KEF R900s or R700s?

To Doug Schneider,

I have a speaker problem and I kindly ask for your advice. My room is 35m2, plus my kitchen is 9m2, plus corridor (with stairs) is 3m2. My room is about square. My listening distance will be around 3.5-4.5m. Speakers will be around 2m apart (I could stretch it to 2.5m or a little more).

I want to buy KEF R900s, but some people suggest they will be too large for my room and that the R700s would be better. Personally, I don’t trust the smallish woofers of the R700 and I think I would prefer the R900 for performance. I listen to all kinds of music -- jazz, electronica, rock, classical, light-ish metal, and so on, but not techno or disco except for ambient -- and home theater. So, mainly normal music listening and movies, and occasionally playing music very loud (e.g., Rammstein)

So the questions are: Are the R900s too big for this room and completely unnecessary? Would the R700s be better?

I would be very grateful for advice.

Kindest regards,
Grzegorz S.

I haven’t had the KEF R700s or R900s in my own room, but I did review the R500s. Because of that experience with the R500s, plus some other experiences our writers have had with R900s, I can definitely pass along some information and give you some advice.

I loved the R500s -- they sounded very clean, even at extremely high volume levels, and put out surprisingly deep and powerful bass in my room, which is really big. I was surprised, because the R500 is not very big and its woofers are small. In fact, the R500’s bass was so powerful for its size that I wondered at that time just how much more bass the bigger R700 and R900 could deliver.

Shortly after, I learned a little more about the subject through fellow-writer Hans Wetzel, who was so taken by my review that he wanted to buy a pair of the R-series speakers and immediately looked to the R900, simply because it was the biggest in the line, yet still quite affordable. However, because his room wasn’t all that big at that time (he’s since moved, but his new one isn’t that big, either), I was concerned they’d overpower his room visually and sonically, so I told him that I thought he should look to the R700s instead -- just like people are telling you. Hans wouldn’t listen, though, because he was set on having the biggest and most expensive model in the line, which is the natural tendency of most. He ended up buying a pair of R900s, wound up loving the sound overall, but found out rather quickly that their prodigious bass output would often overload his room, and changing their placement wouldn’t help enough. Hans ended up using the R900s for some time, but knew all along that the R700s probably would’ve worked much better. Eventually he sold them and, in April 2016, he wrote an editorial about this experience on SoundStage! Access in an article called “Know Thyself . . . and Thy Room.” I suggest that you read it, because it describes the situation you’re in.

That’s not to say the R900 is the wrong choice for everyone. Writers Erich Wetzel (Hans’s brother) and Roger Kanno both own R900s. Erich has a fairly large room and says they’re the best speakers he’s ever had in there -- no complaints about too much bass. Roger Kanno’s room isn’t all that big, but they’re working well in it, in part because he uses the room-correction feature in his processor to better integrate the speakers’ bass output with his room. That’s not insignificant -- room correction can do wonders in terms of tuning the bass range and making things sound good in rooms that might not otherwise work well. Is that something you should consider? I’ll let you decide.

In closing, I can’t tell you which model to buy, but I can tell you that it is possible that, just like with Hans, the R900s could be too big for your room. As a result, don’t rule out R700s just yet -- their smaller woofers could be just the ticket. . . . Doug Schneider