Buchardt A500, KEF LS50 Wireless, etc. What are your top 3 downsides?


I'm seeing reviews popping up recently for the new version of the KEF LS50 wireless and the Buchardt A500. PS Audio is working on a wireless speaker, too, I gather. Specific models don't really matter. I'm interested in the general approach these products represent.

What you would you list as the top three most important minuses for investing in these speakers as the system? Sonic quality? Likelihood to become outdated by newer technologies? Lack of choice regarding DAC, etc?

Or, if it's really hard to come up with major downsides for these types of speakers, are they harbingers of a larger shift for audiophiles?

I don't have a bias, here. More interested in drawing out your views and experience.
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Showing 5 responses by mfgillia

I have purchased number of active speaker systems over the years and each time swear I'll never do that again. While they can sound excellent and give you better value at a specific price point the main problem that often goes unmentioned is usability.

Large speaker companies like Kef are generally horrible at software, which these systems tend to rely heavily on for functionality. The Kef LS50 Wireless has among the worse rated app in audio. Their new improved app partnered with version 2 isn't compatible with the original system so prior customers are pretty much screwed.

Why does it matter? Because without the apps working one can't adjust user settings for things such as dsp, subwoofer, bluetooth and changing wifi networks, which often requires a hard reset of the entire system. Even simple things like switching inputs is a chore requiring cycling through all options on the cheap plastic remote or getting up to go look at the front panel. 

So knowing all this then why did I purchase Buchardt's A500s at twice the price of the Kef's  back in February before any reviews were out? Combination of insanity, hope of better execution / customer service from Buchardt and last but not least the allure of incredible sound with unmatched feature set via unlocking the power of DSPs and active crossovers.  

The promise of endless tinkering with the sound signature via master tunings, lower level enhancement adjusting for Fletcher Munson curves, built-in room correction and true sub bass performance from a small book shelf speaker overwhelmed my self control and prior vows to avoid active systems.
@hilde45 Thanks - overall the Buchardt’s have been wonderful and tend to agree with Darko’s over the top and very flattering description of their sound quality including his comparison to the Kefs. The sound is just so much more fuller, dynamic and just simply more exciting & fun than my prior systems.

That bass... It’s the first thing that’s immediately noticeable after plugging in and the first time able to so clearly differentiate between different instruments that low.

The performance of those two active woofers mounted in the rear is more akin to having a set of very nimble balanced subs at least in my relatively small living room. But whereas in the past I was never completely satisfied with my ability to integrate subwoofers coherently with the rest of my system, it’s a different story with the A500s thanks most likely to the built-in room correction. It did a great job of taming two monster modes that were ripping through my room pre-correction.

It hasn’t been all positives though. I did have some drama during the first few weeks of operations that required fixing. However, Mads has been great and very responsive seemingly answering his email 24/7. He won’t hesitate to send out completely new electronics asap if something isn’t quite right.

Speaking of which, I did discover servicing the speakers is a breeze. It’s been designed so that all of the electronics are in one self-contained, small module that’s easy to remove/re-install.
@rbindc1 Nope, I haven't heard version 2 of the KEF LS50 Wireless. From reading reviews though my guess is that to me it will be more of a marginal / incremental improvement in terms of sound quality but more significant improvement in terms of usability & app quality. 

I'm skeptical that adding a subwoofer to the KEFs will improve the sound quality to be on par with the A500s based on my experience pairing version 1 with KEF's Kube 10b subwoofer. Not to imply there was anything really wrong with the sound from that pair. I just could never really seem to integrate the subwoofer well enough for my tastes. It always felt like I was listening to music with a subwoofer banging away from another location versus disappearing seamlessly into the sound stage.  

The bass of the A500s is also much more differentiated producing distinct bass notes from different instruments versus blending together. This is likely at least partially due to the room correction removing two large room modes from my listening room. 

With that said there's also really nothing wrong with the KEFs LS50 Wireless in terms of sound quality compared to conventional book shelf speakers especially in the treble where to me it really shines. There's just a lot more to listen to when playing music from the A500s. Regarding speaker stands, mine are from the local stereo shop where I purchased the KEFs and are relatively generic. I just checked now and didn't see a separate brand name or any other identifier.
 
@danielscottnyc1 At the end of the day the only thing that matters is whether you're happy with your system. So if to your ears the Sonos system provides similar enjoyment as the Buchardts then to me that sounds like an easy decision to make saving fair amount of cash.

Plus, Sonas software and app is considered by many to be among the best available and consistently works well for many people unlike what's available from most active speaker systems.

The Buchardt app for room correction has been available since launch. Darko uses it in his video review. There isn't an android version yet so borrowed the girlfriend's iPhone. Took awhile to figure out how to pair it to the A500s via bluetooth but once that's done it works very well.

I have not heard Dynaudio's nor System Audio's (SA) active speakers, which appears to use the same hub and remote control as the A500s. Regarding the former, the feature set is different than the Buchardts and SA but both Danish companies have very good reputations and their products generally receive very favorable reviews.
@decooney When one small thing went wrong with the A500s Mads sent me out a new module, which contains all of the electronics inside one small box. It took about three days to arrive and five minutes to install. Didn't ship anything back nor did I ever pay for shipping.