KEF Reference 3 or Raidho X2?

KEF Reference 3 or Raidho X2?
Which one you would buy?
I haven't heard either, but I know raidho's lose their resale value worse than most speakers, so just be sure.
I suspect you’ll get a range of opinions shared here from those who like KEF or Raidho and those who suggest you look elsewhere.  As i own KEF Ref 3s after taking a very long time in evaluating them against many others in their general price range, I’ll weigh in.  I haven’t heard the Raidho line though I’m sure they’re quite nice.

With respect to KEF Reference 3s - I like them very much and (obviously) preferred them over all the others and I auditioned a lot of them extensively.  (Competitors were the obvious and a few not so obvious).  Like all higher performing speakers, component matching is important.  Some criticize these KEFs for a “metallic” overtone in a narrow region of the treble.  I actually heard some of this anomaly with lower quality components during demos.  But, it is non-existent in my room with my gear.

I have heard the Ref 3s in an A/B comparison w/ the KEF Blades.  Yes, the Blades were better, but the voicing and sound quality were remarkably similar such that I couldn’t personally justify the additional expense.

KEFs are well designed and engineered, and backed by a company with a fine reputation and longer history than most. So, personal preferences aside, it’d be hard to go wrong here.  If I had an unlimited budget and the room, I’d probably have Rockports.  But, I’m pretty happy w/ what I have. 


I have heard the Reference 3 multiple times and they make beautiful music. Just give them some breathing space and you should be good. What is the rest of your system?

Have not heard the Raidho, so cannot comment on that one.
Used Raidho sell for 30 cents on the dollar or less, therefore, you can get some of their top models for cheap.  Raidho have a house sound that is very transparent and neutral which in some systems can sound lean. No experience with the Kef 3. Don’t buy Raidho new!
The system I have: audio research Ref 6 as pre-am; integrated tube KT88 power am. The demo of Raidho X2 used an integrated amplifier. The demo of KEF Ref 3 used two separate power amplifier. Both sound great to me but I am not sure if my system can support KEF Ref 3 which is 3-way. And not sure how the tweeter of X2 compare with that of Ref 3 in terms of durability (sealed ribbon tweeter vs Uni-Q). Really would like to learn more from audiophiles like this group.
These are very different speakers in terms of power requirements, room requirement, sound profile and soundstage presentation. 

Kef is a classic "cone and dome" speaker.  The image is presented to you as if the performance is in front of you.  Raidho is a ribbon and delivers a more immersive sound.  The sound reflects off the walls to create the soundstage and it feels like it surrounds you.  Neither is good or bad.  Just different. 

The Kef's are a little brighter and require careful toeing.  Tonally, your equipment should work well unless your room is under-damped.  The Raidho's are more natural and less sensitive to what they are matched with.  It will be reasonably natural unless your room is overdamped in which case it will drift dark.

From a power requirement, the Raidho's are easy to drive and work well with tube gear.  In a normal size room, 50-75w is plenty.  Kef's like a bit of power and are a touch more difficult to drive.  I like 175w to drive them.  

For room, the Raidho's NEED 3' behind them from the wall, minimum and 9' of space between them.  If they don't have that, the soundstage will not come together properly.  Proximity to the sidewall is unimportant. Kef's should not be as difficult to place and will be more flexible.  

You will need a subwoofer with the Raidhos.  You may or may not want one with the Kefs as their bass response is much better.

Raidho pricing is a topic of debate and is better left as a conversation between you and your dealer.  

FYI..I am a Raidho dealer.  I am not a Kef dealer.  
Vandantaudio, Thanks so much for the comparison. Please advise if it is common for the seal ribbon tweeter of Raidho to wear out and become sagged. Though the sound is still good, would it get worsened soon. What is the cost of getting a new ribbon? Is it worthwhile to replace it?
Thanks again!
I have not seen an issue with a sagging tweeter.  The first I had ever heard of this was in another thread. 
@verdantaudio I am really impressed by your posts. You really add a lot of value to the conversation here.
The first thing I would ask is whether you intend to purchase either speaker un-auditioned ? Asking others for guidance or opinions is not really the best approach. Unless you have a lot of cash to throw around, I strongly suggest that you make arrangements to audition both speakers. I realize this could be a challenge. Locating a distributor for either of your for mentioned choices can be very difficult. Especially in the case of the Radiho. I think their dealers a few in the US, unless you live out East. In New York, for instance, I'm certain you will find a dealer for both brands.
From that point on, "use your ears". This the only true way you can solve this choice issue. Personally, I don't feel that either one would be on my short list, but that's me !
@verdantaudio, thanks for your valuable info again.Would you please advise if there is a real difference btw Raidho X2 vs XT2. Is it worth the extra money to get a XT2?
I have auditioned both X2 and XT2 but in different studios with different gears so it is difficult to hear their differences. 
Looking forward to hearing from you.
I really appreciate the Raidho dealer giving an honest opinion. Thank you Verdantaudio for that. I have only heard the KEFs. I actually prefer the REFERENCE series to the Blades. Only because you need the right room for the blades. Putting KEFs on Hegel helps keep them in check. That being said you might want to look at the KEF Reference 1s. They are still a three way speaker and with the stands you can save yourself $4000 over the Reference 3s. That will get you a couple nice subwoofers if you need them. You might not. They are probably one of the best speakers for getting good clean bass. You don’t need 175 watts, you just need the watts to be really good like from Ayre or Hegel. 100 watts will more than cover for what you need. Don’t get me wrong the Reference 3s are amazing. So is a new Ferrari. But if you have to drive that Ferrari 25 mph all the time it’s a little over kill. Another tower you might want to look at is the PSB T600. With the 5 way crossover and IsoAcoustic footers the sound is controlled and the cabinet is about 90% as perfect as the KEF Reference 3s for $8000. They are like having a KEF Reference 2s with a better tweeter and crossover IMHO. The PSB speakers are not for everyone because each driver is crossed over in a tighter frequency range. I use two of the JL Audio F110 subs and the CR1 crossover. If I remove lets say below 70hz from the PSB the bottom driver might not even play. When I did this with the KEFs all the drivers were still playing due to the larger frequency crossover range.  So as long as you are not cutting off the bottom frequency’s yourself I say go with the PSB T600 or the KEF Reference 1s with those beautiful matching stands. I would add the IsoAcoustic Gaia 2s to the KEF Reference 1s and fill the stands with sand or lead shot. This will cost you another $800. On the Reference 3s you should go to the Gaia 1s because of the 114 lbs. 114 lbs is too close to the
120lbs limit of the Gaia 2s. They say 10% less of max is preferred.  That will cost you $1000. Now you are up to $15,000 for the Reference 3s vs $8000 in the PSB T600 that come with IsoAcoustic footers. This store in the Chicagoland area will let you demo the KEF and the PSB in your home:
Don’t get me wrong. I love the REFERENCE 3s. But, Do you have the space to drive them. Sometimes people forget these are Ferrari’s. Bigger is not always better especially when it comes to the room. 

The difference between X2 and XT2 is simple.  X2 uses a ceramic driver.  XT2 uses a ceramic and titanium driver.  The titanium driver is clearer and will deliver more detail.  
Whether it is worth the upcharge is debatable and is driven by personal
philosophy and quality of equipment you have driving them.  Are you focused on ans listening for small details?  Is your equipment equally brilliant?
This will show up in inner detail with massing of strings in classical or separation of a drum roll.  
You mention an ARC preamp whic will be fine.  Not sure what power amp and tubes you are using along with cabling.  This is a level of speaker where cables matter and the difference between speaker will be more pronounced with a good cable.  DAC also matters here as it can be limiting. 
I recently replaced a pair of Spatial Audio X5 with KEF Reference 1's. The 1's are far less fussy for proper setup, and to my ears and in my room (and with my gear) they image better than the X5's. The image is larger, more enveloping, and with a better sense of the recorded venue. They are also more authoritative but without being aggressive or in your face. I am experiencing no fatigue from long term listening. Low frequencies are surprisingly satisfying without the usual upper bass exaggeration typical of monitor-type speakers. Amps: Jeff Rowland 535.

I know you are not considering the X5's but it is the only direct comparison I can offer. 
Great thread!

I’ve pretty much decided to get either the KEF Reference Ones or the Reference Threes.

@verdantaudio, highly appreciate your professional advice.
the gears I have as follow:

Power AM: Audio Space AS 6i with electro-harmonic KT88 EH tube x 4; National 6SN7 tube x 2; Sovtek 6SC7 tube x 2.

DAC: Marantz SA 10

Cable is from USA recommended by Audio Space which is a manufacturer and wholesaler of vacuum tube amplifier based in Hong Kong.

Wonder if the above would be able to support XT2 to bring out the details? Or, would it be better to settle with X2?

Hope to hear from you again.

Learnt a lot from this discussion. Thanks so much.

We have a ton of kef experience 

The ref series are rather remarkable they do multiple things well they throw a large and well focused soundstage they  have vert good resolution they can play reasonably loud they are not hard to drive they have accurate sound

Dave and troy

That Marantz unit is excellent.  It will more than do the job.
Regarding the amp, this is a tough one.  I have never heard that amp.  I tried researching it and available data is limited so my POV is based strictly on spec’s and is worth exactly what you paid for it compared to your own experience or someone who actually knows the amp.

This a relatively low wattage class AB.  If you are in a larger space or listen at higher volume, I would be concerned about how much you are taxing this amp.  I would rather it be Class A where output is constant and then, running volume at 90% would be no big deal.  

Secondarily, I know nothing about the internal parts used and the quality of the amplification.  Price makes me wonder but I have heard awesome, modestly priced amps and others that are awful.  Quality of transformer and caps is key here.  

Because of my recent experience with the Canor AI 1.10, I have a very favorable opinion of EHX KT88s.  They do a careful match and they can be brilliant.  
In the end, only you can know if this amp is up to the task. 
This amp may work with the Raidho’s.  I would not use this for the KEF’s unless you are in a small space.  

KEFs are more neutral than the Raidho - KEF generally following the science of speaker design supported by Floyd Toole's (and Harman Kardon's) research, which is a neutral on axis sound with lightly sloping off axis frequency response so as not to end up to bright in a real room.

Raidho's have a self-admittedly distinctive departure from neutral - something like the BBC dip, engineered in for a more laid back spacious presentation.

I auditioned Raidho and though I found the ribbon/cone integration perhaps the best I've ever heard, I was just too aware of the departure from neutral.  Too many instruments and musical parts that I knew through other speakers (e.g. my Thiel 3.7s) to have presence and drive in the music, where made distant and softer on the Raidhos, loosing immediacy and drive.

The Raidho bass does slam surprisingly hard though.

I've been trying to DIY the sound of Raidhos for years. I've gottento 85%. If you can get the real thing, DO IT! Keep smiling1
One more thing is the Kef Reference series bass ports can be slightly customizable. They have a long or short insert that lets you tune the bass of the speaker to your room. I have heard most people prefer the longer insert because it controls the bass better. In my demo it was the same outcome. Someone I know said he was trying to get the shorter insert to work by adding IsoAcoustic footers. He thought the bass was better but it needed the IsoAcoustic Gaia 2s to tame it a little. What I am getting at is you can customize the KEFs speakers bass. That’s huge. Also, off axis they are so good. Don’t think of the Reference 1s as bookshelf speakers. Think of them as short towers. Because when it comes to the sound that’s exactly what they are. Again, If you are near the Chicagoland area this store will let you demo them in your home.
I hope this helps. 
I purchased the Reference 3 from Audiotroy. He was kind enough to bring the 3 and the 1 to my house. It was no contest . 6 months later , still loving them.