capable stereo amp alongside the X6500 with all my music sources going directly to that stereo amp which is a Rega Elicit-R. That, to me is the minimum quality of amp that would be need to bring out the best in the R11s, perhaps even looking at the Aethos in Rega's current range.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
What's a stereo amp with HT bypass? What is it for? How does it help to get better stereo quality?
You connect the front left and right pre-outs from the Denon to the dedicated line-in on the stereo amp (I'll use my Rega amp as an example). The front left and right speakers will then be connected to the Rega amp only. Using those dedicated inputs on the Rega the pre-amped signal from the Denon is taken directly to the power amp section of the Rega, by-passing the Rega's own pre-amp, hence HT by-pass.

Once connected the volume is controlled from the Denon and both Denon and Rega are powered up to use the surround sound. It's simply a press of the 'Direct' button on the fascia of the Rega or by it's remote. Simple to set up and use. The R11s would also be getting a full 105 watts into 8 ohms which is more than that available from the Denon, something the KEFs really need to shine.

With having all music sources into the Rega then it's just the Rega that is powered up for music using the front left and right speaker. By cutting the Denon out of the equation for music then it's poor music performance is a thing of the past. Stereo music has always been Denon's Achilles Heel.
 

basssound

Novice Member
You connect the front left and right pre-outs from the Denon to the dedicated line-in on the stereo amp (I'll use my Rega amp as an example). The front left and right speakers will then be connected to the Rega amp only. Using those dedicated inputs on the Rega the pre-amped signal from the Denon is taken directly to the power amp section of the Rega, by-passing the Rega's own pre-amp, hence HT by-pass.

Once connected the volume is controlled from the Denon and both Denon and Rega are powered up to use the surround sound. It's simply a press of the 'Direct' button on the fascia of the Rega or by it's remote. Simple to set up and use. The R11s would also be getting a full 105 watts into 8 ohms which is more than that available from the Denon, something the KEFs really need to shine.

With having all music sources into the Rega then it's just the Rega that is powered up for music using the front left and right speaker. By cutting the Denon out of the equation for music then it's poor music performance is a thing of the past. Stereo music has always been Denon's Achilles Heel.
I don't watch many movies much. I mostly listen to music and mostly in 2.1, sometimes I listen to music in 7.1 if the music is kind of cinematic and sounds well. Otherwise, I mostly use 2.1 for music. Given that I spend 90% time listening to music and if the stereo amp is better for that, now I wonder I did I buy a $1500 receiver! So, you're telling stereo amp is much better for music listening in 2.1 than using 2.1 modes from the receiver Denon 4400h? I never know that a stereo amp is much better than music than a receiver.

Also, another question, I don't even watch movies in my workout room, where I only listen to music. In the workout room, I have Denon x4000, JBL 570, and HSU 15 inch sub. Do I just need to use a stereo amp without a receiver in that case in my workout room? Does a stereo amp support a subwoofer without a receiver?

Which stereo amp with HT bypass you suggest for Denon 4400 in my living room?
Which stereo amp with HT bypass you suggest for Denon x4000 in my workout room?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
If you go with KEF R11s I don't think you'll need to bring a sub into the equation. They are a big speaker but will not go as low as your sub but given the right amplification their bass can be very quick and precise providing you can place them in their optimum position. Speakers are always thought of as the most important part of any set up. Many people forget that the second most important part is their position and the room that they are in.

If you are not really listening to music but just have it as background then do you really need anything better than the Denon. At my time of life listening to music takes preference of working out. ;)

KEF speakers do work very well with Rega amps, especially so in the bass department. I've linked a current list of amps that have HT by-pass.

 

basssound

Novice Member
If you go with KEF R11s I don't think you'll need to bring a sub into the equation. They are a big speaker but will not go as low as your sub but given the right amplification their bass can be very quick and precise providing you can place them in their optimum position. Speakers are always thought of as the most important part of any set up. Many people forget that the second most important part is their position and the room that they are in.

If you are not really listening to music but just have it as background then do you really need anything better than the Denon. At my time of life listening to music takes preference of working out. ;)

KEF speakers do work very well with Rega amps, especially so in the bass department. I've linked a current list of amps that have HT by-pass.

I'm not going to buy R11. I would better buy a stereo amp and use it with R500. I listen to music 90% of the time. Which model of the stereo amp is best for R500 and denon 4400h?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I'm not going to buy R11. I would better buy a stereo amp and use it with R500. I listen to music 90% of the time. Which model of the stereo amp is best for R500 and denon 4400h?
I agree that would be the best use of your funds. I know you are US based so it all depends on what is available and more importantly what your budget is. I'll certainly recommend the Rega Elicit-R because of the experience I've had with the amp on running R300s for several years. It's also one of the easiest to connect and use.

It all depends if you like the 'British' sound. The good thing about KEF speakers are that I find them pretty benign and will suit a great many amps including Denon. There is certainly a difference in Denon stereo amps and their AV amp cousins. The PMA 2500 would do them justice although this model does look to be in short supply.

 

basssound

Novice Member
I agree that would be the best use of your funds. I know you are US based so it all depends on what is available and more importantly what your budget is. I'll certainly recommend the Rega Elicit-R because of the experience I've had with the amp on running R300s for several years. It's also one of the easiest to connect and use.

It all depends if you like the 'British' sound. The good thing about KEF speakers are that I find them pretty benign and will suit a great many amps including Denon. There is certainly a difference in Denon stereo amps and their AV amp cousins. The PMA 2500 would do them justice although this model does look to be in short supply.

KEF R500 is an 8 Ohm speaker. Denon AVR-4400H has 125 watts output per channel at 8 Ohm. But PMA 2500 is just 70 watts output per channel at 8 ohms. Howcome 70 watts output can be better than 125 watts from the receiver? Can you please explain this to me?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
KEF R500 is an 8 Ohm speaker. Denon AVR-4400H has 125 watts output per channel at 8 Ohm. But PMA 2500 is just 70 watts output per channel at 8 ohms. Howcome 70 watts output can be better than 125 watts from the receiver? Can you please explain this to me?
If using an AV amp in stereo then the power will be 125 watts, my X6500 is capable of 140 watts into 8 ohms. It's how that power is delivered. How clean that power is and a stereo amp has far less electrical components stuffed into a box. All those components will generate some kind of interference. The PSU is also very important. The PMA 2500 doubles the power available into 4 ohms which is brilliant for the KEFs which can drop to 3.2 ohms.

It's that stereo performance that you want to improve on. Power in this case is not the be all and the end all. Even in the power amp mode with just 70 watts the amp is never going to be called upon to deliver all of that at any one time, your hearing will certainly suffer.

The difference in stereo performance between my X6500 and Rega Elicit (105 watts into 8 ohms) amp is pronounced. If it's just power you need to improve all round performance from the Denon then a pure power amp is the way forward but that will not improve stereo music performance as the pre-amp of the Denon is still the driving force and with music that is what you are trying to avoid.
 

Andreas453

Novice Member
I see what everyone here is writing but based on my experience I disagree. I just bought a pair of KEF R11 speakers. I have tested them on my AVR-X4400H and a 500W Michi S5 500w amp. I'm crossing them over at 80 HZ to dual SVS PC 4000 subs, and even though there is a small difference it's certainly not enough to justify the cost and extra hassle for me. A guy on audioholics posted a list of blind tests (ABX) where they (among other things) tested cheap receivers vs expensive stereo amps and as long as it is used below the point where it starts to distort most people can't tell the difference. I max out around 90dB at my MLP before my arrears starts to hurt, and to me the R11s sounds terrific on the 4400 :)
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
I moved from an AVR 4500 to ARCAM Av20. Now the Dirac alone makes the investment worthwhile. Further the Music is so much better standing out all the time with great pace and punch.
You can read articles online or you can have own and experience the results.

Pursonally I say the r11 would benefit in the midrange with something better than the Denon. The R11s would need a very large room also and I suspect in many rooms the R3s as good if not better. partially if you using a sub to provide the slam below 80hz, then what does the r11s add?
 

Mr Wolf

Active Member
A guy on audioholics posted a list of blind tests (ABX) where they (among other things) tested cheap receivers vs expensive stereo amps and as long as it is used below the point where it starts to distort most people can't tell the difference.

That finding doesn't surprise me at all as the Placebo Effect is removed in blind testing. Whenever I've blind tested amps in dealers I've really struggled to appreciate a significant difference among the non-budget models. It was also reported on AH recently that research (by Harman I think) found that in terms of relative impact on SQ for a given source, amplifier weighting is only 15% vs for 35% speakers and 50% for room.

I suspect in many rooms the R3s as good if not better. partially if you using a sub to provide the slam below 80hz, then what does the r11s add?

Why would you think that?

I haven't heard them but I would have thought that the R11s would have way more impact than R3s and present a much larger soundstage due to having four 6.5" LF drivers vs. one.

An AVR's crossover has a 12dB/octave roll-off so at 80Hz setting the speaker is still producing nearly 50% of its SPL output at 40Hz if it has the FR to cover it.

Both R11/R3's internally crossover from LF to mid-drivers at 400Hz. The R11 therefore has four times the cone area covering the 40Hz-400Hz, that's over four octaves! 4x the driver cone area means 1/4 excursion is required so likely to be lower distortion, especially at high SPL levels.

Also, all other things being equal, four LF drivers vs one means up to 6dB more sensitivity in the most demanding (energy-wise) lower frequency range. That's like having an amp with 4x the power just to cover the lower frequencies which is a significant advantage that's not revealed by nominal sensitivity ratings.

I think if it wasn't for the price, space required and (for some) aesthetics we'd all be using large towers like the R11s up front.
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
All great stuff , R11 give more for sure, but more rather than necessary better. In a sub sat system there is simply not really any bass work. The subs give the grant and punch down low.

Smaller speakers tend to image better due to the fewer drivers.

The only reason I got the R700s was I wanted 6.5 drivers and my wife wanted floor standing speakers.
 

Andreas453

Novice Member
That finding doesn't surprise me at all as the Placebo Effect is removed in blind testing. Whenever I've blind tested amps in dealers I've really struggled to appreciate a significant difference among the non-budget models. It was also reported on AH recently that research (by Harman I think) found that in terms of relative impact on SQ for a given source, amplifier weighting is only 15% vs for 35% speakers and 50% for room.



Why would you think that?

I haven't heard them but I would have thought that the R11s would have way more impact than R3s and present a much larger soundstage due to having four 6.5" LF drivers vs. one.

An AVR's crossover has a 12dB/octave roll-off so at 80Hz setting the speaker is still producing nearly 50% of its SPL output at 40Hz if it has the FR to cover it.

Both R11/R3's internally crossover from LF to mid-drivers at 400Hz. The R11 therefore has four times the cone area covering the 40Hz-400Hz, that's over four octaves! 4x the driver cone area means 1/4 excursion is required so likely to be lower distortion, especially at high SPL levels.

Also, all other things being equal, four LF drivers vs one means up to 6dB more sensitivity in the most demanding (energy-wise) lower frequency range. That's like having an amp with 4x the power just to cover the lower frequencies which is a significant advantage that's not revealed by nominal sensitivity ratings.

I think if it wasn't for the price, space required and (for some) aesthetics we'd all be using large towers like the R11s up front.
Spot on Mr Wolf! Thanks for the insight on the quad LF drivers. Very interesting.

I tested the R3 and R11 for hours in a demo room before deciding on the R11. The R11 had much more punch in the bass/low midrange up to 400 Hz. Even though the R3 had great soundstage and imaging it sounded thin and small compared to the R11 where I could feel the bass in drum kicks, bass guirar and male voices rather than just hearing it. I tested both with and without subs and even though the R11 are BIG speakers they are not full range. The R3 definitely needs subs, but even with them it wasn't the same.

The place my right speaker has to stand is a black hole for frequencies below 80 Hz, so by crossing them over to my subs I get a much smoother frequency response. Also there aren't many towers that can beat 2 x 1200W SVS subs in the bass department. I guess that I might have needed a dedicated amp if I was going to use them without subs, but so far I haven't heard any signs of distortion even are fairly loud SPLs.
 

Mr Wolf

Active Member
I tested the R3 and R11 for hours in a demo room before deciding on the R11. The R11 had much more punch in the bass/low midrange up to 400 Hz. Even though the R3 had great soundstage and imaging it sounded thin and small compared to the R11 where I could feel the bass in drum kicks, bass guitar and male voices rather than just hearing it.
That's in line with my own testing experience and I personally wouldn't want to go back to using bookshelves unless I really had to. I use a pair of (B&W) 2.5-way towers with 6.5" drivers which, having two LF drivers (one of which doubles as a mid-range), is a compromise design between R11s and R3s.

The place my right speaker has to stand is a black hole for frequencies below 80 Hz, so by crossing them over to my subs I get a much smoother frequency response.
Have you tried a lower crossover setting? I find 60Hz the sweet-spot for music but still use 80Hz for movies and store a setting for each in a settings preset memory in my Yamaha AVR.

Also there aren't many towers that can beat 2 x 1200W SVS subs in the bass department.
To be precise, I would say none. I have a pair of PB-3000s doing the same job in my system.

I guess that I might have needed a dedicated amp if I was going to use them without subs, but so far I haven't heard any signs of distortion even are fairly loud SPLs.
The need for a dedicated amp reduces massively once you remove the power hungry sub-bass frequencies as it only takes a few watts of power to hit very high SPL levels from your main speakers, especially if they're efficient multi-driver speakers like yours.

I think the key benefit of external power amps in most systems isn't less distortion but less compression (i.e. improved dynamic range) as a good one will have much larger power reservoir capacitors than an AVR to better handle dynamic peaks. The benefit of this though would probably only be felt in relatively demanding sections of a soundtrack and only at high SPL levels.
 

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