Gripped By Upgrade Fever


I’m sure that 99 percent of the people reading this have suffered from the same syndrome before. So please show some empathy.

I’m two months into my ownership of KEF LS50s. Only a fool would be in a hurry to replace those speakers. I am that fool. It’s just that now that I’ve had a taste of what’s possible . . .


This is a long term plan. First, of course, is a new apartment so that a decent listening position is possible. Next, I spend about $5,000 on speakers and I make the big jump from bookshelves to floorstanders. Because this is all so hypothetical, I won’t mention any specific models and I’m not looking for advice on that point. Instead, let me start somewhere more basic.

A lot of of tower speakers, even the relatively small ones you get for 5K, cram a flotilla of drivers into the available space. Not unusual at all to see a tweeter, two mids, and three woofers. Not hard to find more. Right now, with the LS50, I’m looking at a single apparent source that’s five inches wide. All these drivers look like trouble to me. More crossovers, more timing issues, more phase issues, more I-don’t-know-what.


Is this fear rational? Am I crazy? I notice that at the 5K price point, KEF only uses 2.5 drivers—one Uni-Q and one woofer. Everything else is a passive radiator. While I don’t know what passive radiators actually do, I know that they are not independent sources of sound, that they are somehow just passing along energy from the woofer. Lots of other companies—Tannoy and Zu among them—claim virtues from one or two drivers that cover the entire audio spectrum or at least a big chunk of it, arguing that the simpler approach avoids the problems inherent in having lots of drivers trying to do the same thing.


For some reason, without any listening experience or technical knowledge, that argument appeals to me. Is my fear justified? Are speaker makers beyond such paltry concerns? Thoughts/comments/criticism?
paul6001
Near field (closer to speakers—read smaller room) point sources matter more. More drivers come together best in a bigger space.
What is your amplification?
@Paul, my concept is minimum crossover , minimum time issues , I see you are in Brooklyn ,  have good opportunities to listen loudspeaker based on wide range driver with no crossover plus woofer and super tweeter with only  one capacitor and one coil
Multiple drivers. With multiple crossovers are truly difficult to blend.
A single driver can be best although they are challenged in the frequency extremes. A two way with proper crossover is the best solution. However, if you already are happy with the SQ of Kef, maybe the best is to try one of their floor standers. 
ROTFLMAO! Difficult to blend. Hilarious. Read the comments. 
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
Two way systems can have a very good sound but they usually have some fault. It's very hard to make two drivers that can go from 20-20000hz. A third driver is very useful in filling in the weak parts of a two way design. Don't even worry about the design details, just listen and find one you like. 
There’s more than one way to skin a cat. And a whole lot of ways to design a speaker. If it isn’t implemented well any of them can have problems. Don’t get too hung up on how a thing is done. Focus more on what you like about the results. There are advocates of every type of speaker design ever made. 

I had 2 ways on stands for a decade, then 3 way floor standers for 2 more, and now I have Zu which would technically be a 1-1/2 way (full range with super tweeter). I’ve avoided planer, electrostatic, and open baffle so far because of back wall space constraints. 
I’m two months into my ownership of KEF LS50s. Only a fool would be in a hurry to replace those speakers. I am that fool.
....
This is a long term plan.
....
For some reason, without any listening experience or technical knowledge, that argument appeals to me. Is my fear justified? Are speaker makers beyond such paltry concerns? Thoughts/comments/criticism?


One of these is not like the others. 

Take your time. Gain listening experience. Expand your knowledge base. Like, speakers are only one small part of a system in which every component matters.  

Learn things like, principles that tend to rule can sometimes be broken. Study my system and see. A general rule, the more of something the lower the quality and the worse the result. This rules for HT, where 7 speakers never sounds as good as two. But sometimes other more important principles are at play and then you get a Tekton with 14 tweeters working like one 9" driver producing the best midrange in the most seamless sound you ever heard. 

A passive radiator is another version of a port. 

You have much to learn. Narrow it down. Focus. 
I'd recommend keeping a speaker for at least 6 months to learn from it unless you just don't like it and don't listen to it. For me this amount of time allows me to hear other speakers and identify sharp contrasts. YMMV. Do some reading about efficiency otherwise you everytime you sell a speaker you might need a different amp. If anyone here recommends a speaker that you will love, they are likely in transition or just confused about things emotionally- be careful.  Watch addiction, it can happen just like anywhere else in life and can be costly and unfulfilling. Learn about sound waves and reflection points. If your room isn't perfect you can easily spend lots of money with little return- at least know what are getting into. Enjoy the process and diversify hobbies otherwise you could end up fat and sitting on the couch too much. Find out what kind of speakers Tammy has and report back.
Get into your new room before you do anything. Also don't assume that floorstanding speakers will be an upgrade over standmounts.
Get Devialet Phantoms they should fit right in with their  New York appeal and Paris fashion sense. 
You mention both Tannoy and Zu speakers but they may require a totally different amplifier (not sure what you are using now) to make them sound their best.  For example, yesterday I heard a system using CJ Premier 11 mono block tube amplifiers driving corner Klipschorns highly modified.  Comparing them to a 1wpc 45 tube Class A amp was a really big improvement in every way.  95-100db speakers don't need the CJ mono blocks so that that into account.

Happy Listening.
join the self help group for audiophilia nervosa...

sonos.com
A 2 1/2 way speaker is worth looking into . Years ago I owned a Spendor 2 1/2 way speaker and it was outstanding!
Post removed 
Its no wonder you want to get rid of them after only two months, they are fatiguing to listen to after long periods. You need a Wharfedale or Tannoy speaker. Both are fantastic speakers, although once you hear the Tannoy dual concentric driver you will be hooked and won't look back.
For 5K you should take a look at Dynaudio Evoke 50. They are magnificent. I became a huge fan of Dynaudio when they introduced their Audience line many years ago. Whilst I was not as impressed with Emit or Excite, I have found Evoke to have more of that "old school" Dynaudio sound. What really blew me away with the 50's though was their bass response. I have 4 SVS SB4000 subs (obviously I do HT), so although I love bass when I listen in 2 channel I use Analog Bypass rather than stereo. In Bypass there are no subs and because the 50's hit remarkably hard and low I do not miss anything. 
Sounds like the addition of a well-crossed over subwoofer would add to the LS50 impression. I’ve had one or another form of biamplification since I can remember. 
I love the Kef sound, sold many in the past, and would replace my existing, aging Kefs with same. But I will keep my Rel T9i also. 
ROTFLMAO?
Eric clearly is one of the few brilliant crossover (speaker) designers.
In speaker design, crossovers are where it is at.
The more crossovers, the more problems.
Hi Paul

Jwillox advice might be the best you have received so far. If you calm down you will save yourself time and money. It’s obvious you are not happy with what you have now but before making radical changes try to set it up properly. First get some decent stands if you don’t already have them. Learn how to position them correctly. Next get the best subwoofer system you can afford, something like The Swarm by Audioknesis or a couple of SVS subs. The subs will stay even if you decide to get rid of the LS50’s, so get good ones.  Without properly set up subs you will never get the whole musical or theatrical experience. Setting up the subs will keep you busy for a while but by then you will have a much clearer sense of what you have and what you need. Unless you have a lot of space, floor standers are not going to be a solution for you. 
Good advise. I always thought that the LS50s were uniquely great speakers. For sure, they will greatly benefit from good subs.
Hello,
I think you should get the matching sub. KC62 for $1500. This is the same bass technology found in the $25,000 KEF blades. You can put this practically anywhere. They also have speaker line inputs. There are built in crossover functions for placement even an apartment mode. They play down to 11hz and up to 105db. They also have a wireless kit for $199 that clips on the back of the sub so you can put them where they sound best up to 100’ away. No need for the KEF reference speakers. I would also suggest the stands so you can attach the speakers mechanically. I read you are in Brooklyn so you need to find the local KEF dealer to demo them. If anyone is in the Chicagoland area this local store is a KEF dealer and you can demo in your home before you buy. https://holmaudio.com/I heard a roomer they are getting KEF blade 2s very soon to go with their new Ayre dealership. Since I have never been to Axpona this is the first time hearing the KEF Blades 2s. 
there is no arguing that with proper setup, well designed well voiced monitor type stand mounted speakers can be very favorably accompanied by well integrated subwoofers (one, and ideally a pair or more)... the resulting sound can be staggeringly good

this been said, it is also true that many listening environments are also living environments that prohibit proper setup of speakers and subs...
paul6001

Apartment living and audio usually a bad fit. Floor standers deliver bass and need room to bloom, sound their best. Your better off staying smaller with what you have I feel. 
You will find that small speakers with small baffles and large floorstanders with narrow baffles all sound small and weak in the musical spectrum in the body range of music which is where most music lives the lower midrange upper bass area. When you move to a large baffle full range speaker or listen to one it is very hard to listen to other types after that experience because so much of the power and body are gone from the music and so is the fun of listening.
There is only one argument that should appeal to you.
It comes from your own ears. 
MC...after looking at that ridiculous system you have I now understand the foolishness of all your post...good grief. 
missioncoonery- Comments from actual listeners. Read em and weep:  

The imaging was so good that I felt like the vocalist was performing right in front of me and that I could reach out and touch them.  

My listening impression was all the detail and nuances were presented to my ears in a most unique way. Unique to me because it was so far above any system I had heard including the last set of Monitor Audio Gold with a Prima Luna Integrated. I enjoyed hearing everything but was most shocked at Fleetwood Macs "Landslide"   

Hearing it so many times in the past and then not recognizing the intro because of the detailed soundstage. Then Chuck let Stevie Nicks sneak into the room and begin the vocals dead center right in front of me and the recognition set in.   

Thank you again for spending the afternoon with me and letting me listen to your system. Honestly, the experience was a little overwhelming.   

Clearly, there is a massive, detailed soundstage. 
 Excellent tonal balance and wide, pinpoint soundstage! Bass was tight and articulate and seemed to be coming from everywhere, but well integrated with the music, band, performance. Never boomy or out of control. Crystal clear highs and vocal midrange brought the band into the room, or, when my eyes were closed, I was transported to the venue.  In my opinion, Chuck has achieved audio nirvana- that thing about being drawn into the music and hearing more and more detail, hearing the inflection of the voice whether it's pain, joy, or spite (Cry Me a River). Horns were smooth, never harsh.  The sound was wide and big, speakers disappeared .   


Again, actual listener comments. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
@spenav +1 on the AudioKinesis Swarm!

@paul6001 
I have experienced significant improvements all around in multiple rooms (a 10' x 12' minus closets and a 11' x 14' living room at the old place/ 13' x 17' office and 15' x 19' living room in the new place) using the Swarm with my LS50s.  Fuller, tighter, clearer and faster bass.
The soundstage depth, width and height noticeably increased.

Similar outstanding results as well with my Harbeth SHL5+40ths, Magnepan LRS and most noticeably on a pair of 15 ohm Rogers LS3/5As from the late 70s.

It really is impressive what a well thought out and implemented subwoofer system can do.

Even more so with smaller monitors.

If upgrade fever is unavoidable, at least consider a subwoofer system as an initial first step.

Also, don't be intimidated by having ''several'' subs in your listening area.  I managed four subs (2 facing the ceiling up on a high shelf, 2 on the floor) in a tiny room.

Not sure what size listening room you have but ironically multiple subs have a greater percentage improvement in smaller rooms.

Best of luck in your upgrade quest!



I agree with the comments on adding a sub to what you have now. I have been running LS50's for the last 4-5 years and have them paired with a REL 7i sub and it completes the picture for my small listening room. If tuned well, it will blend perfectly. Then focus on the gear driving them as the LS50's will reward you with any improvements you make in the stack.
Paul 
I have had quite a bit of experience with speakers and they are really difficult to sort our. One idea that has stuck with me is the thought that companies that make large quantities of models, they might have a line of budget speaker, $500 to $1500 then slightly higher speakers ranging from 2k to 6K then a range that is higher and on and on. I don't think they are really dedicated. Just trying to sell boxes. They have to sell a lot of boxes with the advertising etc. 

So I have looked for companies that are smaller more focused. Companies with a house sound. A couple examples might me ProAc, Larsen is new with a modest production, haven't heard them but heard good things. Go for midrange. No one on these pages even talk about midrange the discussion always goes to the bass.. When I had a shop I had a number of monitors and never once felt the need to hook up a subwoofer.

Thanks for all the good advice, everyone. I appreciate the good intentions.

I’m not doing anything anytime soon. It’s just that the LS50s have given me a sense of what’s possible. Now that I know, I want more! (I’m sure everyone reading any of these forums can identify.) I spent my first week of ownership knocked out, with a stupid grin on my face.

But as soon as I was fully conscious, I was looking for pre-1962 pennies to put under the speaker spikes. (In an earlier post, I acknowledged that all of my tweaking/positioning attempts led nowhere, that the new speakers sound best on the same stands in the same position as the old ones.) And now I’m starting to think about future upgrades.

I have no doubt that my next upgrade will be a sub. If I had any sense, I would take that and these speakers and a sub to my grave. I’m continually surprised by reading reviews of seriously big, seriously expensive (20K+) speakers that the reviewer says sound best with subs. The race for a single, full-range speaker may be a race better not entered.

Did we ever get an answer about RATFLMAO?

I even spent a few quick minutes looking for a cheap sub that I could slide under the couch. After the third time I read that “audiophiles always prefer no sub to a mediocre one,” I gave up that idea.

Tekton is clearly a company that would disagree with my simpler is better idea. Funny, the Mini-Lore was the last speaker in the running before I went KEF. That is essentially one full range driver with a super-tweeter. Still, all of their complexity is supported to pay big dividends. Any problems, MC?

To me, my mild case of audiophilia leaves me with two lasting questions:

1) I think we can all agree that the phrase “it’s all about the music” falls apart in a mild breeze. But what if you were a classical music fan. Supposedly, Dudamel and the LA Phil are doing something quite special these days, a real “once in a generation” moment. Why wouldn’t you treat yourself to a subscription and 20 weekends in Los Angeles instead of a new set of speakers? I know that I prioritize live music—remember live music?—far above these speakers and a prize these speakers a lot.

2) Why don’t most people give the first thought to the quality of the music they listen to? I’m not talking about being an audiophile. The reasons people reject high-end audio are so many and so obvious that I laugh every time I hear someone from Stereophile ask, “Where are the young audiophiles?” (Perhaps they’re driven away by the lunacy that takes a CD player and turns it into two boxes costing twice as much. Could you imagine Apple announcing that the next generation iPhone would now come in two pieces—one for the phone, one for the apps—and cost double?) But the masses settle for so little. Do they like wearing ear pods all day? Don’t they realize what they could hear for no more than the price of a phone? Me and my friends are a little past our yuppie years. Got a few bucks in the bank, staying home most nights. If we aren’t buying stereo gear then no one is. One guy makes an effort, the rest don’t even have an audio source wired to their soundbars. I just don’t get it.

But I shouldn’t stir up trouble in what has been such a lovely thread. I’m just goofing around. You’ll know I’m serious when I start asking for sub advice. Until then, thank you for the thoughts.
Subs with small speakers make sense. Especially if they are preconfigured/sold as a complete speaker system. Those small speakers can't get down to the really low frequencies by themselves.

Subs with floor standers don't, unless you are doing some kind of home theater set up with sound coming from all different places. That's not for pure 2 channel audio. I agree with less crossovers and simplest is best.

Exception is ESLs which are too directional for me. I think some of those come with sub options.
I find that upgrade are not worth it.