KEF R700 Opinions please


Recently I visited a show room that I discovered only a couple miles from my house. I was curious so I went in and got to talking with the manager. I am new to the "hobby," enjoy keeping an open mind and listening to others opinions. I asked him to play me what he thought were the "best" speakers in the $3k range in the store.

He played me the Magnepan 1.7i’s which sounded nice. Very detailed but not much meat on the bone so to speak. My Vandersteen 2ce Sig II’s have a lot more slam to them. He played me another speaker, which I cannot remember, and didn’t care for at all.

For sh*ts and giggles he put on a pair or KEF R700s. We were also talking about MQA at this point..

I told him I am a drummer so he must’ve assumed I would like Phil Collins, "In The Air Tonight."

First he played me the non-MQA version from Tidal. It sounded good....
Then he played the MQA version.

It was like the sound was emanating from the entire wall, which was probably 18" foot wide by 10’ foot high. The speakers completely disappeared into the room. Massive sound stage!!!

Questions:

- Does anyone have any opinions on the KEF R700’s? I know they go for $4k new but I’ve seen them for $2k used.
- Are they a highly regarded speaker in the industry/ among audiophiles? Should I care?
- Was my experience with MQA vs. non-MQA tracks typical with respect to having a massive sound stage? or did this have more to do with the room or the speaker itself?

audionoobie
KEF direct lists the R700 for $1800.  You can find a review at stereophile.com.  If you meant the KEF reference series, it ranges from about $8K for the monitor to $19K for the largest floor standing model.  The flagship series starts at $1500 for the LS50 then takes a steep jump to the Blade 2; you can find reviews of the LS50 and Blades at stereophile.com.

db
$1800 each
KEF is one of the original high-end speaker makers .
Always have had good designs and built many great speakers .
You heard them , that's all that counts .
I like my R700 very much.  They do really well with all genres, particularly classical, which is most important to me.  I have owned many speakers in this price range and they are my favorite ones yet.  These guys do require a longer than usual break-in. They need 50+ hours to open up and even then I was not happy with the slightly metallic sounding vocals. This was finally resolved with further use and by disconnecting the internal jumpers between the binding posts and using external jumpers instead. Those knobs for the internal jumpers can rotate (back out) with cabinet vibrations and not make full contact.

Regarding MQA vs. non-MQA content, in my experience the difference is not as dramatic as you described. In some recordings the music has an slightly better pace and sounds a little better with more detail but not much in soundstage depth or width. I must add my experience is only with MQA enabled Bluesound Node2 as a source, streaming Tidal HiFi. I wonder what made that dramatic of a difference if the only change was the content with everything else kept the same. All that aside, are you saying that the KEF R700 sounded significantly better than your 2CE Sigs? What other gear was being used in the dealer demo?

Thanks all for the replies. 

@rotarius Glad your enjoying your R700s!

@kalali My only experience is also with MQA enabled Bluesound Node2 as a source, streaming Tidal HiFi, and that's what the dealer was using as well. I saw a Peachtree and a pair of Parasound mono blocks. Not sure which ones were being used. I may have to go back and get some more information.

I wouldn't say that the KEF R700 sounded better than the Vandys per se. Just more detail and a higher and wider soundstage. A lot of it could've been the amps and/or the room, which was considerably bigger than mine. My listening room is an upstairs bedroom in a Cape Cod. It's about 12' x 10' and has walls that angle with the roof line starting at about 4' high.

The KEFs, in the dealer's show room, threw a sound stage like I've never heard before. The bass wasn't nearly as extended as the Vandy's but the detail and sound stage were superb. And the MQA versions of Tidal tracks were damn near holographic.

@audionoobie I had the 2CE sigs for a while and I can safely say that you are on the right track, the R700 is a nice step up.  My main problem with the Vandys was it was not doing well with large scale orchestral works, midrange driver got congested and harsh.  The R700 play loud and clean.  
Look at the Soundstage network THD measurements of the R500 - impressive for a speaker regardless of price level.
Listened to them many times and wanted to love them because they look great and have really good bass.  I do love the KEF LS50s but the R700s are not voiced in the same way.  
The R700s have a smooth sound but the midrange is not open, transparent or forward enough for my tastes.  
The Harbeth C7ES are about the same $, maintain a smooth non-fatiguing delivery, have less low end extension but have an open, natural transparency to the sound that won me over (and keeps winning me over every day). 

@rotarius That’s encouraging to hear. I’m just not getting what I want out of the Vandy’s. Being new to this hobby, I don’t think it was wrong to get them as my ear needed time to figure out what I like vs. what I don’t. But I think eventually I will be parting ways with them. Glad to hear the KEF’s are working out for you.

@avanti1960 I’ve only heard the R700s once and was knocked out by their massive high and wide soundstage. And you're right, they are gorgeous to look at. I will def. take a look at Harbeth as that name seems to come up on the forums pretty regularly. I would also love to hear the Teckton DI’s as well.

I have the R300s and PSB subs. Love them, but love the Harbeths too