LS50 Wireless fail, or is old gear that good?


After ready so much positive info on the LS50W, I gave them a try but was massively disappointed compared to my (much) older gear.
I set up the LS50's via Ethernet and WiFi playing HiRes files from NAS and Tidal via Roon, then compared the same tracks via WiFi to Roon on an iPhone>Dragonfly Red>ARC SP9 (1987)>Threshold amp (1980's)>Martin Logan Aerius i (1999). Wasn't even close.
Especially on female vocals, the sense of realism, timbre, air, etc was notably superior on the old system. I played around with the KEF DSP, room placement and even switched rooms.I really wanted the KEF's to work, but no luck.

So, am I missing something with the LS50W, or is the old stuff just that good?

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Sorry to hear the LS50s didn't work out for you. I've not heard them, but have read a lot of positive reviews.
I don't think it's a matter of good vs. bad, but a lot modern components are built for user convenience (streaming, wireless, small, narrow, speakers with high WAF), while some of your "older" gear was built for audio quality (ARC, Threshold, ML).  The Threshold doesn't become obsolete simply because more modern digital amps are made available.

I see it as an apples vs oranges comparison. Sell the LS 50s on Computer Audiophile and "rock on completely with some brand old components." :-)

What speaker had the larger sweet spot? 
Hmmm, not sure I can say. I adjusted distance from front and side walls, distance apart and distance to listening chair, but didn't move  much from center when listening.
Why do you ask?
@yakbob, you hit the nail on the head regarding a modern user experience.That's what I was after with the KEF's, not only for myself but to help engage the family.
I expected, especially with all the positive press, that technology had moved on, a lot, in regard to SQ as well as convenience. That's why I'm curious about others' experience with the LS50W.
Another agoner brought a pair of ls50s over to my house to hear. In larger room off high power but less damped SS amp we both agreed the sound was not good at all. Muddled and no bass. In smaller 12x12 room with vaulted ceiling and a different high power more highly damped amp, voila, very nice all around, a winner.

So like most smaller speakers I think they are not well suited to larger rooms. A sub or two would likely fix that. Also I think you want 100w/ch or more and high current capability for best results. Amps that double power specs from 8 to 4’ohms should do well.
It has nothing to do with old vs. new. You are comparing two completely different type speakers. The ML is a large ESL with a 8 inch woofer and the KEF is a tiny powered 2 way with a 5 inch woofer. Besides the speakers I don't think the amps in the KEF would come close to the Threshold!
You make a good point about the difference in speakers. I also tried a pair of Thiel 1.6's in place of the ML's with basically same result. I'm a source first guy, so figured the iPhone as a source for the old gear would level the playing field. And yes, the Threshold is a beast!

It's probably a new thread, but I wonder how the old ARC>Threshold>ML's would compare with similar modern counterparts. Surely the new stuff is better, but by how much?
Not much. Maybe none at all!
I’ve been doing a bunch of listening this past week to both passive and active LS50’s.

The passives need a bunch of power in my oppinion.  200 watts @ 8 ohms and 400 watts at 4 ohms starts to wake them up!  I have mine paired to a Rel T9i subwoofer, a little topping t60 amp, dragonfly red dac, tidal on pc  as the source.  The speakers are still new, maybe 15 hours of listening, but they sound really good.  Very transparent and detailed.  My listening room is 11x14x8 and is treated. The system sounds surprisingly good although it doesn’t play super loud and the Ls50’s don’t have a ton of bass with a little 50 watt amp, but the Rel makes up for that :)

Anyhow, the Passive Ls50’s sound great in my application and I’m loving them!

A friend of mine went with the Active Ls50’s and set up properly, they are amazing!  They (Active Ls50’s) don’t seem to care what signal you are feeding them; they always sound pretty dang good.  The imaging, timing and coherance are like nothing I’ve heard.  I can’t figure out why the Active Ls50’s have this magic to them; initially I thought it was the dac but maybe it has more to do with the dsp?

Regardless, the Active LS50’s fill his large space quite well.  I hooked up my Rel T9i to his Active Ls50’s and it was stupid good.

I would agree that the sounstage is more on the pin point side and not the enveloping side (although the Active LS50’s have incredibly holographic imaging). They don’t have the extension and air to them that some speakers have but for the money I paid, I’m pretty happy with the way they sound!

IMHO, I think it is the difference between the active vs passive LS50. I have the passives and the are fast, transparent and musical with good bass when properly placed and mounted on stands. Powered by SimAudio Moon i3.3 in my second system. The class “A” biasing doesn’t hurt either. Using Morrow Audio SP6 and MA4 cables. 

See if you can trade out of the actives. That is why I went with the passive LS50 Anniversary model. You get to pick the amplifier and cables to YOUR liking not someone else’s idea of what sounds proper in your room with your ears and your music!
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A friend of mine went with the Active Ls50’s and set up properly, they are amazing! They (Active Ls50’s) don’t seem to care what signal you are feeding them; they always sound pretty dang good. The imaging, timing and coherance are like nothing I’ve heard. I can’t figure out why the Active Ls50’s have this magic to them; initially I thought it was the dac but maybe it has more to do with the dsp?

It’s not the dac. I have the LS50W in a listening trial right now and they actually sound BETTER when I run my own external dac (Schiit Mimby) with Schiit Eitr (for jitter reduction) through the RCA-in on LS50W versus using the USB input on the LS50W from my computer. I can only conclude that the Schiit dac is superior to the dac in the actives. And also that the dac in the actives is very transparent. So maybe it’s the DSP in combination with the amplification in the actives that makes them sound so good (in a smaller room).

I also own the LS50 and was using them with a $1200 amp and a very transparent preamp and they sounded fantastic, but in my room the LS50W sounded a step better. I’m just not happy with only a 1 year warranty on the electronics in the actives. If something fails the entire system is unusable and I’d need to send them away for repair at who knows at what cost. I like having the control in the event of failure, and also upgrade capabilities, with individual components that can be replaced. As a result I might be going back to separate components but I’m still deciding.
I would caution anyone looking into the LS50W's to use them with filled stands if you can.  There was no comparison when I ran mine on heavy, filled, spiked stands with room to breathe vs having them on a dresser/desk close to the rear wall.  Everything was much more reinforced and coherent.  Unreal speakers for the price when set up properly. IMO the biggest fault with them is during lower volume listening, they lose a lot of their magic.
2-way concentrics have technical issues with doppler effect, but I’m not sure comparing it to an electrostatic panel with absolute insanely bad frequency response, decay, and dispersion measurements is a good basis for that judgment. It sounds like more like a expectation bias after being used to the sound signature of a speaker you’ve owned for a long time. After all, the directivity profile of an electrostatic panel is the polar opposite of a 2-way concentric, you literally can't have a bigger soundstage than a 2-way concentric and couldn't possibly have a smaller one than with a large electric static panel.