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Welshsox
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KEF 104/2

Hi

Anyone still using these older KEF reference speakers, they seem to be pretty common on ebay/audiogon in good condition for $500-700. They were like $3,000 15 years ago so im just curious if they are a potential bargin. They do seem to be well put together and the british sound of that era was a lot warmer and more detailed, it does seem as if hifi has got harder sounding over the last 10 years.

Anyone got any first hand experiences ?

Alan

KBK
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Re: KEF 104/2

I nearly bought a pair. The choice was between them..and a pair of Monitor Audio 952 speakers.

I went with the 952's. simple, elegant, lots of hidden technology, right in your face. That Robin Marshall guy sure designed the hell out of those systems. So sublime, most never even knew it. Great sneaky stuff.

I wonder what Robin is doing now? Whatever it is, it's gotta be good.

As for 104/2's: Check the internal woofers. Check for sag. They are both horizontally oriented. It's a modified bandpass woofer loading design.

If the woofers are good, they would benefit tremendously from a changing out of the electrolytic capacitors in the crossover.

This,from ebay, from someone who does recones of the suspects:

"Virtually every pair of KEF 102/2, 103/3, 104/2, 107 and 107/2 loudspeakers all have the same problem; the proprietary inner surround ring, also know as the annulus, has dry rotted. This can cause several problems; the woofer excursion increases which can allow the voice coil to bottom out and distort the former causing ongoing audible distortion, bass output is significantly reduced, the woofer power handling is much lower, and the frequency response of the woofer will also change because the back enclosure is no longer sealed."

Welshsox
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Re: KEF 104/2

Thanks

There does seem to be a common theme that they need some TLC. Audioreview guys talk about replacing the woofer due to rotting.

Alan

KBK
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Re: KEF 104/2

This is a great avenue for a technician, like moi, to make money. But, it's not big enough cash to pursue on a daily basis. one-two pair a month of Ebay and the like. I'd have to add it to a slew of other activities to make it work.

I used to do this sort of thing and make thousands of $ a month due to the level of knowledge I've accumulated over the years. I tended to work maybe 10 days or less a month..and just spend the rest of the month grooving to tunes and tooling around, sitting in the sun, etc.

If I was smart, I'd go right back to that.

Editor
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Re: KEF 104/2


Quote:
I went with the 952's. simple, elegant, lots of hidden technology, right in your face. That Robin Marshall guy sure designed the hell out of those systems. So sublime, most never even knew it. Great sneaky stuff.

Yes, that was a great speaker. I should post our review of it in the website archives.


Quote:
I wonder what Robin is doing now? Whatever it is, it's gotta be good.

I saw him a couple of years ago; he's working for Harman Europe.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Welshsox
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Re: KEF 104/2

Hi

Could you check out this link please, I know its hard to tell from the pictures but can you draw any conclusions from looking at these speakers.

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?spkrfull&1210939982

Thanks

Alan

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Re: KEF 104/2

-They look fine

-The owner is aware of this potential issue and goes through the trouble of showing you.

-They were used in a smoke free home, with the grilles on. Low issues of exposure to chemicals ands particulates that cause the rot, is the point of mentioning this. Thermal and thus humidity cycling play a part in this consideration.

-This person has a zero rating on the 'gon, So I'd be extra careful.

-I'm not sure where that dang crossover is, with respects to upgrading it. New capacitors are in order, as Kef used quite a lot of iron core inductors and electrolytic caps, they are big into the idea of compensated high slope crossovers. They were forced to use such parts, as they are very expensive in their higher grade forms. The placement of the crossover is key here. It might be behind the tweeter, in the faceplate, If I recall correctly. This means that there is little space to work with. But I don't really know, I've never dug inside that particular KEF model.

Although, I have dug around the innards of $50-100k pairs of speakers when the shop owners are not looking (or they let me)....I'm always curious. I always carry a flashlight for this reason. Never know when I'm going to get a chance to check out someone's box building considerations. It helps me understand where the given designer's head is at.

I love those 'factory tour' parts of a website. Thanks for showing me your particular design considerations! Note that the more serious speaker makers have NO shop tours. That's a good thing. For them, that is.

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Re: KEF 104/2

Hi

Thanks

The rating is not really an issue, the speakers are located about 20 miles from my house so I can drive over and pick them up with cash payment, thats why im so keen !!

How would you think these would compare to a pair of Legacy classics ?

Alan

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Re: KEF 104/2

We'll sneak in my honest opinion for a second.

Go listen to them.

KEF's are 'slow' sounding. Dark, too. Ie, not acoustically clear in their presentation. A GREAT looking speaker, with a very nice smooth sound. But definitely not transparent. Like B&W of the time. You have to punch serious power into them to get them to come to life.

Too many crossover parts, arranged to make the speaker have a very nice smooth measurement. Less attention was paid to the 'speed' of the speaker. Getting that right is tricky, on the best of days...one usually looses some other aspect in the process. They were excellent speakers for their time.

The reason I mentioned the Monitor Audio 952/MD is that they were almost, in a strange way- contemporary competitors.

In a way, both strongly stated two different schools of thought..that began to really diverge at that point, as computer modeling became the norm.

Robin designed the 952's with the idea of tight, fast, revealing and tuneful as primary aspects. I loved those damn speakers and I had them for a decade. They kicked serious ass.

MTM's require a specific listening height, though. Also, Robin designed some aspects which were very seriously THE cutting edge in design. And most designers never even saw it or noticed. To their loss. Sneaky bastard, he was and probably still is...

Well...I noticed. Every freaking detail of those speakers was about as good as it could be, for the time they were designed. Even today, most driver designers can't get halfway to where he was when he designed the Monitor audio drivers of that time. The 852/MD woofer is STILL one of the best driver designs I've -ever- seen, as a wideband woofer. these became (evolved into) the Epos mid-bass drivers. It has it's minor flaws with respects to current thinking but..-once again, that driver still slays some of the stuff you can get today.

Can the same be said for KEF? I believe so, but ..well..not the same way. A different direction, if you will.

Think of it as Lotus Elise vs 400hp American muscle. Both very fast. Both a blast to drive. I went for the Lotus. The quick and Darty one. The Monitor Audio. It made my toes tap. It made me dance. Not so for the KEF.

It all depends on what you are looking for in a speaker. What music you listen to. For me, if a speaker cannot properly deliver a clean transient..I don't want a damned thing to do with it. To give you an idea, at a high end shop I was involved with, that had about 6 sales staff members - every one of them had R700 or 852MD speakers at home. We likely held the record for Monitor Audio speaker sales in Canada. I just thought about it for second..and I bought the last two pairs of 852/MD speakers in Canada (both in true rosewood) and I have 3 sets of them in various conditions in the house right now.

To get back to the KEF's. If you listen to orchestral works, sure -they sound great. Awesome.

If you listen to mostly to excellently recorded jazz, blues, rock and live for transient ass-swinging DRIVE in the music...they won't do it.

As for Legacy's: Seriously - I've never heard a current Legacy speaker.

I'm not desiring to pick on or comment on modern gear that is still close to being, or is still in production. The Monitors and Kef's are getting into the 16-20 year old range, so I don't mind speaking my mind on them.

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Re: KEF 104/2

Hi

Thanks

I did listen and wasnt impressed. To slow and not enough energy for me.

Ive been looking for a while and have settled on something that is just plain weird but to my ears sounds great. Ive bought a pair of Quad 22's with the Quad sub, im sure there are better options but the thing is I work with one Hifi shop and i do feel passionately that if we dont support the shops then we will end up buying everything on the internet.

So ive given up the web for buying hifi for good, its just to easy to look at things read reviews and think they will suit you when in fact you listen to them and they sound crap !!.

So im looking forward to setting up the Quads, they sounded fast, musical, brilliant imaging just a bit lacking in bottom end, hence the sub. I knwo the Quad sub is not the best reviewed but it sounded good to me and it has a full remote which is great for setting the volume and things when you live alone !!

New amplifier next !! Creek Destiny maybe ?
Alan

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Re: KEF 104/2


Quote:
KEF's are 'slow' sounding. Dark, too. Ie, not acoustically clear in their presentation. A GREAT looking speaker, with a very nice smooth sound. But definitely not transparent.

I would agree with you regarding KEF speakers produced before the 104/2. The original 104aB was one of the least-transparent speakers I ever tried. But the 104/2 was a new direction for KEF speaker, going for a more-dynamic, more-sensitive presentation. It was also the first KEF speaker to use a coupled-cavity woofer alignment.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Jan Vigne
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Re: KEF 104/2

I was selling KEF at the time the 104/2 was introduced. Of course, due to pricing and size, it sat in the demo room alongside the still current 101 and 105 monitors. When it came to comparing the 101's to the 105's, given source material that didn't stress the smaller speaker's low frequency and dynamic capacity, there were no two speakers from the same company which performed so much alike. I don't believe there were ever two speakers from the same company that presented music so much unlike as the 104/2's and the 105's! It made for some interesting comparisons since the comparison was unavoidable.

But the 105's came from the analog source era and the 104/2's from the still early digital time period. I don't believe anyone in the store approved of the 104/2 at the time. It would be interesting to hear that comparison now.

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Re: KEF 104/2


Quote:

Quote:
KEF's are 'slow' sounding. Dark, too. Ie, not acoustically clear in their presentation. A GREAT looking speaker, with a very nice smooth sound. But definitely not transparent.

I would agree with you regarding KEF speakers produced before the 104/2. The original 104aB was one of the least-transparent speakers I ever tried. But the 104/2 was a new direction for KEF speaker, going for a more-dynamic, more-sensitive presentation. It was also the first KEF speaker to use a coupled-cavity woofer alignment.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Hi

I still run a pair of these -- if I could ship them to you I would -

There a bit delicate on tweeters -- any instability or clip at HF in your amplifier and the treble components die instantly.

The thing is they are slightly soft in the top end as well

They dont BI-amp or Bi-wire -- and in my opinion these wernt KEF's finest hour

I bought this pair very cheap with dead tweeters (commonly why people get rid of them) I got the more elastic MKII tweeters which are official replacements from Wilmslow Audio in UK. This made the top end more forward and balanced the whole top end spectrum.

They need whopping amounts of power supply -- in fact, if you put a QUAD 405 on these - you wont be impressed -- stick a KSA 200 from KRELL or the bigger quad 909 and they suck it up in spade fulls. With that infra-base piston system you have 5 drivers per side and a very complex cross-over. So they are not the most efficient speakers in the world.

Good points

Midband clarity and soundstage integrity is excellent -

As JA says -- but also there are some other variants related to the 104ab and KEF in general

check out Cambridge Audio R50 from 1970's
TLS 50 designed by John Wright of IMF electronics

...any other good points?
erm ......phew..........erm .......gosh.....compared to my maggies......erm......sheesh......

They look impressive and an interesting design

KBK
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Re: KEF 104/2

Hey John, thanks for getting the Monitor Audio 952MD review up. Yes, the bird was female. I guess!

I also remember the mention of the excruciatingly benign impedance curve. Almost exactly 8 ohms, right across the board.

We drove the 952's with the Audio Innovations El34 integrated and the Maplenoll turntables, with a Shinon Red Boron,and the Bryston MC transformer, in the store.

This combination blew people away and ended up selling quite a few pair of the 952, 852,and the R700.

I bought a spare pair of Rogers Studio 1 stands from a friend at another shop,as they were the perfect height for stand mounting the 952's..and fired them straight out..and me sitting at the peak of the equilateral triangle. This was a very 'flat' and beautifully open and deep presentation, with regards to direct arrival.

I still design for that specific parameter, to this day.

The 'tone control' and 'spacial control' then becomes the slight toeing in and toeing out of the speakers, thus giving many varied listening tastes the capacity to find whatever window they feel they need or like. Since direct arrival is the predominant point that defines the perception of the balance of a given system, the slight excess of ambient gives a slightly elevated spacious fill aspect, that can easily be tamed and cured to suit tastes, once again.

These are the sorts of aspects that Robin designed into the 952 that many designers miss, to this day. An absolutely tunable speaker.

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