Need new speakers, within budget, How about KEF?


Looking to upgrade my current speakers - Q Acoustics 3050

I’ve been helping a couple friends out, getting their systems started by giving them my old gear. I thought this a perfect time to upgrade my speakers, since one of my friends really wants my 3050s.

When I first bought the 3050s, my budget was low, and after seeing them win "best speakers under $1k" two years in a row at Whathifi, I pulled the trigger. I have thoroughly enjoyed them, but at $600/pair, I know there are many other options out there.

My budget now is $1600 new/used. I’ve been looking at the KEF line, and have had my eye on the LS50, Q900, and R100/300. Unfortunately, there is no way to audition KEFS or most other speakers where I live, unless I go to the local Best Buy, which is limited to B&Ws, Definitive Tech, and some Martin Logans..

Others I’ve been looking at:
Dali, Tannoy, Monitor Audio, Dynaudio, or trying the ELAC line with mods.

I am using an ELAC S10 subwoofer right now, if that makes a difference.

Source: Cambridge Audio CXA80
Room dimensions: 13’ x 11’

Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

Robert
robelvick
Check these out!
http://www.spendoraudio.com/HTML/S35R2_main.html
LS50s have gotten rave reviews, both passive & active
Post removed 
The  Q Acoustics 3050 are a tower and have pressed pulp cones if I understand correctly.  The LS50, with their metal cones, are going to sound very different and may be a bit bright sounding as some have complained.  I'd stay away from forward sounding electronics.  At the 1600 price point, there are many excellent options.  If you really want the Kef's, buy them used as there are a ton of them out there, and you can always find some for sale.  Save yourself 4-500.
Hey Robert , Finding speakers is a critical thing, these are components that you really interact with. Most all of the speakers you mentioned will require very high quality electronics to make them come alive and sound great, Dynaudios are top on your short list in this regard. It is vital that they have Double the rated power and that power better be from a very musically rewarding amplifier, then they really shine. Not sure on the others Dali, Tannoy, Kef, how they would sound with the Cambridge , my bet is better than the Dyns would. I love the Totem model 1 signatures for your room check those out. Totemacoustics.com they sell for around 2K new/used. They will require a little power as well to open them up. 

Matt M
Thank you everyone for you suggestions thus far. There are Q Acoustics that are a step up from the ones I’m using now. $1k for a pair. If there is a slight improvement over what I have now, I’d be happy.

I do however feel like that would be a missed opportunity. I would like to try something new.

I’m looking for neutral/rich sound. That’s how the 3050s sound. I would like something similar, just a step or two up...

I usually play music for a good 2-3 hours at a time, and don't want any listening fatigue, etc..
The pair in the review is $1900...

http://www.tektondesign.com/enzo.html
http://www.tektondesign.com/enzoxl.html

http://www.stereophile.com/content/tekton-design-enzo-xl-loudspeaker-page-2#eQO4UkRP1ogv4WfB.97
@timlub 

Those Tekton look very appealing.  I'm wondering if I was to purchase the XL Enzo, could I get away with no sub?  I'm just a little tight for space.

@mattmiller 
There are also a pair of KEF Q900s on here for sale.  That would really be under budget, and I don't mind the savings.  Same goes for the LS50, on sale here too.  Would need to keep the sub, but would have more room.
I  have 7 KEF LS50s around the house, and was listening to Stereophile test CDs using a pair in a setup I'm overhauling.  I disagree with Bob in that I think they are not lacking except in the lowest bass region, e.g., pipe organ pedal note region.  Even the track that features a double bass was well rendered, so jazz is convincing.  You could supplement the bass with a sub woofer if you want that low bass.
There are some used Sonus Faber Venere 1.5 online that are in my budget. Anyone have experience with Sonus or those speakers in particular?
Have you seen the new powered LS-50 from KEF? Here's a little info from the Absolute Sound:
 KEF LS50 Wireless
The LS50 Wireless is a stylish and fully active music system
whose architecture builds upon LS50’s lauded acoustic capabilities.
The LS50 Wireless has advanced DSP crossovers that correct
for inherent time delays introduced in the crossover stage,
and with KEF’s Uni-Q concentric driver arrays housed in acoustically
inert cabinets, remarkably even sound dispersion is now
attainable in virtually every room. In his CES 2017 report, Neil
Gader says of the LS50, “Sonically, it was everything I enjoyed
in the original—heft, reasonable scale and precision, plus the
added bass extension and control that are part and parcel of
the active loudspeaker experience—a segment and solution
that have achieved more high-end popularity than ever before
with the advent of computer media and network music.”
On the specs front, the LS50 Wireless features an end-to-end
192kHz/24-bit high-resolution digital signal path, two separate
DACs per channel (per speaker), and two 230-watt amplifiers
powering each channel in a bi-amp dual mono configuration.
The LS50 Wireless provides 2.4GHz/5GHz dual-band WiFi,
Bluetooth 4.0 aptX, asynchronous USB type B, TosLink optical,
and RCA analog inputs. A dedicated LS50 Wireless app (iOS and
Android) facilitates network setup, streaming, playback, EQ and
speaker placement options, and DSP controls. In addition to
all this versatile technology, colors are available, with drivers
matched to cabinet finishes for a look that should make them
welcome in most listening rooms—even more so given that
only a smartphone is required to complete this soup-to-nuts
system. Price: $2199/pr. kef.com
In your price range I have had Neat Motive 3, Monitor Audio GX50, and currently PMC DB1i. I absolutely LOVE these speakers. They can be had at under $1000 used, and are amazing at that price. I will stick with PMC for my next speaker purchase, I am not looking at new brands for a while.

I can also recommend buying directly from UK sites. The currency rate now really favors the USD, and you can get great speakers (new) at low prices, whether it is ATC, PMC, or other British made brands.
You might consider the Epos K-2 towers if you like a British sound without the Harbeth price. Epos speakers have great balance, tone and dynamics but not at the expense of detail. I've been changing speakers like socks lately and my old $400 Epos Epics have performance on par with everything I've tried between $1500 and  $4k, no exaggeration.
For what it's worth, if I was on that budget I would get Revel C36s.
I have F52s and F206s. I've heard the C36s and for the money they are hard to beat IMO. A fair amount of Revel high end technology is incorporated into their entry level offering. YMMV.
@rwwear  I have checked those out, unfortunately they are a little out of my price range, and not very many used out there.  

@itsikhefez
Looking at what's available now.  Thanks.

@helomech I never thought about "British" sound, but I guess it makes sense, since my amp and current speakers are both from the UK.  Looking for some on sale.

@leotis  Thank you.  Looking around for the C36s now.  



ive got the R300.  have to say i didnt love them straight off  but after about two years of  component upgrades & moving around in different set ups they have become my second favorites out of the 10 pairs of speakers i use
<ELAC dealer disclaimer>
Have you heard the Elac UF5 floor standing speakers?  They the most amazing <$2500 speaker I've heard yet, and they retail for $999/pair!  They should be included on anyone's list.  :-) 
@mattz  Thanks for the suggestion.  The R300 were on my original list.  I really would like to know how they compare with the LS50s.  Same brand, similar price range.
@herndonb

I have the bookshelf UB5s and they sound excellent. I’m using those as HT speakers right now. However, the Qacoustics 3050 that I’m using in my audio setup sound much better, to my ears. I will look into the floor standing model. The price is a steal.
@robelvick
Yeah the UB5s pull off an incredible magic trick!  :-)  I've compared them to numerous speakers 4X-5X the price and they sound incredibly full range, clean, detailed, effortless.  When you compare the UB5 directly to the much larger UF5, I immediately notice the cleaner bottom end (naturally), it's not that the UF5 goes much deeper, but it is even cleaner, even more effortless.  The soundstage is also significantly larger with the UF5.  I'd also put the UF5 up against other's in the 4X price range when comparing, they are that good. 
Guy up the street (LA) was selling some C36 on Craigslist for $850 last week. Would have bought them if they weren't white. I bought back my old F206 instead. I think the C36 have some technology that is even more current than the F206. Revel maybe wants to get into the audio mass market (vs audiophile market) with C36 so they are kind of a loss leader, = great performance/ price.Probably every speaker in that price range has some weakness. The C36 is all around solid, no glaring weakness. Not the last word in bass extension but in a smaller room that wouldn't be a problem. Just my 0.02.
I took my sub out today, just to see how the bass sounded on the 3050’s, and I really liked it better without. The 3050 had no problems with low frequencies.

This could easily be because the two subs I own are budget  (Polk, ELAC). They were a little overwhelming, even with the low pass set correctly and the level turned down.

Now I’m leaning towards floor standing speakers only, preferable ones with good, clean bass, but not too big for my room either.
If you could stretch the budget I would recommend Salk Songtowers at $2k. Overlooked best value in floorstanders and have won many awards. I am a schill for Jim's work having owned many pairs of his speakers over 10 years.

If you come to Axpona look me up as I will be assisting in room 408 and we can chat. Not an employee, just a friend and customer.
@bugredmachine 

Those are beautiful speakers & the reviews make it sound like it would be a good fit, but $1600 is the very top of my limit.  I don't see any used online, but will keep looking.
Got it. Best of luck. Look me up regardless if you attend.
If I see a used pair I'll let you know.
Post removed 
It's easy to get the crossover point too high also which can make the bass seem too fat and slow.
I misspoke. It is Revel F36 not C36. There is an Agon listing for $899.
You would be hard pressed to find better SQ/$ IMO.
With 91 dB sensitivity, I’m tempted to get them myself.
if you are so lucky to find one second hand, get the XTZ Master M2 NOW!!! No longer produced, and those that have one (like me!!) are totally blessed with one of the very best bookshelf speaker ever to exist for the price. Otherwise, you can get the XTZ 99.25 with the beryllium upgrade version, still excellent for the price. You would need to get the best from KEF at 4 times the price to equal it. Discovered XTZ nearly 2 years ago; a revelation, cant imagine going anywhere else for the time being.
I have the KEF R300 and love them. They are solid. Can probably find them used for $1200 or less.
These are available on Agon right now:

Spendor S53 floor standing
Monitor Audio RX1 bookshelf
Wharfedale Dentons

Leaning towards the QAcoustics Concept 40s, but the above three are all significantly cheaper/used.

Any thoughts?  I'm holding back my trigger finger with protest.
I've long had a love for electrostats and ribbons, mostly because they sound more like music and voices and less like speakers. Because of a sever down size in living space, I had to give up my quads and go on the hunt to find something in a smaller speaker that would not be a total let down. After many auditions I decided on the Gershman Chameleons.
In a medium to small room they present very good base down to about 32HZ. They present very good imaging with a large and deep sound stage; the mids (horns , vocals and strings) are beautiful and real. The dynamics are quick and convincing without beating you up; with the Chamelions I found myself just enjoying the music rather than critiquing what the speakers sound like. If you can find, they usually sell used for around 1K.
Just a thought,
Jim 
Post removed 
Hey, S8e is designed to play MUSIC not explosions in a movie !
KEF LS 50 active. Amazing all in one package. 
 

@mountainsong 

Those are a very attractive package, but I don't need all the extras.  Also, way over my budget.  One day maybe...

Right now I'm leaning towards the Spendors.  If I go bookshelf, then I would like to upgrade my subwoofer which is additional funds + work.  Was hoping to keep this simple.

I was looking at the  SVS SB12-NSD - 12 on Amazon for $499 though, good reviews too.  I have no idea if a  "sealed" box sub would be better for a small room, but read that somewhere. 
Make an offer on the Spendors. They are a nice little floorstander. I 've owned Spendors years ago and I don't think you would go wrong with them!
Post removed 
Post removed 
Bug I too would like to meet you, what is name tag you will use?

Went with the Spendor S5E, from a gentlemen here on Agon.

I will give an update when they arrive.

Thanks again for all the insight and suggestions.  You have all been most helpful!

Robert 
Update:

After an hour of listening to the Spendor 5Se speakers, I'm amazed out the sound coming out of these small floor standing speakers.  Much better detail and soundstage than the Q Acoustics but still have a slightly warm sound, that I prefer.  Pretty impressive for speakers that are only 30' tall.  Took about 10 minutes to get them positioned right, and now the music must play...

ALSO: Was supposed to have a REL t-zero subwoofer today, but weather has delayed that until tomorrow.  Maybe too small, and if so I can return through Amazon or buy two... 
I have both the LS50s and the R300s.

Although KEF refer to a spiritual connection / inspiration from the LS3/5a in the LS50, little is made of it in reviews, and this is a shame. The LS3/5a demonstrated that real deep bass wasn’t an absolute requirement for a speaker to be captivating, beguiling and extremely satisfying. The LS50 for its part is proving this all over again.

Few speakers ever manage to combine such widespread reverence, popularity, affordability and become so well known by so many people that they effectively become a benchmark. This does not mean that there aren’t speakers which might sound better in a given room / system or that there aren’t people who don’t take to them at all, but the requirements to be a de-facto benchmark are different.

In these days of no / few dealers across the US for most affordable products, it can be very helpful to be able to define what we like or dislike about a sound, system, cable, component or room in reference to a benchmark like the LS50. For the price of a used pair and ready resale market, even if they’re not your end point they may throw a lot of light on the path ahead.

I remain extremely happy with my LS50’s, so how do I come to have the R300s as well? A UK dealer made me an offer I couldn’t turn down and I had to experience a 3 way stand mount speaker. With un-used allowance, I checked them as baggage on my return to the US recently.

The R300s are still breaking in and improving every day. They’re different to the LS50s, that’s for sure. Living in the shadow of the LS50s affordability and popularity, you also won’t see them come up for sale used very often. Even if someone doesn’t take to the LS50s, the R300s might be right where it’s at for them, but if you do fall in love with the LS50s the R300s might give you another slice of what you love. That was my hope and it’s sounding right on the money to me at this moment!
Since speakers are so personal I would get a good pair of used ones and develop your taste. I have found that I have never had trouble with any I have bought as many are eager to change. Although I  was a home dealer for many years [Krell etc] I have bought most of my current gear used or demo. Another advantage of this is you are likely to get most of your money back if you change your mind. My last purchase was a $10,000 amp for $3,000. Very good condition and looks great. Just be cautious and look for reliable sellers. Often dealers want to get rid of last years version or have changed their lines. It would make you cry at some of the deals I have gotten. 
@robelvick
Glad to hear that you like the Spendors.If those small 6" Rels don’t work out, you should get a larger sealed SVS 12" sub at this bargain price of $399!
https://www.amazon.com/SVS-SB12-NSD-400-watt-Controlled-Subwoofer/dp/B009F8Y7SO
Or this one from SVS!
https://www.svsound.com/products/sb-1000
@stanwal 
Thank you for the insight.  That exactly what I did, and bought a used pair of Spendor 5ses.  They sound great, and I'm very happy with the purchase.

@yogiboy 
The SVS you mention is on the top of my list.  Will definitely try those if the REL is not large enough for my room.  Thanks.
The Gallo A'Diva TI's are musical as hell  and most flexible on placement .
 I use them with Gallo TR1 sub, used about 700$ for both and they are far better than KEF LS 50 I had in same room .
jayctoy
jayctoy1,227 posts04-05-2017 11:58am
Bug I too would like to meet you, what is name tag you will use?
You can't miss me. 6' 6" and ruggedly handsome!

I have some shopping I need to do at the show but I cannot turn down Jim's request to help him with his rooms. I have never met any Schiit folks so I do not know their gear but in 408 Jim will have some speakers and he asked to man it as much as I can. Salk's other room is with Gingko, Dana cables, and Exogal in the lower level. I won't be working that room (but wish I could to let 'er rip a little).

Have owned most everything under $50,000 in speakers. My room is 25x35. LS 50 best all around speaker. Have $20,000 mono's and pre on them with 5k cables. Listen to everything, not loud. Never have. Not even close. MBL, Wilson, Magico, plus 100 more I have owned. Like them all but not as good as LS 50. Can't wait to put better front end, see what happens. I don't think people put good enough front ends with them. They are magic. No speakers, sound real, what can I say? Only speaker I have not had or heard are Blades 1 and 2. One of my very best dealers think they are the best, and he sells everything under 100k. Without great midrange speakers are worth nothing. Ok, make fun of me. Had to get this off my chest.
We are a Kef dealer, and although we love the LS 50 the Ref Ones are way better!

I also really love the ATC SCM 11 and the SCM 19 both of which are more dynamic and have a more natural midrange. 

The LS 50 is a great speaker but not in the Ref One class sound level.

Troy
Audio Doctor
877 428 2873