KEF reference speaker upgrades


Prominent Member
Jul 27, 2004
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Any KEF experts out there?

I am about 70% music 30% films

My fronts are KEF ref 104/2, the very last ones made and I love them to bits.

But the 2nd hand value of all stuff goes down over time so I am thinking of changing. I will be staying with Kef as they are easy to sell and keep a fairly good price.

The new Kef ref are out of my price range so the option I think I have are
1) Kef ref 2's - Is this a step down ?
2) Kef ref 3's - Is this the rough equivalent to my 104/2's ?
3) Kef ref 4's - Is this a serious upgrade ?

Or all they all a step up ? Did the .2 changes make any difference. Just need to quantify whether the 2nd hand price step ups are worth it. Guessing £700 for Ref 2's, £1000 for Ref 3's and £1400 for Ref 4's. I would want the better Rosewood finish too.

Whats the work of the 104/2 (Raymond Cooke limited edition in rosewood)

Thanks in advance for your opinions.
Did the .2 changes make any difference.

Can't comment on the comparisons but IIRC the .2 versions added boundary control which ramps the bass off to allow near'ish wall placement without to much boom.

I paid £750 for a pair of 3.2's in Rosetta Burr which is a premium finish
I paid £750 for a pair of 3.2's in Rosetta Burr which is a premium finish


.2's are also slightly easier load afaik. Use a set of 2.2's. Would love 4.2's but really need a bigger room and better quality power amps.
I changed from 104/2's to 4.2, and the difference was huge. The only problem is that they relish power, and the best i heard them sound was using Bryston monoblocs, which weren't cheap. I ended up with a Bryston 3b (which was all i could afford at the time), which sounded ok, but just couldn't bring their bass out properly.

Ref 3's would also be a step up, and you may find the 2's do a couple of things better than your 104/2's, but probably won't have the bass depth. Make sure you hear these, as the UniQ arrangement does change the sound a little.

If at all possible, go for .2 versions.

The only problem is that some older drive units can't be replaced anymore, like the bass units of the 104/2's and 105/3's. I can highly recommend the KEF's you're looking at.

Just out of interest, what amplification are you using?
My amp is the Denon K-AVCA1SE - 170W per channel if i remember correctly.

Any issue in driving any of the speakers I mention.
I'd steer clear of 4.2's with that amp unless you're going to add a power amplifier to make them sing properly. An underspec'd amp won't bring out the bass that they're capable of, which makes it pointless buying them if you're not going to use them to their full potential. See if you can get a demo of 2.2's with your amplifier, and possibly at a squeeze 3.2's, but i suspect even the 3.2's might need better amplification. The 4.2's i had i found that the power and control of the Bryston mono's 900wpc into 4 ohms was perfect, with the power just seeming endless, but then dropping down to a 3b, still about 200/300wpc, the 4.2's bass was virtually halved. The AVCA1 won't drive them as well as the 3b can.

I'm not trying to put you off, i'm just saying be careful :)
Cheers Helicon, thats just the kind of advice I need. I won't be changing the AMP.

I will be changing my sub from a Rel Q400E to an SVS PC Ultra over the summer months.

So I think I will dismiss the 4's and keep my eye out for some bargain 2's or 3's.

Anyone any ideas what my 104/2's are worth ? I paid £750 about 5 years ago. So was hoping for at least £400 or half the value of any replacement.
I agree with Helicon although you have a flagship av amp the bigger Kef's deserve seperate poweramps, I guess you could still buy them anyway set to small 80hz (should help here) then later on get a big poweramp for the Kef 3.2/4.2's. At least you already have a Kef 200. I use 2.2/200 in the HT :thumbsup:
I would recommend purchasing the .2 series as the crossover design was changed from the origional kef reference series, which were more suited to(heavy on the base) large rooms. The .2 series has a much better overall balance between mids, highs and bass response.

I would not recommend the kef 4.2s using your av amplifier as they really need 500watts above. I found that even with a Bryston 4BSST the performance that the speakers are capable of were not being achieved so i moved to nearly 1kw to each channel. The kef 3.2s in my opinion is a superb buy although im not to sure how they would perform with your av amplifier. You may be able to biamp them with your amp and that should improve things.

The kefs produced after this reference series i did not like at all and were revoiced rapidly after launch (203,205,207) so i wouldnt be to bothered about purchasing them. The new series is awesome but the price has gone crazy.

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