Speaker upgrade question.


Hi all, 
I haven't been here for quite a while as I've been happy with my KEF Reference Three-Twos driven by a Musical Fidelity A308. They're both vintage but they sound great together and fit my somewhat weird room. I'm pondering spending some bucks in the 3-6K range for new (used) speakers and I have a few questions. Thanks ahead of time for anyone who's not too busy to help.
First, would I be  upgrading beyond what my amp is capable of keeping up with? The MF is fairly powerful, but I'm not sure of its limitations since they don't show up in my current system.
Secondly, how high up the price ladder would I need to go before I'd find speakers that offer an obvious improvement over my KEFs to most ears. There would be little point to pony up money for a comparable sound, however much I subjectively prefer subtle differences.
Finally, for reference purposes, can anyone tell me how the following modern speakers might compare or contrast with mine? (Some aren't in my price range, I know) Triton 1R, Kef R7, comparably priced Monitor, Revel, Gato, Paradigm, etc. I wouldn't mind a bit more punch and a bit more bass than I have now, mostly just to experience a different sound - I respect the KEF signature sound.
I know that sometimes it's hard to accept the premises of these types of questions since such matters are so subjective and a lot of folks like to lobby for their favorite brands. I guess I'm not seeking advice about what to buy. I just want to understand the benefit to me of more modern speakers. It's quite possible it makes no sense for me to upgrade.
Thanks again.
Marc
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Hi Marc!  So you have a pretty sweet little set-up.  I think your amp is nice enough that you can upgrade your speakers and get something that sounds different than what you have.  You need to let us know your source, dac, room size, listening preferences and what you are looking for.  There are many great different options out there, just depends on what you are looking for in terms of aesthetics and sound quality.

I personally own a pair of standmounts, the Fritz Carrera BE.  They are $3500.  Pair them with a couple of REL or Rythmik subs and you’d have a pretty outstanding rig.  
Again though, so many good choices today that it comes down to what type of sound, looks and brand you are trying to own.  The new KEF reference line used is something you might consider as well.  They will sound quite different from what you have now and are pretty remarkable as well.
Thanks. I like floorstanding speakers, I use an Audioengine D2 wireless/DAC (I had to save $ somewhere), with Deezer streaming (kind of like Tidal) from a Mac. I'm wary of subs (still traumatized from an earlier ill-fated adventure). The room is large, oddly shaped, with high, slanted ceilings and a wall of huge windows across from the speaker placement -- very much not ideal, and not fixable due to other factors. There's thick carpeting, thank god. I also can't place the speakers more than a foot or so from the wall and the listening seat is within a foot and a half from a wall of window behind it. Each speaker has a slightly complex wall/not wall behind it. I wish the room and our furniture were more flexible.
Despite all that, surprisingly, my system sounds great to my ears. I would not have looked at the room and thought that was possible. Perhaps it's the front ports or the KEF tweeter deal. I don't know.
I listen to a great variety of music, but not modern pop or electronic or the like. Aesthetically. I'm a traditionalist who's willing to bend if the sound warrants it. My KEFs have beautiful cherry veneer which, coincidentally, matches other stuff nearby.
When you say the new KEF References or, presumably, the Golden Ears will sound different, can you tell me more about that? Unfortunately, while I don't quite live in the middle of nowhere, there's nowhere close byto audition equipment. When and if I get serious, I'll take a trip.
Thanks again!
M
I just bought a new KEF Q-650c for my HT system. I'm very impressed with it. You might want to consider the floor standers from that line of speakers.

Regards,
Dan
Thanks, Dan. I'll look into it.
I love doing equipment research, It harkens back to my fond childhood memories of perusing the Sears Roebuck catalog.
M
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Marc,
$3-$6k is a wide spread, and a good chunk of change.  You’ll want to use some of that on upgrading your dac and possibly your pre amp and amp as well.

Take care, i had a terrible experience by upgrading from a 20 years old speaker (worth 1.200 today) and which i owned only for one year, to a new speaker worth 10K from the same company. The old speaker was unbelievably better. Not in my very personal opinion but in the opinion of every person who visited me during the past year. No one single person of 20 said that the new speakers are sounding better as the old one. And yes, i replaced all gear i had trying to improve the sound, even the space, but nothing, the magic was gone. The old speaker was the dynaudio contour 3.3 and the new speaker the dynaudio contour 60. I had really i nightmare experience with that purchase. But if you read reviews about the contour 60 it seems this is the best speaker you can buy for 10K. My advise to you is to trust only customer reviews. But if the product is new there are almost no customer reviews around so it starts te be pretty difficult to make you an unbiased idea. For that reason i will never buy a new speaker again. From older speakers you find a lot of relatively precise customer reviews.
Yes, I get that a better DAC would make a bigger difference than what I'm proposing, That makes sense. I'm less sure that my amp end up as a weak link.
And thank you, Daros,  for sharing your experience. Your situation is exactly what I'm trying to head off by posting here. I could easily spend a bunch and get worse or comparable sound, especially since I am no expert about all this. I've heard very few systems; i just read a lot online.
In its day, my speaker was very highly rated by both experts and consumers. I know the tech has moved on. What I don't know is how much the sound has.
A realization: I think I'm hoping to get talked out of upgrading, either by people lauding what I have, discussing a lack of progress in sound evolution, telling me my room is hopeless, or pointing out my cluelessness and the likelihood of me doing something foolish.
When money comes in, I start brainstorming what to do with it, and music is one of my top life priorities.
When I'm doing this type of research, I don't consider it "upgrading." It's brining in a different sound. I don't necessarily want my next speakers to sound better that what I have - I want them to be great in a different way. I'll listen to the new speakers for a while and when I want to change it up, I'll swap in the first pair. For this reason, I think it's helpful to have more than one pair of nice speakers on hand if possible. When one gets the speaker upgrade itch, just swap in the pair you haven't listened to in six months.
Sorry for all the posts today. I've got time on my hands.
What about adding a KEFKube sub to my current system? A dumb idea? I only listen to music. Would this change what I hear in any significant way? Would it be a hassle (like last time I tried this with other equipment)?
Raindog: that speaks to me.
How important are the speaker's looks?  If sound is the main thing, the Tekton Moab's  are THE hot speaker right now.  Tekton as a company is THE hot company.  I don't own their speakers but have heard a few of the bigger ones.  The Moab is a large speaker and the sound is way beyond it's price of $4500 new.  They allow a 30 day period to try the speaker and still be able to return it.  I don't think I've seen anyone on the Forum or any other online site that has returned one.  If dynamic, detailed yet realistic tone with great bass, etc. is your thing, you can't go wrong.  This speaker is the equivalent of a $20,000 set of speakers with much greater dynamics and bass--beautiful clarity through the mids and highs, also.  Read up on them.  There is MUCH information on this site.
I have a great pair of VMPS RM40 BCSE ribbon speakers--260 lbs. each, that sound extremely good.  If they ever go out where I can't get them fixed, the Moab's will be my next speaker.  

Bob

The Moab's also don't need a ton of power from the amp, but will give a very live sound with a powerful amp.  As for placing them close to a wall, you'd have to ask an owner to see if they would still be OK.  Better yet, ask Eric Alexander, the maker of the Tektons and the one who should know the most about the various models in his considerable lineup.
Lots of room gain that close to the wall - stick with KEF a real engineering and sound company but change the DAC first

The best way would be to bring a few pairs (not necessarly at once) of newer speakers home and check what it is all about. Maybe a member in your area has a pair of whatever brand and model and you could compare.
Hi Marc I might have missed it but what is your room size?
Marc, if you like the KEF signature sound of your Reference Model 3.2s, you will be hard pressed to find a speaker that you prefer. I have the Model ones and Model Twos and IMHO they are some of the best speakers that I have heard. I prefer their sound to the newer KEF speakers that I have heard. I also prefer them to any Triton, Paradigm or Tetkton speakers that I have heard. If it were me, I would just keep the 3.2s. 
By the way, I never felt a need for a sub with my KEF Reference speakers and your 3.2s should reach deeper than my Ones or Twos.
A few years ago my neighbour had the same question about his KEF103's. I suggested that he spend some money improving the crossover components; that is, changing cheap capacitors for fine audiophile capacitors, etc. The sort of thing that no manufacturer can do.

Anyway, he went for it, I rebuilt the crossovers with premium components, and he couldn't be happier. The sound is similar to what he had, but far, far better: more refined, accurate, punchy, and easy on the ears. So if you like what you have, but ... Then I suggest that you upgrade the crossover. Don't change anything but the quality of the parts, so a 2uF cap is still a 2uF cap - just that the one you are putting in is an MIT RTX costing about 100 times what the original part cost.

You might need a new box to hold the new components, as they tend to be a lot bigger as well as more expensive. Parts can be obtained from Parts Connexion or Michael Percy.

DIY forever!
I point out that you’ll have to spend BIG bucks to get the same refined sound direct from a manufacturer. Whereas the crossover upgrade is well within your budget.

I've done it with Magnepans, I've done it with Quad ESL's. Always a significant improvement. For your KEFs, maxing out within reason, probably 2-3K per. I like copper foil air core inductors like Alpha-Core, MIT multi-cap (RTX series) capacitors, Mills non-inductive wire wound resistors. You CAN do better than these, but it's costly or tricky, or both. Start with these brands and you can't go wrong. When I tested parts, I found some that were far costlier but much inferior. With the suggested brands you really can't go wrong. 
Hi all. Thanks for your input.
Rodge: It's a large, weird room with no real corners, lots of open areas, a wall of glass, a thick rug, and a complex slanting ceiling. The walls are veneered plywood. So basically it's a crap room for audio and there's nothing much I can do about it, Otherwise, it's a wonderful room with a fantastic view.
Tomic: can you tell me more about your post. Assume I'm an idiot, which I mostly am about all this.
Another question: I'm using the wireless Audioengine devices because physical wires from my Mac to my amp would be a mess in my room, and the DAC in them is decent, if not at a level that matches the rest of the system. So if I upgrade the DAC, I have to let go of the nearly lossless wireless function. Is there a solution to this?
Ijerens: thank you. That info is very helpful and may be what guides me the most in the end.
I'll look into the Moabs, of course.
m

I just read your post, Terry. It sounds like a great idea, but I'm intimidated by it. Would I be likely to find someone who can do the work? What are the odds someone would screw it up?
The Moabs are monstrous! (Not wife-friendly, even if I liked the looks).
Any decent tech can do it. You just need to get him a schematic. All he has to do is lay it out (because the components are bigger) and solder. And test, of course.

What about the dealer who sold you the KEF's? His service tech is probably damned good, and he might be quite keen to do it, just to see how good the speakers can become.
Look up DIYAudio, thread entitled "Kef Reference Model 3 Schematic."
I sow the Tekton product for the first time yesterday...really impressive. They have also a few smaller products. If you put the grilles they look like simple a monoliths, far more my taste as the silly modern designs. The 30 day money back is very interesting too. Reading the reviews they have exactly what I'm looking for, natural timbre and precise instrument placement..i do not need nothing more. I really would be curios to try them out.
In that price range I would take a listen to Dynaudio Evoke 50. I had Audience 82's way back in the day and my long and twisted journey had led me to Dynaudio and in particular Audience 82. I still remember that sweet, warm, magnificent sound like it was yesterday (divorce forced me to sell off all of my gear 20 years ago)...I recently spent time with Excite 38's and they just didn't bring that Dynaudio sound that I remembered back, something was missing. I have however gotten that back with the Evokes. And according to Dynaudio the Evoke is one of the most successful product launches ever for them....Give them a listen they hit hard, deep, fast, and accurate. I have honestly not heard such deep powerful bass from a floorstander before...Good luck!
And there is a lot of truth in daros71' earlier response. I do love my Evokes but I would still put my old Audience 82's up against anything I've heard since. And I listened to many many this latest go round even though I was already partial to Dynaudio. Though I still ended up back there with my Excite 38's, I was truly expecting to be blown away now by everything from Paradigm, B&W, PSB, etc with supposed "advancements" in technology. Not so at all. Sometimes newer is not better...
It’s simple, their own web pages says it clearly. The new management team is now more focused in "growth" as in quality.
https://www.dynaudio.com/dynaudio-academy/2016/november/dynaudio-ceo-resigns-new-management-appointe...
My room is big and somewhat oddly shaped, at least for hi-fi.

There is a pair of Emerald Physics 3.4s on USAudiomart in Tennessee.  I recently got a pair and they absolutely blow me away. The MSRP was $4495, but the factory blew out some left over inventory, dramatically reducing the price. This guy is selling his for <$900.


Hurry!
M669326,
tweak1 is on it. Listen to open baffle before pulling any trigger. They have the ability to take much of the room out of it. The E.P’s are a steal, their designer moved on to develop Spatial and don’t miss Pure Audio Project. All have offerings in your price range and can be driven with almost any amp. You might just have a paradigm shift. Fun to be had for sure.  
I'll let others answer the speaker question but I can't imagine a single reason why you would need to change that amp. It's a high current, 250wpc amplifier that is built like a tank and sounds great. In your shoes I would worry about the streamer/dac first (and maybe only). A general suggestion on speakers - since you have a fairly healthy budget, you could pick up a few used speakers from the same family as what you are considering and see if you like them. For example, a lower priced Revel bookshelf speaker to get a sense of the Revel sound, and if you like it move the main Revel speaker higher on your list and then sell the bookshelves for hopefully break even or minor loss.Over the past year+ I've compared 5 different pairs of speakers in this way and it's been invaluable since it's in my own system in my own room.
Wow, that’s a lot of information. I really appreciate everyone’s perspective.As a courtesy, i usually try to respond to at least part of each post, but this is a lot to assimilate, so for now I will just thank everyone.And do some research, of course. And ponder.