No matter how good a deal it is, such a product will always be out of reach for the majority of people, which is where the new KEF R3 standmounters come in. The R3s are part of the company’s recently released premium R series and offer a significant portion of the Reference 1’s engineering content and sonic performance for a fraction of the price.
The core of these speakers is KEF’s renowned Uni-Q driver array. While it seems to be a single drive unit, it is actually a two-way configuration with the tweeter positioned directly in the throat of the midrange driver. This is difficult to achieve correctly, however it is believed that such a setup improves dispersion and integration.
If you are interested in this model, keep reading our Kef Reference 3 review for more information below.
Kef Reference 3
Description: The R3s are three-way speakers with a separate bass driver. Because of this arrangement, each driver – tweeter, midrange, and bass – can be optimized to perform in its own frequency band and adjusted with minimal compromise.
About: The bass driver of the R3 is made of a 16.5cm hybrid aluminum/paper cone that tries to combine stiffness with strong damping qualities. It features a vented design to aid in dynamics at high volume levels.
The Reference 3 measures 45.5″H x 8.1″W x 18.5″D with the base removed, the grille attached, and the platinum-plated brass binding posts projecting from the back. The aluminum outrigger foundation raises the height and breadth to 47.3″ x 13.7″ respectively.
Overall, the speaker weighs 113.1 pounds, which is around 35 pounds more than a Blade Two according to this Kef Reference 3 review.
The reason the Reference 3 weighs more is due to the need for bulk, which is required to keep the cabinet as free of resonance as possible – because, unlike the Blades, the References do not use reaction canceling.
As a result, unlike the Blades’ cabinets, which are built of a light but strong polymer composite, the References’ cabinets are made of thicker, heavier MDF, both for the walls and the internal bracing. Standard finishes for all models include Piano Black, Satin American Walnut, and Luxury Gloss Rosewood (at least in North America).
Our favorites are the Rosewood and the Piano Black from our evaluation samples, although the Walnut also looks great. Blue Ice White and Copper Black Aluminium Foundry Edition finishes are also available for the Reference 3 and 5 according to this Kef Reference 3 review.
The sleek look of the speaker appeals to us. However, even in this case, judgments were made based on performance.
The curved trim surrounding the Uni-Q driver not only balances the front panel by mimicking the size of the bigger bass driver, but also helps to prevent diffraction effects at the cabinet borders. That compact front looks good and has benefits in stiffness and dispersion according to this Kef Reference 3 review.
The overall build quality is excellent. Because of some ingenious bracing techniques that mix reinforcement and dampening, the enclosure feels quite stiff. On the surface, these speakers are elegant and well-finished. The edges are very sharp, and the gloss finish on our black examples is stunning.
The R3s are capable of providing a considerable level of bass weight and power while being rather slender and tiny boxes (the KEFs stand only 42cm high). They sound best balanced well away from the walls in our test room according to this Kef Reference 3 review.
As a starting point, we recommend placing them at least 70cm into the room. Because the UNI-Q array disperses sound in a wide and constant pattern, toe-in angle towards the listening location isn’t as important as it is with most conventional competitors if you want pinpoint stereo image.
We begin serious listening after everything is fully dialed in, which doesn’t take long due to the KEF’s well-balanced presentation according to this Kef Reference 3 review.
The presentation is balanced and genuine in tone. There is no emphasis on any certain frequency band in order to make the speakers sound more intriguing or lively. That’s because of the original recording.
Because of their even-handedness, the speakers sound at home with a wide range of recordings and refuse to favor one musical genre over another according to this Kef Reference 3 review.
This is reinforced by listening to Eminem’s legendary Marshall Mathers LP. The KEFs make the most of the strong driving rhythms, that gorgeous rolling bassline on The Way I Am, and the haunting Dido voice sample on Stan despite the fact that the recording is thin and rough.
The midrange performance of the R3 excels once more, presenting Eminem’s quick outpourings with agility and clarity. When the song calls for it, there’s enough of punch and assault according to this Kef Reference 3 review.
Tonally, the KEF R3 is typically well-balanced. A bassline that is out of control, too thick, too warm, or to anything will go unnoticed. One of the first things we noticed about it was how powerful it is.
However, there are smaller floorstanders on the market that cannot compete with its depth or pure kick and slam. If you can’t accommodate a floorstanding speaker but want the size and oomph of one in the shape of a standmounter, the R3 may be the way to go.
Fortunately, if your amplifier is sufficient, this type of grunt is coupled with good speed and control.
Conclusion: Kef Reference 3 [2022 Review]
The R3s are fantastic all-rounders. They’re perfectly acoustically balanced and operate well across a broad range of systems, but feed them well and they’ll provide a sound that will frighten most stand mounters under two grand. This is one you should buy with confidence. We hope you liked our Kef Reference 3 review and it was helpful.