KEF, Parasound, Straight Wire, The Vinyl Revivers, The Audio Hunters – CAF 2018

I’m a fan of the KEF Uni-Q driver. I own pair of KEF Q100’s that I keep on hand for road warrior duties. I take them to vinyl parties (the records, not the sex), the occasional record store day event, and sometimes I have even brought them along on a third date. Trust me, the KEF Uni-Q sound is seductive, and thoroughly cooperative with my varied social agendas.

Arriving to the KEF room on Sunday, much later than I expected, I ran into Johan Coorg (KEF’s global brand manager). We exchanged our usual pleasantries, asked each other about family and motorcycles — then got cracking into the business at hand — KEF’s new R Series. On display at Capital Audiofest were three of the five speaker line-up in the R Series; the R3 stand-mount monitor, and two floor-standers: the R5 and R7. It was the R3 that was playing, coupled to an all Parasound electronics system. There is a larger R11 floor-stander in the line-up, but it wasn’t in attendance at the show. During my time in the room, it was the R3 — the smallest of the bunch being played.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t the smallest — that title would go to the KEF LSX which is a smaller version of the ever popular LS50W wireless (and self-amplified) speakers. Sad that I wasn’t able to hear it this go round. Maybe next time. Now, back to the KEF R3.

The R3 is complemented with a KEF Uni-Q driver, which is 1-inch critically damped tweeter, loaded concentrically inside of a 5-inch aluminum mid-bass. Normally this type of driver is capable of handling near full range duties, but in the R3 enclosure the low frequency duties are handled by an all-new 6.5-inch woofer.

Speaking of bass, the R3 may be the smallest (playing) speaker on display, but it definitely put forth bass you can feel in your chest. However that wasn’t the only thing noteworthy about their performance. The Uni-Q driver being free of it’s full range duties sounded focused, and clean of distortion. Everything about the R3 experience was laden with truth. It’s no wonder they call this thing a Reference.

KEF R-Series

– R3 Stand-Mount Loudspeaker – $2,000 USD

– R5 Floor-Standing Loudspeaker – $2,800 USD

– R7 Floor-Standing Loudspeaker – $3,800 USD

– LSX Wireless Music System – $1,099 USD


– P6 Preamplifier (with DAC) – $1,495 USD

– JC5 Stereo Power Amplifier – $5,995 USD

All cabling by Straight Wire

by Eric Shook