New setup advice KEF R series + Marantz

leemkule

Standard Member
In years gone by I had a setup based on the B&W CM8 speakers with their larger CMC2 centre and CM5 rears. I had a pioneer and laterally an anthem receiver but never really loved the setup.

My favourite setup was just a 3.0 where I had nice clear vocals on a centre speaker, I never really felt like adding rears added much for me. I also never really loved the CM8's, just felt they were too bright and fatiguing to listen to music on but I enjoyed home theatre.

I grew tired of the clutter and space it was taking up so sold it all in lieu of a sonos soundbar + sub. However I have a nice pair of genelec speakers for my desktop computer and it's always stark how bad the sonos soundbar sounds when I go to watch my TV. My plan is to sell the sonos soundbar + sub and buy a 3.0 system.

Plan so far:

My room is a decent size 6 meters by 5 meters wide by nearly 5 meters ceiling height.

KEF R3 for fronts and Kef R2C for centre speaker - meant to be quite neutral and relaxed and not as bright as the B&W?

My rationale for this is that I like to change gear quite a lot and am not bothered by extra bass so I prefer the smaller form factor of bookshelf speakers.

Marantz 1711 AVR - I really want to avoid getting into the 'giant AVR' receiver situation again. I remember spending weeks trying to find furniture that would fit the things and I just can't be bothered with this again, this is rated at 50W per speaker, would this be enough to power the three front speakers?

No plans for rears or any atmos or anything. I just want a nice front soundstage. I have really sensitive ears and hearing so I am really averse to loud bass, so I doubt i'll need a sub although would consider running one in future. To be clear, due to my sensitive hearing I don't play very loud at all.

Any thoughts? My plan was actually in the first instance to just buy the R3+marantz AVR and try running a phantom centre, then adding the centre speaker if I feel I'm missing out.

Cheers!
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
Marantz 1711 AVR
Not powerful enough for the R3 and R2C combination. The R3s need and deserve better than the 1711. Give them enough power from a higher tier Marantz and you will be rewarded. You have a pretty big room volume wise, more air in than my living room. I'm currently using the old R300s with the R200C and R100s for surrounds with a far more powerful Denon AVC X6500. They do need that grunt as they can dip to 3.2 ohms at times.

Running a phantom centre will ease the burden on the 1711 but I wouldn't even consider an AVR for a 2.0 set up. You can get far far better stereo amps around the same size body that will not only give you the power the the R3s need but will absolutely slay the 1711 when it comes to a music performance.

The current R3s are so well respected and the old R300s now have something of a legendary status being some of best three way speakers in the sub £2000 bracket. Don't cheapen them by picking the wrong amp, you'll regret it.
 

leemkule

Standard Member
Not powerful enough for the R3 and R2C combination. The R3s need and deserve better than the 1711. Give them enough power from a higher tier Marantz and you will be rewarded. You have a pretty big room volume wise, more air in than my living room. I'm currently using the old R300s with the R200C and R100s for surrounds with a far more powerful Denon AVC X6500. They do need that grunt as they can dip to 3.2 ohms at times.

Running a phantom centre will ease the burden on the 1711 but I wouldn't even consider an AVR for a 2.0 set up. You can get far far better stereo amps around the same size body that will not only give you the power the the R3s need but will absolutely slay the 1711 when it comes to a music performance.

The current R3s are so well respected and the old R300s now have something of a legendary status being some of best three way speakers in the sub £2000 bracket. Don't cheapen them by picking the wrong amp, you'll regret it.
Thanks for taking the time to get back to me with some advice. I had figured as such. Glad the Kefs are so well regarded so I think i'll stick with them.

For this setup, music is actually a low priority and I suspect I will get the centre speaker as I really miss having one. I only really listen to music when I'm sitting at my desk, so almost never with this setup. What about if I get a separate 3 channel amplifier and use the marantz as a pre-amp?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
You can only run the front left and right from it's two pre-outs, the centre would still have to be connected to the 1711. That really is a two box solution and not give an improvement on audio quality. I think, if still wanting a centre then you should look for a bigger AV amp that has more punch, the Denon AVR X2700 has 90 watts into 8 ohms with two channels driven.
 

leemkule

Standard Member
Ah I hadn't realised that there's only front and left pre-outs. That makes sense then if there's no sound benefit to having an external amplifier. I checked out that denon and it seems to have the features I want (HDMI 2.1 etc) without being nearly 50cm in depth, cheaper than the marantz and power amp too.
 
D

Deleted member 901590

Guest
Just two comments...
1. Don't forget that the AVR X1600 and X1700 are shorter than the others in the range by about 20mm.
2. Another thought with the Marantz is, if you don't listen too loud, fit the speakers to the AVR power... i.e. choose high sensitivity, good impedance and phase speakers such as (for FL and FR) the QA 3050. @Mr Wolf has some very useful calculation tools and I think if you did choose to find speakers that sat happily with the Marantz, I'd share with him your normal listening levels and he would help. I think you would be extremely surprised at how much power is required for the same output by different speakers.
 

Mr Wolf

Well-known Member
I have really sensitive ears and hearing so I am really averse to loud bass, so I doubt i'll need a sub although would consider running one in future. To be clear, due to my sensitive hearing I don't play very loud at all.
If you want the option of not using a sub then I suggest you choose your speakers extremely carefully.

The R2c is a sealed (not vented) centre speaker with relatively small (5.25") bass drivers. As a result its bass extension is very limited with a f3 point of only 74Hz. It's clearly been designed to be used with a subwoofer or at least have its bass redirected to main speakers with far greater bass extension/output capability.

The R3 is a lovely HiFi speaker but with a single 6.5" woofer its f3 point is only 58Hz. This is not too bad for music but movies contain a significant amount of content down to 30Hz so if you're going with these I strongly suggest you plan on adding a subwoofer. If you really don't want to but want to stick with KEF then the R7 towers would be a much better choice as the twin 6.5" bass driver design lowers the f3 point to 48Hz. Still not great for movies but appreciably better than the R3 and they will also be more power efficient in handing those frequencies.

If you don't want a sub then personally I would be looking at brands that offer large vented centre speakers with lower f3 points. e.g. Arendal 1723S Centre (f3=46Hz), B&W HTM71 S2 (f3=50Hz).

Regarding power, if you're not running a sub then speaker efficiency is paramount as the longest and loudest transient peaks are in the lower frequencies, a region where bass drivers also have their lowest impedance dips. If the speaker lacks efficiency here then (without a sub) it can really suck the life out of the amp and kill the overall dynamics.

Personally I would be using a sub (or two), even if it's only a small sealed one.
 
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D

Deleted member 901590

Guest
I just want a nice front soundstage. I have really sensitive ears and hearing so I am really averse to loud bass, so I doubt i'll need a sub although would consider running one in future. To be clear, due to my sensitive hearing I don't play very loud at all.

You see, I'm rubbish because I missed this part. Well done to the Wolf.

The reason I would not recommend, if you have sensitive hearing, the NR1711 is because it only has Audyssey MultEQ. All the Denons we've mentioned here so far have minimum MultEQ XT. (Other Marantzs have XT or XT32 as well but I don't think the slimline ones do).

If you hearing is sensitive and you "want a nice front soundstage" I would say if you're buying a D&M product at minimum get one with MultEQ XT.

I have MultEQ on my old (in a bedroom) Denon AVR1910 and what it does with bass frequencies from speakers or subwoofers is pretty awful and I'm sure your sensitive ears will pick this up.

To elaborate on Mr Wolf as well... subwoofers don't have to be about "loud bass" they're about filling in this very exciting range of frequencies that add a new world to film and TV. Once you have EQed your subwoofers, especially if you switch of DeQ (or have it set low) and Dynamic Volume, the bass won't be loud but it will be there. And it won't be there if you just have the front speakers.

Also, speaking from pretty recent experience using my Q900 as fronts (which go pretty low) with no subwoofers, the D&M AVRs send the LFE channel to the front speakers. You cannot adjust it properly anymore. This made, as an example, Aquaman unwatchable in that configuration - especially if you're sensitive to loud bass.
 

davidf

Well-known Member
A used Anthem MRX520 or MRX740 will drive the R Series far better than any other new AVR under £1k. I’m not just talking at more normal levels - it’s something you can hear at any volume.
 

josefK666

Active Member
Some very sound advice here - I do own the R3's and R2c as part of a 5.1 Home Theatre system including a Denon X3700. - so here's my two cents:-

I think the R3’s are terrific. Some people I’ve read have described them as a little on the bright side but personally I don’t feel that way at all. I have them more on axis than they should really be due to room constraints/first reflections but at weekends I can listen to them for 6-8 hours straight without fatigue – that’s being seven feet away. If you have sensitive hearing though I’d say it’s even more essential to try them out yourself.

Initially I just had the R3’s and with a bit of effort I got a great stereo soundstage and a very effective phantom centre. They dug quite deep too and as I have neighbours above and below me I wasn’t bothered about a subwoofer. I only listen at moderate volumes anyway and wasn’t a fan of loud bass so a centre channel/subwoofer was probably just a waste of money.

So then I tried a subwoofer and centre channel and all that went out the window.

The subwoofer took a little work but now adds considerably to my whole movie/music listening experience. To this day I still find myself sometimes quickly turning the subwoofer off and for a little bit the resultant sound from the R3's almost feels tinny and two dimensional! Almost :) The centre speaker was a similar story. I wasn't even sure if was worth it before it arrived but It suddenly freed up the R3's and my system felt properly balanced and complete - everything was doing the job it was designed to do. Plus I was actually able to watch a Christopher Nolan movie and finally understand what everyone was saying........

I think my only regret (so far!) is not taking the purchase of the subwoofer more seriously rather than treating it as an afterthought.

Incidentally, before I got the R3's my listening habits were 80% movies / 20% music. Now it's more 60% music / 40% movies and I'm considering a dedicated stereo amp. They can have that effect on you :)

All the best with whatever you end up going with…..
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Now it's more 60% music / 40% movies and I'm considering a dedicated stereo amp.
Doing so will open up a whole new dimension for the R3s. They deserve, if not demand, good clean amplification and it's hugely rewarding. Remember you will need a good power supply and an amp with HT by-pass or use a speaker switcher such as the excellent Beresford 7220 and standard stereo amp.

For many years I used a Rega Elicit-R alongside my Denon X6200 and X6500 using R300s. I consider the Denons poor for stereo music.
 

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