Kef RDM 3 floorstanders

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by helipilot, Dec 14, 2002.

  1. helipilot

    helipilot
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    I currently have a front speaker set up of Kef Q35 floorstanders (mains) and Reference Model 100c (centre).

    I was considering moving the the Q35's to rear duties and replacing them with Kef RDM 3 fronts.

    According to the Kef web site they will be a much better match to my centre channel.

    Any thoughts good or bad on the RDM 3's ?

    Will I notice a significant improvement in sound quality and imaging ?

    (Amplification is Rotel 1075 with Tag AVR 32 processor)



    thanks in advance
     
  2. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Alan

    The most obvious difference between the Q series and the RDM/Reference series is the tweeter. Both the RDM and Reference series use the better quality 25mm tweeter, the same tweeter as fitted to the 100c (the Q used a 19mm) which results in a much sweeter and open treble.

    Here are some comments about the RDM 3

    www.hifichoice.co.uk/archive/perl/532_printreview.htm

    I would suggest you audition the Reference range they are much better quality than the RDM and will hold their value better when you come to upgrage in the future.

    Here is a link to a dealer who is offering a good deal on the Reference range at the moment.

    http://209.167.103.167/kefref12.htm

    http://209.167.103.167/kefref22.htm

    http://209.167.103.167/kefref42.htm
     
  3. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Thought I ought to add a proviso; as you move up through the Reference range they place a greater demand on the partnering equipment (due to the increased number of drivers in the speaker), and although the Rotel is a fine amplifier something like the Ref 4 (with 6 drivers) will start to highlight the limitations of the amp.

    If you'd like to hear the 100c partnered with Ref 4's you're more than welcome to come and have a listen to mine.
     
  4. helipilot

    helipilot
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    Gary


    thanks for the info

    Reading the review causes me some confusion particularly as they also review the Reference 2 and appear to give it a "bit of a pasting".

    Looking at Kefs website it appears that the Ref 1.2 uses the same mid / high frequency driver as the RDM3 but a different low frequency driver.

    Does this place the RDM 3 above or below the REF 1.2 in terms of sound quality? The review at hifichoice would suggest better bass integration on the RDM 3.

    My budget will not stretch to REF 4 territory so I am sure My Rotel will manage Ref 1 or Ref 2 fronts without problems.


    So my options are (in ascending cost order) :-

    1. Buy S/H RDM 3
    2. Buy S/H REF 2
    3. Buy New REF1.2
    4. Trade in 100c and go for another manufactures front soundstage.


    Which route ? 50/50 music/movies
     
  5. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Alan

    Taking your options in reverse order:

    Difficult one this. The overriding advantage to the 100c and the Reference range is the Uni-Q driver with it's concentrically mounted tweeter. It's ability to give a much wider (both vertically and horizontally) 'sweetspot' than normal speakers allows greater flexibility for the number of people listening to the system. Traded against this is that the Uni-Q is not exactly the best midrange/tweeter combination in the world. If your normal listening position is smack in the middle of the 'sweetspot' of normal speakers and you don't have to worry about the listening experience of other people in the room then it's worth looking at alternatives. I explored this option a couple of years ago when I wanted to upgrade my Reference 4's. I spent quite some time auditioning DIY speakers from Wilmslow Audio (https://secure.wilmslow-audio.co.uk/acatalog/) where it's possible to hear the worlds best tweeter, mid-range and bass drivers combined. I quickly found my preferred combination of tweeter/midrange unit was from Morel and ATC (I had already settled on a bass driver from a company in the USA). However, after extended listening it became apparent that the 'sweetspot' with this combination was about a 18" wide left and right and about 12" up and down, get out of your seat and the sound-stage collapsed. After much deliberation I decided to stick with the Ref 4's even though the Morel/ATC combination was stunning. Having said that I've got the upgrade bug again, so I may well decide to build my ultimate Morel/ATC combination.

    Before I move on to your next option I'll just relay a little story about the 100c to you. I just bought another 100c from a fellow forum member advertising in the classified's section. My reason for buying another was that my original 100c had single binding posts and the newer version has bi-wireable posts, and, as I run my Ref 4's bi-wired, I wanted to do the same with the 100c. So, my new purchase arrived mid-week and I wired it into my system alongside my original 100c and left them playing a CD for an hour or so to warm up. I then settled down to do some serious listening to compare the difference between the newer and older models (listening to each speaker individually with all the other speakers and subs switched off). I started with my original 100c and then swapped to the newer version and did a double take, it sounded awful (no dis-respect to the forum member I purchased it from) and I thought I had connected it up incorrectly. After checking the connection and little more listening it became apparent that this newer 100c was not delivering the goods as I know a 100c can, the treble was harsh and brittle and not in the same class as my original 100c, if fact it reminded me of the sound of the 19mm Uni-Q series as fitted to the Q15. At this point I was mentally working through the various options that could be causing the problem ranging from the 25mm tweeter to the types of capacitor in the crossover and decided that I would investigate further at the weekend to see what was needed to get it on song. Meanwhile I set the CD on repeat and left it playing until the weekend just to make sure that the problem wasn't down to the speaker no being fully run-in. Yesterday, after it had had about 100 hours of continuous music I settled down to a quick comparison before opening up the speaker. A quick couple of A/B swaps after warming up my original 100c left me relieved with how the newer 100c had opened up. The harshness and brittleness was gone, I was starting to favour the newer 100c and that was without bi-wiring. After about an hour of listening to different material I was starting to home in on the slight differences in presentation between the older and newer versions which is probably down to slight variations in the components in the crossover. On some material I preferred my original 100c and on other types I preferred the newer 100c. Anyway, the reason for relaying this story to you is to ensure that your 100c is thoroughly run-in to make sure you're getting the best from it. If it's only used for films, it'll take a lot of watching before it's fully run-in.

    From a 'system' matching point of view the Ref 1 (or 1.2) would be the better match with the 100c because of the similar bass reponse allowing better integration with a separate sub. Set your speaker's to 'small' and fill in the bass with a good sub.

    Secondhand or new? Most people selling speakers at this level will have cherished them and are most likely selling to upgrade so I would be inclined to look at the second-hand market in the first instance. If warranty is an issue then by all means buy from a dealer, however, there's not a lot to go wrong with these speakers unless they have been abused. I've blown the Uni-Q drivers in my Ref 4's three times due to a faulty DAC which I was reluctant to send away for repair, eventually I got fed up of replacing the drivers (quite a straight-forward task requiring basic soldering skills) and got the DAC repaired. So I wouldn't get too hung-up on the warranty issue.

    I would dismiss this option purely on the basis is that it's not a very poplular speaker and will have limited appeal should you decide to sell them.
     
  6. helipilot

    helipilot
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    Gary,


    Thanks for your detailed answers. I have done further research and discovered that the RDM 3's were sold at £1500 at a time when Ref 1.2's were £1350 which puts them (cost wise at least) between the Ref 1.2 and Ref 2.2.

    Any reviews I have found about the Ref 1's and 2's have not really raved about them. So I am beginning to wonder if this is the route to go. I really do not have the budget to go any higher up the range at this time.

    The reason I initially considered the RDM3's was because I could pick up a 6 month old pair for £750 which seemed like a reasonable deal.


    ..........................................................................................

    Has anyone done a back to back audition of RDM3's and Ref 1.2's ?
     

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