KEF R500 is a stylish and slim-looking floor-standing speaker with exceptional sound quality. It was one of the best floorstanders at this price range in its time. Now the newer KEF R5 has taken over with better overall sonic performance. Still, that doesn’t mean the KEF R500 is not worth the investment to get an equally amazing amplifier to power them.
If you are currently looking for a new amplifier that can drive the R500 speakers with ease and fully unlock their potentials so they can sound their absolute best then you are at the right place. We will first find out more about their strengths and weaknesses (if any), as well as finding out their sonic characteristics. With this information, we will be able to find the best matching amplifiers to pair with the KEF R500 floor-standing speakers.
Sound Characteristics and Strengths of KEF R500
Once you have taken down the speaker grills, you wouldn’t want to put them back on again. The KEF R500 still looks so good even after these years, with the two 5.25 inch (130mm) aluminum bass drive units and the iconic Uni-Q driver array smack in between them. The Uni-Q consists of a 1 inch (25mm) vented aluminum dome tweeter at the center of a 5 inch (125mm) aluminum mid-frequency drive unit. It is a three-way bass-reflex speaker design with the bass port located at the back of the speaker cabinet. It is recommended to have ample breathing space of around 40cm away from the rear walls. The KEF R500 speaker cabinets are rather slim and should fit in nicely in most homes. With the Uni-Q driver located at that level, it is quite easy to toe in the sweet spot towards our listening area with the right level of height.
The KEF R500 frequency response of 39Hz-45kHz (±3dB) is terrific, with the capability of reaching such a high-frequency level and also able to dig deep into the bass extension, well suited for SACD sources. The nominal impedance is 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms) which is great too, but the speaker sensitivity of 88dB is quite a bummer though. Looking at the recommended power requirements of 25-150 Watts, it is safe to go with amplifiers that have around 100 Watts per channel power output. Since it could reach quite a loud volume of 111dB (max) and takes a lot of power to come close to that level of loudness.
The bass performance is simply exceptional, it is punchy and has ample weight which feels like the low ends are coming from a bigger speaker. Certainly impressive with the scale of the bass and overall sound delivery. The agility of the bass response is a tad slower than expected and could be a bit richer in details, still, it blends in nicely with the rest of the frequency band. At this price point, the KEF R500 highs are remarkably refined and clean sounding. Merges seamlessly with the midrange which has a smooth and natural sound quality. Delivering a holographic sound performance that gets your full attention immediately.
The stereo imaging is really exceptional, with the ability to project a spacious soundstage, both of them work hand in hand to deliver a lifelike performance that simply mesmerizes you. Not to mention, it is so clean sounding and the music delivery is so fluid, if only the bass response is slightly faster and a tad more tightness then it would be perfect. Then again, we can’t really nitpick a floor-standing speaker at this price range. The KEF R500 is simply an outstanding speaker that if we were to choose between R100 and them, we will 100% pick the latter. The overall sound quality of the audio system will probably work better with an addition of an active subwoofer.
The clarity and neutrality of the KEF R500 speaker, especially their mid-frequency, does make them amazing left and right main channel speakers in a home surround setup. Their stereo imaging is so incredible, probably a 2.1 home theater setup will suffice, as long the movie source has a stereo audio source ready. KEF R500 is an all-rounder floor-standing speaker on a whole new level, probably the best in this category within this price range. We will be sharing with you now the best amplifiers you can go for and partner them with your R500 floor-standing speakers.
KEF R500 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: two 5.25 inch (130mm) bass driver units
- Frequency Response (±3dB): 39Hz-45kHz
- Amplifier Requirements: 25-150 Watts
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms)
- Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 88dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 1066mm x 299mm x 328mm (with speaker grill, terminal & plinth) | (42″ x 11.8″ x 12.9″)
- Weight: 21.8kg (48lbs)
Best Amplifiers to match with KEF R500
Hegel H160 is one of the very best matching amplifiers that you can partner with your KEF R500. The H160 is an amplifier that is well suited to be pair with KEF higher-end speakers, the musicality of this amp is immaculate. The capability to bring out a stunning lifelike performance and that emotional feel are so worth the hours of time spent, listening back to our old favorite tunes. The Hegel H160 and the KEF R500 combination are definitely worth an audition, the overall sound reproduction is natural, balance, and downright musical.
Another best matching amplifier to pair with your KEF R500 speakers will be the Parasound Halo Hint 6 integrated amplifier. The R500 loves clean power and the Parasound Hint 6 has loads of it, high bias class A/AB operation with high current per channel is going to make your speakers roar. The Parasound amps have always been a very suitable match with the KEF speakers, and the Parasound Halo Hint 6 is one of the latest integrated amp iterations that will complement the KEF R500 really well. Furthermore, the Parasound amps are famous for their price-vs-performance expectations, the Parasound Hint 6 is truly worth your attention and should be heard at least once.
If budget is a constraint, then the Audiolab 8300A will be an ideal choice, and especially amazing for users who want to connect their turntable and play some analog vinyl classics. The power output may be 75 Watts (dual-mono ampliﬁer) but they do sound more powerful than that. The music presentation is bold and clean, not to mention plenty of details. The scale of the soundstage is also impressive as well, coupled with accurate stereo imaging that breathes life onto the stage. The Audiolab 8300A is incredibly faithful to the music, never trying to sweeten the deal with coloration, it is all-natural. An amplifier that is very well-matched with your KEF R500 speakers, and deserves your consideration.
Yamaha Audio A-S2200 is one of the best amplifiers you can go for and pair with your KEF R500, it has the power to drive your R500 speakers easily. Refinement and musicality is the name of the game, it is transparent throughout the frequency, never trying to exaggerate, and delivers a faithful music presentation with impeccable timing and finesse. The overall sound reproduction is neutral and clean sounding with crystal clear clarity. This amp and speakers combination dig out plenty of details as well. You might want to take some time to audition them, have a listen before deciding.
The Peachtree Audio Nova300 has a plethora of features and a very powerful amplifier of 300 Watts per channel (8 Ohms), using the latest ICEPower amplification which is more musical sounding than most Class D amps. Since KEF R500 scales well with power, and Nova300 has plenty of it. The current preamp iteration is warmer sounding and delivers a cleaner sound, it has a very quiet background noise which is great for both digital and analog music sources. With the Home Theater Bypass feature, you can easily integrate Peachtree Audio Nova300 with your AV receivers. Peachtree Audio Nova300 is really well suited for KEF R500 speakers, and you are getting a lot of performances at this price point.
For power amplifiers, you might want to check out Eximus S1 which provides refinement and clean sound quality into your sound system, furthermore, it matches well with KEF R500 giving it a fuller sound. The Parasound power amplifiers are definitely top choices when it comes to partnering with KEF speakers, they have the muscles and refinement, simply great for music. Other brands of integrated amplifiers that you might want to check out will be Luxman, Bryston, and Marantz. If you are planning to get a subwoofer, we will suggest sealed cabinets, as they have better speed and timing which the KEF R500 does lack a little in the bass department. Ken Kreisel, Rythmik Audio, and SVS make top-quality subwoofers and are worthy of your consideration.
To Sum It Up
These are some of the best amplifiers that complement and match your KEF R500 speakers really well. If possible, you should really audition all of them before making a decision. You can also use this list as a reference when hunting amplifiers on your own. You might want to hear at least 2 or 3 of the listed amps and use them as a comparison when auditioning other brands/amplifiers, not on the list. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the amplifier hunting process.