Fwiw, I haven’t heard the reference series yet. But I have r5 (bear with me). I bought my front end based off of auditioning more than a handful of amps with Wilson audio speakers planned on being the reference speaker. While I couldn’t afford the Wilson’s yet and have been running my new classe delta stereo amp on the r5 with my esoteric CD player. I personally feel the r series is like a metal dome driver version of newer Wilson’s. I throughly enjoy this modest system a lot. But it meets some of the biggest criteria I have with flying colors. The classe had the best imaging, natural black background,sturdy weight to the body and overall quality listening with the super transparent Wilson’s. To be sure if we’re on the same page with the kefs, While I love the texture and organic nature of softer drivers, sometimes they give too much texture and simply don’t convey proper timbres. With the kef r series There’s a step behind in Wilson capability but on the same field with how it presents itself but much more addicting. There’s something about how kef also enriches the music where sustained notes amber and burn, with a euphoric energy that I simply never get with the Wilson’s. But like Wilson there’s extra this or that. There’s no overly saturated air with female vocals or instruments that require human lungs to bring themselves to life. Everything is simply where it belongs. I say all this and only have knowledge of a lesser speaker to yours. Undoubtedly this is all theory and speculation but if the reference series is as good as I think it is I truly believe the classe stereo is worth looking at.
Amplifier upgrade for Kef Reference 4c trio
I recently took the leap to make a major upgrade to my living room (17' x 17' x 10') audio quality and jumped on the current KEF promotion to get a trio of Reference 4c as part of a larger 5.2.2 setup that is doing dual duty as an HT and a 2-channel system. I had previously been about to pull the trigger on the Reference 3/Reference 2c set based on some broad-ranging speaker auditions, so I knew what I was getting into from a general sound perspective Despite the oddity of using what's technically a center channel turned on end, they have been an astonishingly good sound, and I couldn't be happier with what I'm getting from them, from a 2-channel or a HT system perspective. They also look quite attractive in rosewood, if I may say.
The challenge I'm currently having is that I am not sure my current amp, an NAD M27, is going to be up to the task of driving them. The Reference 4c are nominally rated at 8 ohms and 90dB, but their impedance can go as low as 2.9 ohms (per the recent ASR review), and KEF recommends amplifiers with power ratings of 50W - 400W for them. If I understand the rule of thumb math correctly, the amplifier for the front LCR should be in the 240W to 440W range, or greater, and the M27 just can't quite cover that. With stereo amps, there's a wide range of options, but for driving those 3 channels, this power requirement limits my options. My equipment space limitations mean I really can't fit more than about 10u of amplifiers, and the WAF for this project does not extend to having monoblocks out on the floor, or anything that has exposed tube amplification. The other major consideration is that I need to keep my amplifier budget under about $13k. For the two-channel side of things, I'm currently using a Legacy Audio Wavelet preamp/DAC/Crossover and a BlueSound Node connected to the Wavelet's USB in. My AV processor is an Anthem AVM 70 which is feeding the front L/R channels to the Wavelet and the rest directly to the M27 amp. To satisfy providing 7 channels and ensuring the front three have adequate power, these are the options I've identified that can work in my space
- Legacy Audio iV3 Ultra paired with either the existing M27 or an iV4
- Bryston 21B^3 paired with the M27 (this handily beat out the McIntosh MC303 in a back to back listening test with some Contour 60i speakers, so I've stricken the latter from the list of options)
- 3x Benchmark AHB2 as bridged monoblocks paired with the M27
- 2x Parasound Halo A51, bi-amping the front LCR and using the remaining 4 channels for the surrounds
- 3x PS Audio M700 monoblocks paired with the M27
Have I missed any viable options here? If so, what might they be? If not, are there any of these combinations that are likely to significantly outshine the others given the speakers they'd be powering?