KEF Ls50 wireless vs passive


Was wondering if anyone has had a direct comparison with the passive ls50 speakers and the active ones.  I only ask because a dealer near me only has the passive ones and the amp they have it paired with (Sony TA-A1ES) is $2k alone.  ( I did love the combo but if I could save the cash and go with the actives I would). From what I have read people seem to really speak highly of the performance of the actives.  I am curious as to how the actives might sound in comparison to the demo at my dealer with the Sony.  Also, I noticed the actives only come with a one year manufacturer warranty which kind of scares me since all that hardware is packed into such a small enclosure I feel that the risk of failure would be rather high. But if anyone has any feedback I would love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks!

I have the passive and I am soon going to be running it with Benchmark AHB2 amp ($3k) + Benchmark DAC2 HGC ($2k) which will be replacing a breaking down Parasound A23 amp. I would recommend you get the ACTIVE version from Amazon or KEF Direct web store. Since the performance is very high with the ACTVIE and you would likely need to spend a lot of $$ like me to equal or better the ACTIVES.

Read the review from DARKO site,

I likely will get one of the following integrated amps (including DAC) to drive the passive LS50’s when I move the LS50’s to a bedroom from the office (likely next year).

NAD C368 ($800 - $1200 with ROON Ratt module)
Rotel A14 ($1299)
Hegel Rost ($3000 Apple support)
Peachtree Nova 1500 ($1700)

I will get something bigger for the office where the LS50 currently reside. Thinking of getting something like the Magico S1 mkII or S3 mkII or the new Yamaha NS 5000 for the office.

Post removed 
The actives put out more bass which is a big deal if you aren't using a sub. Yeah warranty is rough at 12 months. I don't expect them to hold their value like a passive would. 
Active would be the way to go with these neat little speakers,but Of course you wouldn't be able to change their sound with diff. amps.

Warranty is kinda short as mentioned.

I don't know about their resale value either way though.

I think the powered models are intended to be used as near field monitors fed signal from a mixing board or something of the sort. I don't think they're supposed to be used as an alternative to bookshelves on the cheap. 
We sell both, here is the way you should look at it:

1: Active vs Passive sound quality, the Actives actually do sound better, more open, impressive clarity.

2: Future up-gradability,  Passive setup totally open as you can switch up to different electronics, and even replace the LS 50 with the much better R 500 floor standers, active, no up-grade path.

3: App, the KEF app really is primitive they finally got Tidal, vs an NAD D368 with blue sound streaming module at $1200 with a stunning app and part of an entire echo system.

So there you have it price favors the active, flexibility favors the passive, the NAD combo $1200 amp +$1500 speakers  plus cables would be $3,000.00 vs the actives at $2200. 

If this is going to be a secondary system get the passives if you are building a main system go with the passive option.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
I find the passive LS50s very revealing of what's driving them.  They do reward fine amplification.


I compared the LS50 Wireless to the passive LS50 speakers. Even though the bass on the Wireless model goes down to a solid 50Hz or lower depending on room setup, I actually preferred the passive speakers. To my ears, the sound of the LS50 Wireless lacked some of the tonality and timbre that was more clearly evident with the passive models. I really approached this with an open mind when I auditioned the LS50's, because I like the concept of active speakers plus the convenience of wireless operation. However, the passive speakers were more engaging and I found myself tapping my toes and enjoying the presentation.

I told the dealer, Halsten Entertainment in Golden Valley, MN, that I have a few amps to drive these speakers:

  1. McIntosh MC240, recapped and modified new soft/fast recovery diodes (40W)
  2. Dynakit Stereo 35, recapped and modified with Dave Gillespie's Enhanced Fixed Bias (EFB) circuit (17W)
  3. group buy Wiener 2.0 PBTL (dual mono) Texas Instruments TPA3118-D2 Class D amp designed by gmarsh, and modified with Altec Peerless 15335A bridging line-level input transformers to convert unbalanced signals to the amplifier's differental inputs, and CoilCraft output inductors for clean high-pass filtered, high current output to the speakers. (13W)

Obviously, I was concerned that the last two amps would not have adequate power to drive the 85dB passive LS50's. When I got them home and set them up in our open floor plan living room (dining room, kitchen and staircase--about 700 sq. ft.), I wired them up first with my DIY Class D dual mono amp, and these speakers sounded better than they did at Halsten Entertainment with the 200W Rotel RA-1592 integrated amp.

After several hours with this amp, I switched to the Dynakit Stereo 35 tube amp. Again, I was getting rich, full sound with bass deep enough that negates any need for a subwoofer. The soundstage is larger than these monitors should project based on their cabinet size. I love these speakers and can see why professional engineers like them for studio monitors, because they are musical yet very revealing of the mix/mastering of the recording. I would take these over many of the powered professional studio monitors I've heard.

I have yet to try these speakers with my MC240, but I expect nothing less than what I've heard to date.

Perhaps the DSP wasn't set up correctly with the LS50 Wireless speakers, but Halsten Entertainment is a reputable dealer. Maybe they just aren't for me.