They have been getting excellent reviews for a few months now. Not surprising, KEF has been a fine innovator/producer of speaker systems for decades.
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Yes Taters that would be what I would say, at least based on my experience with the Harbeth sound which I love and have quite a bit of experience with.
As for the desktop, I have no doubt they would be great as nearfield monitors, I think they were designed with that in mind, they just might look odd on a normal sized desk, they are pretty good size.
Kef supplies some nice two piece foam plugs for the rear port which really worked well in my set up, many ported designs don't hold up well when you start messing with the port. Point being you could put them on a desk and back them to a wall and still get good sound from them I would guess. Not ideal, but still likely quite good.
If I had to give their best attribute it would be that hard to find combination of a touch of tone density (warmth) with high resolution. They image like devils too.
Yea heard them against some much more expensive and obviously better stuff along with a number of fellow audiophiles. Very clear, real and present especially in the midrange. Everyone that heard them liked them. The issue is feed them something complex and they go to pieces. If you like Dianna Krall, Sinatra etc - get a good valve amp and these speakers and you are in heaven - forget rock, heavy metal etc.
Sorry Bob, did not realize I was fraternizing with the enemy:)!!
So this clear (and not to turn this into a Harbeth thread) but IMO they make the most musical speakers I have owned. The 40.1 is a marvel and worth full retail. I could go on and on about all the things they do that other speakers seem to have to trouble with.
One of those things Roscoelli hit on and that is how do speakers sound at low volumes. The holy grail of all high end audio to me is to have it all there at low volumes, no need to search for what is missing by turning the volume up. Novices miss this key point all the time. No speaker does this better than Harbeth and none better than the 40.1. Once you have you understand and it is one of the few elements that is much more dependent on the speaker than anything other part of the chain, electronics can't get you all the way there.
The LS50 is not bad in this respect but not the same league as Harbeth. My LS50 have less than 100 hrs on them, but they do seem to fill out some with a little more volume. Way better than most monitors which can often sound thin and anemic and unbalanced at low volumes.
I took a chance on the LS50 mostly out of curiosity and the reviews and knowing that lineage of Kef and Harbeth share much common ground and that I imagine Kef gunning for a sound similar to Harbeth (without admitting it)
I think the LS50 gets you 90% there at a fraction of the cost and also does some things possibly better including the illusion of a point source with wonderful imaging. Mine are placed near ear level seated and they sound really good at that height. They are much closer to the sound I am used to with Harbeth for considerably less cost hence my desire to share in the post.
The LS50 is a good speaker. Had it not been clad in an industrial all-black form, I would have considered it. It's certainly a great sounding monitor at its price range. I've been looking for some small monitors to complement the Harbeth SHL5 that I own and the LS50s did fall under the radar. However, I went with some Dali Mentor Menuets instead as they looked much more acceptable in the WAF department.
If one is able to accept the looks of the LS50 and has the right amplification and matching gear to go with it, these speakers are certainly worthy of consideration.
All valid observations. I would disagree with BIll however that this just a small box speaker with a pretty midrange. Every two way has its breaking point, if not there would not be 10 models in front of the Magico Mini.
Kef was perfectly comfortable putting a version of this same driver flying solo out in the open to cover most of the audioband in their reference Blade. Never heard them but certainly have read nothing but praise for their performance, some suggesting they are a "bargain" at 30K. Certainly nothing to suggest that the bold move of a singe driver in a reference full ranger was causing compression given what should be expected from a 30K floorstander.
If anything I would say lack of compression is one of this speakers greatest attributes particularly at this price point. It keeps things together nicely at moderate listening levels even with complex material rock included. Maybe my room is ideal in size but I have yet to see them break much of a sweat..........
The thing I like about my Harbeth C7s is their faithful rendition of the instrumental tone colors of unamplified instruments. Violins sound like violins; oboes like oboes. I listen almost exclusively to classical music, and this is the most important thing to me. I'd be eager to hear how the LS50s do in this area.
Same for me. This is where Harbeth is great.Body, weight and resolution together. My experience is that the driver size and material makes a big difference here. This is where I was most skeptical of the KEF before the purchase.
the LS50 is really pretty good here, wind and string and male voice have the proper weight and body with great clarity. Overall a tad drier than Harbeth but very satisfying still.
What is different than the Harbeth is the tweeter and where it is located. It is an equally refined top end but has a little more bite on leading edges without drawing attention. Really nice with well miked Sax for example to have both the bite and the body, all originating from essentially a point source which adds its own distinctive realism if that makes sense.
I'm curious as to how the Harbeth P3ESR would compare to the Kef LS50's? Has anyone been able to compare both?
I too love to listen to violin/cello, piano sonatas, voices, and acoustic instruments.
I'm trying to find a speaker with realistic tone, to be played in a small den, placed very close to the wall that is behind the speakers. Would the P3ESR be better because of the its sealed box and no ports?
I love how mini monitors are able to "disappear", but often they portray the instruments as also being miniature. Like "toy pianos, or toy violins/cellos" etc. How does the P3ESR and LS50's do in this regard?
Sorry for all the questions, but my closest Harbeth dealer is a 12 hour car ride round trip.
Thanks for sharing any thoughts you may have.
Have not heard teh KEFs but check the internet. I have read some things that indicate the KEFs are quite competitive in the areas you are interested in, ie favorable comparison to Harbeth and delivering some meat on the bones beyond what the size would indicate. That plus the modern point source design technology and all that can offer makes these very interesting indeed!
I have not heard KEFs since the 90's probably. I owned a pair of small KEF monitors once that were completely uninvolving and were returned in short time. I read these newer KEFs are a return to good form though. ANy thoughts from longtime KEF owners regarding these versus other prior KEFs in recent years?
I would think the LS50 would better compare to the 7s or possibly the 30.1. I imagine in certain areas it will not be up to par with the Harbeth's but in the important areas be very similar. Throw in some of the unique things that its driver design brings to the table which are audible (and postive in my mind), and they deserve to be in the conversation for sure.
I would have a hard time imagining that they would not bring significantly more to the table in terms of tone density and dynamics than the p3esr but I could be mistaken not to include the p3 in the discussion as well. I have never heard them, I am sure they are wonderful considering obvious limitations.
My LS50 are actually in a bookcase!! Big time audio no-no for a rear ported design. Interestingly its a really solid bookcase, I was able to fill the space with books and dark speaker stuffing and then I used half the port foam supplied by Kef and was shocked that I seem to have no peak and excellent speed in the bass and no overhang into the midrange. Normally this would be an acoustical disaster but now I have them much higher than they would be on stands and they are singing in the room they are in. Some luck involved there for sure......Point is they seem pretty forgiving of the rear port.
Hey, that sounded really intriguing paying on my little 8" visio
android tablet! No joke! Definitely got my attention. Cool looking little
I read they are only 85db efficient butcan achieve over 100db according to
kef specs. Have not done the math but lots of watts would seem to be in
order, especially for louder music genres. Im guessing high power class
d amps would be a good match?
I posted this short review on another site. Thought some may find it of
The Kefs r a 'growlin good spkr'... Open, dynamic, detailed, & fun! Mine have approx. 50hrs on 'em & have opened up &
smoothed out considerably. Attack & definition is great w/no hint of 'metalic' drivers that was present during the initial run in. Quick &
rhythmic they convey the 'excitement' contained in the performance. Forever, by Corea, Clark & White is awash in the musicianship that
is second to none. Chic's piano is fantastic & Jean Luc's violin visceral & alive. Instruments r fully & tonally represented w/attack & decay while
maintaining micro detail. Chaka Khan's vocal reproduction on 'I Love You Porgy', is exciting & oh so goooooood! The LS50s
easily unravel complex passages while throwing a wide, deep, dense & detailed soundstage.
I've had the Kefs matched up w/a Yamaha A-S2000 fed via a Modwright Transporter w/Audio Magic Clairvoyant liquid interconnect & spkr. cables in a great room 25' x 30' x 16'. The Transporter runs balanced into the Yamaha or single ended into a custom dual mono Velvet Touch preamp w/RK-37 tubes & Dueland Cast capacitors into the Yamaha pre-amp ins.
The Kefs also matched up very nicely w/a Unison Research SR-1, a really fine combination that allowed each to demonstrate a musical finesse & rightness in an emotionally & musically satisfying manner. In that case the Kefs & Unison were driven by a modded Pioneer PD-65, the 'turntable' cd player, & the same Audio Magic Clairvoyant cables. The same partnered components drove the PrimaLuna Prolouge II w/big bold tones & nice detail resolution, but without the speed of the more powerful solid state combinations. This via the 8ohm outs as I tried the 4ohm but felt a 'little hardness' in the presentation. The Kefs easily reveal what they r being fed; give 'em better upstream & they respond eagerly.
I've a feeling, though haven't verified yet, that the LS50's would be the 'cats meow' in telling differences when say, tube rolling the front end pre
on the SR-1 ecc82/12ax7s for just the right amount of top end 'sparkle'.
In a large room, the spacious, powerful, evenhanded nature of the Yamaha is a GFM (great fun match)! The combination may not 'go the lowest' i've had in room, but does many things better than I've heard 'in room' before. Percussive attack & decay, coherence top to bottom, agility & resolution, spacious & 'well sorted', vocal 'sumptuousness & presence', treble integration w/surprisingly deep, tight & well articulated bass. A fuller robustness compared to say, the ProAc Response 1SC, which I have in house. The treble has opened up beautifully detailed & not at all recessed as some have noted. It's performance vs price ratio seems really high. I've as yet, not been tempted to pair them w/my JBL Pro slot super tweeters, they just seem so complete & 'right' on their own. The same goes for a sub, I'll leave that for others to explore as I have none in house.
Kef deserves to be applauded for bringing such high tech integration in at such affordable pricing. Match & pick one of the great many dacs currently afforded; cable match to taste; dedicate a line, or two; condition or not; & you can end up w/a really nice, well balanced, & long serving audio system. The Kef LS50s r the type of product that restore balance & perspective by delivering high performance/high value transducers that enables one
to re-imagine assumptions one may have formulated as to how & what is 'required' to deliver sustained satisfaction in high-end audio performance.
The LS50s are 'Zenish'; little speakers w/the spiritual moves of an aikido master. They can go all downbeat w/Steve Gold for Saturday morning Yoga Sessions w/aplomb, then dart off, all dressed up to the 9's Saturday night w/Ritenour's Rhythm Sessions, demonstrating speed & leading edge attack w/a composed core, balancing tone, texture & finish that fleshes out the performance. Dave Alvin's crunching Stratocaster in Boss of the Blues made me wish I had a 'Big Joe Turner' collection to go rummage thru. You get the idea.
The LS50s thou physically small, possess the ability to make ones musical world larger by putting one closer to the original artist intent, the musical message, the muse in the music. They communicate emotional intent as well as intellectual content, they demonstrate design pretext & engineering context & avoid design fallacy. They appeal in equal measure to both heart & head. They r a third, & unique thing, a little speaker w/big performance.
Definitely worth checking out...
Yes... these are about as good as it gets. And... they are certainly not limited in their range... when set up properly.
You don't need to spend "thousands" or "tens of thousands" to get "real live" sound with a huge soundstage, and pin-point imaging.
Though, I've got them set up with the KEF R400b sub... it isnt' really needed - they have great bass on their own (for audiophile sound - HT buffs may want to shake the house down with auto subs, but these just produce life-like, quality sound).
Get yourself a great SACD/CDP, an Anti-Mode 2.0 DSP, a tube buffer, and a Class D Audio amp, some Better Cables XLR interconnects, and 10 AWG Magnet wire for speaker cables, and you will have life-like sound, you can't match for less than 10-20X the price.
And... they're soundstage and imaging are even better when they are placed on stands about 4'+ from the walls, toed in about 10-15 degrees and tilted up about 10-15 degrees.
Just an incredible, "you are there," life-like sound... even when you're off axis and standing - just a huge wall of sound.
Again... properly set up... very little betters these amazing monitor speakers (they are not "bookshelf" or "desktop" speakers).
Stereophile rated them "Class A, limited bass." In other words, from about 50 Hz on up, they compete in transparency and musicality with the best. Limitations, of course, are bass extension and ultimate dynamic range. But if you want the midrange magic and soundstaging of a class A speaker without spending 5 or 6 figures, this is evidently the place to start.
This is very tempting for me as I have a nice little pair of 8" subs that would match well with them.
I have had the LS50's for about a month, powered by a Modwright KWA 100 SE and Klyne preamp and I am just blown away with them. The are articulate and detailed and image very well. Vocals are just pristine, without a hint of sibilance. I have a REL T-7 that mates very nicely with them, but honestly they have surprising good bass response without the sub. I heard them at CAS and RMAF last year and thought they sounded superb with all-MacIntosh electronics. Perhaps they strain a wee bit at high volumes, but I seldom find myself pushing them as I listen almost only to jazz. I thought the KEF Blades were the most desirable speakers I heard at the shows (compared to Wilson, Magico and the rest of the mega-buck speakers), but the LS50's have a lot, really, of the same magic as the Blades. My room is 12'X25'X9.5' and they perform wonderfully in my room. Are they the last word in detail and extention?... probably not, but they are delightfully musically. I give them great praise and listen to them for hours on end. Audition them soon as they may be a limited offering. For $1500, they are no-brainers! Cheers.
I heard them at the ny audio show.I thought they were a bit "clean" not in any negative way but more monitor then audiophile. Meaning i did not hear any emotion or soul.
OTOH-the overall sound quality was impressive-if you are comfortable with where they are made
I would still love to hear them in a direct shoot out with harbeth spendors and mad....
Make sure you give them some time to break in before you form any opinions. I had mine for a little over a week before they sounded good and during that time I was thinking I'd made a big big mistake, but then all of the sudden, they became very musical. I can't pick a favorite between the LS50 and the P3ESR. I have both and can't bring myself to pick one over the other.
Also, in my room, the LS50's are very sensitive to vertical placement. Mine are set up with the tweeters exactly at ear level and that makes a big difference.
I've had the Kef's for about 2 months. For the past 5 or 6 weeks, I've been rotating them in and out of the system with the P3's every 4 or 5 days. Sometimes I'll pop in the little Silverlines into the system for a day just for fun.
You are right in that the LS50's and P3's can sound very similar; sometimes surprisingly so. When I bought the Kef's I had every intention of picking between them and the P3's and selling off the ones I didn't prefer but I have to say, I just can't pick a winner. If I had to say anything definitive in my comparison, I'd say a few things:
The Kef's probably have a wider and deeper soundstage, however, the P3's image specific instruments/voices better.
The Kef's go lower
The P3's probably give a little better resolution at lower levels while the Kef's hold up better as the volume increases.
This is hard to explain, but there is something about the Kefs that make you feel like the coherency between the driver and tweeter is better. Listening to a Piano on the Kefs I realize that with other speakers, I get a feeling like the sound changes as the notes move up and down the keyboard. Sometimes with vocals, I hear the same thing. It's the first thing I noticed with the speakers when I hooked them up for the first time.
However, I do seem to prefer the sound of a violin on the Harbeths. For what it's worth, I played both Violin and Piano for quite a few years when I was younger.
The Kefs seem to interact with the room more and are more finicky in placement than the P3.
In my setup, I think there is a very slight hump in a very narrow band in the upper bass of the P3's. It's very slight, and very narrow. It's not pervasive at all and I don't always notice it when I switch from the Kefs to the P3's.
That's really it. Sometimes I'd say the Harbeths are a little more revealing (but still very sweet) in the highs but then when I listen to the Kefs again; well, then I'm not so sure; same thing with the perceived "speed".
For reference purposes, I've got a very modest system and room. Room is 11x12.5 (treated) and components are just a Musical Fidelity M3i integrated, Oppo 95 and Music Hall TT. Speakers are out from side and back walls and listening chair is too. My ears are just over 6 feet away from the tweeters. Some might call the setup quasi near field.
Music is everything except for rap, classic rock and heavy metal. I'm (obviously) not a bass freak and even though my speakers don't go low, I'm picky about the quality about what is there. Often, the bass on ported designs in my small room bug me, but not with this Kef. The Harbeths are sealed.
I suspect, but have no proof that if I had a larger room, the Kefs would start to assert themselves more, but that is just a guess and I could be completely wrong. I'd love to hear both in different rooms and settings though to learn more about their traits. I often think that my room is the worst performer in my system and do have plans for more treatment.
Again, I wish I could pick a winner and I keep listening, hoping for a breakthrough, but at this point, it might be a complete toss up. Again, maybe in a different room, things might change.
Going by looks, for me it'd be the Kefs by a mile. I love how the rose colored drivers catch the light and my attention when I walk by the listening room; as if to say..."hey, come on in and listen." I know many love the Harbeth look but umm, well....I guess their cosmetics just aren't my style. Unfortunately, it's not about the looks, but the sound and that's why I haven't been able to choose.
And now to throw another variable into the mix, I've got a low powered tube amp and high efficiency single driver speaker on order. It'll be fun to compare these new components to what I've got now. :-)
Thanks for all that. Very informative!
"This is hard to explain, but there is something about the Kefs that make you feel like the coherency between the driver and tweeter is better."
I'd be willing to bet the concentric/point source driver configuration has a lot to do with this, especially near field in a smaller room.
THe low powered tube amp should be interesting. Neither KEF or Harbeth would seem to be inherently tube amp friendly on paper, but you never know. I suspect HArbeths will do better with the tube amp in that small speakers that do more bass seldom if ever do better with low power tube amps, but for certain kinds of music like those you indicate to be your interests, it may work out just fine.
Thanks again and good luck!
Like the discussion. I'll give my first impressions.
My early conclusions are: 1) don't put them in a bookshelf. Tried that for a bit and it really killed the spatiality. That was about 11 feet away. Moving them to about 7 feet away, and at least 1 foot away from the wall helped a lot. I think part of it all is that you do want these speakers a bit closer to you.
Conclusion 2) I'm crossing over at 70Hz. I know some people would do 60 or 80. I had better luck at 70. If I did 80 (I think) there seemed to be a hole. This could well be my electronics and sub. Tried 70 and 90 for a while and ended up liking 70Hz the best.
I think they do need a sub. So sub selection is going to be huge for people who want that. I'll add a last obvious statement/conclusion.
Conclusion 3) Yes, you need some power. I had these on a 70wpc and that seemed like trouble. They are on my 200wpc now, and that seems about right.
General comments: As others have said, these aren't a 3-way--they're a mini monitor. So they do have their limitations. But when they aren't overloaded, they do sing. You don't get that "slam" you would get with a big floor stander. Tested with: Yellowjackets, Jimmy Haslip, Mike Stern, Journey (1st album), Black Crowes, etc. I'd say the Black Crowes is where they had the most trouble keeping up. I'll do a followup review later.
Hi - I was thinking of buying these speakers to serve as my main speakers for listening to music.
Currently, I have the KEF KHT 3500SE set, including the sufwoofer that comes with it. Any thoughts on:
1) Would these speakers be an improvement over the 3500SE?
2) Can I use the KEF sub that came with my system (HTB2SE) with the LS50? Not sure if it's even needed or not.
3) Am I better off just buying floorstanding speakers? I have a $1500 budget.
Thanks so much!
i have totally re-engineered my system around these fabulous performers. the KEF LS50 are already a legend - an incredible bargain.
due to changes in my life, i had to downsize in general, and hence come up with a smaller system. my old system (accuphase DP65v cd/dac and Accuphase E306v IA w/ 10k tower speakers) seemed too big for my new listening room, so it went into storage for now.
when I saw Stereophile gave the KEF LS50 an A rating, i decided to give them a go (i was about to get Dynaudios or Amphions previously). as soon as i heard them (still hooked to the Accuphase E306v) i was blown away: John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman never sounded better. The KEF LS50 strikes a magic balance between utter accuracy and mid-range musicality. voices and instruments like saxophone or trumpet or cello sound organic and alive. the stage is clinically accurate, but not huge (my loudspeaker placement may be the limiting factor here) - it is a lot of fun to hear the walk-around in Sheffield Labs' setup CD.
bass is room dependent, in my case utterly and totally sufficient. i do have a Velodyne Minivee but have it turned down to 5% - so basically it is off, which tells you what i think of the LS50s bass.
i feed FLAC files to a Benchmark DAC2 HGC, which is connected to a Creek Destiny power amp using balanced Analysis Plus cables. Analysis Plus speaker cables then connect to the LS50. the setup is very analytical, yes, but between the LS50 and the Creek things don't get cold - warm tonality comes through and makes the listening *highly* enjoyable (while still giving you the ability to hear a mouse fart in a back corner of the recording studio :-D). as i write this Grover Washington's "Winelight" is playing, and the percussion is staggeringly accurate, as is Grover's sax, of course.
i am very happy with this <$7k system, it is an amazing time to be an audiophile when you can get such live sound in such a small, elegant package.
I just sold my Vandersteen 2ce's, and am considering the Kef LS50 as well as Focal 807W speakers. Really a tough call for me, as I'm able to audition them in different stores, but never together. I really liked each of them very much when heard individually, and will probably make a decision by Wednesday, but like I said, I'm torn. Any suggestions from someone who has had the chance to compare would be appreciated.
I heard the ls50's at my local dealer twice using the same same electronics (parasound JC-1's and JC-2). First listen the speakers were well away from the rear and side walls (approx 8 -10' from rear wall). Let me say that I was blown away with the size of the sound stage and the imaging. Comparable with some of the best speakers I have heard aside from obvious bass and dynamics limitation. I wanted to buy them immediately if not sooner.
Second listen the speakers were in the same room using the parasound equipment. However, the speakers were about 5 feet from the rear wall. Let me say that it sounded like I was listening to a completely different speaker! Sound stage had collapsed to the point of my Gallo Nucleus. The tonal balance seemed a bit on the bright side as well.
I will most likely go for a third audition and perhaps a home audition. Though I won't have the speakers 10 feet from the rear wall unless I am sitting in the next room!
To be honest, I can't see buying these speakers unless their is a way to ameliorate the effects of close(r) placement to a room's boundaries through room treatments.
Any chance the dealer had sold the previous demos and you were listening to a pair that hadn't broken in yet? They sound pretty closed in until they've had a couple hundred hours on them. 5 feet from the front wall should be more than enough to show you a similar experience as before.
I've got mine a little short of 7' from the front wall and 4' from the sides, driven with VTL amplification, and the soundstage width and depth capabilities are nothing short of spectacular.
I did not ask the dealer if that was the case. He did mention that he had 4 pairs in stock, so I assumed the pair I was listening to was the same pair.
Perhaps I was having a bad hearing day??? This is why I will most likely demo them in house with my CJ gear. I am thinking of trying out some Merlins as well, though unsure if I can try before I buy.
The furthest away from the front wall I can tolerate is approx 3-4 feet. Have you experimented with this sort of placement with your kef's?
I haven't tried them any closer to the front wall. They sound so damn good, I'm afraid to monkey with them at this point. I did some room calculations before unboxing them, and ended up placing them well out into the room as mentioned, with no toe-in. The other thing I've noticed with these speakers is that you REALLY need to pay close attention to setup. If one speaker is the smallest amount closer or further away from your ear than the other, the soundstage and tonality won't completely lock in. Just eyeballing it won't work. I ended up buying a laser measurement meter and it has been invaluable to me.
With all due respect to dealers, they often don't have the time to setup speakers in their showrooms in this manner...what with all the moving in and out of speakers for customer auditions.
Maybe with the Kef acting so much like a point source speaker, it doesn't tolerate anything but your best effort when it comes to placement. It's what I've found with them anyway in my room. It's work, but they'll reward you when you put in the time.
Bottom and a half octave notwithstanding, they play WELL above their price range.