ProAc's. KEF is voiced to an English sound. Also check out ACT.
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Agree with above ATC, Harbeth, ProAc, Spendor - british sound. I would say Harbeth's would be the best fit. Definitely audition the new Harbeth Compact 7. ATC SCM 19's would make even better use of that beefy power amp, although I think the Harbeth's come closer to the KEF sound you like. Both might be a bit above your budget. Try Energy Veritas 1.8's too - if you can find 'em - a great bargain of a speaker.
Why leave KEF? Maybe your present 104/2's will cost too much to repair but there are some great replacements on the market. I owned a pair of the original 105's when they first came out and selling them was one of my big regrets. I now own pairs of 105.2 and 105.3's and I am in the market for a pair of 104/2. That said, I am not stuck in the past as I have had many newer speakers but I like being able to go back to that early KEF sound.
Redo the 104.2's. I have two sets and am going through the rebuild now. It's not really a big deal money wise if you can remove your own speakers, (not difficult).
I'm having the butyl rubber surrounds redone by the local pros. I'm replacing as many caps as I can and installing new tweeters as ALL the old ones (20 years or more) are not working correctly. The ferro fluid had leaked out badly in mine and hardened, happens to all of them. There are several great sounding Vifa's available that fit easily.
The rejuvenated sound will amaze you. All that magnificent imaging, high end extension, and bass will be back better than ever.
Total cost = less than $400. Very much worth it if you loved their sound when new. You will have to spend many thousands to outdo it.
I managed to find some Vifa tweeters that fit and put them in -- out of curiousity and worry that I was missing something -- but preferred the original tweeters, which were still in good shape -- no leakage that I know of. Unfortunately I no longer have the Vifa tweeters. Or actually fortunately...these didn't work for me and may not work for others as well.
I am powering the KEFs with 300b amps. I know that sounds like it would not work, but it does. But maybe the Vifa experience was related to the low power.
Rebuilding them sounds like an exciting option, especially if the imaging and magic stays or is enhanced. But would it not be possible to find another pair of these speakers?
I picked up a pair last year and the surrounds were in great shape. And to my ears, the tweeters as well.
That said, I'm up for replacing capacitors if I would get an improvement, but after the Vifa project I'm satisfied to enjoy them as they are. I am curious about changing internal connections though.
Just finished re-doing my 1987 Kef 104.2's. Superb sound is back. I would definitely fix those speakers instead of replacing them. I redid the crossovers, had the woofers refoamed professionally and installed the Peerless 25DX tweeters which were almost a drop in. I remember now why all the hoopla about these fabulous classics. Richly deserved. Total outlay $370. Would need to spend thousands for better sounding speakers.
Javachip, apologies for the late response, just came back here today and saw your post. The tweeters I used are the Vifa (Peerless) DX25TG05's. They will easily fit but are not a drop in. I'll be glad to explain if you want. I only replaced 7 capacitors in each x-over and stayed very close to the original values (same mf, slightly different voltage). The were Bennic brand electrolytics and I put in 2 films where they fit, (the 3.3mf and the 10mf ones)No changes done to the X-overs networks. Pretty easy project. Already sound awesome, still breaking in.