KEF LS50 Need Help

I have been auditioning the KEF LS50 for a week now. Very nice speaker overall and clearly understand why it is so well reviewed. The speaker sounded very poor out of the box and loosened up after about 2 hours and finally started to sing. I have 25+ hours on them now (of course KEF says 100-200 needed????).

The bottom line for me is that they do not have enough bottom end for my taste, and the vocals an high pitch violin, etc. can seem too loud and a bit harsh at times. My gut feeling is the speakers will not change much more from now? This is a reference type speaker in my opinion. I guess there is always a thin line between perfect detail and rich soulful sound. I am looking for both (like most people) with a slant towards the rich and soulful side for me. I am upgrading my dedicated listening system from Klipsch KG4. (not a bad speaker by the way, different league of course)

I am considering two options going forward. ($3,000 budget max and prefer closer to $2,000) I kinda knew I would need a sub when I decided to try the LS50.

1.Try a sub (and soon) before my return window expires. SVS SB it most probable to due generous demo policy. The KEF R400 would be nice to try but cost more than the speakers?? I would consider it if gave me the results I want.

2.Return LS50 and find a suitable floor standing that will not need a sub, like Salk Song Tower ($160 shipping each way- bummer), or possibly KEF R line, or other??

I guess I am hoping for some input from those with similar experiences and the choices you ended up making.

My set-up
McIntosh MC 2150 solid state
Parasound Halo P5 pre-amp
Airport express via Toslink to Preamp DAC
Rotel CD player via digital coax to Preamp DAC

I currently use Tributary A1 Silver RCA cables and Tributary 12AWG Speaker wires. Blue jeans digital cables 14 x 19 room carpeted 75% or the area
I've listened to them about 4-5 hours and can't imagine they are anything but a forward sounding speaker voiced for rock.
And KEF has been a favorite of mine for 40 years.
I think that for what you are looking for, you should go in a different direction from KEF. Perhaps a PSB or Paradigm floorstander in your price range, which will get you more low end. They may or may not deliver the "rich and soulful" quality you are after. Some other thoughts: Rega, Revel, B&W.
I'll add Harbeth to that list if you can find a used SHL5, Monitor 30 or C7 in your budget. These are standmounts and may not give you the bass your Klipsch do, but Harbeth is definitely rich and soulful. If you haven't heard them, make a point of doing so.
I agree with Drubin on both posts, especially about Harbeth, the C7 above all.
Used Spendor SP1/2s or SP 2/3s…just the ticket.
Why not add a subwoofer to your Kefs ?
Given that your P5 preamp provides bass management, a subwoofer seems a logical option regardless of what speakers you have. The SVS sealed box designs are a good choice; I owned the SB12 Plus for several years. If you have room, consider a pair of smaller subs instead of a larger single sub.
I would never seriously evaluate a speaker (especially a hi-def potentially class A one) with only 25 hours on it. I don't really listen to a new pair until they've had at least 100 straight hours on them, and 200 is better.

On your setup, you don't mention whether your LS50s are on shelves or stands. I suspect good well-damped stands are critical to these speakers's perfomance as is placement relative to both room boundaries and to the listening spot.

Typically break-in makes the treble smoother and more detailed and the bass quicker and more extended, and aren't those the two areas you find lacking?
I have the LS50's in a second system and do not share your exp.

I am driving mine with a Naim XS -2 and Tara labs cables. 12x18x8 feet
room. Carpet, sofa, leather chair, 24" custom stands, PS Audio P
cond. and AC-10 power cord.

I suggest you let them run full on over the weekend with some dynamic
music at 85db+.

You may need to tweak your set-up?...

P.s I am not a fan of cables with silver in them. I feel they harden the sound
and take neutrality and warmth away from the music. Feel free to disagree.
My systems are considered to be just on the warm side of neutral without
sacrificing speed, dynamics, transparency and timbre.
Get a good only need one and a well designed sub can (and should) audibly disappear. They don't have to be expensive (I bought a used REL and it's astonishing), and they can make main speakers seem to open up big time.
The sound does improve a lot around 200 hours. However, these are small monitors and you are not going to get huge bass out of them. I use them on my home office on a desk for near-field listening and it is incredibly good for that purpose. If I had these speakers in a bigger room I would be disappointed. I like the LS50 so much that I am thinking of getting the KEF Blade for my main rig in the future.
In your 14 x 19 room in order to experience rich soulful emotion in music you need to have an even in room bass response.
While minis and subs might be a good lifestyle choice there is no substitute for a well designed full range to support your music .
Most all of today's speakers are designed similar to what you have in a box add a woofer or two and you get the point. The highest performance loudspeaker designs today are sophisticated multi enclosures with drivers placed in their own ideal structure. I would make sure you don't miss an audition with the latest Vandersteen Sig II
Its well written manual offers a support system that makes set up easy
It blows my mind what you get by comparison and Made in USA to boot
JohnnyR Vandersteen dealer for 20 years plus
From your description of the sound you are looking for I recomend Vienna Acoustics. At the price range you mentioned you can get a pair of Mozart or used Bethoveen.
Yes there IS a substitute to a "well designed full range speaker"...adding well designed sub to your KEFs! After all, a "full range" speaker is a speaker with a built in sub of some sort, powered or otherwise. An advantage I've found with my REL is that I can turn it up or down easily to instantly compensate for bass heavy or bass light music. A good thing since I don't use room correction gizmos and my preamp has no tone controls. A main speaker that cleanly goes down to 25hz would be too big and expensive for my listening space and I really like the sound of small baffle speakers anyway (Silverline Preludes currently). If you run a sub being careful of its level and have it take over right around the low frequency cutoff point of the mains, it can be a seamless musical addition that that you will never want to do without.

12-20-13: Audioconnection
The highest performance loudspeaker designs today are sophisticated multi enclosures with drivers placed in their own ideal structure(s). ….

The LS50 provides a high resolution point source in a vibration-free cabinet. It is optimized for ideal dispersion, and is rated by Stereophile as Class A sound from about 70 Hz on up.

If you add a quality powered subwoofer (or two) in an inert cabinet, aren't you then creating a full-range system based on the principle you just mentioned--multiple enclosures with drivers placed in their own ideal structures?
I would concur that silver cables can have an effect, making the sound bright or overly extending the higher frequencies. Can you experiment swapping out the silver IC's? I'd also suggest giving the Kef's more time to break in, 25 hours may not be enough yet.
i will say that these speakers are most impressive with good source material. my only hesitation in at least trying the sub option is the harshness of the highs, at times, as a sub will not have an impact on that. break-in may soften the highs, but, it will have to happen before the return date comes... i also get the impression that subs can be hard to match to speakers and rooms. boomy bass would not be cool. i think my nature makes it hard for me run my stereo system when not listening just to break in the speakers. in my mind i am wearing the other components. probably foolish thinking.
Sometimes when you are missing the lower octave (Bass), you unwittingly turn up the volume to compensate, and given that small monitor speakers such as this are putting out only the higher frequencies, it can seem like they are harsh. Get your subwoofer in the mix, and it may change everything. Now, that said, if your room or electronics are creating the harshness in the high frequencies, then that's a different problem. Also, depending on where you have them now, you may want to try moving them farther apart from each other. I find them to be pretty neutral speakers overall.
Torxx, there are all kinds of things that a good subwoofer (or pair) will do for a stereo setup that isn't intuitive. You may find that the highs seem to mellow out with a sub because the tonal balance and the pressurization of the room change.

And here's another one: If you get a sub set up correctly, the most immediate thing you'll notice isn't extra bass, it'll be … imaging! Something about getting true fundamentals in sync with what the monitors are doing that makes the imaging and soundstage "pop."

I don't get why you won't give your speakers the 100+ hours they need. If you have a 30-day eval period, that's 720 hours total. You could have had 336 hours on these speakers in 2 weeks if you'd just set up an FM tuner or put iTunes or a CD player on infinite repeat. It doesn't have to be loud, and if you want to make the sound less intrusive, wire the speakers out of phase facing each other and throw a blanket over them. I consider initial speaker break-in a "mission from God," because I can't seriously listen to, enjoy, tune, or do final placement and setup until that is largely completed first. Energy consumption under these circumstances wouldn't show up on your electric bill with most amplifiers.

And finally, I have successfully integrated several subwoofers into various systems, both in my own house (5 setups) and two more at a neighbor's house. If I want to get a really good sub integration, it may take me 1-4 hours with the help of the frequency generator warble tones on the Stereophile Test CD 2.

But it's well worth it. It's basically spending ONE Saturday morning or afternoon dialing in the crossover point, phase, and volume, playing the test tones, and playing musical tracks you're familiar with. In return, you get more realistic tonal balance, bigger dynamic range, better in-room power response, more realistic soundstage and imaging, and more musical satisfaction from hearing more of the notes, plus the room energy of the original recording.

Isn't that worth a 4-hour investment?
I've heard your speakers on 2 occasions at shows and thought that they were extraordinarily good. And this was in hotel rooms with suboptimal set up. I do not like harsh highs and did not hear that characteristic from the LS50s. Which leads me to believe that the problem with harsh highs are
1- The speaker supports (extremely important) or position (aimed straight ahead? toed in to your listening position?) in the room.
2-The room (glass, hard walls, location of speakers in the room)
3-Break in time.

Move them around the room just a bit and you will be surprised at how the sound changes. After you position them to eliminate foreign contribution to harsh highs-- add a rel and you will be very happy.
The LS50 have running nonstop for the past few days and they have definitely mellowed nicely. I think the harshness was a result of more break-in time needed, as is now, almsot a non issue for me. I am 95% sure I will be ordering a sub in the next few days. Bottom line, these are nice speakers, and well-reviewed. I need to give them a fair chance with a sub.
The Silver in the RCA connects is something I plan to experiment with, but, do not have an easy way to compare cables. I like the price of Blue Jeans Cable..
I agree! I sold them rather quickly. I thought they were bright and forward. Tried with an REL sub, but same conclusion.
Nice to hear that things are progressing well.
In my experience, the Tributaries are the brightest silver content cables I've heard.

I think you'd be better off with something like Zu Mission; it's reasonably priced and nice and neutral. I've been using Zu for my power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables for a few years now. I haven't had an urge to change or upgrade. I hear excellent bandwidth and tonal balance and find Zu cables easy to live with.
If Tributaries silver are too bright with a SUBWOOFER, they're too damn bright, period!
One more vote to ditch the Tributaries. I used those ICs and speaker cables for many years (still have them) and found the ICs very bright and grainy and the speaker cables grainy in the treble and a bit loose and ill-defined in the bass. I now use Blue Jeans LC-1 ICs and Audioquest Type 4 speaker cables--great values and much more natural sound with solid bass with good pitch definition and smooth treble.

I'm sold on solid-core cables, BTW, for smoother treble--Anti-Cables are great for this too. Since you have Blue Jeans for your digital cables, why not try their other offerings? It's a pretty cheap experiment.
I recommend you up your budget a bit (I think the quality of your electornics warrants it) and consider the Revel F206 ($3500). I've been auditioning a lot of speakers lately, and they are by far the best value I've come across.

I've heard the LS50's and they are a nice speaker, but the Revels will be a big step up and you shouldn't need a sub.
"I've heard the LS50's and they are a nice speaker, but the Revels will be a big step up and you shouldn't need a sub. "

To each his own I guess.

I owned the Revel Salon1 for a very long time in a perfectly sized room. This may be heresy for some but I found that I preferred the tweeter and midrange of the LS50 over the Revels. It just sounds so right to me. I have recently listened to the majority of music collection on the LS50's and I am enjoying the music more that I did with the Salons. I had the Salons in an incredible room while the LS50 are shoe horned into my current office space (near-field listening). The Salons bass was otherworldly great and the LS50 don't really go down low. When I owned the Salons I really liked them.

I have also recently compared the LS50's with my Thiel SCS4 monitors on my main rig (it is using my best electronics). I can tell the Thiel drivers are not at the same level of sophistication as the LS50 (using slightly inferior electronics). The 2 drivers on the L550 are just fantastic in my opinion. The Thiels also have way better low end bass compared to the LS50.

If money was taken out of the mix and I was told I could have one of, LS50, SCS4, or Salons. I would take the LS50 since I am having more fun with them than I ever remember with the other 2 speakers. Some of my enjoyment could be related to near-field listening position.
+1;-) Try some Daft Punk on 'em! Recently been running a Unison Research SR-1 on the LS-50s. A 80 watt class A hybrid w/12au7 triode pre. Put in some 'Bugle Boys', wow! What a fun ride! They really respond to what is upstream. Also, with good system power conditioning they play well in larger rooms. Clean up your AC & you will continue to be amazed @ the amount of musical fun these little guys can unleash, even in bigger
spaces. Mullards r fun too! But, in a totally different way, 'phat w/prat' vs '3d sparkle & transparency', for the Amperex. Luv the 50s....
Well, after much investigation and trepidation I ordered and received a pair of SVS SB12-NSD subs in the piano black finish (which matches the KEF LS50). As some had indicated, the sound just opens up incredibly by adding the subs. The combination is impressive across the entire listening range. I have more than adequate bass availability, however, I am glad I got two subs. I experimented listening sessions with one sub and with two subs, and found the two sub set up to be much more musical. It is like replacing a pair of full range speakers with speaker separates. I would / could be happy with this route from a sound quality perspective, it really sounds great. The customization of the low end is a nice bonus, i.e., adjust to various music styles, etc..

My only issue at this moment is aesthetics. I like the look of LS50, but, not head over heels with it. I wish there was a grill available… Also the subs look nice, and match the speakers nicely, but, they are pretty big. I can’t help but wonder if something like a Salk Song Tower (beautiful looking floor stander) would have similar quality sound as I have put together??
I think better.
Schubert, not clear if you are saying you think the LS50 with subs would sound better than say the Salk Towers, or the other way around?
FWIW - I love my Kef R500's!

I have them set up as my office system with a Musical Fidelity M6i Integrated and M1 DAC. Awesome system for the money; and pretty much full range.

Yes, a sub would go lower. But subs only work properly if they are meticulously selected and implemented. Otherwise they make it so much worse it's essentially unlistenable. The LS50 does a ton right. Either sell and go to the R series and don't look back, or get a very good sub and spend the time to place it and dial it in just right. If you go the sub route, I would suggest spending the money and buying it new so you can utilize the skills of your local dealer for proper setup and tuning.
I can’t help but wonder if something like a Salk Song Tower (beautiful looking floor stander) would have similar quality sound as I have put together??
It's quite unlikely that any floor standing speaker will be positioned in your room to provide as smooth a bass response as a pair of subwoofers (unless you position the subs close to the main speakers). For many examples, scan the Stereophile archives of floor standing speakers and look at the in room bass response. You'll notice that for the same room the bass response is effectively the same regardless of the speaker.

If you're not employing bass management with the LS50, then I hope your room is small and you listen at low levels. The LS50 has a fantastic frequency response, but being a small speaker produces high levels of THD. See the NRC's measurements:
Distortion begins to rise rapidly between 200Hz - 100Hz reaching approximately 30% at 50Hz.
Yes, a sub would go lower. But subs only work properly if they are meticulously selected and implemented. Otherwise they make it so much worse it's essentially unlistenable.
Matt makes a good point about proper utilization of subs, though I think it's overstated. An advantage that a full range speaker has over a sat/sub system is that the speaker designer did the integration of the bass driver with the midrange driver. In a sat/sub system the end user effectively becomes the speaker designer and has to do the integration. Using an SPL meter, a disc of bass test tones and time is all that's required in an analog system.
I have settled into the speaker / dual subs combo and am very pleased with the results. The set-up is growing on me from a visual perspective as well. The subs really match the look of LS50’s very well (matching piano black finish and the matt black grills on the subs match the front of the LS’s perfectly. I have not found the set-up of the subs to be all that challenging as many suggest. As stated earlier, I have the subs flanking the speakers which works well for me and possibly make the integration easier?? I was running some deep bass tones I found online and was amazed at how deep and clean the sound goes. I was shaking and buzzing everything in the room and the subs did not break a sweat. It really shows how the music source has so much to do with the end result. Any concerns I had about harsh or loud highs have vanished and I do not feel the need to change cables, however, I would like to experiment with some cable changes at some point in the future as my budget has blown wide open.
Have heard LS50 in larger and smaller rooms and believe the main issue will be the small size and bass response in many larger rooms.

A sub or two properly balanced in should eliminate that barrier.

ls ls 50s are fine speakers but small and laws of physics impose limits. Adding a sub or two should result in very high levels of performance that would be hard to beat otherwise.
Final update: I did determine that any harshness or listening fatigue I was experiencing was due to room acoustics and the HVAC return vent which causes some ear response when music is playing. I spent some bucks on acoustic panels / bass traps which helped quite a bit, however, did not completely eliminate all issues. The LS50 are NOT harsh sounding at all and they are a fantastic speaker for the money. In the end I in-home demoed the Atlantic Technology AT-1 (idea was to eliminate subs) and The B&W CM-5 and the LS50 out performed them both.

I made the mistake of spending a couple of hours listening to the B&W 805D at a dealers listening room and quickly convinced myself that the 805D is the level of sound quality / realism that I require. Unfortunately The LS50 is not in the same league which is understandable as the 805D retails for $5k. The LS50 and subs got returned and I am at square one.
Wow. I would think the LS50 plus well-integrated subs would beat the snot out of the B&W. How was it in a different league?
I would have expected ls50 + sub set up well to be competitive with most anything myself.

That would be assuming subs and mains levels are well integrated. That setup and integration is often tricky to get right case by case whenever a sub is involved and may actually be a detriment in some ways until integrated optimally.

ITs not an easy thing to do. Sometimes its best to just let the speaker designer design the sound in total and just go with it.

I heard the ls50s in a large and small room in my house.

Bass extension and overall presentation was not good in the larger room.

In the smaller room, Bingo!

Subs would have alleviated the issue in the larger room I think, but never tried, so can't say for sure other than that is usually the case when monitors and subs are married happily.
I had the subs flanking each speaker which eliminates most integration issues. Also worth noting, I detest boomy bass so I would set the crossover and sub gains quite low. The integration was good, but not perfect, however, that was not much of an issue with me as my desire to acquire a speaker that brings me closer to the music, which will cost you more $$. The 805D with or without subs will do that in spades better than the LS50 with subs, IMO.