Need advice on KEFs/B&Ws/GEs for new setup

Maine

Standard Member
I'm doing a complete replacement of my Home Theater this year. Everything is getting dated and I’d like to upgrade. I’m currently using Klipsch Quintet IIIs I bought in 2008. They’ve done an admirable job, but I want to go bigger…

TLDR questions are at bottom, the rest will hopefully answer most questions that might be asked of me.

Room Setup

  • 65" TV w/ 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 setup
  • Room is 13x17, with 8' ceilings and a ceiling fan - out here:
    • (Note that the "doors" are actually just an opening, no physical doors to close)
    • TV will be along a long wall, offset a little to one side and turned slightly, so the the actual 'theater' area is focused on a 13x15 area (the chair outside that area is not often used). This is the least compromising setup for comfortable seating and viewing, for multiple reasons.
    • "Prime" seating is the two chairs opposite the TV, about ~11 feet viewing distance
    • Fronts will be directly either side of the 65" TV, so about 60" apart.
    • Surrounds go in the opposite (bottom left and right) corners. Not great, but best I can set up. This means the right surround speaker is further from the core listening area than the left.
    • Subwoofer goes in the upper left corner
  • Usage is:
    • 60% video games
    • 25% tv shows (mostly action shows)
    • 10% movies
    • 5% music (wide range from orchestral and symphonic; jazz; classic rock; techno/trance; modern pop).
    • … I feel people severely under-estimate the quality, quantity, and importance of music in video games, so maybe this is more like 35% music due to a 30% overlap with video games? ...
  • For Atmos, in-ceiling isn't something I want to do, but height mounting on wall or on-ceiling is viable.
  • The room isn't sound treated. There are are pictures on the walls, bookshelves tables, etc.
Space is at a premium - the deep fireplace footing to the right of the TV provides an absolute right bounds, and we don’t want to block too much more of the window behind the TV (we keep the blinds on that side closed and the blinds on the other side half-closed). So every inch used by speakers and TV will encroach on that remaining area, and it's a nice enough view (of a side-yard). For the most part the speakers I’ve chosen to consider fit within both budget and space concerns

Speakers

I've already auditioned the following:
  • GoldenEar (Supersats, Triton 5, and Triton 7)
  • KEF (Q350, Q750, R3, R11, and I think the R5). R11 isn’t on the table, but I assume the R5 falls between R3 and R11, closer to R3…
  • B&W 704S2
I did as much A/B testing between models where possible, though sometimes I had to rely on similarities (e.g, Q750 to B&W 603 & 704S2; R5 to 704S2 (I think); then R3 and R11 to B&W 702 and B&W 603). We have a GoldenEar Supersat 50 quad-stereo setup in our dining room, driven by a Yamaha A1080, that was use for tabletop game nights, dining music, and when doing kitchen chores.

AV receiver will be a Yamaha A6A (or A8A if absolutely necessary). I know the A6A can bi-amp on 5.1.2 if necessary, and A8A can bi-amp on 5.1.4.

In-home auditioning isn't possible. I would prefer to work with a local dealer who did our previous setup and was super helpful in the planning stages (when BB wasn’t), and has been very accommodating of my multiple requests auditioning various speakers - but I don't think they have a return policy. For KEF and B&W, they are same price as BB.

I'm looking at the following setups, across a range of quality and budget.
(Subwoofer will probably be SVS-2000, regardless of setup)
  • Goldenear Supersat: Supersat 60s + Supercenter X; S: Supersat 50s or Aon 2s; H: Supersat 3s
  • Goldenear Tritons: Triton 5 + Supercenter X; S: Supersat 50s or Aon 2s; H: Supersat 3s
  • Goldenear Tritons: Triton 3+ + SuperCenter X (or no center); S: Supersat 50s or Aon 2s; H: Supersat 3s (NOTE: no separate subwoofer)
  • KEF Q bookshelves - Q150 or Q350 + Q650C; S: Q150; H: Q50A x4
  • KEF Q towers - Q750 + Q650C; S: Q150; H: Q50A x4
  • KEF R bookshelves - R3 + R2C; S: Q150; H: Q50A x2-4 (maybe R8A)
  • KEF R towers - R5 + R2C; S: Q150; H: Q50A x2-4 (maybe R8A)
  • B&W towers - 704S w/ HTM72 S2; S: 607S2; H: ??? maybe KEF Q50A ???
    • This is where I’m not sure what I would use for surrounds and heights
Right now the KEF R5s or R3s are my primary choice - a bit of a splurge, but my second choice would be Q750s or either Q150s or Q350s (I've read that if using a subwoofer they are comparable, and that the Q150s tend to be preferred over Q350s). Goldenear - Tritons or Supersats - are actually a fairly tight fit, I'd be relying on the fact that the speakers themselves are narrow and the stand being partially under the TV's stand - and I’m really not a fan of the Triton's sock vs the more protective grille on everything else.

The Questions

My thoughts and questions are:
  • The fronts will only be 5’ apart, and towers will have minimal ability to toe-in; they will be about 6-9” from wall. Bookshelf speakers could potentially be turned a bit more.
    • Are the towers going to be wasted improvement over bookshelf if I can’t put them further apart or move them further from wall?
  • Thoughts on R3 vs R5?
    • After adding stands for the R3s, the R5s are only $500 more, and fit the space better, though R3s on stands. I could audition the R3s vs R11s without subwoofer I was very impressed how well they held up in that competition.
  • A wide soundstage is preferred; KEF and B&W seem to deliver better on this vs GE Tritons.
  • I’m leaning to Q50A, as I feel the improvement going to R8A probably isn’t worth the difference. Same reason I’m using Q150s for surrounds in every setup, they’re to add to the atmosphere but aren’t needs for the quality
  • The KEF R series says it’s 8 ohm nominal but ~3.2-3.4 min. A 3080 had no problem driving R11s or R3s at volumes I would consider the limit of comfort. The Yamaha A6A or A8A seems sufficient (and KEF support confirms). It canbe set to 6 ohm speakers and drive 4ohm min fronts. I’m aware that impedance varies with frequency and all that jazz, really looking for user feedback if anyone has experienced problems here…
    • On top of that, is it worth it to bi-amp the R3s or R5s?
  • Do the Q750 or R5s have to be on the plinths? We have hardwood floors. (The added width is a concern.)
To anyone who read this far - wow, thank you. I appreciate that you've done even that.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Hey!

That room order looks quite tricky and we can assume that there is no way changing that either or perhaps opting for another room completely? You are quite limited what you can have there. First the main speakers are very narrow, less than any speaker manufacturer would recommend (1,8m usually mininum). Second i would question buying center channel completely as the speakers are so close together (5feet = 1,5meters) that there isn`t much need for it. The seating locations being against rear wall is another negative, read any article and you find that two worst spots to sit are dead middle of room and against rear wall/corner where the low frequencies build up and they mess the sound. You may battle that partly with some acoustic panels and there is those available which look more like art. GIK Acoustics for example. Ideally you would push them more center and forward even little!

Kef`s aren`t directional due to UniQ drivers so you don`t need heavy toe in. I would definitely pick bookshelf speakers, but room full of compromises how much is wise to spend then. R3 are still the better speakers and as you will be fine without center channel then the cost of them shouldn`t be issue. The front height placement if you spread them 1,5meters (5feet) apart only they might look bit odd high up on wall, but the cheaper Q50a should do fine same as Q150 for surrounds with 23,6" stands and the same height for the R3s. The left side surround speaker will be very close to left seat listener, another thing bothering me.

You don´t need to buy super expensive Kef stands, rather look something cheaper ~23,6"/60cm height and the top plate size ideal for R3 if you lean for those.

Don´t think about the ohms, don´t lower the impedance switch on receiver ever (!) leave it at 8ohm, forget the bi-amping too. Those Yamahas will run the Kef system just fine no worries, you have subwoofer taking care the power hungry range with own amp and large driver. You will set the Kef speakers all small in the menu and crossovers around 80hz (R3,Q150) and the smaller Q50a little bit higher (100-120hz) after you have run YPAO. It will almost always set them Large and measures the speakers roll off they can be set much lower so you need to bump then to what i wrote. RX-A6A would be absolutely fine for them, same 150w poweramps just few extra channels less. The original date was 30.9 when they available, but Yamaha factory is now closed due to Covid so prepare that the units aren`t available for some time, i would consider pre-ordering if possible if you are in rush and would recommend that you buy everything from one shop and make the dealer give you good package deal!

I would consider dual subwoofers if possible to smoothen the response. Bass is very important for games especially to get you in that atmosphere. I don´t know which models you looked PB or SB 2000?

Where do you live?
 

Maine

Standard Member
That room order looks quite tricky and we can assume that there is no way changing that either or perhaps opting for another room completely?
This is the living room, so it's this room or not at all - short of moving houses. We have a larger 12x25 family room, which we use for computers/office space - but if I showed you the layout you'd see the compromises are even worse - a lot of large windows with a significant amount of afternoon light; a half wall opening to the kitchen; etc.

I looked at repositioning the long way with the TV against the left wall, but the sun rises into the right (east) bay window, and even after noon there is enough light filtering in with venetian blinds mostly closed, it will reflect too much. And wife says no, so there's that. Same with putting TV against the east wall (blocking the bay window). Moving seating to the north wall would just be mirroring the issues with the current setup. I also looked into a corner setup, but that felt like it restricted us even more. I could look at that again and see how that goes, but then the surrounds get quite awkward.

Second i would question buying center channel completely as the speakers are so close together
That's an interesting thought, which I hadn't considered. Center is necessary in my current setup with small satellites, so I just assumed it still needed to be part of the build - I rarely see no-center builds... If the R3s or Q150s can deliver though, I'd be fine dropping it - particularly because of KEF UniQ. That actually simplifies my setup a bit too.

GIK Acoustics for example. Ideally you would push them more center and forward even little!
I'll take a look at those. I wish I could move them - one of two chairs technically has nothing behind it for a few feet - the diagram shows "doors" along the south wall, but it's actually just completely open into a 5 foot wide hallway (the planning software didn't like me leaving it open). I think that's probably mitigated the issue so far.

The front height placement if you spread them 1,5meters (5feet) apart only they might look bit odd high up on wall
I can go a bit further apart, but the rightmost speaker is still limited by the fireplace (I hate that thing; we can't even use it because of safety issues, so its mostly blocked over, but removal cost is very expensive).

The left side surround speaker will be very close to left seat listener, another thing bothering me.
I agree that the left surround is quite close - current one is about 18" from my head, turned slightly away and forward. The bottom-left seat is the 'primary' position that YPAO was tuned to (A720, which is dying and desperately needs replace or repair, don't think its worth repairing at this point), and I did a little bit of manual tweaking.

The original date was 30.9 when they available, but Yamaha factory is now closed due to Covid so prepare that the units aren`t available for some time
I'm open to other AV receivers in the $2500 range, except for Denon/Marantz - when I've listened to them they always sounded bright and... well, "tinny" is the best way I can describe it. Plus, all current models have the HDMI 2.1 bug - fully functional HDMI 2.1 is a must, the TV I'm getting only has one 2.1 input (Samsung QN90A). Being able to use MusicCast between the two rooms would be nice.

I would consider dual subwoofers if possible to smoothen the response. Bass is very important for games especially to get you in that atmosphere. I don´t know which models you looked PB or SB 2000?
If room permits I might be able to get another one in and get them near the TV. I'd consider putting one other side of fireplace, but that wall under the east window in near the corner is one of our dog's favorite spots (one of her crates is there). She's 9 years old, I don't want to disrupt her. I'll just live with a bit less smooth bass for now.

I think it was the SB-2000, but truly I am up in the air on this - it was strongly recommended SVS 1000 or 2000 for home theater over others. I didn't actually get to hear it, I'm just going on recommendation on this. Originally I was going to go all GE Supersats, before the dealer told me they now carry KEF and I should hear them. We have a Forcefield 4 in the dining room setup and we can't turn it higher than about 25% without it being overwhelming, so I was going to move it to the living room and get a Forcefield 3 for the the dining room.

I'm in southern California (south Orange County), about an hour south of Los Angeles.

Thank you for the information and feedback!
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Shame about the fireplace really, hope at some point you get to know some construction guys who could do it cheaper without receipt. Silly to have it if it can´t be used.

Yes you can start with 4.1.2 system and you can always later add the center channel if you wish and especially if the situation changes regarding tv position and more space to push main channels wider.

Onkyo and Pioneer are introducing new models shortly with Dirac Live. TZ-RZ50 Onkyo and Pioneer LX-505 out of memory. I think there is confirmation video on youtube for the Onkyo that it has working hdmi 2.1. Yamaha has also different hdmi 2.1 board to RX-V models in the new Aventage range. There will be intresting q&a with Yamaha rep about the new three models on Thursday at 8pm EST, make sure you put reminder on phone to watch this!


I had a feeling that you are from US as the Golden ears aren´t much talked here. This is UK based forum.

You have so many subwoofers to choose from in US, lucky man! There is many good manufacturers who are specialized in woofers, internet direct business model for best pricing. Example HSU Research offers probably best bang for buck there. You would get the ULS-15 mk2 model for nearly same price as SB2000 Pro and of course they have those larger ported models if you are looking the most physical impact and rumble. All within your budget!

Rythmik is another popular brand that offers one of the best sounding woofers.Worth checking them out: Rythmik Audio • Servo subwoofer products

Of course if you want app controlled sub with 5year warranty and best support/service in the business then SVS is hard to beat. No other brand offers these, read up:

As for the dual subwoofer placement as you mentioned one sub goes to front left corner, then i would try the second sub at rear right so diagonally opposite corners. This is highly recommended and may work lot better than subs at each front corners.

AU_DS_opposing.gif
 

Maine

Standard Member
As for the dual subwoofer placement as you mentioned one sub goes to front left corner, then i would try the second sub at rear right so diagonally opposite corners. This is highly recommended and may work lot better than subs at each front corners.
That's actually very do-able and something I can look into! Hadn't even considered it. I suppose I should also start looking at other subwoofers for comparison.
 

Maine

Standard Member
Shame about the fireplace really, hope at some point you get to know some construction guys who could do it cheaper without receipt. Silly to have it if it can´t be used.
Yeah, about $30K is what it will cost to remove and rebuild the walls. We just haven't felt like it's worth the investment right now to get back a little bit of space.

Back in the 60s when they were building these houses they used pre-fab fireplaces. Cast high-temperature concrete w/ rebar, made in a factory and shipped on flatbeds. Only problem is they could suffer damage during removal from the truck and as they lifted them up. Tiny little cracks that, over time and use, widen and become a fire hazard. Lot of house fires as a result. Company went out of business in the 80s due to the lawsuits.

Also, the rebar and the concrete mix might react in some of them, causing the fireplace itself to disintegrate. Fortunately not a problem with ours...
 

Maine

Standard Member
Found a Best Buy with R5s and was able to listen to them. Honestly felt they sounded much better than R3s (although, to be fair, it had a better amp behind them). I put down a deposit with my dealer, just managed to beat the price hike (and also beat Best Buys price) for the following:

KEF R5s, R2C, Q150 (for surround), Q50A (2 pair), Yamaha A6A.

Sub still undecided, your suggestions just made my research that much more involved!

Sounds like the first A6As might be shipping soon - but also finally noticed that that 4K120 and VRR are "enabled with a future update" - but I think all ports will support it, vs the (fixed if recently manufactured) Marantz and Denon which have a single fully functional port... so my decision is a bit up in the air now there. Denons I found too bright, and I have read equivalent Marantz actually tend to be worse in distortion, but the Denon can be EQed...
 
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Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Found a Best Buy with R5s and was able to listen to them. Honestly felt they sounded much better than R3s (although, to be fair, it had a better amp behind them). I put down a deposit with my dealer, just managed to beat the price hike (and also beat Best Buys price) for the following:

KEF R5s, R2C, Q150 (for surround), Q50A (2 pair), Yamaha A6A.

Sub still undecided, your suggestions just made my research that much more involved!

Sounds like the first A6As might be shipping soon - but also finally noticed that that 4K120 and VRR are "enabled with a future update" - but I think all ports will support it, vs the (fixed if recently manufactured) Marantz and Denon which have a single fully functional port... so my decision is a bit up in the air now there. Denons I found too bright, and I have read equivalent Marantz actually tend to be worse in distortion, but the Denon can be EQed...

Oh you went with center channel right away.

Yep all hdmi ports are 40gbs with full features on Yamaha and likely will put out firmware update soon out when they released finally. They are waiting some game thing testing from some partner so when they are passed they can release it. I think that model is coming for a review at some point next month to Audioholics so keep on eye of that. I thought they postponed till 30.9 release of new Aventages. If so then you aren`t in rush to decide just yet.

Lot`s of good woofers out there. I would rather buy little bit more than you may think you need as to keep you happy longer. Definitely consider the dual sub route if possible.
 

Maine

Standard Member
Oh you went with center channel right away.

Yeah... I seriously did consider skipping it entirely. Honestly, at the end when we were setting up the purchase order, I got kind of caught up in it and forgot I was going to try without...

Regarding dual sub - I'd probably have to mix the sizes, something like PB-2000 Pro (or equivalent) in corner nearest the TV, and something like SB-1000 (or equivalent) in other corner, likely using a wireless adapter.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Yeah... I seriously did consider skipping it entirely. Honestly, at the end when we were setting up the purchase order, I got kind of caught up in it and forgot I was going to try without...

Regarding dual sub - I'd probably have to mix the sizes, something like PB-2000 Pro (or equivalent) in corner nearest the TV, and something like SB-1000 (or equivalent) in other corner, likely using a wireless adapter.

That is not recommended! Don´t mix ported and sealed subs. Rather then buy two SB2000 Pro`s or two HSU ULS15, but also if you going to need wireless adapter i think you need to buy it for both then as it adds delay and can be mess to setup correct. SVS just announced some new better wireless module. Ideally you would go without them though if possible as that is never ideal route. Use d-line cable trunking to hide subwoofer cable cleanly, it has sticker on back so can put it on top or on the side of skirting boards.
Amazon product
 
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Maine

Standard Member
Thank you again for your advice, it is much appreciated.

Ended up ordering an SVS PC-2000 Pro. The PB-2000 had too big of a footprint. I'm looking to see if I can fit a second one in opposite corner.

All the KEF speakers are at my dealer; still waiting on Yamaha A6A to arrive (Yamaha has not been cooperative with independent dealers it seems).

Need to pick some final pieces - the entertainment center/stand, and speaker stands for the Q150s. For the latter I'm just shopping around a bit for something that looks nice and has a larger baseplate.

But for the former, I'm looking at a Salamander Synergy Core Module (or Open variant), 65" wide and 21" tall. I wanted lots of room, and as open air as possible (to avoid overheating Xbox, PlayStation, or AV Receiver). There will be no side-walls, or walls between posts. Might not even put the back cover plates on...

However, I have to compromise here - either the center speaker can be right up front, but the AV receiver will have very limited clearance above it (a heat concern); or the AV receiver can have plenty of clearance but the center speaker has to sit a couple inches back on a shelf, due to posts.

These are test layouts using Salamander Synergy Core Module Open Center (top) and regular Core Module (bottom).

0PSTqQH.png


Top shelf 7.5" H clearance at front; bottom shelf 8.5" H. 19.75" between posts. Posts are at front and back, otherwise it's fully open except for the shelf.

The KEF R2C Center can be right up at the front edge, but AV receiver has only 1" of clearance above (fully open on sides).

(The red lines you see are for measuring spaces)

hIm0hz4.png


With this one, each of the 3 bays is 17.75" high, with fully adjustable shelves (0.75" thick).

However, the KEF R2C is just a bit too wide, and has to sit 1.5" back behind the two posts. The posts cover 1" on either side of the center speaker, but they do not block the woofers. Of course, this really assumes a KEF R2C (or Q250C) sized center; anything larger in the future wouldn't work... but I'm not that concerned about it.

I'm leaning towards the latter due to more customization and space. I could adjust the center speaker shelf a little lower, and put the R2C on some foam to angle it upwards a little bit too... but it's still behind the posts.

Some GIK Acoustics art behind the main seats is also being considered.
 
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Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thank you again for your advice, it is much appreciated.

Ended up ordering an SVS PC-2000 Pro. The PB-2000 had too big of a footprint. I'm looking to see if I can fit a second one in opposite corner.

All the KEF speakers are at my dealer; still waiting on Yamaha A6A to arrive (Yamaha has not been cooperative with independent dealers it seems).

Need to pick some final pieces - the entertainment center/stand, and speaker stands for the Q150s. For the latter I'm just shopping around a bit for something that looks nice and has a larger baseplate.

But for the former, I'm looking at a Salamander Synergy Core Module (or Open variant), 65" wide and 21" tall. I wanted lots of room, and as open air as possible (to avoid overheating Xbox, PlayStation, or AV Receiver). There will be no side-walls, or walls between posts. Might not even put the back cover plates on...

However, I have to compromise here - either the center speaker can be right up front, but the AV receiver will have very limited clearance above it (a heat concern); or the AV receiver can have plenty of clearance but the center speaker has to sit a couple inches back on a shelf, due to posts.

These are test layouts using Salamander Synergy Core Module Open Center (top) and regular Core Module (bottom).

0PSTqQH.png


Top shelf 7.5" H clearance at front; bottom shelf 8.5" H. 19.75" between posts. Posts are at front and back, otherwise it's fully open except for the shelf.

The KEF R2C Center can be right up at the front edge, but AV receiver has only 1" of clearance above (fully open on sides).

(The red lines you see are for measuring spaces)

hIm0hz4.png


With this one, each of the 3 bays is 17.75" high, with fully adjustable shelves (0.75" thick).

However, the KEF R2C is just a bit too wide, and has to sit 1.5" back behind the two posts. The posts cover 1" on either side of the center speaker, but they do not block the woofers. Of course, this really assumes a KEF R2C (or Q250C) sized center; anything larger in the future wouldn't work... but I'm not that concerned about it.

I'm leaning towards the latter due to more customization and space. I could adjust the center speaker shelf a little lower, and put the R2C on some foam to angle it upwards a little bit too... but it's still behind the posts.

Some GIK Acoustics art behind the main seats is also being considered.

I feel the center channel goes totally waste. You have speakers too narrow to begin with and then you have to hide the speaker inside cabinet which will colour the sound further. What ever you decide do not put the receiver so it doesn´t have enough ventilation! You will shorten it`s life otherwise! Heat is the main enemy with todays receivers as they get hot. I would probably return the center channel cause you paid so much and now you can´t optimize it and you don´t likely gain too much with it.

Notice SVS will raise prices soon by 150$ for the PC2000 Pro! Starting October 4th, 2021, the price of PC-2000 Pro will increase to $1,099.99. You might find it from their Outlet store for the price you paid now so likely not biggie, just a heads up! Otherwise good choice and it should put a smile on your face. :)

Good idea with the GIK panels, i would talk with them, show pictures back of your room seating area and listen what they recommend there.

You could check Anthem MRX740. Ask from few dealers are there any deals to be made for this one. You need laptop to setup things with the ARC Genesis, but after that it will surely sound great! You could afford it if you return the R2c.
 

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