CnoEvil

Kef LS50 - but which version?

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5 hours ago, plasticpenguin said:

A little person keeps nagging at me to try these new Metas. Makes sense as I liked the sound of the originals.

As a LS50’s mk1 owner in the past for a few years., If the metas sound better they are a bargain!

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8 hours ago, Iceman 16 said:

As a LS50’s mk1 owner in the past for a few years., If the metas sound better they are a bargain!

Certainly worth exploring. Not too sure when that'll be though.

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8 hours ago, plasticpenguin said:

Certainly worth exploring. Not too sure when that'll be though.

I would suggest well into next year, as supplies are short....and at the end of October, only part orders are going to be fulfilled to those dealers who signed up initially with a commitment. 

Atm Demand far outweighs supply.

Saying that, many dealers have a Passive dem pair that you can hear....with Active Dem Pairs mostly unavailable atm.

Edited by CnoEvil

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7 hours ago, CnoEvil said:

....Atm Demand far outweighs supply......

Just goes to show what a good PR job KEF have done. The passive has basically only had a minor update, essentially being the improved, latest version of the co-axial driver units, plus a minor tweak to the crossover to match. Of course “latest version” of the driver isn’t very sexy sounding, nor is mention of some of the changes, like sealing the air gaps around the tweeter assembly, or whatever. So the “Meta” aspect has been seized on to provide the PR hype. Sounds a lot sexier than “better sealing around the driver”, or “improved suspension assembly”, etc.

Putting aside the hype, by all accounts the new version is reported to be a fairly decent improvement on the mk1 passive, but from the way I read it, that pales against a far bigger improvement to the actives. New more powerful amps, redesigned digital crossovers, new processors and most importantly, a new and much improved app.

I don’t own a pair, but if I was looking at upgrading my LS50’s to the new Meta version, I think it might be a wiser move to think about selling my amp as well and buying the active LS50W-ll .

5

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8 minutes ago, High 5 said:

Just goes to show what a good PR job KEF have done. The passive has basically only had a minor update, essentially being the improved, latest version of the co-axial driver units, plus a minor tweak to the crossover to match. Of course “latest version” of the driver isn’t very sexy sounding, nor is mention of some of the changes, like sealing the air gaps around the tweeter assembly, or whatever. So the “Meta” aspect has been seized on to provide the PR hype. Sounds a lot sexier than “better sealing around the driver”, or “improved suspension assembly”, etc.

Putting aside the hype, by all accounts the new version is reported to be a fairly decent improvement on the mk1 passive, but from the way I read it, that pales against a far bigger improvement to the actives. New more powerful amps, redesigned digital crossovers, new processors and most importantly, a new and much improved app.

I don’t own a pair, but if I was looking at upgrading my LS50’s to the new Meta version, I think it might be a wiser move to think about selling my amp as well and buying the active LS50W-ll .

5

When I first heard about the new version - I actually said on here, that I thought it was a PR job to justify the price increase - but having heard them, I now don't think that is the case.

I expect you are probably right about the Wireless 2 version.

The Passive version is easier to integrate into an AV system that's also used for 2 channel.

Edited by CnoEvil

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First sh Wireless ii's on Ebay !

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kef-Ls50-Wireless-ll-Plus-s2-stands/164469255587?hash=item264b21ada3:g:c-kAAOSw0t9flX5r

I wonder if the new LS50's will have such a high used turnover rate as the old one's ?

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1 minute ago, CnoEvil said:

When I first heard about the new version - I actually said on here, that I thought it was a PR job to justify the price increase - but having hear them, I now don't think that is the case.

I wasn’t suggesting it was purely a PR job. I was just commenting how they’ve cleverly used one aspect of the improvements to provide a “hook” and the basis of the PR.

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Super Wammer
40 minutes ago, Bigwig07 said:

First sh Wireless ii's on Ebay !

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kef-Ls50-Wireless-ll-Plus-s2-stands/164469255587?hash=item264b21ada3:g:c-kAAOSw0t9flX5r

I wonder if the new LS50's will have such a high used turnover rate as the old one's ?

Crumbs, a week old!  Shame he can’t return them.  

I wondered about that, but pretty sure the old ones sold in big numbers, yet were often not deployed effectively and were sold on to fund something easier to live with - in the sense of accommodate in a typical room, rather than soundwise. 

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On 24/10/2020 at 10:05, Nopiano said:

I completely agree. Any bookshelf speakers under £200 new would probably sound better!  They’re totally unsuited to use as proposed by @Valley Dweller though I completely get the idea they may be relatively easy to resell.  Another snag is the finishes aren’t rugged, so the shiny black will show every scratch and the Matt black I owned (Black Edition) is slightly rough so shows white marks from your skin. A nice cheap vinyl wrap is what’s needed in a kitchen!

Thanks for the tips cno evil and no piano. Ill give these a swerve and look for some other options i think.

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On 25/10/2020 at 09:53, CnoEvil said:

I would suggest well into next year, as supplies are short....and at the end of October, only part orders are going to be fulfilled to those dealers who signed up initially with a commitment. 

Atm Demand far outweighs supply.

Saying that, many dealers have a Passive dem pair that you can hear....with Active Dem Pairs mostly unavailable atm.

Thruth is I don't have the money anyway. Perhaps next summer when I can get my business up and running again. :dunno:

Edited by plasticpenguin

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8 hours ago, plasticpenguin said:

Thruth is I don't have the money anyway. Perhaps next summer when I can get my business up and running again. :dunno:

At this stage, all you need is inclination. :ph34r:

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I can imagine they'll be popular. Supply seems problematic on a number of speaker brands at the moment. 

I never got on with the Kef Ls50, too much upper mid glare, but respected what they could do. Liked the old R series, and the LSX. But didn't like the Ls50 or the new R series.

If I was buying the new one...hmm... would probably go passive and pair it with a warmer amp. Wireless is good value and super convenient, but (if its anything like the LSX) may have a faint high pitched dog whistle from the ports,  and if the electrics break within warranty, they're next to useless as whole. 

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2 hours ago, dave6v said:

I can imagine they'll be popular. Supply seems problematic on a number of speaker brands at the moment. 

I never got on with the Kef Ls50, too much upper mid glare, but respected what they could do. Liked the old R series, and the LSX. But didn't like the Ls50 or the new R series.

If I was buying the new one...hmm... would probably go passive and pair it with a warmer amp. Wireless is good value and super convenient, but (if its anything like the LSX) may have a faint high pitched dog whistle from the ports,  and if the electrics break within warranty, they're next to useless as whole. 

You might find this assessment interesting from another Forum:

The original LS50 always had/has a harsh treble, not a bright treble. There’s a massive difference. Now, with the LS50 Meta all that harshness is gone and as Tharbamar noted the detail and clarity is certainly there. If he does not hear treble harshness in the original LS50, then he’s is not hearing what a very large number of LS50 owners have eventually made note of during their ownership of the speakers. Basically, brightness with balance and accuracy and without the uncontrolled mini-peaks that caused harshness is what the LS50 Meta delivers. That’s a very good thing.

Tharbamar feels the LS50 Meta is 10% better than the original LS50 and I respect his opinion. I also disagree with it. I think the LS50 Meta is notably better than the original model and is very well worth an audition. Still, I also think that anyone who has an original pair of LS50 speakers and is enjoying them is under no obligation to ditch them in favor of the Meta or even bother to audition the Meta.

If you’ve auditioned some of the speakers that Tharbamar has recommended over the years (or however long he’s been doing reviews) and those speakers sound good to you too, it means mainly that your personal hearing response is either the same or very similar to Tharbamar’s. And that means that you can rely on the idea that what sounds good to him will sound good to you too. That’s also a hint to all audiophiles who are wondering about why one reviewer’s speaker recommendations seem awful to them while another’s seem to be spot on. All that’s happening is that they’re unconsciously identifying reviewers whose hearing is similar or different or only somewhat different from their own. Stick with the reviewer who seems to have a similar sense of hearing and you’ll rarely (if ever) go wrong with their audition recommendations.

All that aside, I’m always astonished when YouTube guys post a video that includes a sound demo similar to the one that closes out the Tharbamar LS50 Meta review. His listening room, for all his touted experimentation and development of acoustic diffusion and absorption panels and his enthusiasm for meta-materials science, sounds like the inside of a large public washroom - in a word, terrible. I’m not sure why some of these cats on YouTube think it’s a good idea to post such awful sound quality, but it has no place in an audio product review. If anyone listens to that recording and thinks that is how the LS50 Meta sounds, they’ve been tricked by a truly terrible recording. I think Tharbamar needs to review his practices and either learn how to produce good quality audio for use on YouTube, or eliminate the useless audio demo part of his reviews.

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The longer someone listens to the Totem Sky (if that person likes the Sky in the first place, that is) the more natural, effortless, balanced, transparent, dynamic and deep-reaching they seem to be. The Sky - to my ears - never draw attention to themselves, rather doing a disappearing act by letting the music simply appear in the room at a quality limited mainly only by the quality of whatever recording is being played. The sound has a size and weight that seems far in excess of what such small boxes can possibly produce, but when the performance is repeated over and over and over and over again over weeks and months of regular listening the realization dawns that Totem and Bruzzese did an absolutely excellent job on the design and execution.

The longer someone listens to the KEF LS50 Meta (if that person likes the LS50 Meta in the first place, that is), the more bold, energetic, balanced, transparent and dynamic they seem to be. The LS50 Meta - to my ears - draw a bit of attention to themselves instead of doing a disappearing act, but also enough transparency to let the music flow freely and again limited mainly only by the quality of whatever recording is being played.

Some differences . . . in an approximately 9’ x 12’ x 8’ listening room (den) that is moderately damped and well-diffused, and with a 6’ listening position:

- To my ears, the Sky will play louder and with greater maintenance of individual instrument detail before compression/limiting/clipping. When it does clip, it does so gracefully and with little distortion. However, I’ve never pushed the Sky louder than 90dB at the listening position which is basically shatteringly loud.

- The LS50 Meta can certainly play loud too. As I approached that 90dB nonsense-loud SPL at the listening position, dynamics start to become restricted a bit earlier than the Sky, but clipping sets in a bit later although it then increases faster than the Sky. My normal, loudest continuous average SPL is 72-78dB no matter what sort of music is playing.

- I think that the Sky presents slightly more accurate brass and wind acoustic instrument timbres than the LS50 Meta. I think that the Sky does the central octaves of acoustic pianos well (which is to say somewhat more realistically to my ears than the competing speakers below, at or near the price points from Wharfedale, Elac, Buchardt, Triangle, Monitor Audio, Focal, B&W, Klipsch, Diapason, AudioSpace, ProAc, and a couple of others). The LS50 Meta is much improved in this part of the range compared to the old LS50, and can go head-to-head with the others mentioned above. To me, the LS50 Meta is at or near the top in this list of comparative brands in this aspect, while the Sky is slightly ahead in this specific part of the range.

- Treble extension that helps reproduce whatever studio acoustics, hall acoustics, and venue acoustic space identity is present on a recording is very good from both speakers. Neither speaker can do what Harbeth C7ES3, Kudos Cardea Super 10, Harbeth P3ESR, Falcon Acoustics LS3/5A, Graham LS3/5A, Monitor Audio Platinum 100, Wilson Benesch Discovery II, PMC Twenty5.21, Polk Legend L200 (yes - Polk - the Legend series seems to be excellent) and a few other models in this pricier company.

- Bass performance from both speakers is as good as it gets from boxes this small, but the Sky sounds like it reaches just a bit deeper with clarity equal or slightly better (below 80Hz) thanf the much-improved LS50 Meta. Measurement actually shows (at least in the small listening room I use for these sorts of speakers) that the Sky can consistently go lower than the LS50 Meta, and the Sky’s output is just a bit louder (2dB or more?) at 50 Hz ( which is where I stopped measuring because there’s no point in challenging these small boxes any lower). The LS50 Meta is rated down to 79Hz +/-3dB (efficiency 85dB for 2.83 volts/1 meter), while the Sky is rated down to 48Hz +/-3dB with slightly better efficiency (87dB, no voltage statement). I measured the LS50 Meta at 84dB and the Sky at 85dB, which means that either I measured incorrectly or KEF and Totem state efficiency specs that are optimistic. Driving the speakers with amps ranging from the excellent little class D TEAC AI-503, Icon Audio ST40 Plus, Audio Aero Prima, Yamaha A-S2100, Krell 300i, Schiit Vidar, and a few others seemed to indicate that the speakers are amp-agnostic. That is, if the amp is well-designed, any such respectable design with decent current delivery an at least 30 watts per channel should help the speakers fully do their thing. For the vintage receiver guys out there, I also tried my Marantz 2250B and Kenwood KR9400 (both fully restored to somewhat tighter spec than the original factory units) and both speakers sounded absolutely wonderful.

- Bass clarity from both speakers is really enjoyable. The brilliantly well-recorded acoustic bass on on “For the Second Time” with Count Basie and the Kansas City 3 (Pablo Records, 2310-878) featuring Ray Brown on bass is immersive. Through either speaker, the bass lines are resonant, sonorous, chest-deep enjoyment that can momentarily make you forget about Basie on piano and Louis Bellson on drums. Mid-bass from both speakers is therefore excellent - surprisingly so for such small boxes but measurement and hearing together don’t tell lies here. The lowest fundamental of an acoustic bass is 40Hz. While both speakers can actually reach that low the LS50 Meta can only do so 6dB or more down so the fundamental is there but it won’t at all survive dispersion in a medium-size or larger room. The Sky has more energy at 50Hz, but clarity suffers, with things becoming as woolly-sounding as the Meta does (when the Meta hits 65Hz or so. Listening in a medium-size or larger room will be a notably different experience.

- Upper midrange and the lower treble are exemplary from both speakers. Rich harmonic textures - they begin in the upper midrange right around 1kHz - and the all-important higher first and second harmonics produced by small string instrument such as the violins that are so fundamentally important to classical music, rock guitar breaks that are so fundamentally important in bridges and solos, and some of the small wind instruments. They’re all acceptably accurate, resonant and draw you into the music. Again though, when comparisons are made to the gorgeous treble extension of some of the pricier class leaders, the Sky and the LS50 Meta just can’t hit in that rarefied atmosphere. But they come very close, and when the LS50 Meta and Sky are set up in small-to0-small/medium rooms they sound wonderful at the necessarily shorter near-to-midfield listening position.

So all of the above is my way of breaking down some of the detail of the differences that help create the contrasting characters of each speaker. I think that which one suits you best can only be determined by a serious audition.
 
 
Edited by CnoEvil
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Super Wammer

I may have looked in the wrong place, but the Totem Sky apparently costs £1800.  Its hardly comparable at UK prices, so perhaps the review above is from Canada or the USA where they may be more price equivalent.

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I would just like to add, that I have never found the treble in the LS50 to be harsh - ie. With my system, in my room and for my taste (which is very much averse to harsh treble).

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