Advice on speakers: Kef LS50?

Advice on speakers: Kef LS50?
I currently have the UnitiQute 2 using it with the NAP 100 power amp.

My current speakers, about 15 years old, are Monitor Audio Studio 20’s floor standers.

Since moving, these speakers are not suited to a laminate style floor, being a boomy, and are a bit big for the room.

I've listened to some Kef LS50 stand mounts as possible replacements. In the shop they sound great, but am I bonkers in thinking they can be really better than the old studio 20’s? Can the Kefs be that good? anyone tried them with a Qute 2 and Nap 100?
Regards
Jezza

 

Original Post

If you have issues with your room acoustics (and who doesn't!) you may well find that smaller speakers will be better behaved and less boomy, not least because they will produce less bass. The only way to find out what works is to get a home demo, of course - not that there's anything wrong with asking for suggestions here to build up a shortlist.

If your room is quite small, I would also consider losing the NAP100. This would free up a bigger budget for speakers, and some people prefer the sound of the Qute without a 100 - not that either approach is right or wrong, just another option to explore.

I got a pair of LS50's about 18 months ago as a stop gap until I could afford to replace a considerably larger (and more expensive) pair of floor standers.  The best compliment I can pay them is that I am still enjoying them very much and the urge to upgrade remains mercifully mild.  I will still upgrade eventually though - the one thing I do miss is the deeper bass.

My old NAP160 drives them very happily indeed so I don't think your UQ2 should have any issues in that respect.  The one caveat I would make is that I found the LS50's require a lot of breaking in and are VERY sensitive to room positioning.  So the usual advice applies:  you need to try them in your own room and really take your time finding the right position for them

If you do go with the Ls50's (I love mine and my wife loves the look) then be sure to budget in really solid stands. Makes a huge difference sound wise. Running mine with a CB NAP110 and while for certain genres (like stadium rock) they could use a bit more juice, for others (like jazz) and for late night listening they sound superb with the little vintage amp. 

I would strongly suggest that you audition them in your own room with your system.  Didn't like them in my room with UQ2 and NAP100, felt that they were a bit boomy and exaggerated the mid bass.  In my friends system and room they sound excellent.

Référence kef ls50, i simply love the speaker but not the easiest especially with unitique2.

since I got them, other cheaper option came on the market. Make sure you try/listen to dynaudio m10 or quad s1. The neat qute alpha is also a special speaker but more suited for a super uniti 

Can people kindly share what speaker cable they used. Budget between 10 and 50 pounds per metre. I want to keep it cheap if possible. Chord clearway territory but tellurium black interesting. Sorry to ask here but the owners have the right stuff. Keep well 

 

I thought that I would reply as I have 3x LS50's across the front sound stage and thought I could try and offer a little more help than that 'Aren't they made in China?  I would keep looking for that reason alone.' post... 

From a Naim perspective a Uniti 2 or XS would be the starting point, perhaps, but i've not experienced the NAP100. On the assumption that the NAP100 is a step up from the UQ2, you ought to be fine. Below is my experience, albeit AV bias, with the LS50's. 

These LS50's really do need to have a fair amount of power; the LS50's are a 4 ohm load (despite what the specs say) and so benefit from more power than you'd think. I demo'd them using Naim kit including a UQ2 and the LS50's were okay using that UQ2, but struggled with heavy tracks - Globalist by Muse, for instance. Also (once driven properly - long story, but most AV amps can't cut it) these speakers provide far more bass than you'd expect and are absurdly affected by positioning. Avoid the foam bungs, but please do make sure you have a decent set of stands. Avoid stuff like Custom Design FS104's that are torsionally weak and get more sturdy designs like those by Atacama (the SE range). 

I have a different amp setup, now, but I guess I'm trying to say that the LS50's need a nice big power supply to feed them. I'm planning on a 172/155 as an upgrade to the AV side of things.

Russell

Thanks Russell. I agree with most what you said. I am saving for the nap100. It adds 10 percent improvement people will tell you but in reality it does more. 

However, I believe hat the kef ls50 takes time to break in anyway. 

What intrigued is your comment about the custom design which are considered like a perfect match to the kef. Im the are expensive and the atacama mauseco 6 more into my price range. Can you please elaborate a bit

kindly share what kind of speaker cable you used please. I love tellurium but not sure I can afford it. Chord clearway ? 

Thanks again 

Having had the LS50 I think they are a fine speaker, particularly for the money.  They do like a good pair of stands with some mass to them.  They also require quite a lot of room to breath, particularly out from the back wall else the port becomes obvious and they produce too much 'bass'.

russraff posted:

... Avoid stuff like Custom Design FS104's that are torsionally weak and get more sturdy designs like those by Atacama (the SE range). 

...

Russell

Personally I'd avoid the Atacama SE range - they aren't a patch on the Custom Design FS104's Signature (i.e. with the 100mm centre column) or Partington Super Dreadnought.

They're great speakers, and great looking to boot. Mine are only inches from the wall, without the bungs, and while boomy on some tracks are perfectly fabulous for most (esp jazz, acoustic, vocals, etc). I'm using a locally designed and made cast iron single post stand (available at Hawthorne Stereo). Heavy and work good.  I think the grippiness of the amp is as important as the power in order to control the bottom end. All depends on what you listen to most. My 110 is sublime with most jazz, but can feel underpowered with say stadium rock. The Ls50's can do them both, just depends on amp and room placement. 

I've got the 104 stands my self and they aren't too stable. They twist about the centre column and as the base is made from thin material with no return about the edge the support is also weak.  I sold some atacama stands when I moved house as I changed from stand mount to floorstander. The atacama were far more stable and built to a higher quality. 

Oh, speaker cable is supra ply 3.4. I had tellurium black and tested many different cables when I had an ill advised sojourn in to Cyrus separates (not to be repeated...) and tried to eliminate all manner of different issues. Basically, the supra is just as good at a fraction of the price. I couldn't tell if I had supra, chord epic or tellurium when I got a mate to swap em for me. The fact I got him to do that 'blind' test is evidence enough that I was trying too hard to hear differences. Also tried QED silver stuff that was as thick as my arm.

That's an interesting and welcome find for me about the custom design stands. The custom design are expensive and I welcome the fact the atacama Moseco 6 could be good enough. 

Unless someone propose other options. Be my guest 

please share what speaker cable you are using with kef ls50 

 

russraff posted:

Oh, speaker cable is supra ply 3.4. I had tellurium black and tested many different cables when I had an ill advised sojourn in to Cyrus separates (not to be repeated...) and tried to eliminate all manner of different issues. Basically, the supra is just as good at a fraction of the price. I couldn't tell if I had supra, chord epic or tellurium when I got a mate to swap em for me. The fact I got him to do that 'blind' test is evidence enough that I was trying too hard to hear differences. Also tried QED silver stuff that was as thick as my arm.

Thanks for that, very helpful 

l will have a look at supra for sure 

did you try chord clearway as heard it works quite well with naim. Just super thick and white !!!

Well, I'm not sure about those, mind. The se had a large trapezoid shaped central column that was torsionally strong and robust. Those that you want have a small diameter tube with just one support. I got my 104 for a cut price but if I were to choose again, I'd want some non circular columns to help with ridgidity and a better base (that those you've chosen do have it appears) to make the stand stable.

Err, box sections (including trapezoids) are a lot less torsionally rigid that circular tubes.  If your CD 104 signature stands weren't torsionally rigid then something was wrong with the fixing of the centre column.  Also did you try a blob of blue-tack in the centre between the speaker and the stand?

I don't think the Moseco 6 is up to the quality required (probably due to a problem with column flexure).

For those who need a medium to high mass stand who don't like the SD 104 Sig, the Partington Super Dreadnought is a close second (with most speakers, it's slightly better in the bass than the 104, but also it's usually a little less dynamic and a little more congested in the mid-range).

Huge posted:

Err, box sections (including trapezoids) are a lot less torsionally rigid that circular tubes.

The shape has nothing to do with torsionally rigidity. It's down to the value "J"

The dimensions of a given cross section determine the value "J"

First of all thanks for your replies and nice to see there's a little debate.

Seems a very good forum indeed  

Well I've bought the Kef Ls50's yesterday! ...very pleased indeed, actually got that rare hi-fi smile on very first listening.

Sorry not good at hifi speak but they are laser sharp with surprising and lovely bass, even if a little lacking to the floorstanders, it sounds leaner and meaner.
After running in as much as possible there's a definite 3D sound developing I never heard from the old studio 20's.
If they improve when run in for a few more days I'll be mightily impressed.
Bear in mind they are replacing speakers that were over two grand when came out about 15 years ago. Yes I had issues with the floorstanders in the current living environment, but even so they were easily outperformed by these kefs.

They are also on the Custom Design FS104 stands which seem pretty solid when filled, look great with the titanium Ls50's but I do think the build quality could have been higher for the price.

Must mention:
The dealer who delivered and set them up for me stated he had a "little known tip" when mounting the Kef's on stands.

...Which is...lean them back!
The front of the stand is about half inch higher than the rear!
It gives them a sort of sporty look but apparently it's definitely for sonic rather than cosmetic.
Anyone tried that?

Anyway absolutely love them.
Cheers
Jezza

Fatcat, I disagree.

J is dependant on the form of the cross section, this is particularly so for tubes.  For homogeneous bars, the value is much less dependant on form.
To obtain an accurate determination of J, the best method is finite element analysis, rather than just relying on the overall dimensions of the cross section.

Jezza posted:

First of all thanks for your replies and nice to see there's a little debate.

Seems a very good forum indeed  

Well I've bought the Kef Ls50's yesterday! ...very pleased indeed, actually got that rare hi-fi smile on very first listening.

Sorry not good at hifi speak but they are laser sharp with surprising and lovely bass, even if a little lacking to the floorstanders, it sounds leaner and meaner.
After running in as much as possible there's a definite 3D sound developing I never heard from the old studio 20's.
If they improve when run in for a few more days I'll be mightily impressed.
Bear in mind they are replacing speakers that were over two grand when came out about 15 years ago. Yes I had issues with the floorstanders in the current living environment, but even so they were easily outperformed by these kefs.

They are also on the Custom Design FS104 stands which seem pretty solid when filled, look great with the titanium Ls50's but I do think the build quality could have been higher for the price.

Must mention:
The dealer who delivered and set them up for me stated he had a "little known tip" when mounting the Kef's on stands.

...Which is...lean them back!
The front of the stand is about half inch higher than the rear!
It gives them a sort of sporty look but apparently it's definitely for sonic rather than cosmetic.
Anyone tried that?

Anyway absolutely love them.
Cheers
Jezza

Congrats on the purchase 

can you please clarify what you mean by lean them back. The custom design is supposed to be even. 

what speaker cable you used please and what is your amp. 

 

Crabby posted:
Jezza posted:

...

Must mention:
The dealer who delivered and set them up for me stated he had a "little known tip" when mounting the Kef's on stands.

...Which is...lean them back!
The front of the stand is about half inch higher than the rear!
It gives them a sort of sporty look but apparently it's definitely for sonic rather than cosmetic.
Anyone tried that?

Anyway absolutely love them.
Cheers
Jezza

Congrats on the purchase 

can you please clarify what you mean by lean them back. The custom design is supposed to be even. 

what speaker cable you used please and what is your amp. 

 

As they're a dual concentric design you can get the same effect by adjusting the toe-in angle.

Huge posted:

Fatcat, I disagree.

J is dependant on the form of the cross section, this is particularly so for tubes.  For homogeneous bars, the value is much less dependant on form.
To obtain an accurate determination of J, the best method is finite element analysis, rather than just relying on the overall dimensions of the cross section.

How bizarre.

 You understand the principle of finite element analysis, yet you can’t grasp, the important factor is the dimensions of particular form, not the form per se.

 Would a steel tube the size of a hypodermic needle (circular tube) be more rigid than a steel 2 foot square box section with 1 inch thick wall.

Jezza posted:

First of all thanks for your replies and nice to see there's a little debate.

Seems a very good forum indeed  

Well I've bought the Kef Ls50's yesterday! ...very pleased indeed, actually got that rare hi-fi smile on very first listening.

Sorry not good at hifi speak but they are laser sharp with surprising and lovely bass, even if a little lacking to the floorstanders, it sounds leaner and meaner.
After running in as much as possible there's a definite 3D sound developing I never heard from the old studio 20's.
If they improve when run in for a few more days I'll be mightily impressed.
Bear in mind they are replacing speakers that were over two grand when came out about 15 years ago. Yes I had issues with the floorstanders in the current living environment, but even so they were easily outperformed by these kefs.

They are also on the Custom Design FS104 stands which seem pretty solid when filled, look great with the titanium Ls50's but I do think the build quality could have been higher for the price.

Must mention:
The dealer who delivered and set them up for me stated he had a "little known tip" when mounting the Kef's on stands.

...Which is...lean them back!
The front of the stand is about half inch higher than the rear!
It gives them a sort of sporty look but apparently it's definitely for sonic rather than cosmetic.
Anyone tried that?

Anyway absolutely love them.
Cheers
Jezza

I have Guru QM10's and have them leaning back on the stands most definitely opens them up.

Well, since I spend a significant amount of time listening to my ls50's while sitting/laying on the floor due to both my late night yoga sessions (the time the room is available from the rest of the family) and the fact that there's no actual seating directly in front of the speakers, I guess Its good that I have them set up level! 

fatcat posted:
Huge posted:

Fatcat, I disagree.

J is dependant on the form of the cross section, this is particularly so for tubes.  For homogeneous bars, the value is much less dependant on form.
To obtain an accurate determination of J, the best method is finite element analysis, rather than just relying on the overall dimensions of the cross section.

How bizarre.

 You understand the principle of finite element analysis, yet you can’t grasp, the important factor is the dimensions of particular form, not the form per se.

 Would a steel tube the size of a hypodermic needle (circular tube) be more rigid than a steel 2 foot square box section with 1 inch thick wall.

Hi Fatcat, I assume you misread my post.  You missed the bit "rather than just relying on the overall dimensions of the cross section".

Clearly the example you provided has different "overall dimensions of the cross section".
N.B. I did not say that J is independent of the overall dimensions of the cross section, only that it is dependant on the form (as well as the dimensions).

Huge posted:

Clearly the example you provided has different "overall dimensions of the cross section".
N.B. I did not say that J is independent of the overall dimensions of the cross section, only that it is dependant on the form (as well as the dimensions).

I think you did. No mention of dimensions, only form.

You wrote. "Err, box sections (including trapezoids) are a lot less torsionally rigid that circular tubes".

 Note. Your reply was a response to Russraff’s suggestion that a large trapezoid shaped central column was more torsionally strong than a small diameter tube.

Fatcat, please read the whole of my post.

When quoting me, please don't use selective editing leaving out relevant parts of my post in order to support your own view of what I wrote.

Also when I don't say something don't just assume that I'm actually stating the opposite:  If I don't state something I'm simply not saying anything about it.

He is right, mind. I was comparing a large trapezoidal section to a relatively small circular one. I could dig out my old engineering papers from when I did my apprenticeship but this may all get rather dull if we talk physics all day...

Suffice to say I can press down on the top of the custom design stands and twist the whole thing. The base flexes too. The atacama stands were rock solid (maybe even welded?) and wouldn't twist. So, unscientific but it satisfies my curiosity. 

As I stated previously, if you specifically want a rigid stand (with its different limitations on sound quality) then the Partington Super Dreadnoughts are better than the Atacama SE.

If rigidity was the only criterion determining sound quality, then we'd all be using solid concrete castings - cheap and very rigid.

Timmo1341 posted:
Skip posted:

Aren't they made in China?  I would keep looking for that reason alone.

As is the Muso, iPhone, iPad, iMac etc. I own, and am very happy with, all of these. What exactly is the point of your comment? 

 

Thanks for the comment, Timmo

I own many Chinese products.  As you noted, iPad, iPhone, MacBook, MuSo, etc.  We looked at the Kef 50, noted the price, the sound, and the origin.  We bought the USA Blumenstein Thrashers for a small fraction of the KEF price.  There are dozens of comps if you look.  

My point, exactly, is that you can buy domestically sourced product for less, and buy better sounding product, and if you can, you might consider it.    Go for the Chinese version if you like the sound.    Flush your money into Chinese goods as you wish.  I prefer the opposite.  If it is available.

I decline your tone. Just look at the facts.  We did.

What a fascinating hobby this is. So many great products out there to suit different tastes and environments. I guess we all agree on the source/amp selection given the platform we're on.

@Jezza, you kindly joined my posts on Guru speakers. I tried some LS50 last week and pretty swiftly concluded they would not work for me due to the strong rear ported bass output. Even in the dealer's demo room, within 0.5m of the rear wall they were unbearable for me (and the room was large, with a very high vaulted ceiling extending to 5-6 metres above.

About 1m from the back wall they sounded good, with bass boom diminished. My observations were that they are extremely focussed with a very narrow sweet spot in which to listen - almost like having giant headphones in the room if you're in the right place. Not much joy to be had outside of this if you go off-axis at all.

The physical size of the LS50 surprised me in the flesh - they look larger than the measurements suggest, especially the depth. On the finish, I am in total agreement the Titanium grey look fantastic and modern, and I'd have chosen these had they worked for me.

Having written off the possibility of hearing some Guru's anytime soon, I ended up with ATC SCM11's, which are a little larger than I'd have ideally liked.  At the risk of being verbally flogged here, I have them sat on an Ikea storage cabinet, supported on isoacoustics studio monitor isolation stands. about 0.3 metres off the back wall and side wall across a 2.5m wide by 3.5m long room (study/home office). I'm wondering if I can fabricate, or more realistically have someone handy with a welder make for me, some custom stands that allow the top and bottom plates to reach under and over my storage cabinets. Notwithstanding my no doubt sub-optimal current setup, the SCM11's are very enjoyable. Bass is characterised by wonderful quality and texture over absolute quantity and extension. Mids and highs are crystal clear.

Glad you found something to suit you.

Skip posted:
Timmo1341 posted:
Skip posted:

Aren't they made in China?  I would keep looking for that reason alone.

As is the Muso, iPhone, iPad, iMac etc. I own, and am very happy with, all of these. What exactly is the point of your comment? 

 

Thanks for the comment, Timmo

I own many Chinese products.  As you noted, iPad, iPhone, MacBook, MuSo, etc.  We looked at the Kef 50, noted the price, the sound, and the origin.  We bought the USA Blumenstein Thrashers for a small fraction of the KEF price.  There are dozens of comps if you look.  

My point, exactly, is that you can buy domestically sourced product for less, and buy better sounding product, and if you can, you might consider it.    Go for the Chinese version if you like the sound.    Flush your money into Chinese goods as you wish.  I prefer the opposite.  If it is available.

I decline your tone. Just look at the facts.  We did.

Thanks for the reply and explanation, Skip. Sorry if my tone offended you. I was just intrigued by your apparent bias against products manufactured in China. Glad to see it doesn't extend to UK hifi!! I presume you were unable to source the equivalent of Naim and ProAc cheaper in the States?

A  little off topic but there are some excellent hifi manufactures in China and not European or American brands that have relocated there but genuine Chinese manufactures.  A couple of years ago out of curiosity I bought a Chinese valve amp and after I had it checked over for safety (it passed by the way) I used it for a year or so and sold it without loss its build was bulletproof and it sounded really nice. Excellent Quality

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