Computer matched high order 4-way crossovers assure fluid transitions between the five drivers:
The Hypertweeter, the new UNI-Q coincident source midrange/HF and the two high-tech 165mm (6 1/2”) LF drivers. With KEF''''s ultra low distortion motor systems and stiff, lightweight reinforced diaphragms, they deliver deliciously open bass with incredibly low distortion even at high volume.
We having just found this site i feel compelled to add my tuppence worth.
I originally went to Frank Harvey's in Coventry having arranged a demo of a pair of ATC SCM 20
speakers,lets just say they weren't for me.
On asking Kevin (an excellent sales chap who knows his stuff) if they had any other speakers that could be tri ampped the only ones they had in store at the time but at a significant increase in price were a pait of 'B Grade' Kef Reference 203 mk2s. Upon taking a look and my head say no but the heart saying yes i asked if they could be set up for a listen.
One thing i forgot to mention was i took my eldest son along with me, he had never before shown any interest in listening to the hifi set up,he preferred to listen to his music via his Mac, he brought along some of his own music.
After setting the speakers up and a suitable disc selected we sat back and are jaws dropped,disc after disc were played,even the lads disc were used, he really got into it, sitting their his head bopping,feet tapping,with a big grin on his face. His first words to me were 'Your going to take these home with us', and he was right,the deal was done hands were shook and off we went with them in the back of the car,between us thinking how the wife was going to take these new speakers, the size of them, the cost of them. We needn't have worried,she took it rather calmly,
At Frank's a Naim system was used to demo, not some thing i'd listened to before, but now home i wired them to what i had at the time, basically all Meridian kit, for the tweeter i used a Meridian 551 integrated, the mid range i used a Meridian 555 power and for the bass a Meridian 557, cd's were spun in a Meridian g07, we all sat back and pressed play and i was amazed at how the wife took to them, fetching her discs to play, we forgot the time of day and got lost in the wonderful sounds, later in the evening a dvd was played, Roger Waters, 'The Wall Live in Berlin'
brilliant,never herd it sound so good.
Well over the years since i still have the Kef's.and although they were classed as 'B Grade' to this day i've never found a fault with them, they are in Piano Black Gloss and look stunning,the rest of the system has changed, i now have a Meridian G08.2 cdp, a G02 fully balanced pre amp and a pair of 557's, i did for 6 months have a third 557 but deem this as over kill using one just for the tweeter,so now i us 2 in bi amp mode,i've run them in bridged mode and boy they kick ass, but in bi amp they bring the mid rang out.
Over the time positioning has been changed, but i find in our room (small 3.4mts x3.6 mts x 2.5mts high) puting them approx 280mm from the wall approx 2.75mts appart with the crossover adjustment plugs set accordingly we get a nice even sound,bass isn't bloated,in fact it's as it should be fast,tight and deep,mid range draws us into the music and the top end is sweet not shrill or brittle, each speak sits on a stack of 5 15mm graint slabs these decoupled from the floor with sorbothane balls, the speakers sit on the granite using the Kef supplied spikes, i did try some 'Nordost Pulsar Points' but really couldn't tell the difference.
After trying a vast range of cables we've settled on Chord cables,Anthem 2's xlr's for all inter connections and the Epic speaker cables.
Now to my ears the system sings,doing things how we like them,of course there are probably better speakers to be had, but i'd have to spend a lot more money to get them. I am happy and lucky to have been introduced to the Kef 203's that afternoon, other wise i'd never have thought about them.
If your living near a Kef dealer who has the Reference range to hand pop in and take a listen, you may be amazed just like we were, but remember the cost involved in purchasing a pair and the subsequent kit you will need to make them sing.
These, kef`s have alot to live up to, and by god they do.
I have been a B&W fan for aslong as I can remember, but as I am getting used to better quality hifi, KEF have really made there stand.
In direct comparison with B&W`s 803`s, the Kefs stand taller wider and and firmer on the ground, the image is bang on and the soundstage is HUGE. Vocals and midrange are crisp and spot on and the bass is Perfectly matched between. Seriously deep punchy and pure, there is not a HINT of boxyness with these, (what I found with the B&Ws).
Treble is a bit exaggerated, and this really spoils the scene, (maybe copper cables?) it can come close to ear piercing at very high levels while everything remains balanced.
WOW I was totally blown away, when I hooked these up to my ADCOM 5500 amp the speaker is just music great looks and music. So rich and detailed, I was constantly swapping my CD collection to see how every song I love sounds.
I paid a total of $3150 with shipping for these, not sure if I'll keep them since I have 7 sets of speakers at home and wife who is not too understanding of my hobbies. I haven't even moved them to my living room yet.
Anyhow, I bought these becase the new line is much more expensive somewhere around $10,000 that is completely ridiculous if you can get these used at $3000 get them you won't be dissapointed. The new ones don't have Hypertweeter and they are just very slight desin changes between them, something you won't even hear or see except for hypertweeter.
Pros: The Kef 203 is unsurpassed. The British can be proud.
Cons: I sometimes get a ringing in my ears after listening to hi-pitched material.
I replaced my Polk surround sound speakers with: Kef 203 reference mains, Kef q2ds surrounds, Kef KHT-9000 surround back, Kef 202c front center, and a Velodyne SPLII-1000 sub. All sound sources:Dish-811 hi-def sat box, Samsung HD-931 dvd, Pioneer PD-F407 cd player, and last but not least a Mitsubishi hi-def 73" tv, are channeled directly through a Pioneer VSX-59txi THX Ultra2 receiver via optical cable.
Polk builds a good speaker for the money - however more money generally means better build quality, better esthetics, and a better sound. With a freq range between 55hz and 55Khz Kef excels in the mid to high frequencies and Velodyne effectivly takes care of the thunder, bass guitar, and train wrecks.
I could go into crossover networks,etc, but you can read the specs and get all that.
A THX rating is one indicator that Kef's build quality is second to none including that of B&W and Martin Logan.
Don't get me wrong; Martin-Logan speakers are the real deal if you have a ton of money and a 4-6ohm amp that will punch out 200 watts per channel.
Bought these babies at a local dealer after an extended cross-check between various B&W's, HGP ("Mandola" - horrible!), Dynaudio (Contour 3.3), Sonus Faber, Martin Logan, and two different KEF's (201 and 203). In the end, I bought the KEFS - all four of them. :)
The only other speakers that produced roughly the same "quality" of sound were the Dynaudios, but they are more the analytical, transparent type. That's what I had before (JM Lab Cobalt 826), so I was looking for something different. I knew I wanted a warmer, mellower sound, but powerful enough to project large orchestral canvasses ... and the occasional Meatloaf. The B&W's (up to the Nautilus 804) have an extended midrange, in fact it's so extenden they all sounded like ALL-midrange. Which is great for voices, but terrible for anything else, which quickly put them out of the picture.
The sound of the KEFs instantly captivated me: they aren't shrill (despite having both a tweeter and a hypertweeter!), they aren't boomy, the don't smudge details, yet they're not analytical. In short: They're musical. Voices are projected with just the right amount of natural balance, orchestral music gets an impressive but not overblown soundstage, the music effortlessly floats above and beyond the cabinets (especially so with the smaller Ref 201), and they easily filled the 40 square meter showroom - even the smaller 201s.
So if you're a classical and/or vocal music listener and you're looking for a warm, non-technical sound, look no further. The Reference series is awsome, down to its smallest model. I am now running the 203s and 201s as A and B systems, later to integrate them into one multichannel chain.
I totally agree with the reviewer below that the Kef Reference 203 needs a powerful, warm-sounding amplifier. I tried several: a Vincent/ShengYa tube/mosfet amp (too analytical), an Electrocompaniet ECI-4 (wonderful, but too weak in the knees), my own Chinese Highend transistor amp (Audcom - also too analytical), finally the Emitter, which has plenty of power and sounds just as lovely as the highly praised Electrocompaniet.
Once you have chosen a warm-sounding amp, the CD player won't make much of a difference. I auditioned a dozen different players with the Kef-Emitter combo, and the differences were very, VERY minor. I settled for an Arcam CD 93T in the end, which fits in just nicely.
I think these speakers will stay with me for a long time (and me, I'm just the kind of guy who routs his entire hifi chain every 2 or 3 years).