Kef reference 104 speaker found in thrift shop

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by lordfoo, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. lordfoo

    lordfoo Active Member

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Manila
    I just got hold of a pair of 1970s Kef reference 104 speakers. Has anyone here have any experience with them?

    The speakers seemed okay. Enclosures are okay. Surrounds are okay. Drivers seemed okay.
    but when i drove them with the Sansui AUDxdecade amp. The performance was very very disappointing. Do you think its the crossover? or are these speakers not really good? the label at the back said they were made in Maidstone England. Any suggestions?

    thanks.
     

     

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  2. OvenMaster

    OvenMaster Pompous Windbag Subscriber

    Messages:
    11,375
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    How was the performance "disappointing"?
    No bass?
    Lousy treble?
    Weak output?
    Buzzes? Rattles? Clicking sounds?
    Have other speakers sounded good with that Sansui amp?
    Have you tried the KEF's on another amp?
    To what other speakers are you comparing these KEF's?
    I and many, many others like the KEF sound as generally quite accurate, smooth, and non-fatiguing. Maybe others can chime in here, but those questions will do for a start.

    Tom
     
  3. lordfoo

    lordfoo Active Member

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Manila
    Thanks for the quick reply Tom. I'm really excited about this Kef. I guess you are saying that this model should sound very good. (accurate, smooth and not fatiguing)

    I went downstairs and tried the speakers again. I realized there's an Ab after the model number. (So its a KEF reference 104ab.)

    I used a Sansui AUD707Xdecade amp. It's 100+wpc i believe. I've placed an AR90 in the A speaker set and the Kefs in the B speaker speaker posts.

    I tried Norah Jones' "Come away with me" and the live version of Eagles' "Hotel California".

    BASS

    The bass is not as full and deep as the AR90s but they seemed okay for the size of the speakers. I don't know the words to use, but though the AR90s bass is better, the kef's bass is still pleasant to my ears.

    Mids

    Norah jones' voice came out accurate and She wasn't nasal at all like she was in some speakers i used.

    Treble.

    I have to really place my ears to the tweeter to really hear the tweeters. They work but are overpowered by the bass.
    Compared to the AR90s' treble, the kef's are i really lousy. Almost inaudible.
    I tried moving the selector switch from - to Ref to + to no really discernible effect. The treble is no unpleasant, its just not there!!!

    There are no buzzes, wheezes, coughs or any rattling sound.

    I pulled out my screwdriver and slowly opened the biggest woofer...and found out its just a radiator with a large piece of foam behind it and other foam pieces lining the speaker box.

    The middle speaker's metal surrounding the magnet ( i dont know what that is called), was covered with a white powedery substance. My, that's a very heavy small speaker.

    I couldnt remove the tweeter without prying against the wood and thus damaging it so I desisted and put everything back. I wouldnt know what to do with the tweeter anyway.

    Plugged the speaker again and listened for about half the norah jones CD. In summary, I guess i like the bass but not the high's which was almost non existent. the mids are also okay.

    Well, i expected the AR90s to outperform the kef's but the difference in the highs is too much.

    Yes, i've tested the sansui amp with a pair of NS1000 and a cerwin vega d9 and it handled those very well.

    (m sorry i lost my digital camera so i can't post pics)
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2005
  4. bolly

    bolly Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    16,552
    Location:
    CFB Borden
    never heard the 104ab's though

    I had KEF104's a while back lordfoo, and I really liked them. If I never had my IMF TLS50's...I would have kept the 104's. :yes:
     
  5. lfender

    lfender Active Member

    Messages:
    101
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    I have a pair of 104/2's which is a different animal than the 104's and I'm very pleased with them. Sounds to me like the tweeters on your speakers are not working correctly, as the KEF tweeters on mine are very strong, not harsh, but strong. I also have some KEF C-series bookshelf speakers that sound weak on bass until you get them in just the right place then they sound great. The KEF's are very flat in response and tend to only reflect the quality of the recording or lack of quality in the recording. Check out the KEF Audio web-site for more info on your speakers. And try disconnecting the mid and the woofer to make sure your tweeters are doing their job. If you don't get a lot of sizzle, they're gone. Good luck.

    Luke
     
  6. Nat

    Nat AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    12,469
    I have the active drivers and crossovers from a pair of 104aBs in a transmission line. They sound well balanced, though obviously the transmission line replacing the passive radiator will change their nature a bit. My suspicion is that your tweeter fuses are out -- there is a small fuse right above the tweeter level control. When fuses are out, sometimes there can be a little throughput leaking through other pathways, and I suspect that's what you are hearing.
    I loved the 104aBs back in the 70s, and suspect that they would still sound nice. The passive radiator allowed substantial bass to be produced in a small box, but passive radiators need to be completely airtight or they will produce slow sloppy bass. So it would be worth checking to see that all drivers are tight and that the input panel and control panel are also tight.
    Its possible that the AR 90 simply is a better sounding speaker (its a rather later and more expensive design if I recall correctly), but your 104aBs ought to still sound good.
    Incidentally, the aB refers to acoustical Butterworth, which described the mechanical/acoustical transition from the driven woofer to the passive radiator. There had been similar designs before, but I believe that KEF was the first to fully work out the physics mathematically.
     
  7. Kerb

    Kerb Active Member

    Messages:
    374
    Location:
    Glendale Arizona
    I never owned Kefs, but remember listening to some 104s in an audio store. They had some high-end Mark Levinson amp running them. I owned DQ10s at the time, but remember I was very impressed with the sound those Kefs were putting out.

    I'm thinking, the Kefs would sound best with top-end equipment.
     
  8. OvenMaster

    OvenMaster Pompous Windbag Subscriber

    Messages:
    11,375
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    LordFoo, see what I mean? :) We all chime in here to help each other out.

    I do believe lfender/Luke has narrowed it down to inoperative tweeters. You'll need to check the fuses and wiring to them, including the switch you've mentioned. Perhaps also there's a crossover fault... and that's out of my league. If you're hearing something at all from them, it's apparent they're not blown or open. If the factory put them IN then there's a way to get them OUT for repair, replacement, and maintenance. Please let us know what happens, and best of luck.

    Tom
     
  9. lordfoo

    lordfoo Active Member

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Manila
    Thanks to all. This forum really rocks!!!

    I checked the fuses. They seemed okay without benefit of a tester.

    I guess a have a potentially great sounding speaker in my hands. I'll be bringing it to a technician sometime today. Wish me and my kef luck.

    best regards,
    foo
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2005

     

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  10. Atlee1080

    Atlee1080 Member

    Messages:
    86
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    The Original Kef 104 is fantastic. IThere must be something wrong. The pair I had was the thing that made me obsessed with British speakers. I sold my pair for a very handsome sum of money when Ebay was new. I have regretted it for years. Good luck with the repairs and get ready for one of the best European reference monitors of all time!
     
  11. Atlee1080

    Atlee1080 Member

    Messages:
    86
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Also, do they HF control knobs or pots? Often times with old L-Pad controls when they go bad you'll get partial signal to the tweeters or just cutting in and out.
     
  12. lordfoo

    lordfoo Active Member

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Manila
    Hi.
    My brothers and i finally had time to open up the kef104ab. The tweeters responded to tests. But the crossovers, we found out were not working. All the capacitors were bloated like tiny sausages.

    We'll replace them and see if the speakers will finally yield their treasure. We will update you.
     
  13. B3Nut

    B3Nut tubes and spinny things!

    Messages:
    1,981
    Location:
    south central Wisconsin
    Wow....someone had to either be driving them hard or storing them in a hot environment to make the caps bloat like that I think...never seen a crossover cap bloat!

    I bet they sing when finished.

    Todd in Beerbratistan :beer:
     
  14. OvenMaster

    OvenMaster Pompous Windbag Subscriber

    Messages:
    11,375
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    B3, Foo's location (Manila) is hot and muggy for most of the year, I think. :dunno: That may be the reason!
    Tom
     
  15. lordfoo

    lordfoo Active Member

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Manila
    Those Kefs Can Sing!!!

    My brod finally replaced all the bloated bi-polar capacitors in the dividing network.

    3.3 mfd/50v -- 4 pieces
    5mfd/50v------10 pieces
    10mfd/50v-----8 pieces

    He repaired one first and run it side by side with the unrepaired speaker. The difference was awesome. And when I got this morning the speakers, i immediately connected them to the B outlet of my Sansui 707 x Decade integrated amp with the AR90 in the A speaker outlet.

    There's a vast difference in the music produced by the two speakers. The AR90's output is immediately louder and stronger in all frequencies.

    However, when the volume is turned-up a notch higher, the Kefs really began to show its worth as a bookshelf in the Low, Mid and High Frequencies.

    The term i would like to use is "mellow" and "natural" to describe the Kef's output. Voices are clear and precise. The Bass comes out clean and tight though not as loud as i usually prefer. The tweeters sound like the highs produced by my Infinity Kappa's emit tweeters though not as brilliant.

    I played a live version of Neil Young's Cowgirl in the Sand and was enthralled by the fast response of the small drivers (8 inches) to the stereo exchange of guitar licks by NY's band. (crazy horse?)

    Foo
     
  16. lordfoo

    lordfoo Active Member

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Manila
    Those Kefs Can Sing!!!

    My brod finally replaced all the bloated bi-polar capacitors in the dividing network.

    3.3 mfd/50v -- 4 pieces
    5mfd/50v------10 pieces
    10mfd/50v-----8 pieces

    He repaired one first and run it side by side with the unrepaired speaker. The difference was awesome. And when I got this morning the speakers, i immediately connected them to the B outlet of my Sansui 707 x Decade integrated amp with the AR90 in the A speaker outlet.

    There's a vast difference in the music produced by the two speakers. The AR90's output is immediately louder and stronger in all frequencies.

    However, when the volume is turned-up a notch higher, the Kefs really began to show its worth as a bookshelf in the Low, Mid and High Frequencies.

    The term i would like to use is "mellow" and "natural" to describe the Kef's output. Voices are clear and precise. The Bass comes out clean and tight though not as loud as i usually prefer. The tweeters sound like the highs produced by my Infinity Kappa's emit tweeters though not as brilliant.

    I played a live version of Neil Young's Cowgirl in the Sand and was enthralled by the fast response of the small drivers (8 inches) to the stereo exchange of guitar licks by NY's band. (crazy horse?)

    Foo
     
  17. OvenMaster

    OvenMaster Pompous Windbag Subscriber

    Messages:
    11,375
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    :beerchug: Didn't we tell ya so? :D
    More than likely, the KEF's sound a bit quieter is because they're not quite as efficient sometimes as other speakers. That means they'll sound quieter, or, need more power to sound "as loud" as other speakers. And the reason the bass is not as strong as your other speakers is because (from what I've read) many British speakers aren't so much lacking in bass as they are balanced across the audio spectrum. In other words, they don't have bass that's "in your face", but "accurate"!

    Congrats on getting them fixed, Foo. Enjoy! :banana:

    Tom
     

     

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  18. Pammyt

    Pammyt New Member

    Messages:
    1
    I have 104aB teak speakers and was wondering what would be a good asking price? I made new covers myself for them but of course they could be removed.
     

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