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AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

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broadway123's picture
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Hi folks...

 

Bit of a long story - but I hope you can help...

 

I'm having a tech refresh and keeping my Kef Reference 200C centre which I love.  I've managed to acquire a pair of Kef 203/2's from a mate who is emigrating and now realise that sadly my Onkyo 875 isn't going to be man enough...

 

My needs are ideally for a single box AVR with enough grunt to drive the Kef Ref's - primarily for 2 channel. In movie mode ([perhaps 30% of the time) it will be driving the above plus a pair of Kef dipole rears and a trusty Rel Q100E.  New Pioneer BDP LX55 / Sky+ HD will be the video sources and audio source will be Naim CDi (old but lovely) and streaming through, most probably, an Audiolab M-DAC. Volume is less of an issue - I don't do movies a la transformers and big explosions - more likely to be something much more sedate.  Musically, for 2 channel, I listen to a mixture of jazz, 'soft rock' a la Steely Dan and 70's / 80's funk. I was an avid Naim fan in my youth but think that my current 'need' is for something muscial and non fatiguing. Again, volume isn't an issue but I dont want to lose the bass extension when listening at normal volumes because the amp can't offer enough current / go low enough (I think the ref's need circa 3a at their 'worst'!)

 

I'm budget stretched and am less bothered about an excess of flashy 'bells and whistles' at the expense of audio quality.  However, my room is octagonal and about 14 ft 'square' (!).  It has a vaulted ceiling about 14ft and hence a lot of 'air'.  It is fairly hard - with little soft furnishing - so some degree of EQ would be useful.

 

I've had a wealth of 'advice' but am seeking some genuinely independent feedback.  With about £2 - £2.5k to spend at a stretch - assuming I get achieve some degree of discount, I see my options as the Audiolab 8200 / X7 combo (no Eq though...), Anthem X300 plus PVA5, Pioneer LX86 or perhaps the Yamaha 3020? Wildcards have included Yamaha 3010, Onkyo 3009/3010,  Arcam AVR400 (although I've read a lot about technical issues...) and the new Marantz 7701 processor / 7055 power...

 

I'd prefer a 'one box' solution for simplicity but think the pre/power option gives me more flexibility in the future and more likely, more true 'grunt'. That said, this option really stretches my budget! However, I really want to get the best from the Kef's and enjoy them as they were obtained for what amounts to a few beers!

 

Ideas, options, opinions, personal experience and any other information welcomed from any sources, including any links to any deals!  Thanks in advance for help and apologies in advance for the inevitable daft questions from this lowly newb...

 

Cheers,

 

Broadway

 

 

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Broadway123

CnoEvil's picture
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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

I drive Kef Refs to great effect with an Arcam AVR 600, which you would need to find ex-dem or 2nd hand.It is very good for HT and 2 channel duties.

Due to the problems, just make sure that:

- It has warranty left (ie. 5 Year one has been applied for)

- Know the history of it

- Has had the latest firmware updates.

IMO. Nothing less than a top of the range AVR will cope properly with the 203/2s (eg. Pioneer Susuano; Denon AVC-A1HDA etc)

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

I think with that budget and that room, the Anthem X300 as a pre would be a good starting point. Anything wthout room correction (such as the otherwise good Audiolab) would struggle to give its best.

You could always pair the Anthem X300 with a second hand Arcam AV9 (available for about £900), which may have been superceded now by the P777, but has seven channels of power allowing the 203/2s to be biamped, and should work well with the Kefs. You can always upgrade one or the other (without losing too much money) as funds allow further down the line.

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CnoEvil's picture
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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

gregvet wrote:

I think with that budget and that room, the Anthem X300 as a pre would be a good starting point. Anything wthout room correction (such as the otherwise good Audiolab) would struggle to give its best.

You could always pair the Anthem X300 with a second hand Arcam AV9 (available for about £900), which may have been superceded now by the P777, but has seven channels of power allowing the 203/2s to be biamped, and should work well with the Kefs. You can always upgrade one or the other (without losing too much money) as funds allow further down the line.

A small slip of the pen....I think you mean the Arcam P7 (was replaced by the P777).....which would cope OK.

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

Yes indeed thats exactly what I meant. Thanks Cno!

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

Get a listen to the 205/2's with the power amps you're interested in as this is THE most important match in the system. Once you've found a power amp that matches, the pre-amp is the next most important thing - and there can be huge differences here in overall quality.

The key here is to drive the 205's properly in the first place. Get this right and you'll more than likely not need room EQ - room EQ is only really needed for the frequencies that a subwoofer will be dealing with - usually about 80Hz and below. You can get some issues just above this, but that'll depend on the room and to some extent, the speakers being used.

Most one box AV receivers aren't going to be up to the job.

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broadway123's picture
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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

Folks,

 

Thanks for the advice and assistance.  The message is clear - the £2kish all in one AVR's won't be man enough and unless I can stretch to an AVR600 / Susano (which I'd need to probably find ex-dem / 2nd hand) a processor / power amp combo makes more sense.  Considering I want this investment to give me some longevity, I would imagine the power amp - suitably specced - would last the distance - even if I had to change the processor to support 8k or 4d or whatever the next technology will be...

 

That said, and taking David's advice, is to whittle down a shortlist of power amps that could somehow support my budget. Shortlist could be Rotel 1575 / Marantz 7055 / Audiolab 8200 X7 (I can bridge the front channels to make it a 5channel with fronts at 150W?) / Anthem PVA5 / other?! Ideas?

 

As ever, budget will be a challenge but I don't want to underwhelm the Kef's with a poor amp.

 

Might be time to find somebody with an interest free option!!!

 

As ever, advice gratefully received!

 

Cheers beauty, eh

 

 

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

hey from belgium   i have just discover a new site hometheatrereview 

why this site is interesting they end there review with stereo performance 

arcam 500 cambridge audio azur 650 and nad t 787 and t757

also they compare this product with stiff competition well know that for this people the mass production receivers 

onkyo yamaha and denon can not hold a candle for sonnicly performance again those early named 

and that is something i can not understand ....why are receiving some products a mass off stars on two different sites 

wher the other is not ward auditioning .....

with keff references there is no alternitif only the best of the best is good enough 

if you go to the site of nad the t787 is reviewd in hometheatre as the best ever 

and you can upscale him forever price 3700.00 euro 

my best regards 

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

Why not buy a second hand 2 channel power amp and then use it with an AV amp that has pre-outs (for the two main channels). That way you get the grunt you need for the Kef's but still only have 2 boxes. If you get the right power amp it should also last you quite a while.

I don't know how they fit sonically but a Meridian 557 at 200 watts should be able to drive the 203/2's fine (it was OK with my B&W Nautilus 802's that were very difficult to drive). You should pick up a Meridian for £600 or so (ignoring the hopers asking for £900 on eBay), leaving you a reasonable amount for the rest.

Just a thought.

Or......get a decent stereo amp that has a pass through input, then supplement it with a low cost AV amp. Similar principle, different implementation.

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

broadway123 wrote:

That said, and taking David's advice, is to whittle down a shortlist of power amps that could somehow support my budget. Shortlist could be Rotel 1575 / Marantz 7055 / Audiolab 8200 X7 (I can bridge the front channels to make it a 5channel with fronts at 150W?) / Anthem PVA5 / other?! Ideas?

IMO The Refs not only need a very capable amp, but like a touch of warmth ie. Arcam and Classe, so do make sure you try this before trying more clinical amps.

See if you can at least hear them driven by the Arcam P777 (it's the processor that gave the trouble).....it's a fabulous piece of kit, has a Class A type sound and even at it's price is good value. At least you will know if it's the sound you're looking for.

David (F.Harvey) rates the match with Bryston, which I've never heard.

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

broadway123 wrote:
However, my room is octagonal and about 14 ft 'square' (!).  It has a vaulted ceiling about 14ft and hence a lot of 'air'.  It is fairly hard - with little soft furnishing - 

That's you that is...

broadway123's picture
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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

Thanks.  My room is sadly less grand...

My increasing worry is that price will gallop away and I'll be needing to spend £5k which will necessitate putting a kidney on ebay and I'd like to avoid having Frankensteins hifi - with multiple power amps / processors, etc.

Anybody got any ideas about the Anthem PVA 5 or Audiolab 8200 X7 (which you can bridge I beleive into 2 x 150W and 3 x 100W)

Help! (and thanks...!)

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Broadway123

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

broadway123 wrote:

My increasing worry is that price will gallop away and I'll be needing to spend £5k which will necessitate putting a kidney on ebay and I'd like to avoid having Frankensteins hifi - with multiple power amps / processors, etc.

Anybody got any ideas about the Anthem PVA 5 or Audiolab 8200 X7 (which you can bridge I beleive into 2 x 150W and 3 x 100W)

Help! (and thanks...!)

Once you got the Refs, you (unwittingly?) set yourself on an expensive path.

Do it right, and you will be in heaven; do it wrong and you will wish you had gone for cheaper ones, as you have a true Reference speaker, that will highlight any weakness.

This is worth taking your time over, to allow different options to be heard.

 

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

FrankHarveyHiFi wrote:

Get a listen to the 205/2's with the power amps you're interested in as this is THE most important match in the system. Once you've found a power amp that matches, the pre-amp is the next most important thing - and there can be huge differences here in overall quality.

The key here is to drive the 205's properly in the first place. Get this right and you'll more than likely not need room EQ - room EQ is only really needed for the frequencies that a subwoofer will be dealing with - usually about 80Hz and below. You can get some issues just above this, but that'll depend on the room and to some extent, the speakers being used.

Most one box AV receivers aren't going to be up to the job.

I dont see this quite the same way you do David and there is plenty of correction above 80hz that can be effective -  in my experience of course . I have a client with a cinema in the old mill room with dimensions twice the OP's and there are significant issues to address in that space about 80hz and we have managed that.

To the OP of your choices the Anthem amps will drive the 203's very well and the MRX300 room eq should get the most out of your room regardless. That would be my choice based on our experience with all of the products you mention save the Marantz / AVR400 that we no longer deal with.

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

do what i am doing now, grab an onkyo avr/pre (818 for budget [about 850 if you shop around] , or 5509 if money allows), then just buy 3-4 quad 909 from ebay [around 400-600each]party time! [im using 201/2]

 

EDIT, ok this isn't exactly a @one box soultion@ but defeinitely very good value for money

 

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RE: AVR or Pre/Pro for Kef Reference 203/2

TheHomeCinemaCentre wrote:
I dont see this quite the same way you do David and there is plenty of correction above 80hz that can be effective -  in my experience of course . I have a client with a cinema in the old mill room with dimensions twice the OP's and there are significant issues to address in that space about 80hz and we have managed that.

" Can be". I'm not saying there won't be, but it will depend on the type of speakers used. If large ported speakers are used, then you are correct - room EQ will definitely be needed. If sealed, or smaller ported speakers are used, then there is less chance of them reacting with the room, hence less chance of room EQ being needed. I favour the THX approach, which means the outcome of using smaller (particularly sealed) speakers will be more predictable.

Our main AV demo room, which has no solid walls, and is reflective due to its smooth, partition plasterboard walls, is far from the best sounding room you can get, but we've found that a good quality speaker package with a good quality AV processor (which coincidentally doesn't use room EQ) is the best sounding combination in there. The products with room EQ do improve over not using it, but a better quality product overall has greater benefits. 

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