KEF R3 Meta Review

by Bruno Brozovic

After a long time, I decided to do another review of KEF speakers in my latest KEF R3 Meta Review article.

KEF R3 Meta Pro & Cons

Pros

  • Outstanding sound quality
  • Innovative Metamaterial Absorption Technology
  • Uni-Q driver array for a coherent soundstage
  • High build quality
  • Stylish design
  • Versatile placement options

Cons

  • Relatively high price
  • Larger and heavier than some competitors
  • Requires a quality amplifier
The KEF R3 Meta speakers offer exceptional sound quality and innovative technology, making them an excellent choice for audiophiles. However, their higher price, need for a quality amplifier, and limited bass may be drawbacks for some buyers. If you prioritize sound quality and are willing to invest, these speakers are a worthwhile addition to your audio setup.
Price: $2199

Intro

In today’s fast-changing audio world, everyone is always looking for the best sound. Music lovers and audiophiles want to find new ways to hear their favorite songs better, discovering details they never noticed before. One company that always stands out in this search for perfect sound is KEF.

KEF is a well-known British audio company that started in 1961. They have a long history of making amazing audio products and are loved by sound enthusiasts. Now, with their new product, the KEF R3 Meta, they have made another big step in creating incredible hi-fi sound.

KEF R3 Meta Review

In this detailed review, I take a close look at the KEF R3 Meta, a speaker system that’s getting a lot of attention in the audio world. I’ll go over its new features, check out how it performs, and see if it meets the high expectations set by earlier models and audiophiles. Come with me as I explore the KEF R3 Meta, where great design and engineering come together to create an amazing sound experience.

Construction & Design

The KEF R3 Meta speakers show the brand’s dedication to top-notch quality in both build and design. These bookshelf speakers are carefully made to provide outstanding sound while fitting perfectly into any living room.

Here are the key details about their construction and design:

Uni-Q Driver Array

At the heart of the KEF R3 Meta lies its patented Uni-Q driver array.

Uni-Q 12th Generation exploded view

This driver arrangement places a 12th-generation, 5.25-inch aluminum cone midrange driver coaxially within a 1-inch vented aluminum dome tweeter. This Uni-Q design ensures that sound radiates evenly in both horizontal and vertical directions, creating a wider “sweet spot” and providing a more immersive listening experience.

Meta Technology

The “Meta” in KEF R3 Meta refers to the Metamaterial Absorption Technology used in its design.

KEF R3 Meta material explained

This technology employs a unique metamaterial placed behind the tweeter to absorb unwanted sound waves, thereby reducing distortion and improving overall clarity. This innovation enhances the precision and purity of the sound produced by these speakers.

Cabinet Construction

The cabinets of the KEF R3 Meta are constructed using high-density fiberboard (HDF) and feature internal bracing. This design minimizes cabinet vibrations and resonances, ensuring that the sound remains pure and uncolored. The cabinets are available in a choice of elegant finishes, including Gloss White, Gloss Black, and Wood Veneer Walnut, allowing them to complement various interior aesthetics.

Port Design

These speakers incorporate a front-firing port, which is carefully tuned to optimize bass response and reduce air turbulence noise. This design choice ensures that the KEF R3 Meta delivers deep, controlled bass without muddying the midrange or treble frequencies.

Terminal Panel

The rear of the speaker features a high-quality terminal panel with bi-wire/bi-amp capability.

KEF R3 Meta Connection Terminal

This allows you to fine-tune their audio setup for optimal performance, whether using a single wire or bi-wiring/bi-amping with separate cables for the high and low-frequency drivers.

Magnetic Grilles

The KEF R3 Meta speakers come with magnetic grilles that not only protect the drivers but also provide a sleek and unobtrusive appearance when attached.

Elegant Design Elements

KEF pays attention to the finer details of design, including the curved baffle edges that reduce diffraction and enhance aesthetics. The speakers also feature aluminum trim rings around the Uni-Q driver and tweeter, adding a touch of sophistication to their appearance.

4 Different Colors

The KEF R3 Meta speakers are available in a range of stylish color variations to cater to different aesthetic preferences and interior design schemes:

  • Black Gloss – For those who prefer a sleek and sophisticated appearance, Black Gloss offers a timeless and elegant finish that can blend seamlessly with various room styles.
  • White Gloss – A classic choice for a clean and contemporary look, White Gloss complements modern decor and brightens up any room.
  • Walnut – This option provides a touch of warmth and natural beauty to your audio setup. The wood veneer Walnut finish adds a touch of classic elegance and pairs well with traditional or rustic decor.
  • Indigo Gloss Special Edition – This is a special edition of KEF R3 Meta speakers in Indigo Blue color. Maybe you will prefer this version.

KEF R3 Meta - All Color Variations

Size and Placement

These bookshelf speakers are compact, making them suitable for placement on shelves, stands, or even as part of a home theater setup. Their size makes them versatile and capable of fitting into a variety of room layouts.

In summary, the KEF R3 Meta speakers combine advanced engineering with elegant design. With features like the innovative Uni-Q driver array and Metamaterial Absorption Technology, these speakers show KEF’s commitment to excellent sound and looks. Whether you’re an audiophile wanting top performance or someone who cares about stylish design, the KEF R3 Meta speakers are a great choice.

Sound Test

Listening to Diana Krall’s “Look Of Love” on the R3 Meta bookshelf speakers is a real treat. The sound is clear, balanced, and coherent right from the start. You can turn up the volume, and the sound quality stays the same. Diana’s voice sounds dynamic and full of detail, never superficial. The speakers deliver impressive volume, making you think they are much larger. The piano sounds great too, with excellent detail.

Next, I played “Vivo Per Lei” by Andrea Bocelli and Georgia. The piano at the start is crisp and clear. Both Andrea’s and Georgia’s voices have a lot of charisma, and the R3 Meta handles the dynamic differences in their voices with precision. The bass is strong and precise, and the overall sound is clear and authentic, even at higher volumes.

“For Your Eyes Only” by Sheena Easton isn’t the best quality recording, but the R3 Meta speakers make it sound good. The voice is clear, and the piano stands out nicely. The sound feels full and well-balanced.

Then I tried “The Sun Always Shines on TV” by a-ha, performed unplugged by Ingrid Helene Havik and Morten Harket. The KEF speakers handle the voices with sensitivity and dynamic range, making them sound lively. The instruments are well-placed around the vocals, and the bass is strong and tight, giving the track a solid foundation.

Finally, Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” sounds great on the KEF R3 Meta. The sound is clear, with smooth transitions and solid dynamics. The male and female vocals are expressive, and the rhythm is sharp. The three-dimensional sound experience is impressive, even in larger rooms where you’d typically prefer larger speakers or a 2.1 system.

KEF R3 Meta (Black Gloss, Pair)
  • R3 Meta redefines bookshelf speaker’s performance. Sharing the same drivers as the range-topping R11 Meta, the R3 Meta...
  • R3 Meta featues KEF's 12th generation Uni-Q driver array with MAT and a powerful 6.5” hybrid aluminium bass driver...
  • Meta Material Absortion technology absorbs 99% of unwanted sound for the most pure and natural sound.
  • Frequency Response (±3dB) 58Hz - 28kHz
  • Available in four stunning finishes Black Gloss / White Gloss / Walnut / Indigo Gloss Special Edition. S2 Speaker stands...

Listening to “Land Of Confusion” by Disturbed on the KEF R3 Meta speakers is a powerful experience. The speakers highlight the energy in the vocals and electric guitar without making the sound overly aggressive. Everything sounds just right, with good overall sound distribution, space, and dynamics. This track is tricky and can often sound like uncontrolled noise at higher volumes with other speakers, but the R3 Meta keeps everything under control, making it a pleasure to listen to.

When I played the trance track “Bonzai” by Oliver Heldens & HI-LO, the KEF R3 Meta handled the beats perfectly. The bass was rich and powerful, with clear details and effects. Even at high volumes, the bass remained strong and didn’t lose its shape. The spatial structure of the sound stayed stable and clear.

The benefits of the Meta technology are clear when you focus on the details. The sound is more structured and pure, just as KEF promised. This doesn’t mean the previous R3 speakers are outdated; they are still excellent speakers.

KEF R3 Meta VS Competition

For the price of $2,200 per pair, the KEF R3 Meta offers a high standard of quality. But what makes the KEF R3 Meta so good, and who is it best suited for?

Let’s take a step back. The standard for speakers in the $1,500 per pair range is already high, and while there are more expensive options, the R3 Meta stands out as a reasonable investment.

For example, the Elac Vela BS 404 costs around $3,200 per pair. It features the outstanding JET 5 tweeter and delivers clear, detailed sound. The Vela 404 is well-crafted and offers excellent high-frequency resolution, making it appear delicate and sensitive. However, the R3 Meta is one of the most pleasant-sounding speakers I’ve heard, with smooth, seamless transitions that set it apart, even though the Elac is more expensive.

The Quadral Aurum Galan 9, priced at about $2,000 per pair, is another close competitor. It offers excellent value with its precise quSENSE ribbon tweeter and impeccable bass precision. While the Galan 9 adds a touch of brilliance in the high-frequency range, the R3 Meta provides more rounded sound and greater volume. The R3 Meta also maintains higher stability and superior performance with any source.

If you’re considering floor-standing speakers, the Q Acoustics Concept 50 is a great option at $3,000 per pair. While there are bookshelf speakers in the same series, the Concept 50 stands out with its slim, elegant design and complex technology. It offers outstanding resolution across the entire frequency range, precise bass, and excellent voice reproduction.

KEF R3 Meta Video Review

KEF R3 Meta Specifications

  • DESIGN: Three-way bass reflex
  • DRIVE UNITS: Uni-Q Driver Array:
  • HF: 25 mm (1 in.) vented aluminum dome with MAT
  • MF: 125 mm (5 in.) aluminium cone
  • LF: 165 mm (6.5 in.) hybrid aluminum cone
  • CROSSOVER FREQUENCY: 420 Hz, 2.3 kHz
  • FREQUENCY RANGE (-6dB): 38 Hz – 50 kHz
  • TYPICAL IN-ROOM BASS RESPONSE (-6dB): 30 Hz
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE (±3dB): 58Hz – 28kHz
  • HARMONIC DISTORTION (90dB, 1m): <1% 73 Hz and above, <0.5% 90 Hz – 20 kHz
  • MAXIMUM OUTPUT: 110 dB
  • AMPLIFIER REQUIREMENTS: 15 – 180W
  • NOMINAL IMPEDANCE: 4 Ω (min. 3.2 Ω)
  • SENSITIVITY (2.83V/1m): 87 dB
  • WEIGHT: 12.4 kg (27.3 lbs) per unit
  • DIMENSION (H x W x D) WITH TERMINAL: 422 x 200 x 336 mm (16.6 x 7.9 x 13.2 in) per unit
  • FINISHES: Black Gloss / White Gloss / Walnut / Indigo Gloss Special Edition

You can download & view the manual here->KEF R3 Meta Manual

Final Verdict

The KEF R3 Meta is a premium bookshelf speaker that expects no compromises from its new owner. It gets along excellently with almost every style of music, it is perfect for long listening sessions due to its round, homogeneous design, and it has a stable level and excellent workmanship. The plus of the Meta technology manifests itself in more acoustic clarity and a more direct sound that lacks any annoying accessories. Thanks to the Uni-Q driver, the baffle also delivers a coherent acoustic picture in terms of timing, in which the musical levels are perfectly differentiated. With a pair price of 2,200 EUR, the acoustic and optical beauty of the R3 Meta-Box is not too expensive. Clear conclusion: Currently (September 2023), the R3 Meta is the benchmark in its performance class, which no competitor can beat.

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3.8/5 - (78 votes) - Click on stars to leave a review

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