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Does anyone have experience with the Kef LS50?

post #1 of 203
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

In a couple or so, I plan on purchasing passive speakers and an amp/dac to be used in the apartment I am moving into. I have my eyes on a couple speakers (B&W 685, CM1, Kef Q100, R100 and various others) as well as the Kef LS50. I'm just wondering if anyone has had the pleasure of listening to these and how they sound?

 

My budget will probably be around $2,000 for speakers new/used and an amp. Right now, I am currently leaning towards the LS50's and a Peacetree Decca. However, I am also looking at a Rotel/B&W combo right now as well. 

 

Thoughts and opinions? 

post #2 of 203

It would also depend on whether you are using the speakers entirely for a stereo music setup, or partially for HT use?

 

I found that the B&W's have better synergy with warmer amps like marantz.
 

post #3 of 203
Thread Starter 

Strictly music. Won't be able to play them very loud since I am in an apartment but occasionally I will be able to sneak in a couple high DB sessions basshead.gif

 

Would the Marantz/B&W combo give me a warm, relaxing sound? I'm looking for less analytical and more warmth that creates a very satisfying listening session. 

post #4 of 203

Have you also considered PSB or Paradigm? Speakers with a flat (neutral) response can be paired with a tube / tube hybrid amp for some of that midrange warmth. Coming out of CES, Rogue Audio will be offering a tube hybrid integrated amp, the Sphinx, (100 W / ch @ 8 ohms) for $1295. JoLida also makes affordable tube amps. You can also look to NAD for outstanding solid state performance for a reasonable price.

 

Manufacturers that sell direct also give you a lot of bang for your buck - for $1k, you can get a near full-range floorstanding speaker from Axiom Audio for the same price as the KEF LS50. I've also read good things about Fluance loudspeakers (the XL7F in particular).

 

Rogue Audio Sphinx

http://rogueaudio.com/News.htm

http://www.stereophile.com/content/rogue-audio-sphinx.

 

JoLida

http://www.jolida.com

 

Axiom Audio

http://www.axiomaudio.com

 

Fluance XL7F

http://www.fluance.com/products/XL.eng--8.html

http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/floorstanding/fluance-xl7f

http://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=474:fluance-xl7f-loudspeakers

 

 

Good luck and happy listening!
 

post #5 of 203
Thread Starter 
Hey Yage,
 
Thanks for the awesome response! 
 
I have not looked into those companies you listed but I will certainly keep them on my ever-growing list! I have a NAD amp with my Onix Ref 1's that I absolutely love. Such a great little setup. 
 
I'm now a bit at the crossroads when it comes to a bookshelf vs floor speaker. I will be moving into an apartment in under 6 months so I'm a little concerned about getting a floor speaker due to smaller room sizes. 
 
Also, do you have any experience with Zu Audio? I've been reading some great things about there Omen floor and bookshelf speaker. Wonder how it compares to what you listed above..
post #6 of 203

I've no experience with Zu Audio speakers, sorry. But after looking at the Omen bookshelf design, my guess is that they'll excel at jazz or chamber music - basically music in intimate settings. Since the full-range driver is asked to cover a very wide range of frequencies, you might find that pushing the volume or asking the speaker to reproduce a dynamic, full-range classical piece might result in a sound that's less clear than what you might find with something from Paradigm, PSB, or Axiom.

 

I had a two-way floorstanding speaker in an apartment for years (Meadowlark Shearwater Hot Rod) and they sounded great.

 

What NAD amp do you own?
 


Edited by yage - 1/15/13 at 8:09am
post #7 of 203
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yage View Post

I've no experience with Zu Audio speakers, sorry. But after looking at the Omen bookshelf design, my guess is that they'll excel at jazz or chamber music - basically music in intimate settings. Since the full-range driver is asked to cover a very wide range of frequencies, you might find that pushing the volume or asking the speaker to reproduce a dynamic, full-range classical piece might result in a sound that's less clear than what you might find with something from Paradigm, PSB, or Axiom.

 

I had a two-way floorstanding speaker in an apartment for years (Meadowlark Shearwater Hot Rod) and they sounded great.

 

What NAD amp do you own?
 

Hey sorry for the late response.

 

I believe what I have at the cabin is this: http://nadelectronics.com/products/hifi-amplifiers/C-372-Stereo-Integrated-Amplifier

 

Looks identical to that, could be a bit smaller in terms of power. It's drives the Onix's perfectly fine. Great combo. 

 

This is a pretty dumb question but from what I've read, I would get a better sound out of floorstanding compared to bookshelfs. Pros and cons of both? I'm leaning heavily towards getting floorstanding speakers... just need to make sure I have the right space for it! 

post #8 of 203

Not a dumb question at all!

 

The primary pro for floorstanders is that you usually get more usable bass response, perhaps by a half to a full octave or so. This can be due to a variety of factors, but usually the manufacturer can use larger woofers / more drivers. For example, take the Axiom M22 and M50. The M22 is a stand-mounted monitor with a 1" tweeter and dual 5.25" woofers. The manufacturer specifies that its frequency response is 3 dB down @ 60 Hz. The M50 is a floorstanding speaker with a 1" tweeter and dual 6.5" woofers with a response that is 3 dB down @ 42 Hz. You also don't have to buy stands for a floorstanding speaker to place the tweeter at about ear height when seated at the listening position.

 

Some folks may prefer a monitor because it offers a degree of midrange clarity that may be obscured by low-quality bass output from a similarly priced floorstanding speaker. Or their room acoustics demand that they separate the lower bass frequencies into a sub for a smoother response. Even a full range floorstanding loudspeaker can benefit from a subwoofer.

post #9 of 203

I just bought the KEF LS50's, primarily for use in a condo, where I must be careful of the volume.  I haven't yet set them up, so I can't provide you any perspective of their sound.

 

However, there is a YouTube video of a pair playing several tracks of music... and... you can get a pretty good idea of their sound, soundstage and imaging capabilities.  It's consistent with the reviews, which suggest they perform as well as multi-thousand dollar speakers.  I selected them over the smaller Maggies with the bass panels.  The reviews all report nothing really compares in the price range up to $2000+, and that they'll fill a smaller room with a life-like soundstage and image.  We'll see if my decision was right - but, I think, probably so.  At the very least, I'll have some of the best near-field speakers available.

 

I'm going to supplement them with the KEF R400b sub to warm them up a bit, and add some weight to their sound.  That combo should give me a pretty close approximation of the KEF Blades ($30,000), for a relative pittance - same mid / treble driver, and similar bass drivers.    

 

However, they do require some pretty hefty electronics to optimize their performance - they're pretty inefficient, with a sensitivity of only 85 db.  I think I'm going to drive them with the W4S STI-500 (250 watts / channel into 8ohms), which also gets superb reviews, which report it competes with the "big boys."  And... it will drive the Maggies quite well, if I later decide to switch.  While I've seen some reports of them doing pretty well with the Unison Research Set amp... I would stick with a 150+ watt solid state, or hybrid amp, at a minimum.  If I want to give them a bit of a tube sound, I'll use my tube line stage, or a tube buffer.  

 

I'm hoping this will do the job until I have the space and privacy for my Maggies, LaHave's, Vapor Audio's, Evolution Acoustics, or Selah's... or... maybe... Emerald Physics CS3's (all real "giant-killers").  


Edited by Gradofan2 - 1/25/13 at 3:06am
post #10 of 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradofan2 View Post

However, there is a YouTube video of a pair playing several tracks of music... and... you can get a pretty good idea of their sound, soundstage and imaging capabilities.   

 

I've seen these types of videos before... but I can't understand how you can get an idea of their sound, soundstage, or imaging from a compressed audio / video stream played on different electronics. Can you share the link?

post #11 of 203

I auditioned these at a local hifi shop, they look great in person and sound great too. I thought they were incredible for soundstage and imaging, really fast and responsive, excellent for mids and treble, perhaps a little pronounced in the upper bass (lower bass as you'd expect for a standmount rolls off). My issue with them was there was a slight metalic/grainy nature to the upper treble that I found jarring. Minor criticisms aside, I thought they were really good. Hope that helps. 

post #12 of 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiml3ss View Post

Strictly music. Won't be able to play them very loud since I am in an apartment but occasionally I will be able to sneak in a couple high DB sessions basshead.gif

 

Would the Marantz/B&W combo give me a warm, relaxing sound? I'm looking for less analytical and more warmth that creates a very satisfying listening session. 

 

I have found that to be the case with CM5 + vintage marantz amp. The tonality is very seductive, you just want to buy a therapist chair and lay back ^^

post #13 of 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by yage View Post

 

I've seen these types of videos before... but I can't understand how you can get an idea of their sound, soundstage, or imaging from a compressed audio / video stream played on different electronics. Can you share the link?

 

Here ya go...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwnjKWWfg_w

post #14 of 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradofan2 View Post

 

Here ya go...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwnjKWWfg_w

Sorry man, I still don't understand how you can tell anything about how the LS50 would sound from a YouTube video. It's a good quality clip for the most part, but I think an in-person demo is still required to really get handle on a loudspeaker's sonic characteristics.

 

I've listened to the NAD M2 Direct Digital amp (the amp in the video) hooked up to PSB Synchrony Ones wired with Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval cables. I can tell you how that sounds. I'm guessing that a YouTube video of that setup wouldn't do it justice, though.

post #15 of 203

I've been wanting to hear the LS50. If you haven't seen it, the author of Tube CAD wrote a fairly good blog post discussing his impressions of the LS50:

http://www.tubecad.com/2012/10/blog0247.htm

 

The Stereophile review is also worth reading... the off-axis measurements of the LS50 are ridiculously good, as is the spectral decay.

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