The KEF R11 is the flagship floor-standing speaker of the popular R series, and also the largest model. R11 with its towering presence definitely grabs attention and respect from anyone who gazes upon it. Just from the looks alone, you can see that the floorstander means business and require an equally impressive amplifier to really drive them to their fullest potential.
If you are here looking for a high-quality amplifier that is well-matched with your KEF R11 speakers then you are in the right place. We will be listing out the best matching amplifiers later on but first, let’s find out more about the flagship KEF R11. We will need to find out about their strengths and what are their sonic characteristics in order to find the right amplifiers to pair with them. With this information and knowledge, you will be able to source the amps on your own as well.
Sound Characteristics and Strengths of KEF R11
The KEF R11 is indeed a flagship model, it has that strong presence with its towering height and size, not to mention the multiple driver units. The iconic Uni-Q driver array is located in between four 6.5 inch (165mm) hybrid aluminum bass drivers. The Uni-Q itself is a 5 inch (125mm) aluminum cone with a 1 inch (25mm) vented aluminum dome tweeter right at the center of it. There are two rear-firing bass ports located at the back of the cabinet. We are certainly expecting real powerful sound with massive bass from them. The R11 is definitely suitable for large listening rooms and will require ample distance between the side and rear walls.
The R11 may have a towering height but they are actually quite slim, slimmer than the KEF Q950 flagship floorstanders. This is great as it makes it easier for speaker placement and also provides an elegant feel to it. The KEF R11 is really beautiful, it has both power and grace fused seamlessly together. Aesthetic-wise, this floor-standing speaker should match well with most modern amplifiers. The frequency range is very impressive, it is 30Hz-50kHz (-6dB), and has a typical In-room bass response of 26Hz (-6dB). This is a very deep bass extension and we don’t think the R11 would require a subwoofer. The speaker sensitivity is 90dB which we did expect to be higher but is still good. The nominal impedance is 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms) and the recommended amplifier power is from 15-300 Watts, so it is obvious that the KEF R11 will need very powerful amplifiers to drive them.
KEF R11 effortlessly opens up a large and spacious soundstage, it is very wide and with plenty of depth. The accuracy of the stereo imaging creates an amazing three-dimensional lifelike performance on the stage where you feel that the artists and musicians are playing their hearts out right in front of you. There is clarity throughout the frequency range and plenty of details to boot, the airiness makes it even more alluring, and you just want to keep listening to more of your favorite tunes. The vocals are sweet and natural, some even sounded almost ethereal. The KEF R11 has amazing control over the music delivery, and the soundstage is always cohesive even at high volumes.
These floorstanders are capable of reproducing very deep bass and do not overwhelm the rest of the frequency. It is rich in details and taut, the mid-bass is impactful and overall the bass reproduction is just amazing. It can really do without a subwoofer, even for movie playbacks. The low-end prowess of the KEF R11 helps with giving the instruments a little more body and working together with the rest of the frequency provides that realism which we yearn so much about. They can be delicate when needed, which makes this pair of floor-standing speakers so astounding.
The R11 delivers powerful and clean sound quality, the scale of the sound field easily fills the room and moves the air. It is engaging and delicate but if we were to nitpick, it will be the treble maybe a touch bright at times. Overall, the KEF R11 are musical-sounding speakers that can handle almost all genres of music. Since adding a subwoofer is out of the picture, the KEF R11 will need powerful amplifiers to drive them so that they can sound their absolute best. With all this information gathered, we can now list out the best amplifiers that we can go for and partner them with the R11 loudspeakers.
KEF R11 Specifications
- Speaker Type: 3-way bass-reflex (two rear-firing ports)
- Drive Units:
- Uni-Q Driver Array: 1 inch (25mm) vented aluminum dome tweeter at the center of a 5 inch (125mm) aluminum cone midrange driver
- Bass Driver: four 6.5 inch (165mm) hybrid aluminum bass drivers
- Frequency Response (±3dB): 46Hz-28kHz
- Frequency Range (-6dB): 30Hz-50kHz
- Typical In-Room Bass response (-6dB): 26Hz
- Amplifier Requirements: 15-300 Watts
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms)
- Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 90dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 1295.5mm x 310.6mm x 383.5mm (with terminal & plinth) | 51″ x 12.2″ x 15.1″
- Weight: 37.7kg (83.1lbs)
Best Amplifiers to match with KEF R11
The Rega Aethos is one of the best amplifiers that you can go for when pairing with your KEF R11 speakers, the scale and stability of the stereo imaging that the amplifier can produce is even more appealing when partnered with these floorstanders. It is an amplifier that digs out details, even the subtlest of sound is audible. The clarity of the sound reproduction is exceptional as well which makes listening to our favorite tunes even more engaging. This is a revealing amp and a lively one too, it is recommended to audition them first along with your KEF R11 speakers. The Rega amplifiers are typically a great match with KEF speakers, so is worth your while to hear them out.
Another amazing integrated amplifier that you can go for and match with your KEF R11 speakers will be the Hegel H390 which has dual-mono amplification, providing you with lower total distortion and a higher dynamic range. The musicality of the H390 is superb and atmospheric, the airy highs and the clean deep bass, the huge spacious soundstage, all these completely engages your senses and your mind just wants to focus on listening to the music. Partnering with the capable KEF R11, the combined sound quality of both H390 and R11 are effortlessly delivered without compromise. A must listen and deserves your serious consideration.
Sometimes HiFi separates is the way to go, the Parasound preamp and power amp combo will be the ideal choice to partner with your KEF R11 floor-standing speakers. The Parasound JC 2 BP is probably the best preamplifier at this price range to pair with the R11, the musicality of this preamp is beautiful and magnificent. The sweet airiness, the holographic and full-bodied soundstage, with high-resolution musical details. Coupled with the mighty Parasound Halo A 21+, an extremely powerful stereo power amp that uses high bias Class A/AB operation, that has a power output of 300 Watts (8 Ohms) / 500 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel, and not to mention THD of only 0.1% at full power.
The Parasound power amps can also be partnered with other preamps to provide you with amazing sound quality. Using the Parasound Halo A 21+ as the power amp, we can match it with Naim NAC-N 172 XS preamplifier. For sweet and smoother sound quality, you can partner the Parasound A 21+ with the Rogue Audio RP-5 tube preamp. These preamp and power amp combos complement the KEF R11 speakers really well, the Naim NAC-N 172 XS delivers a more lively and energetic music presentation, which is great for users who like bright sounding systems. The Rogue Audio RP-5 preamplifier will provide smooth and warmish sound which is great for vinyl analog sources.
A more affordable option will be the Marantz PM-KI Ruby integrated amplifier, but don’t get me wrong, this is a premium quality amplifier. It is designed and tuned by Marantz sound master Ken Ishiwata and his team. The Marantz PM-KI Ruby is capable of creating a three-dimensional soundstage with rich musical details and that sweet-sounding midrange. The amount of realism and sonic performance that you can get from this Marantz amplifier is really worth every penny. Marantz PM-KI Ruby also helps smoothen some of the hard edges which makes the overall sound reproduction easier on the ears.
For pure Class A, you might want to check out Sugden Audio Masterclass ANV-50, it may have only 50 Watts (8 Ohms) output but is enough to drive your KEF R11 speakers. Furthermore, the Masterclass ANV-50 can go up to 100 Watts (4 Ohms) with both channels driven so as long you don’t play them too loud, you can get to enjoy the sonic purity of Class A. If you are looking for price vs performance power amplifiers, you can check out Emotiva power amplifiers. We will recommend sticking with Parasound power amps though, as Parasound HiFi components are very suitable for KEF speakers.
To Sum It Up
We really don’t think the KEF R11 speakers need a subwoofer to supplement their bass performance but if we are talking about home theater usage, then probably it would need one. The SVS PB-3000 subwoofer will satisfy most bass fanatics and home theater enthusiasts. The amplifiers recommended here are a very suitable match with your KEF R11 speakers and deserve an audition with you. If the brands or models mentioned here are not to your liking then you can also use this list as a reference when searching for amplifiers on your own.