KEF and Paradigm


Anyone want to help a fellow audiophile decide among speakers?   I've been listening to many and narrowed it down to the Paradigm Persona 5 and KEF Reference 3.  I would consider the Reference 5 but can't find it anywhere.  While there are many things I like about the Persona, I'm also kind of knocked out by the wide and holographic sound of the KEFs  (a salesman also is urging me to hear the Ryan Tempess iii before choosing--and there's the new Magico due shortly--although I heard the Magico S1 and wasn't that impressed--I know the upcoming model will have lower bass extension at a lesser price).  My amplifier is 130 watts/channel and the room is fairly large (29x17).  I'm really  leaning toward the KEFs. I totally understand that no one else can decide for me but before I pull the trigger I would appreciate input on this board.  I've read so many good things about the Personas and listened to them several times but keep returning to the KEFs. Of course listening in a store isn't the same as living with them over time. Would I regret the KEFs over the long term?
fast
Fast, I would buy the KEF's in a heartbeat. But here is what I'm worried about for you. The Ref 3's 91db rating is a little misleading as these speakers are 4ohm, it will take a AMP of considerable power (300watts) to make them really open up and drive a fairly large space as you described. So It will be a letdown for sure with only 130watts :-(  If you want these speakers plan on getting a proper amp to drive them.


Matt M
Both are great speakers....

however — what were the listening environments like for each speaker?  What gear, what was the room like etc?

I’d personally go with the Persona, but either way you’re going to be happy.  
^^ The KEFs will NOT require 300 watts to open up in a room that size, despite their low nominal impedance. That’s a complete load of rubbish. Efficiency is a combination of sensitivity and impedance.The phase angles matter more than the nominal impedance.
You should contact a few KEF dealers (there are a lot) and ask if they have any demo REF 5's if you are interested in buying them. I am looking around for KEF 1 or 3's myself and a couple of the dealers I spoke or emailed had demo units they asked me if I would be interested in.

There were a few REF's on A' Gon last month and they will reappear the day you buy your KEF or Persona's. Though I prefer to buy speakers from a dealer. Other electronics have no issue with used.
I'm new to Audiogon and somewhat new to Hifi. I purchased KEF Reference 3's a few months ago and love their sound stage and clarity. I am using a NAIM Supernait 2 which is rated at 80 wpc. I haven't had the need to go much past 10-11 o'clock on the volume, depending on the recording. They aren't the most efficient speaker out there, but I'm not having any difficulty driving them with my SN2. The room is about 15'x18'x8'. Hope that helps.
Post removed 
Thanks to all for the helpful input.  I'm leaning toward the KEF Reference 3 but plan to wait a couple of weeks so I can hear the Ryans and see if anything new is announced at the CES--probably not but it's only two weeks away.  Yyz, thanks for the suggestion but I've checked with the five KEF Reference dealers within 100 miles of me and none stock the Reference 5.  I even called KEF and the closest dealer they could find who stocks the 5 is 350 miles away.  Anyone heard the 5 who can compare it to the Reference 3?  I'm reluctant to buy a speaker I've never heard, especially when some people have told me that the 3 actually sounds better, so the 5 may not be a consideration.   I will do some more research to make sure my 130watts/channel amplifier is sufficient.  The KEF specifications call for much less power.   Keys, welcome to the board and I appreciate the information.  I like the same things you do about the KEFs and may join you soon as an owner.
Still not finding any place to hear the KEF Reference 5 within 350 miles, after many inquiries.  If I could hear them and was impressed, I would be willing to spend the extra cost over the Reference 3. Here's what puzzles me.  Dealers tell me there are at least two reasons for not stocking speakers like this--floor space and, they claim, they have to buy the speakers in order to have them on the floor (seems to be an industry practice-- just with KEF).  Understandably, dealers are reluctant to invest in too many expensive components.  But why don't companies like KEF just loan speakers to some dealers, knowing that the products won't sell if they can't be heard?  I asked a KEF representative but didn't really get an answer.   I know little about the economics of the audio business but am curious about this apparently sales limiting practice.
Fast,

There have been a lot of KEF posts recently and AudioTroy (NJ dealer) has replied to a most of them with feedback since he says they display a lot of the KEF line. You may want to go through the old A’Gon threads. One thing I remember he said in his comparison of the REF 3 and the REF 5 was that they both sound identical except that the REF 5 has much more bass and can better fill a larger space. However, you would likely need more amp power for the REF 5 (I have not checked specs). So I gathered that space should be the factor when deciding between the REF 3 and REF 5.

I heard the REF 5 at a show and I kept thinking I would rather spend the extra $7K for the Blade 2.

I do not see anywhere where you mention what type of amps you will be using. I am in the process of researching my next system(s) and some of my decisions may help you. I am going to get the Blade 2 and maybe also the KEF 3. Tons of amps would work with these speakers, mostly a little expensive. These are the amps I am currently thinking are the candidates (order by preference):

1) Luxman m900u ($15K MSRP and what I will get for Blade2)
2) Benchmark AHB2 mono block ($6K for pair)
3) Bryston 4B cubed (approx. $6k)
4) PeachTree Nova 300 or 500 integrated (I already have a Nova 150 beautifully driving KEF LS50s)

If I get the REF 3 for a second system I will decide between #2, #3, or #4. Some of that decision will be determined by how I plan to use that system and how much money I want to throw at it.

I'm interested in Blade 2s.  I have an Ayre VX-5 Twenty amp ([email protected]Ω, [email protected]Ω) that I use with a KX-5 Twenty preamp to drive LS50s.  I also have a pair of Parasound JC 1 monoblocks ([email protected]Ω, [email protected]Ω) that I use with JC 2 BP preamp to drive KEF Reference 107/2s.  The catch is the QX-5 Twenty Digital Hub that pairs so well with the Ayre preamp will be my music source in the future.  I'm wondering how the KX-5 would pair with the JC 1s that can make the 107/2s (and presumably Blade 2s) really sing.

db
Thanks for the helpful comments.  My amp is Audio Research, tubes, about 130 watts/channel.  I believe this is enough power for both the KEF Reference 3 and 5.  At least one person has told me that the 5 actually doesn't sound as good as the 3-- that despite more bass it sounds less integrated (their word).  I could be tempted to buy the 5 without ever hearing it, based on hearing the 3 but I hate to take the risk that I won't like it as much.  Anyone from KEF who participates on this board?
In  1985 I selected a pair of KEF 104.2 for my large living room 22' x 24' x 14'-22'.
I had literally dragged eleven noted speakers in the 104.2 price range into this room for 
"audition".  All except the KEFs were lacking in clarity or sound stage imaging and general detail. Most just seemed not to "fill" the room except at loud volume. Some seemed to struggle to get the sound out of the box.  The KEFs are still my favorite speaker of all time, although after 32 years they are sounding their age.  They sounded awesome even at low volumes that allowed for conversation.  At high comfortable listening levels the KEFs sounded more like an orchestra than a speaker.  I say sounded as in past tense as the foam surrounds
for the 8" woofers are deteriorated and the tweeters sound funny this Christmas, likely as well
the crossover needs re-capping.  So, I am exploring this as a DIY as well as finding a professional speaker tech that can do the work.  Any recommendations for either approach would be appreciated...please feel free to post a response in this forum.
Another person on this forum said about his aging 104.2s, that he had immensely enjoyed
his KEFs and that any restorative work would never bring the KEF back to the original sound,
thus he was not going restore anything about his KEFs.  He may very well be correct....I shall
find out.
Thanks for reading...comments welcomed...

I had some and foolishly moved to Maggies when the dreaded inner foam disease set in .
As you said they could sound more like a Symphonic Orchestra than anything else I ever heard . Effortless sound .

Pdwoods and Schubert-have you heard some of the newer KEF models, including the Reference 3 and Reference 5 I'm considering?  How do they compare to the ones you so fondly remember?  Pd, would new KEFs be a solution for you?
FAST,

In the event you have not seen the following review.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-reference-5-loudspeaker

"Summing Up
I very much enjoyed my time with the KEF Reference 5. It may not be a more affordable, less visually idiosyncratic Blade Two—that speaker stands alone in KEF's line—but it offers its own balance of strengths: a neutral, uncolored midrange; weighty but well-defined lows; sweet, smooth highs; and superbly secure, stable soundstaging. The Reference 5s might sound too mellow in a large, overdamped space, but in my somewhat irregularly shaped room (18.5' long by 14' wide by 8' high), the immaculately finished KEFs gave me all I need for musical and sonic satisfaction. "
Thanks yyz. Have to say I'm skeptical though about reviews in Stereophile and Absolute Sound since they're reviewing their advertisers and almost never publish a negative review of anything.  Still interesting to read but not very objective.  
Did you ever end up buying anything?
An update to my 12/30/17 post: I'm using an Ayre DX-5 DSD as a source through a Bryston SP3 to JC-1 monoblocks driving the Reference 107/2s with excellent result.  Roon sends files from my iMac to its USB port.

I hope to hear Blade 2s soon and will audition a revised version of the Wilson Watt/Puppy that in the same price range locally, but it's not for nothing John Atkinson and Tom Norton were so enamored with the 107/2s. 

db

fast, No I haven't . About the only thing I won't buy from China are speakers. The Canadian Totems do very well on the classical music
I listen to .
I haven't heard the KEFs, but the Paradigm Persona Bs are hands down the best speakers I've ever heard, I imagine the bigger ones are even better.  
For anyone in the Boston area interested in Paradigm,   Q Audio in Cambridge has them on display.... they are impressive and beautifully finished.    I was checking them out last week.  I was auditioning headphones but those Personas caught my eye..... Didnt audition them per se, but they sounded nice and the fit and finish is incredible.
I bought the Kef Reference 1 and am thoroughly enjoying them - using Rotel RAP 1850 AVR.  Almost went with the Paradigm Persona (likely 3).  Now I'm researching which additional power amp to add.  A Kef rep who used to sell B&W (& very familiar with Rotel) mentioned stick with the Rotel power amp.  Millennium System Design (Orlando Kef Authorized dealer), recommended a Parasound A21. MSD also has a Blade 2 to demo and added power is from Parasound JC1 - Sounded so beautiful!!
As in all things I begin....IMHO, KEF was superb before they were bought and manufacturing 
moved to China.....UNI-Q was in my opinion a marketing ploy to to introduce an old new concept...a tweeter upper-mid combo that failed in its attempt to be a two in one thing.
The $5,000.00 ELACs also used the consultation of Andrew Jones who used to be with KEF and incorporated the UNI-Q in its speaker designs.  I have a pair of KEFs 105.3 that also uses a UNI-Q but with two supporting 4" mid-range speakers....the 105.3s were much superior to the ELACs....that was in large part due to the two mid-range speakers supporting the UNI-Q .....the ELACs lacked the supporting mid-range speakers as did later KEFs....sadly.
The UNI-Q simply lacked the very important mid-range presence...
I have for sale on eBay my KEF 105.3s.....
The surprise speaker that sounded better than the 105.3 were POLKs LSi-M5.....my living room is 22'x24'x14'-22'. The POLKs are bi-amped by two Carver's M500t that were totally re-capped and modified to provide a very clean 275 wpc.
I compared the Carver amps to my previous 300 wpc amp and I immediately noticed a
"blackness" in the background  during quieter passages...I have tried to describe what I did
not hear with other adjectives other than "blackness" but in vain.  I have described this to other similarly involved listeners....they seemed to understand the term "blackness of the 
background" so I will stay with that description.....buy a pair LSi-M5 and live with them for 6-7
weeks...Crutchfield allows full credit returns up to 60 days....I have had my POLKs for about
7 months.....my curiosity will eventually emerge and I may look at speakers well above 7k..

The KEF Reference speakers are still made in the UK.  I bought the Reference 5s, despite not being able to hear them in a store. I really liked the Reference 3 and figured the 5 would be similar but with more bass.  When they arrived, I had some doubts because they didn’t have the same holographic sound stage and imaging I liked in the 3. I even considered trading them for something else. Took many months and lots of adjustments to speaker placement but now they are great.