Both are great, but I’d go Kanta personally. Although, I’d get the Kanta no3 for barely more money. It’s a dramatically better speaker than the no2 for a nonsensical up charge.
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The KEF Reference Line has better imaging, but the Kanta has a wider soundstage.
The bass in Kanta decays quicker, whereas treble in the KEF decays quicker; and since long decay is more noticeable in the treble, I’d give the nudge to the KEF in terms of “tightness”.
I’ll add my $.02 worth of opinion/bias here. Speaker preferences are just that - bias and opinion resulting in preference.
Both are very well respected lines. Toward that end, regarding Focal: Are they detailed? Check. Transparent? Check. Dynamic? Check. Accurate? Check. Build quality? Check. Any other boxes I may have missed? Check.
KEF Ref 3 checks all the same boxes by the way. I would add imaging is superior to the Focal (and probably everything else in this price range).
Plenty of listeners will disagree with me - and perhaps even the majority - but I’ve yet to hear any Focal (from $ to $$$$) that I’d consider buying. No matter the source or electronics, when I’ve heard them, I didn’t listen long. They were initially exciting and fun, but ended up being fatiguing with time.
For me, given my biases and my ears, the KEF would get my cash. And, I particularly think they are the better match with your current NAD M series electronics which are quite good.
Again, only my $.02.
Thanks for the responses. After another round of demoing, I've ordered Kanta 3s. To my ears the Kanta 3 and Kef Ref had similar soundstage size and I like the mids better on the Kantas.
It ultimately came down to my gut. Everytime I walked out of demoing Kantas, I wanted them and it was a struggle to not just put the money down. Whenever I heard the Kefs I would appreciate them but never found myself endlessly mulling over having to have them. Instead they were a, "I could be happy with those".
To top everything off, the dealer I worked with on the Kanta's was awesome and worked an incredible deal for me. Looking forward to getting them this week and thanks again.