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KEF Reference speakers

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by GaryG, Sep 1, 2001.

  1. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Hi Nic<br />I have the Reference 4, which I bought after auditioning the whole of the Reference series. They all sounded good but it was only the Reference 4 that made me start tapping my feet to the beat and generally start acting like an adolescent teenager. I auditioned the 3.2 at the Bristol show when it came out and left the demo unimpressed although I suspect the problem was more to do with the partnering equipment. As you know my DAX is away being repaired and upgraded but you're more than welcome to come and have a listen when I get it back and I'm dying to demo the John Lindsey-Hood amps to you, I reckon your TAG amp will be up for sale after the dem!

    --------------------

    Regards<br />Gary

    <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
     
  2. Tim Ashdown

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    I was at my local dealers about a week ago and I showed an interest in the reference model 1-2. He advised me that it is the wrong time to buy, as he had heard that the reference speakers will be changed to something with a new super tweeter to be more suitable for sacd. My dealer has been pretty reliable in the past. Although this could mean some bargains on the existing reference speakers. Ron, please enlighten us.
     
  3. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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  4. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Does anyone have any comments on these, particularly the three two. I had a short demo yesterday and was VERY impressed. It is to match a 200c and THX dipoles

    A quick look through the latest What HifI mag (yuk) and KEF have a general advert for Uni Q. They always do this when a range is about to change. My money would be the Reference series to change and take on the multiple box approach of the Maidstone. Anyone have any info? If this happens then how will they match my 200c. Is this the wrong time to buy?

    Has anyone bi amped any of these Reference series?

    Ron Locke, if you are looking, something to think about re ref / THX range. How do I find out who ref / THX dealers are? What about a separate section on the KEF web site listing all the UK Ref / THX dealers. I cannot believe the big Bolton box shifter are but they have THX pictures in their adverts EVERY month despite the fact they couldn't supply to Me. Confusing isn't it.
     
  5. General Skanky

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    Funny. I was just 'pondering' about a pair of Ref 1 (original) to go with my model 100 centre, only because I saw in the What Hi Fi Musical Images advert, a pair going for £775 New!<br />They'd be my main stereo pair. Just wondering about product changes when I came across this thread.

    Where is Ron when you need him? <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

    For me though, I'd be happy with the £775 ones. After my DIY subs, projector etc etc etc...... <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
     
  6. mikeaitch

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    General, <br />Kef are definitely launching a new reference range, with a completely new design <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> which, I'm told, will include centres and rears. Having said that, I'm a big fan of bargains which inevitably follow any new range. If you look hard enough, I'm sure you can find a dealer with too much 'old' stock! The new range has been demo'd at the Berlin show. C'mon Ron, give us the low down! <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">
     
  7. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    bump

    anyone who went to the show this weekend like to pass any comments on the 'new' reference speakers. I didn't go this year.

    GaryG

    Can you feed us any more info on the 4 in general, and more specifically re placing and lack of BCD.

    Do you use them with subs?

    Is the DAX back yet?

    Regards
     
  8. PhilCTTE

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    May well be the best time to buy the KEF ref .2 series as there will no doubt be some bargains when the new range comes out. I did exactly that about 5 years ago when the new reference series came out ... I snatched a pair of 105/3 speakers for under half price!!! from SevenOaks. Best purchase I have ever made apart from my TAG AV32R... but when its discounted as well!! <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> . I was even luckier than I first thought with the 105's as the first (1,2,3) reference speakers were a disappointment and I much prefered the 105's. Check out the 200c offer at Sound Accademy at £300 quid. The THX tdm34's are second to none if its dipole you are going for ? If you are aiming for 7.1 system then audition 2 sets of direct radiators first.
     
  9. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    PhilAllaway

    I have two sets of THX tdm34 already and a 200c. £300 for a 200c is awesome. I paid £700 for mine.

    Just thinking a pair of 3-2 or 4-2 would compliment these nicely.
     
  10. GaryG

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    Nic

    Due to the size of the Ref 4's I've been kicked out of two rooms in my house and now have them in the coal shed, err... I mean cinema (converted garage!). Obviously positioning in such a small room is a compromise, the room is about 13' 8" ft x 7'10". They are placed across the narrow section of the room 2' from the rear wall and 5" from the side walls decoupled from the floor on Mana Acoustics Sound Frames with the speakers spiked on to the Sound Frames.

    Up until last week I thought they lacked bass extension (F3 @34hz) which is what started me off on the whole sub thing, more of which later. I can't remember all the speakers I auditioned prior to getting the 4's but it was something like eight pairs from the leading manufacturers up to about £5k. My equipment at the time was a Meridian 200 transport with matching DAC (203?) and a pair of Audiolab 8000P's in a bi-amped arrangement. Having got the 4's I quickly realised that the Audiolab amps weren't up to the job and started looking for something with more grip. I quite liked the Naim amps but even they didn't have the 'grip' that I was looking for. I then borrowed a Chord (1200?) amp for a while but thought it was too smooth, ideal for chamber music but not really to my taste, I was looking for something with real 'punch' and 'dynamics' and found nirvana when I borrowed a Krell stereo amp. Which led to me buying Krell monoblocs. So, if you are condsidering REf 4's I would suggest your check them out with your choice of amp to see if you're happy with the sound, they can sound a little 'flabby' if you haven't got the right amp.

    Naturally, having got the speakers and amps sorted out it became painfully obvious that the front end was the weak link, so that was replaced with the Meridian 602 transport re-clocked by Audio Synthesis and the Audio Synthesis DAX Decade. At last, no more upgrading, everything is sweetnes and light, except for the fact that I can't listen to 80% of my CD's because the system shows them off for what they are, terribly mastered rubbish. However, the remaining 20% WOW... the Ref 4's are the business. However, they do have their week points. Like everything in life they are a compromise, if only the Kef Uni-Q midrange unit was as good as the ATC driver and if only the Kef tweeter was as good as the Scanspeak Revelator but on the upside the co-incident driver principle is absoluteley fantastic, I'm so used to it I'd forgotten how good it is. It was only when I went in search of something with the Scanspeak and ATC drivers that I realised what I would be trading off for the better quality drivers, as I've still got the Ref 4's I think that sum's up the compromise, the imaging in fabulous.

    Now, onto the bass. As I mentioned I thought the 4's were a bit light in the bass so I set about looking for a sub to complement them. My AV REL Stata wasn't of much use so I listened to some of the bigger REL subs and didn't find what I was looking for, and after listening to some others I decided to have a go myself, and after several prototypes the end result is now being built for me by a local cabinet maker (who telephoned me the other day to ask if I wanted handles on it, uh.. handles?, "what for"? "err... it's gonna weigh over 200lbs" he said). So that should sort out the bass problem.

    But... meanwhile, my DAX developed a fault which every now and then decided to feed full power white noise into my power amps which was an interesting sensation, basically it leaves you with ear ache for a couple of days and a pair of tweeter-less Ref 4's as it blows the Sh*t out of them. After 4 or 5 episodes of this I was getting fed up of replacing tweeters and decided to have the DAX repaired, which then promptly developed another fault, just like cars once they go wrong... anyway with the second repair I decided to have the Black Gate capacitor upgrade on the DAX. This upgrade replaces all the electrolytic capacitors with Black Gate super-duper electrolytic capacitors. I got the unit back last Tuesday and it's been playing a CD on constant replay since. I left if for 24 hours before having a listen to it and then had a quick audition. Ugghhh... it sounded crap, even when you have a background in electronics and you know that things need time to 'run-in' it's difficult to counter the knee-jerk reaction of 'buyer's remorse' you get in this situation. I had another listen at 48 hours and it sounded much better, thankfully! However, I quickly realised that this wasn't going to sound too good before the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday I did a bit of serious listening an suddenly realised that the bass was 'out of this world', I'd suddenly gone from not enough bass to too much, arrhhhh... don't need the sub after all! too late, the cabinet maker's started work! Just had another listen and the thing is really starting to sing now, the sound is tighter and more controlled than before and was brilliant before! this really is a remarkable upgrade given the cost. There is only one slight hiccup, the high frequencies are just a tad too smooth for me, I like a bright sound, and this mod has just taken too much of the edge off the treble for my liking, looks like I'll have to start faffing about with the Ref 4 crossover to get some of it back. So Nic, if you're still with me, sorry to have bored you to death with all this but you did ask....

    Oh, BCD, yes it would be nice to have one right now in light of the extra bass, I can't really bring them much futher forward and moving them in isn't really too good they cut of too much of the botton of the screen, ah well can't have everything, who'd have thought I'd be complaining about too much bass!
     
  11. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    So easily pleased then Gary? <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
     
  12. GaryG

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    Guy

    Gives you an idea of what I'm expecting from my sub <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
     
  13. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Gary

    Brilliant, thank you. The similarities of our systems worries me, did I tell you I used to use a 203 as well!
     
  14. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Gary a bit more details following your excellent post.

    I am just exchanging contracts on a new pad. I also have been given the garage to convert! I think mine is about 20 x 15 foot. It will allow big speakers and the 2 x Servo 15 to breath. Hopefully I might get the new CRT projector at the end of the week as well. Basically I have a blank sheet of paper to play with.

    I have also auditioned several other speakers. Most have left me cold. I do like the Living Voice range but they don't match the AV kit. My Posselt's still take some beating and I am happy for the moment to keep them for my beloved vales.

    I understand why you hanker after an ATC, they are great speakers. I always think of the PMC as baby brother, both are currently under valued in the UK. The Scanspeak Revelator is the best conventional tweeters I know as well. I am also experimenting with some ribbon tweaters but time is at a premium.

    I always like Lowther units and Tannoy dual concentric but the KEF are just a more refined version (coaxial and coplanar- UniQ). You seem to be able to plonk them anywhere and there start working brilliant, the more I experience this the more I appreciate it. Positioning standard speakers is difficult to get right, most people make a real hash of it. And they don'trealise! This imaging is something I find difficult to give up.

    I have used blackgates of 6 years now in my amp designs, they make the bass go soooo low. They are just better but us valve people have been using them for years! Nice to see David was listening! They do take serious bedding in. I recommend 300 hrs (sorry!). AN have a good technical paper on it. The HF will sweaten out, is it a change is the distortions you are getting used to? The distortion should be lower again but with the DAX it is so damm low anyway.

    My only concerns now are whether the Tag amps are man enough for the task. Ron where are you?
     
  15. PhilCTTE

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    I'll back you up on the Krell choice ! Kef Reference speakers love power. If Krell's are a bit rich try Bryston. Saying that I couldn't afford any of the Krell's. So I audtioned a 125w Copland CSA 515 against a similar priced Bryston amp (&lt;2k). Bryston had slightly more impact, but the vocals and warmth of the Copland completely won me over after listening to both all afternoon. When trying to explain imaging it sometimes can be subjective, but the vocal placement from the Copland was much more life like almost three dimensional. Always ensure that the amps have been well warmed up and have had previous use, when selecting.
     
  16. MikeC

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    Nic

    &gt;anyone who went to the show this weekend like to pass any comments on the 'new' reference<br /> speakers. I didn't go this year.&lt;

    Kef had all the new units on show & were demoing the 2nd from top model (at about 4K a pair so not cheap).<br />I thought they sounded pretty good though I'm no expert. <br />The new innovation is that they have changed the uni-Q tweeter to a metal one but claim (& i think rightly so) to have eliminated all metalic sounds from it.<br />As mentioned in another post (in the chat forum re the show), they appear to have gone for a B&W look (who hasn't these days) with curved cabinets and spherical enclosures. Quite distinctive.

    Mike
     
  17. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I have heard from Ron. He is very busy with shows at the moment so is finding it difficult getting computer time. He will be back. He send his regards and appologies.

    Got pictrues of the new speakers. Can't say I am too impressed with the new B and W look. Personal thing.

    KEF recommend big powerful amps for the range, like Krell, but use a Tag 100x5r in their in house dem room. It works very well aparently! <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

    [ 18-09-2001: Message edited by: Nic Rhodes ]</p>
     
  18. GaryG

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    Nic

    For what it's worth, ie nothing, I was using Audiolab 8000MX monoblocs for surround duties before I sold them and upgraded to the JLH monoblocs. Tried them with the Ref 4's both in standard configuration and bi-amped, personal opinion of course but they didn't have the control and dynamics I wanted, 'flabby' is the description that comes to mind. I read in another post that the Tag was 'basically 5 Audiolab monblocs with some tweaks' don't know if that's true or not but if it is it's something to take into consideration. BTW, no problem trying your Tag out with my Ref 4's if you want.

    With regard to the Black Gates. 300 hours!!! I'm worried that my transport might pack up, it's been on constant replay for a week now. I will be pleased if the treble opens up to what it used to be, I don't really want to start mucking about with the Ref 4 crossovers at the moment, I've got too many other things that I want to get on with. Including fitting this nice shiny new Falcon capture card that arrived today into my HTPC (Jeff, I've got great expectations on this!) to allow me to watch something other than DVD's on my Barco Graphics 808 (sorry about the name dropping, just had to throw that in as I know you're looking for a pj). <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
     
  19. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    300 hrs was the low figure, I won't mention the 1000 hr figure. Don't forget black gates work in a totally different fashion to ordinary electrolytics.

    My falcon card goes into the HTPC this weekend, if the in laws don't get in the way. This is spooky.

    I might take you up on the TAG with Ref 4 stuff.

    [ 18-09-2001: Message edited by: Nic Rhodes ]</p>
     
  20. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I have been offered Ref 4-2 in black at £2600 instead on £3650, does it sound a good deal? 3-2 at £1800 (£2250).
     
  21. Ron Locke

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    Hi Nic,

    Good to be back!!. All I can add to this is....BUY THE 4.2 AT £2600, this is a cracking deal and the sonic benefits over the 3.2 are huge. <br />Truth is there is no upgrade required in the future because there is very little out there at this price to beat the 4.2.<br />Trust me, I have a pair, and I haven't heard anything remotely close.

    Best Regards

    Ron
     
  22. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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  23. Couch Potato

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    Nic,

     
  24. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Steve

    Save up for the DVD32R, A quality source component is everything. I have been playing with many projectors recently. The difference the Tag and other players isn't subtle, even good ones. If people tell you there is no difference between players re picture quality, they are talking crap and probably never seen a good player. This should be you first priority.

    I move into a new house soon, probably at Christmas time, where I also get the garage. 20 foot by 15 foot, to do with what I want. I also have some Q series speakers around and rate them as good middle market speakers. However the Tag is capable of delivering much more. The Ref is a substantial step up in quality IMHO. I don't just mean bass here, it the quality of midrange and treble. The same basic UniQ sound is there but it is sweater. A major step forward in sound quality.

    I have always rate the 100. Several people have upgraded from a 95 to a 100 and have found the difference substantial. I think it fair to say it has surprized several people on this board. I personally rate the 200, though there are now better centres out there (for more money). Five years ago this wasn't the case. These are the centres for Ref range. 100c for 1-2 and 2-2 and 200c for 3-2 and 4-2. The centre is the most important speaker for AV in my opinion. The new KEF Ref centres look great. I am seriously tempted by the £2k one but is huge, I mean huge and will have to wait for a while yet. I want to find more out about this.

    One of the most important, if not the most important things, re speakers is to get the L, C and R well matched. Rears / sides are less important IMHO. Most people mess this up. Until I ordered the 4-2, I was in this category. I knew I had a compromised system but it was a balance of money, domestic considerations and long term planning. My system worked well, very well but not brilliantly. I hope this will change now with the new 4-2. You have a well-balanced matched system now, any change really should be to a full Ref L, C and R, though this doesn't have to be done all at once.

    The rears are slightly different IMHO. One of the beauty things about UniQ is there ability to sound right wherever you place these things. Plonk say a KEF Ref. 3-2 L and R down and they will start to sound great. This just doesn't happen with ordinary speakers. Dipoles are supposed to delive sound in an all-enveloping non-directional way. The UniQ does this brilliantly in a dipole but also does it very well in their conventional speakers as well. UniQ placement isn't that crucial IMHO for the rears in comparison with the competition. The wonderful 3d imaging of the UniQ makes this okay. In this respect, non-UniQ speakers just can't compete. Therefore for domestically acceptable reasons in wall rears should work well. Dipoles will be better but your system will work well without them and they are not essential.

    Have you seen the TruFi prices for the in wall stuff?

    Re driving the Ref series, they do like a bit of &#8216;ompff'. I don't know what amp you use but I have a Tag 5 channel for C, sides and rears now. Re the new 4-2, this works okay with the Tag but will benefit from a bit more (KEF do use it themselves). I intend to bi-amp the L and R 4-2 and use the 5th channel for the 200c. I will drop some home brew valve amps on the dipoles for a few months. Hopefully a new amp will come my way soon to drive the L and R, leaving the current Tag to do c and dipoles. These Ref speakers do benefit from bi-amping but that is an easy upgrade at a later date. Forget bi wiring.

    So in conclusion Ref would be a major upgrade for L, C and R but your in-wall speakers are fine for rear / side duties but can be bettered when you get wife approval. Does this help?
     
  25. GaryG

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  26. GaryG

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    Nic<br />Your thoughts. I spent last night listening to CD's now that the DAX has been playing music continously for the best part of 3 weeks. I'm very impressed with the Black Gate upgrade. The top-end has indeed opened up to previous levels, a sigh of relief, coupled with the unbelievable improvement in bass. So, the question, I'm sitting looking at a whole bunch of kit that uses electroylic capacitors (yes, you're ahead of me) what do I have a go at next. I took the top cover of one of the Krell's last night and nearly had heart failure looking at what would be required to upgrade it to Black Gate's. There must somewhere in the region of 50-60 electrolytics in there on 4 PCB's. None of which can be accessed without removing the main power supply board in the centre which has 4 massive electrolytics that looked like 4 rather tall tins of soup. I need something smaller to get back up to speed with a solder sucker. So, the next item is the Meridian Transport, will get the back off over the weekend and have a look at the size of the task. With your past experience with Black Gate's is the transport worth upgrading or should I go for the kill and do the Krell's (looking at those PSU caps it could be me that's in for the kill!) <img src="eek.gif" border="0">
     
  27. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Well I am pleased your upgrade has worked out so well. I have been communicating with David H on this one, this week. I have agreed to take my DAX Decade down for a black gate upgrade. As I have the full balanced unit there are a few more to do, and more money. Well I am also interested in the ADX unit and the mods to the DAX that that need to be done. Well David has given me the details. I thought this is daft, as Audio Synthesis is now big into in to BG, Why not ask about BG upgrades to Transcend and ADX at the same time. David should have answered by now but it will be at work, so I won't be able to pick up the answer until Tuesday. I will let you know what he says.

    Re DIY BG.<br />Well I have used these for 6 years now and I have never found a circuit that isn't improved by their use. Sorry. Everyone always talks about the sonic qualities of every capacitor sorts, when it come to electrolytic I have never found anyone with a bad word to say against them except the cost. Everyone always prefers the BG. Cerafine is a good second fiddle. It also uses fine particles like the BG, it is loads cheaper and has about 80% of the performance. The Krell will be a mountain of a job to do. I was going to do a Meridian DAC once but never got around to it. My mate has now bought it. In a CD player they worked wonders. Don't forget there are many different sorts of BG for different applications, some affordable some really silly money. The type is dependent on their location. I used to ship the in from

    <a href="http://www.Angela.com" target="_blank">http://www.Angela.com</a>

    but these were very much designed for valve amps. I find the standard type good for most applications and it is the cheapest. Audio Synthesis may be able to supply them as well but I can't speak for David. If they are doing BG upgrades for Trancend as well, why don't you wait for me to get mine done and I will report back. If successful you can then do the Meridian.

    BG are the best there is.

    With 40-50 in the Krell I see why I build valve amps! I can knock up a SE triode, excluding the PSU, with two valves, two resistors and two capacitors (BG of course). I can follow that, the Krell circuit&#8230;&#8230;

    Re the big caps, I doubt there are BG equivalents but there may be benefit from by passing the current caps with another caps, I will check.

    [ 29-09-2001: Message edited by: Nic Rhodes ]</p>
     
  28. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Nic

    Thanks for the feedback.

    In light of you getting your Transcend converted I'll hang fire on doing the transport, I'll do the cross-over on my modified Q15 surround speakers to give me something to do, especially as the required caps are sitting on my desk.

    Like yourself I have the balanced version of the DAX used with the Krell's balanced inputs. Just for fun last night I substituted a couple of the JLH amps I use for the surround channels in place of the Krells and had a good listen (also using balanced inputs). Pains me to say it, but, although there's next to nothing in it, I preferred the bass on the JLH amps, which is the reason I was debating the BG mod on the Krell's. Based on the improvements to the DAX I reckon the Krell's would be even more awesome, although I'm reluctant to replace all the caps, the PSU uses 4 x 40,000uf jobs, the closest I could get with a BG is 10,000uf at £210+VAT each, for both monoblocs it's going to run into several thousand pounds! BTW, I got my BG's from here <br /><a href="http://www.audionote.co.uk/bgte.htm" target="_blank">http://www.audionote.co.uk/bgte.htm</a>
     
  29. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Angela Instruments in the USA are the Audio Note agents for the kit / component stuff. Steve really knows his stuff there and the prices are much better, even bringing it back over the water. I always find AN UK expensive but I do deal with them fairly regularly.
     
  30. Couch Potato

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    Nic,

    Sorry to break up the BG story (you're really serious about this aren't you <img src="wink.gif" border="0"> )

    Thanks for the detailed reply, the DVD32R is in the pipeline, hopefully b4 xmas. Re the KEF ref's which model would be the largest I could get away with in a 15'x9' room? The L/R will obviously dictate whether I go for the 100 or the 200C.

    It was only after reading my post this morning I realised what I'd typed (too many glasses of the red stuff <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> ) I meant that the surround was more enveloping not diffuse, but I guess you knew what I meant.

    I'll probably upgrade the LRC b4 thinking about EX although I'll probably be forced down the EX route when the AV192R upgrade become available.... only 1 more day for the specs <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">

    Re amps I've currently got the Rotel THX 5 channel AMP cant remember the model but it's the 120WPC model, I'll be upgrading this to the TAG AMP shortly after the DVD32R and probably follow your suggesiton of bi-amping the LR with the C and the rotel for the surrounds.

    Thanks again for the info.

    Steve
     

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