KEF R7

MJ29.03.2019

Floorstanding loudspeakers

Without dust caps the driver cones of the KEF R7 look futuristic and high-endish. Carbon black drivers and glossy piano black of the cabinets blend in an impeccable combination on a slim silhouette of the KEFs. Despite its small footprint the speaker is not wobbling as the four legs with adjustable spikes anchor it well.

Function and form

99%
Ease of use
57%
Sound
98%
Appearance

Alike other KEF speakers the R7 stars with an excellent UniQ driver – a midtone driver that hosts 25mm aluminium dome in its center. Such an arrangement is one of the options how to align the speakers and achieve the proverbial point-source radiation. All remaining drivers are aluminium too (the midtone is 125mm cone, the dual bass cones are 165mm). The bass is enhanced by two asymetrically placed bassreflex ports that are made from flexible rubber, rather than usual plastic pipe.

I liked the KEF’s solution for bi-wiring: both terminal pairs are hard-wired inside the cabinet and if a single wiring should be used a user just removes the bolts that make the internal connection possible. If nothing else you do not have to think about jumpers.

Bass management

Weight
58
Slam
64
Articulation
58

KEF R7s are not big in appearance, however they are big in sound. When measured they do not dig extraordinarily deep (I could hear them at around 25Hz in my room which was the result of reflex ports) but they are very efficient in the muscular bass that resides between 50-120Hz. Therefore it was no surprise that bass-rich recordings, like Still, You Turn Me On (ELP, Brain Salad Surgery) were punchy and powerful.

Similarly, a plucked double bass was excellent. Here I could hear a contribution of the fantastic UniQ that added string resonances and the bass body vibrations to the deep sound. Unlike the plucked bass the bowed bass was less incisive and more round and warm as R7s favour gold over silver.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
92
Air
77
Transparency
73

The KEF R7 are very tuneful speakers above all. If surgical sound is your cup of tea then look elsewhere. This does not mean that the R7s are not detailed speakers – they are as transparent and detailed as any good speakers in their category, but if I put it different way I would not use them for mastering (vs what KEF likes to propose about their LS-50 monitors). They are voiced for bringing pleasure to listeners and they do so with passion. Among other things it also means that the KEF R7s are not fatiguing speakers.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
61
Dynamics
62
Temporal resolution
63

Still, now and then I had a slight impression that the sound of the R7 is maybe too comfortable. For example, in Sains-Saëns’s Danse Macabre (Charles Dutoit, Decca) the orchestra almost lulled me to sleep by its soothing crescendos. The strings were silky, horns were dreamy, timpani clashed with radiant warmth… as if there were triodes inside the speakers. And I sort of liked it because when combined with the KEF’s transparency the sound was dimensional, dramatic, dynamic and big.

Spatial resolution

Holography
70
Soundstage width
70
Soundstage depth
70

When I sat in my chair the concentric UniQ driver was placed below my ear level. That is the tweeter was far below where we usually expect it to be. Still, when I sunk deeper into the chair to level up, the sound lost charm and became diffuse. I do not how this is possible, especially when the UniQ has pretty even dispersion behaviour.

The concentric driver however is behind great imaging and cohesive spatiality – as if the sound was coming from everywhere and anywhere at the same time. I liked the speakers the most when the axes of drivers were toed in almost to my ears, but here your listening environment may give a different result. Still, the sensitivity of KEF R7 to positioning was remarkable (and again I wonder why with the even dispersion) so I recommend to spend some time with tuning the speakers to a room before you decide to send them back to a dealer.

Price as reviewed:86 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Perfect Sound Group, Praha, tel. +420 722 960 690

Associated components

  • Sources: Burmester 089 CD
  • Amplifiers: Burmester 911
  • Interkconnects and speaker cables: Nordost Heimdall 2 and Tyr 2
  • Power conditioning: Nordost Frey, Nordost QB8, Nordost Tyr, Nordost Qkore

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