Funnily enough, after trying others gear highlighted the issues I made the effort to try and improve the room. Told the wife that we needed a refresh, so in came curtains, a few more soft furnishings and a bookcase.
Never thought I'd get a hifi upgrade from Laura Ashley.
Room now much quieter, so a much better starting position.
Now resolved that to get the sound I want best bet is to go for a tube pre with a ss power to drive the Kef's. So search has narrowed but slim pickings out there at the mo in budget.
Can't answer that. The R's were clearly wrong for my room, but I discovered valves. The system I have now took about two years to put together, in that time I listened to a lot of equipment, discovered a lot about what sound signature I liked from the music I like to listen to, and waited patiently for items to come up for sale. I also learned about what was likely to work in room and what wasn't.
IMO its not about valves or 'high end' whatever that is, it is about understanding your musical tastes in the context of reproducing it your room. Don't fall into the trap of buying 'high end' and thinking it'll be good in your room, you could end up making some expensive mistakes.
I don't recall from the rest of this thread whether you have described your room in detail, where you need to put speakers, do they need to go in the corners or back against the wall or in a alcove or bay.... what are your room dimensions and furnishings like?
For example, when I had the R's especially the 700's, the only location I could put them was in our bay window close to rear and side walls...... they really didn't like that so I moved things around a bit to get them out of the bay, which improved things but didn't solve the problems. In reality they really need to be out in the room by some distance. I quickly learnt that die to the restrictions placed on me by my room, I really needed speakers that were designed to be used hard back in the corners.......I eventually discovered that AN speakers are designed to do just that. Having settled on AN speakers, I discovered valves and that AN speakers were particularly suited to them..... so off on an amp search I went......
Yeah, it's an easy mistake to make and you might be better off with the Devon crowd anyway as Bude is in that weird wonky bit of Cornwall which goes up the side of Devon, and right on the border at that. Most Cornish people don't know it so well anyway as it's quicker and easier to get to Devon than Bude
I've now given this amp a good listen and it's very difficult to fault for its money. On the negative side and a minor niggle - it's neigh on impossible to see the position of the volume knob as the indentation in the knob is the same colour (black) as the knob. Especially when the light from windows is behind it. This makes selecting desired volume levels tricky using the remote. The other negative is the sound hardens up quite quickly with the loudness set to flat. It's a powerful amp and in order to utilise more of its power, I have found it best to reduce the loudness setting to facilitate more volume. The loudness works differently to others and reduces down to -30db. With the loudness reduced by about one quarter, everything opens up without being too shouty or in your face. The bass has a good solid thump to it, even with my small Q Acoustics Concept 20s and there's an absorbing soundstage that makes me want to prolong every listening session. I have used the optical connection to connect the TV to the amp and that works well too. The mids and treble are very clear and overall the amp is nicely balanced.
I'm very happy with it so it will stay in my main system for the foreseeable future. Highly recommended as a budget integrated with comprehensive and up-to-date inputs.