Known vs. Unknown -- PMC twenty.23 or KEF R Series

To Doug Schneider,

I have just come across your glowing review of the KEF  R500 (from some time back) and would love to have your ideas and opinions on speaker choice. I would like to ask your opinion of this speaker (R500) versus the PMC twenty.23.

I am in the market for new speakers. Unfortunately, my kit is in a relatively small room of max. 13’ x 7’. I listen to a whole spectrum of music: jazz, pop, rock. No metal, though! I have a Cyrus Lyric 09 as a source fed by digital files via AudioQuest Vodka TosLink from a MacBook Pro, with AudioQuest speaker cables, which I have found great over many years. Previously, I had an Exposure 3010S2 amp with the PMC twenty.23s and I found the speakers perfect for the room and a lovely sound, which is why I am looking for them again.

However, I have seen some glowing reviews on the KEF R series and am in a position to get a rosewood pair of R500s brand new at a great discounted price ($1820), so was considering them. The R700s and R900s are also at a great discounted price ($2420 and $3338, respectively), but I have assumed these would be way too big and boomy bass-wise for the size of room. Correct? If not, the R700 I was considering too.

Which brings me to your advice. Do you think the R500’s bass will be too much for the size of my room? And how would they compare in detail (especially with jazz and vocals) to the PMC twenty.23? I keep reading that the R series produces big bass, which, unfortunately, won’t go in my room. The PMCs were just the right balance. However, with the offers available and rave reviews, I am considering the KEFs.

I am working away all the time and unable to have home demos, or even shop demos, unfortunately, so this limits options somewhat for personal testing, which I know is the best way. This is the reason I am considering the PMCs that I know will work. Hope you can give me some of your advice having heard these speakers.

Thanks a lot!

United Kingdom

You’re asking really tough questions to give advice on. On the one hand, there is no doubt that KEF’s R series is, on the whole, great, and you should definitely consider one of the models -- probably the R500 given the size of your listening space. The price you can get a pair at reinforces that, since the R500 is already a great deal at full retail. On the other hand, you have a really odd-sized and -shaped room that’s going to be tricky for some speakers to work well in. With the dimensions you list, it’s not only small, but very narrow. Not an easy space to work with, obviously. Insofar as bass goes, I can’t even begin to predict how the R500 will load the room.

It’s really going to come down to how much risk you are willing to take. I tend to like risk, but others don’t. From experience, you know that the twenty.23s worked very well in there and gave you the sound you like. That is a safe bet. Since all the KEF models are unknown to you, that’s riskier. Are you willing to take that risk? That’s what you will have to decide. . . . Doug Schneider