STEREO Magazine Reviews Canton Reference 3


They were one of the most admired attractions at the High End Audio Show Munich 2023. With an extreme optical makeover and extensive technical enhancements, the German company surprised the numerous guests from all over the world.
Gunther Seitz is aiming to raise the company’s sound image to a new level. One that is supposed to delight and please high-end fans and other sound fanatics.
The technical effort that has gone into these speakers is remarkable. It starts with the piano lacquer cabinet, which was developed using computer simulation and specially reinforced at critical points. The new shape was identified as advantageous for sound dispersion. Low frequencies are spread evenly to the front and rear. The crossovers are separate for bass and midrange/tweeter and equipped with high quality components. Canton is one of the few manufacturers who develops drivers completely in-house. The very broadband midrange driver now operates between around 180 and 3,000 Hertz with the goal of aiming for the best possible homogeneity. Strict selection and extremely meticulous manufacturing in minimal tolerances is essential in order to elicit realistic sounds.
It’s no secret that Canton is an expert on highly dynamic sound transducers, but listening to A Thousand Kisses Deep, a first difference in character to other speakers became apparent; less juicy, but faster and livelier than expected. The Reference 3 showed what really counts when music is supposed to be captivating. It played as if from a single mold and with astonishing plasticity.
In addition, the trumpet and double bass appeared without any sharpness or droning, everything sounded harmonious, without any attention-seeking ingredients. The ease with which the Cantons mastered the orgy of impulses in Nils Frahm’s All Melody was simply astonishing.
The naturalness of male and female voices left nothing to be desired. Thanks to the fantastic resolution they rather shone with a wealth of the most subtle details. The goosebump moments were delivered even in the most delicate passages.
One of the classic strengths of a Canton speaker is its ability to reproduce high, live-like volume levels in all facets without any sign of strain. Jimi Hendrix with Gloria – anything but an audiophile live recording – already hinted at what great deeds the Reference 3 is capable of. Even an 80s party hit like Wild Boys by Duran Duran didn’t cause any problems for the speaker.
So if you feel like virtual time travel – Canton has developed the perfect vehicle for it.
Lab Comment: Low distortion, smooth impedance response and very linear frequency response. Very good impulse response. Practical efficiency, not sensitive about amplifiers. Sound quality: 90%. Price/Performance: Excellent.
Stereo Magazine, November 2023

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