Desktop speaker upgrade from KEF LS50s (


I currently have a desktop system with KEF LS50s that I'm enjoying very much, but am getting the itch to upgrade. My requirements are:

  • Able to perform well in a nearfield desktop environment (4' equilateral triangle for listening position, R speaker 12" away from side wall, both speakers nearly flush to front wall)
  • Not cheap looking, incorporates modern design and materials (trying to avoid just a plain box)
  • Under 17" height preferred
  • Passive preferred, or active with analog inputs + way to incorporate subwoofer
  • Not to exceed ~$5-6K budget range (used OK)

I currently have my bass ports plugged on my LS50s to keep bass under control, and have a REL Tzero subwoofer to fill out the bottom end. I listen mostly to rock so not having much under 30 hz doesn't really bother me. I am using IsoAcoustics Aperta stands to elevate my speakers off my desk and angle them to the listening position. Soundstage, imaging, and detail are all satisfactory with the LS50s, even in this somewhat limited setup.

If I buy a rear ported speaker, I am planning on plugging the bass ports similar to my current setup, as well as using my IsoAcoustics stands to decouple the speakers from my desk.

I was doing research into speakers like Focal's Sopra No 1 (used)/Kanta No 1, Sonus Faber Olympica Nova, and Vandersteen VLR CT, but none of the reviews I've found have been from a desktop/nearfield listening position.

Would appreciate if anyone with a similar setup could share their experiences/recommendations. I've been reading in some forum posts that a coaxial driver setup is critical to desktop nearfield performance so if LS50s are already as good as it gets for a desktop setup I'm ok with that as well.

Thank you!
The Kef LS50s with their coincident/coaxial driver design provide a point source of sound and are hard to beat in a nearfield listening space. That said, the small Harbeth and ATI monitors are worthy if you’re just looking for a change.
I use the Harbeth P3ESR in my computer room, setup is close to what you describe.  Speakers are in the corners of the room about a foot from the wall, not quite equidistant.  At the volumes I listen to in this room, it is the best sounding system I have.  They are driven by an ARC VSi55 tube integrated.  I have an SVS SB12-NSD sub in the system also. 

I haven't heard the LS50's so can't compare, but I'm not sure how it could get much better without spending way more. 

Some of the other speakers I've compared to in this setup were Focal 1008 BE, Canton Vento Reference 9.2 DC, Klipsch Heresy I, and probably some others I've forgotten. 

There isn't anything about them that I don't like or wish they did better.  They are a "plain box" though as far as looks go, although I think they're really attractive and nicely finished.
I really like the original Vanatoos for desktop, haven't heard the latest one. The originals can be found on ebay occasionally.
Maggie’s, brother in law has a set for sale
Thank you everyone for the suggestions. The more I read the more I think coincident/coaxial is the way to go here. I’m going to look into used KEF Reference 1s as the natural step up from the LS50s. Has anyone compared those and the LS50s in a desktop arrangement? (I do worry that they may be too imposing for a desktop setup but I’ll worry about that after I figure out if the sound is a massive upgrade)

 I will also see if I can get a demo of the Harbeths although I’m not crazy about the prominent exposed screws in the design.
Harbeths are designed to be used with the front grilles left on.
You can get different sound but not sure what could be considered an upgrade over ls50s on a desktop.

Are yours on isolating stands, like Isoacoustics or other? That’s the first thing I’d do.  They also need a beefy amp and good gear upstream to sound their best.   Lightweight amps need not apply. 
If you can arrange for some space behind the speakers, I would go with a gently used pair of Boenicke W5se.  Otherwise, I would probably just stick with your LS50s.
$5-6k??? man, save your cash. go for the JBL Studio 530.  They were just on sale for $300 a pair, but back up to $600, still saving tons of dough.   Read up on them.  Crazy good.  
When I was auditioning speakers for the desk a pair of active Adams F7 s and a PSAudio NuWave dac combo blew me away. In the end I decided to go without all the equipment. Adams doesn't make the F7 any more their pro A7X would be even better.
I used to have the LS50's on my desk with the same stands. It was OK but the desk is really not the best place for the LS50's. I have them to the right of me now and though not ideal the sound is so much better.  The room treatments were an incredible upgrade for $700 from GIK.

For the desktop the smaller KEF LSX maybe better than the LS50's or even the LS50W which has a desktop mode for the built-in DSP. I also tried the Audience 1+1 V3 speakers on my desk. It was an interesting sound. I did not have enough space behind my desk to give those omni speakers proper placement. I kept the LS50's over the 1+1 V3's. They cost 2x more than the LS50's.

I am going to buy some new top end electronics soon and the LS50's are always going to be around in my house. 
Possibly look at a DIY full range driver. That audience may be hard to beat but supposedly this speaker by Genelec is the king of near field monitoring now:  Genelec 8361A 3-way Coaxial Powered Studio Monitor.