KEF R500 vs. Triangle Antal 30th Anniversary

To Doug Schneider,

Your review of the KEF R500 was excellent. I’m looking to upgrade my speakers.

I’m torn between the KEF R500 and the Triangle Antal 30th Anniversary, both of which I can get for about the same price. Which do you like more?

Vincent A.

I reviewed the KEF R500, but I didn't review the Triangle Esprit 30th Anniversary Edition Antal, which I presume is the model you're talking about -- Aron Garrecht did. I looked at his review, though, as well as the measurements we did at Canada's National Research Council (NRC), and it seems to be a very good speaker. The only thing that does concern me is the high level of distortion that showed up in our distortion test when we pushed it to 95dB in the anechoic chamber (measured at 2m) -- the distortion rose significantly compared to the 90dB test, so it's obvious that the speaker is severely stressed at that point and no longer performing well. That's really loud, though, so depending on your listening habits, it may or may not concern you. The rest of the measurements look fine, and Aron seemed to like the speaker overall.

I know far more about the KEF R500, because I reviewed it. Our measurements of the R500 show it to be outstanding in the lab, and I thought its sound to be spectacular -- not just for the price, but against speakers multiples of its price. In the lower mids through to the highs the R500 is far superior to some of the priciest speakers on the market from the boutique brands that are popular among some audiophiles. For instance, in my opinion, the mids and highs are far more neutral, cleaner, and natural than any of the Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia or WATT/Puppy speakers I've heard, which are obviously popular with audiophiles willing to part with big bucks in the hopes that they're getting sound to match the price. Plus the KEF's measurements are night-and-day better, which, to me, indicate a far better engineered speaker. It's only in the bass that the R500 falls back some, mainly because it's smaller than those speakers. I even preferred the R500's overall performance to the original YG Acoustics Anat Reference Main Module, which I reviewed about five years ago and it cost 28 grand at the time! All told, the R500 achieves a lot -- and quite a bit of that credit goes to the work KEF's engineers have done on the new Uni-Q drivers, which are really quite something these days. It's only when you put the R500 up against some really accomplished speakers, such as those from Revel and Vivid, that its shortcomings become apparent -- even then, mind you, the R500 holds its own, particularly when it comes to soundstaging and imaging, which I talked about in my review.

Obviously, you can tell I'm leaning toward the R500. I hope this gives you enough information to help you with your buying decision. . . . Doug Schneider