Usher Audio BE-718 or Kef LS50


Hi Everybody,

For some reason, I’ve become enamored with the Usher BE-718 Tiny Dancers, even though I’ve never heard them. I own Kef LS50s. I drive the LS50s with a pair of modified ASL DT200 Hurricanes fed by a PS Audio PWD II going through a Dodd battery powered tube preamp. The first question I usually get is “shouldn’t that rig be driving a better pair of speakers?”. Well, maybe. The reason I have LS50s is because I had to downsize my audio room 4 years ago and the Thiel 3.6s wouldn’t work in an 11 x 16 x 10 room. I also had to learn room acoustics and treat the new tiny room. I tried a pair of Golden Ear Triton 2s but I couldn’t tame them. I probably pulled the plug a little early on those but that’s another story. I replaced the GE T2s with the LS50s. Say what you want but the LS50s are a nice speaker for the money and they are dialed in. However, I find myself still wanting…go figure. What I’m trying to do now is find another small speaker that is incrementally better than the LS50 that won’t break the bank. In other words, I’m not financially ready to go buy a pair of Joseph Audio Pulsar’s or even a pair of Aerial Acoustics 5Ts and call it a day.

Enter the Usher BE-718s. I’ve heard good things about these speakers and you can get a used pair for about the price of a new pair of LS50s. I’m looking for some wisdom here. Can anybody tell me about the 718s? Has anybody heard both? And yes, I know that the 718 cost ~ $2600.00 new which is $1100.00 more that the LS50 new, which means that it is supposed to be a better speaker but I also know it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m trying to get some info before I buy an older speaker named Dancer that ends up having two left feet at Christmas! 
utrak
The Usher BE-718 only retailed for $1300/pair in Taiwan, it was only boosted to $3000 for the US Market. Secondly they went through a revision a couple years ago, and switched to a metal-carbon alloy tweeter called the Usher BE-718 DMD, once it became a mini-scandal that their beryllium tweeters were actually titanium. Now the new msrp of the DMD was around $1150/pair in Taiwan.

These are really nice furniture pieces, with pretty good on-axis response. However, they are quite directional above 3K due to the 1.25" tweeter with no lens or waveguide, whereas the LS50 would have far superior power response being it’s a coaxial driver. They might be okay-ish in the nearfield or in a narrow sweetspot.

Having personally owned the original 718s, I can tell you they look nice, and certainly fit well with some good living room furniture. But performance wise they aren’t anything special, and don’t really sound better than a lot of $1000/pair speakers. Which shouldn’t be surprising giving their (true) msrp in Taiwan.
Watkins Stereo Generation 4?  (See Absolute Sound review...)

Trenner and Friedl Art?
The Usher will be slightly slower and less detailed but will have more bass and a more romantic sound. Definitely bigger sound. When I had mine I didn't think they paired well with tubes. YMMV.
Thanks everybody.  Thanks to 3 very good responses, I think that I already have my answer.  It's great to know more about the history of a product.  It really helps with future buying decisions.  I will definitely check out Watkins Gen 4s and the Friedl Art products.  And lastly, I'm in the process of obtaining a Parasound A21 to help with future equipment auditions.  Happy holidays!!!  
Sounds like an awesome holiday!   Keep us posted!

(And I just saw, btw, that Trenner and Friedl are releasing a new version of the Arts soon.  Might be an opportunity to pick up the current version for a really good price?  http://thevinylanachronist.blogspot.com/2018/10/new-trenner-friedl-art-monitors.html?m=1)

Cheers- Margot
I just sold a $3K monitor speaker because I preferred the LS50 instead. Which is on sale now at KEFDirect.com for $999. I had both for a long time. So price is not always a true barometer of what you end up liking.

Saying that I remember listening to the Tiny Dancer and really liked it. My audio recollection is telling me that the Dancer sounded bigger than the LS50. 
Thanks Margot.  I will keep everyone posted.  It might take a while though. I didn't mention it but I also have a pair of Thiel CS3.0s that I might cram into my little room just to see how they sound.  These little experiments take time because I have to put a cable package together.  Thiel's can be bright with the wrong equipment.  Then I have to make room acoustic adjustments.  Lastly, I have to listen to them for a couple of weeks.

Best,

Darrell
I have never heard a pair of 718's sounding awful, either the x-718 or the BE or DMD 718's. All I can say is if the 718's didn't sound good, the other equipment must not have been up to caliber of the Usher's. The older x-718's had the more smooth silk tweeter but still sounded nice, I had the Usher cp-6381's at the time. The original BE-718's had the Beryllium tweeter which some people liked and others didn't. The DMD tweeter is 1 of the best tweeters on the market. I have had them in my last couple of usher's, the Mini Dancer ii's and now the x-towers. If you are looking for a nice stand mount speaker, the new DMD 718's would be a good choice. A couple of other choices you might consider are the Totem Model 1 signature or Model ONE. I sold all of my Totem speakers (model 1, hawk, arro, and 2 pairs of Mani 2's) and went all Usher. You might prefer Totem. Both speakers will require a good quality pre and amp to do them justice.
I’m not sure what was going on with the other setups but the Be-718 are formidable speakers that are well worth their praise. Some rear-ported Usher speakers can sound bloated if not properly placed as that 7" woofer can put out quite a bit of air, but these are front-ported so that might not be the issue.

I’d advise against getting a pair with the Be tweeters, or at the least, planning to upgrade to the Diamonds. There is a world of difference between these two tweeters that really elevates the speaker itself. Like rbstehno mentioned above, the Diamond tweeter is a truly world class tweeter that has great extension without the fatigue. The 718 is a discontinued model due to the Mini X being released a few years ago.

For what its worth, I’d never take the LS50 over the Mini X or Be-718 with Diamond tweeters. I’ve heard them on a few occasions. The LS50W makes it a closer race, but I’d still take the Ushers (with Diamonds) unless DSP was required due to major room/placement issues.

I’ve owned or had in house the following Usher speakers: CP-6311, CP-6381, Mini X, Mini Dancer Two, CP-777, and Be-10.
Audiothesis we were major Usher dealers for quite a number of years and we sold dozens of BE 718 and the DMD 718 versions.

Quite frankly one of the reasons we dropped Usher was the LS 50. 

Yes the 718 has lower bass and sounds a bit bigger overall  it did not outperform the LS 50. 

A properly setup set of LS 50 can sound quite fantastic. 

Today we also have the Quad Z series monitors which sound like a bigger cleaner version of the LS 50 with greater bass then the LS 50.

Quite frankly there a number of fantastic monitors in the $2k-3k the new KEF R 3, the Quads, the Technics are all fantastic monitors we haven't heard any of the Focals in this price range but obviously those and the B&W 700 series are all great contenders.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


Thank you very much for this response Troy. This information is much appreciated.
Hi,
I have a pair of the Usher Audio be718’s.
They definetly sound romantic as one of the folks described them.... I find that I prefer a sub with them contrary to some reviews. The beryllium tweeter are among the airiest smoothest natural sounding tweeters that I’ve ever heard.
Im in NJ if you’re local you’re welcome to come give them a listen. I think they’re a little more natural sounding with more bottom end than the Kefs from what I’ve read and heard people say.
I know the Ushers weigh a ton!
id love to hear the Joseph audio Pulsars too. I have floor standing Joseph RM-25XL MKii and they’re awesome I wish they had beryllium tweeters....