The KEF R300 Bookshelf Reviewed

Imaging through the dual UniQ drivers is usually very well defined. It takes only a little fine-tuning to get them sounding sharp and on focus in most room situations. During near-field listening sessions the stand mount speakers were able to hold a vocal image just above the computer source screen, ever so gingerly spaced in between the two sets of drivers.

The R300 did a marvelous job of delivering natural sounding treble. Smooth and grainless, the similar-style Elac UB-5 bookshelf sounded aggressive and almost shouty by comparison in the same section of the frequency spectrum. High hat and cymbal splash is defined on the R300, but doesn’t greet listeners with and unnatural edge or sizzle that lesser drivers can often fall prey to in an effort to recreate an exciting presentation. Mid tone texture felt right at home as the centerpiece of the frequency sweep. The strings soar and detail is rich as it is nuanced. The opening guitar from the 24/96 transfer of Led Zepplin’s Bron-Y-Aur Stomp isn’t mic’d with exceptional closeness, but it still managed to appear dimensional and held well in space through the R300 from its laid back location. As the rest of the instruments in the freestyle feelin’ song rev up, it’s still easy to pick out the acoustic instruments as they are delivered in smooth layers separated from each other, even as things get more busy. Some of the early Zepplin tracks can get a bit muddled, but the KEFs managed to recreate a very slick arc to the playback that leaves a sense of body and belonging to instrument. As the hand claps come after the guitar intro, they land to either side in the mix with the same tight recreation, tight enough to easily discern that a few of the beats land a little off kilter from each other occasionally. When the ragtag bass drum lands in the song, it hits with a thud and bounce that feels faithful the playful nature of the recording.

The R300 frequency response is rated down to 50 Hz, and a tone sweep down to that level reaffirmed this number (if not a even a little more reach). Could they get by with an external subwoofer to round out the low end stretch? Sure. But even with the single tone sweep, with the enough volume the R300 by themselves could rattle teeth. That’s not to say they are bassy by any means, but rather they harness the capability to deliver on a far grander scale. The previously-mentioned plug gives a versatility to the setup game that somewhat negates too much rhetoric from getting in the way of evaluating the bass. Out of the box and unplugged, there is quite a bit of reach and plenty of new depths to uncover in the name of entertainment. Normal 2 channel listening perhaps sets a good thump over a pleasurable area, but balance as with all things, is the key here. Never do the R300’s seem overreaching or congested. All key elements sit well together in a harmony that melts away into the background. If you need more, the R300s can produce. Unlike many audio products across the market, these KEF bookshelves don’t sound distinctly lush or overly analytical. They find a nice common ground in between the two extremes that sits very well on the teetering scale.

The three letter company knows what its doing. The R300s hit that sweet spot tucked into a unique niche. The less-than-floorstander size gives big sound from a more manageable, significant-other-friend-ly-er-ish look. The fit and finish are classy, upscale and defiantly offer more than many others, which can’t be overlooked. These 3 way delights are the step up from the LS50s. Razor sharp sound, serious focus and a swift, dynamic response all make these stand mount loudspeakers a must-audition for anyone in the game for a bookshelf-style music maker.

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