By: Chris Allan
13th Dec 2013
"Cambridge Audio R50 and my introduction to KEF units / speaker building"
In the early 80's, me and a friend used to go to the auction houses with thoughts of coming across some bargains that would alleviate our relative poverty. One week, the auction hall was filled with these massive speaker cabinets and we were informed that they were from a company that had been making them. Both being hi-fi fans, we bid on them and found ourselves the owners of about 50 cabinets, newly made but without baffles or drivers. The cost - £1 each!
We managed to lend a van to collect the lot and my mate had managed to borrow a spare bedroom in a guy's house to keep them.
We eventually figured out that they were Cambridge Audio R50 cabinets and sold a few pairs via a hi-fi magazine to enthusiastic diy-ers.
Curiosity got the better of us and we had to get a pair working. Falcon Acoustics were the only company producing R50 crossovers (and still do). I remember chatting to Falcon's owner, Malcolm Jones, on the phone for about an hour as he told me of days working at Wharfedale and the history of the bextrene speakers made by KEF.
We bought 2nd hand B110s, B139s and tweeters, borrowed tools to make baffles and got them wired up. More experimentation with wool in the transmission line led to a good sounding setup. However, we never had the amp to power them properly, these were the days when the NAD 3020 was the best anyone we knew had.
And the rest of the cabinets? The guy storing them did a moonlight flit to escape mortgage debts, leaving the cabinets to the bailiffs.
The bug had bitten me hard and over the next 10 years I must have had dozens of KEF units come and go. I built several KEF kits, and still have a pair based on the LS3/5a, before eventually moving on to Audax and Focal units.
I still have a fondness for the bextrene units and the R50s, more the era of the time and the excitement of finding out about the golden age of hi-fi.
4 out of 5 - good speakers, but bettered in most respects by KEFs own 104/2 design.
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