The KEF R3 are powerful 3-way bookshelf speakers that have an exceptional sound quality and outperform many other standmounters within the same price range. The awards and rave reviews that the R3 has garnered prove just that. Such an excellent bookshelf speaker will require equally impressive amplifiers to make them sound their absolute best and if you are looking for an amp then please continue to read on.
We will be sharing with you the best amplifiers that you can choose and pair with your KEF R3 speakers. The amplifiers are chosen by how well they complement and support the R3 speakers to sound their best. To help you understand more, we will first share with you these bookshelf speakers’ strengths and sound characteristics, with this useful information, you will be able to source the right amps on your own in the future.
Sound Characteristics and Strengths of KEF R3
They are beautiful-looking speakers, with or without speaker grills, they still look stylish and absolutely gorgeous. The KEF R3 will look amazing in most houses, furthermore, it has 3 color options to choose from, making it easier to choose the right finish to fit in nicely into your own home. Aesthetically, the KEF R3 will also look nice with most modern amplifiers. The first drive unit you will spot will be the KEF signature Uni-Q array, where a 5 inch (125mm) midrange driver unit houses a 1 inch (25mm) aluminum dome tweeter, and right below them will be a 6.5 inch (165mm) bass driver unit. A bass port is located at the rear of the speaker cabinet, providing sufficient distance between the speaker and rear wall is necessary. If the bass output is not up to par, you can try using the walls to reinforce the bass by placing the speakers nearer to them.
The KEF R3 is really impressive for a bookshelf speaker, just take a look at their frequency range of 38Hz-50kHz (-6dB) and in a typical room, the R3 can dig deeper down to 30Hz (-6dB). The frequency response will be 58Hz-28kHz (±3dB). The nominal impedance is 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms) which is great. The speaker sensitivity of 87dB is quite low. The recommended amplifier power range is quite wide which starts from 15 Watts to 180 Watts. If you are not planning to integrate a subwoofer into your sound system then probably you should get a high power output amplifier. These data have helped us filter down the potential amplifier choices.
We are quite taken aback by the amount and weight of the bass output, for folks who find it too much, you can just pull it further away from the walls which do provide a richer bass and more balanced bass response. The KEF R3 is really capable of digging deep into the bass extension and prominently reproducing the low ends. It may not be as powerful as the R series bigger brothers or when compared to an active subwoofer but for music sources, they are good enough in our books. The KEF R3 midrange is equally impressive as well, it handles the music with agility and grace. Vocals sounding natural, and with clarity, you can hear the plucking of the guitar strings in crystal clear sound quality.
The stereo imaging is extremely accurate and holds it steady no matter the music transients and how high the volumes are. The soundstage is superb as well, it is wide and has ample depth, along with the pinpoint accuracy of the music delivery, the KEF R3 provides you with a faithful music presentation with detailed resolution. R3 speakers are musical speakers that sound natural and never exaggerate to create that false excitement, it is their impeccable timing and precision that makes the KEF R3 a true entertainer for music playbacks.
They are really well-balanced bookshelf speakers which will perform great in a home theater setup, an active subwoofer will be recommended, because movies tend to be bass-heavy, and bookshelf speakers are unable to provide that low-frequency impact that a sub can do. KEF R3 will be overqualified for surround speakers but will be an excellent choice though. R3 standmounters are probably a little big to be desktop speakers. Since we have all the important data, it is time to show you the list of the best amplifiers that you can partner your KEF R3 speakers with.
KEF R3 Specifications
- Speaker Type: 3-way bass-reflex (rear-firing)
- Drive Units:
- Uni-Q Driver Array: 1 inch (25mm) aluminum dome tweeter, 5 inch (125mm) midrange driver unit
- Bass Driver: 6.5 inch (165mm) bass driver unit
- Frequency Response (±3dB): 58Hz-28kHz
- Frequency Range (-6dB): 38Hz-50kHz
- Typical In-Room Bass Response (-6dB): 30Hz
- Amplifier Requirements: 15-180 Watts
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms)
- Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 87dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 422.2mm x 199.6mm x 335.5mm (with Terminal) | (16.6″ x 7.9″ x 13.2″)
- Weight: 13.5kg (29.8lbs)
Best Amplifiers to match with KEF R3
One of the best amp to match with KEF R3 bookshelf speakers will be the Rega Elicit-R, its high-quality power can easily drive your R3 speakers. This multi-award-winning amplifier delivers a more energetic presentation of your favorite tunes without compromising the details and timing. The Rega Elicit-R suits the characteristics of KEF R3 as both are them are transparent and excellent in revealing subtle details, the Elicit-R amp provides a little more excitement in your music delivery with its snappy timing and agility. You should certainly check them out and have a listen.
The Yamaha A-S1200 will be another amazing integrated amplifier that can provide your KEF R3 speakers with high-quality power. The is one of the best amplifiers to go for as it can add more warmth into your music and still able to dig out plenty of details. Yamaha Audio A-S1200 also doesn’t exaggerate as it aims to provide a faithful presentation of your music. The musicality of A-S1200 fits well with the neutral-sounding characteristic of your KEF R3 speakers, and they never once sounded clinical. In terms of aesthetics, the R3 speakers fit well with the amplifier, depending on the speaker cabinet finish you have chosen.
The KEF R3 scales well with power, what better way to do that than using a preamp and power amp combo. For preamps, you might want to go for Parasound P 6 as it is a 2.1 preamplifier that comes with a premium DAC and a dedicated subwoofer output. For the power amps, the Parasound A 23+ is an exceptional choice. It is a high bias Class A/AB operation, with lots of power and high current, not to mention, the ultra-low harmonic distortion. Partnering them with your KEF R3 standmounters, makes your home sound system capable of handling all sorts of music peaks with ease, reproducing powerful and clean sound quality. Definitely worth your time to audition them.
Cambridge Audio CXA81 is a high-performance amplifier and probably the best matching amp for KEF R3 at this price point. This integrated amp is packed with features such as a high-quality DAC, headphones output, subwoofer output, and more. The musicality of CXA81 really engages you, with its bold and punchy presentation, the full-bodied midrange, you just want to keep feeding the system with more of your favorite tunes. The forward-sounding amp fits in nicely with the transparent and neutral-sounding KEF R3 speakers, allowing you to have countless entertaining music listening experiences.
The Peachtree Audio Nova300 is a great choice as well and it has plenty of power to feed your KEF R3 speakers, more than enough to unleash their full might. The Nova300 may be using Class D amps but these are ICEPower amplification, which is more musical and warmish sounding. Peachtree Audio Nova300 is well suited for the KEF R series speakers, not just in terms of clarity and clean sound reproduction, it also adds warmth to the midrange. The highs are crisp as well. The stereo imaging of this sound system is superb, not to mention how accurate they are as they sonically project the performers onto the soundstage. The Nova300 comes with a load of features, certainly worth every penny.
As mentioned before, the KEF R3 speakers will be great in a home theater system, and one of the best AV receivers to go with will be the Denon AVR-X4700H. It is 8K ready and has high power output, another notable feature will be the Audyssey MultEQ XT32, which calibrates your speakers to sound their best in your listening room. This also greatly improves the subwoofer performance. Speaking about a subwoofer, if you like to have similar sound signatures in your home surround setup, you might want to go for KEF KF92. Since speakers from the same brand have similar sound signatures and will provide a cohesive sound reproduction when working together. If you want better bass performance then you might want to check out SVS SB-4000 powered subwoofer.
To Sum It Up
In a 2.0 stereo system, the KEF R3 speakers are able to handle most genres of music and can punch well above their weight. It is really an outstanding bookshelf speaker with top-notch sound quality as long there are high-quality amplifiers powering them. The listed amps are some of the very best at their price range and also match very well with your KEF R3 speakers. You should really spend some time and effort to have an audition with them, see if you really like what you hear first then seriously consider if you want to go with that amplifier/AVR.