To Doug Schneider,

What does it mean when a speaker is said to play "loud"? Isn't the volume more determined by the amp quality and wattage? I ask because I'm strongly considering the KEF R700s and in a conversation with a dealer, he said that they do not play very "loud." While I'm not a regular headbanger, I do have a large room (18' x 24' with vaulted ceiling to 13') and would like the ability to comfortably play these speakers at high volumes on occasion (I mostly listen to rock and jazz). Do you agree with the dealer's comments? What speakers are known for playing "loud"?

Thanks for your help!

Unfortunately, these days many dealers don't give the best advice, nor do they know their products very well. I recently had a conversation with a KEF dealer about the LS50, which I'm quite familiar with. It took less than 30 seconds to realize that, despite how much he thought he knew about them, he really knew next to nothing about that particular model -- he could just talk a lot. Finding a dealer these days is tough, and finding a knowledgeable one seems even tougher. No wonder online selling and buying is getting so popular.

How loud a speaker can play is partially determined by how much power an amplifier can deliver, but also how sensitive a loudspeaker is, how much power it can take before it distorts badly or blows up, and how big the room is where it's playing. Your room is pretty big, but I'm confident that the R700 has as good a chance as any speaker to satisfy your needs.

I reviewed the smaller R500, which I thought to be fabulous, and we measured it in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council. The test results were very impressive overall, but what was eye-opening was how low the distortion was at 95dB -- next to nothing from about 150Hz on up. We don't push most small speakers that high for fear of damaging them, and those speakers we do test at that level usually show much higher distortion than the R500 did. What this means is that the R500 can play much louder than most speakers without strain or damage -- frankly, astonishing performance considering the R500's low price. Given that, my belief is that the R700, which is larger, should be able to play as loud, if not louder than the R500, and probably louder than most speakers in that store you visited.

So ignore what the dealer said and simply go back to the store and play some music through them -- and don't be afraid to crank it up. Providing the amplifier is powerful enough, I think you'll like what you hear. If not, write me back. . . . Doug Schneider