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A question about the KEF LS50 vocal clarity

YiannisK

New member
Apr 30, 2015
9
0
0
Goodmorning to all

I would like to ask for some advice / opinion from you, especially if you own the KEF LS50.

I have them paired with a Rega Elicit (Mk2). Prior to that I had an Arcam A29 driving them. The Elicit is a major improvement (especially in the bass and rhythm) but a problem persists and it has to do with vocal clarity. In short, while the midrange is great, I get the feeling of a recessed top. Music sounds great most of the time but I do get this feeling some of the top end is a bit more laid back compared to what comes before in the frequency spectrum

This issue is however evident when i watch movies (Apple TV4 > TV > optical to Rega Dac-r > Rega Elicit). The vocals / voices / speech sound a tad recessed and they are not easy to understand, especially if other things are happening in the scene. I wonder if this is indeed the sound signature of the LS50?

I did some research and found that the frequency response of the LS50 shows a slightly prominent 2-5KHz followed by a dip in the 6-10 Khz range.

This varies in magnitude but it is shown in a number of reviews.

http://www.kef.com/uploads/files/en/review/LS50_HFN_0712.pdf

http://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-ls50-anniversary-model-loudspeaker-measurements

Prior to the LS50 I had the B&W CM1 S2 which had the opposite issue (prominent '...ssss' and sibilance at the top while midrange was recessed). My room is underdamped and bright so I have always had issues with treble (especially for example with Monitor Audio speakers I had a while back).

Am I doint something wrong with positioning or perhaps something else? Maybe the above is indeed the sonic signature of the LS50?

I can try using EQ with movies if I swap the Apple TV with a PC but I would love to first ascertain if indeed this is needed.

Many thanks in advance

PS: I have had the LS50 for a few months (totally broken in) positioned on solid stands and about 11inches from the back wall, slightly toed in. Cables are Chord Odyssey II.
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
20
0
0
Firstly the dip that you mention, if it is in the 6-10kHz range, is way above vocal range and unlikely to cause the effect you mention.

If the issue is primarily with film, perhaps it is the lack of a dedicated center channel that you are missing?

If the movie is mixed with a centre channel, maybe that is the issue. No really my area, but are the movies mixed for regular stereo, is that something you can adjust in settings?

I would certaining look into this before changing speakers.
 

YiannisK

New member
Apr 30, 2015
9
0
0
Excellent points :)

As you point out the main vocals are below 6KHz. Above that is the sibiliance, '..sss' sounds and such like. I would not have expected to experience issues with vocal clarity. The issue is mainly with movies and iTunes TV series I download and stream. I will check the settings as you recommend and will see if that improves things.

Many thanks

davedotco said:
Firstly the dip that you mention, if it is in the 6-10kHz range, is way above vocal range and unlikely to cause the effect you mention.

If the issue is primarily with film, perhaps it is the lack of a dedicated center channel that you are missing?

If the movie is mixed with a centre channel, maybe that is the issue. No really my area, but are the movies mixed for regular stereo, is that something you can adjust in settings?

I would certaining look into this before changing speakers.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
646
91
18,970
DVD dialogue was bad enough stereo, bluray more so - I have to crank up the volume even more to hear speech and then the rest of the audio crashes the house down.

It's not your speakers, just the nature of watching movies in stereo from my experience. That said speakers which major on the midrange will help, or in my case where my TV audio doesn't mute to complement the hifi where the unexpected effect is not unwelcome.
 

Brokenflame

New member
Oct 23, 2016
3
0
0
Based on the fact you previously had the opposite issue I doubt it is an issue with the downsampling on your hardware.

The LS50's vocals are usually good. Bass is a distinct issues on them (the shear lack off).

Try setting your Apple TV to output stereo sound only, thus the TV shouldn't down sample.

As most TV's don't have dynamic range compression or night mode on the audio outputs, it is likely you will need to increase the volume to hear speech anyway, as the dynamic range of movies is usually high.
 

Superaintit

New member
Feb 8, 2009
100
0
0
Brokenflame said:
Based on the fact you previously had the opposite issue I doubt it is an issue with the downsampling on your hardware.

The LS50's vocals are usually good. Bass is a distinct issues on them (the shear lack off).

Try setting your Apple TV to output stereo sound only, thus the TV shouldn't down sample.

As most TV's don't have dynamic range compression or night mode on the audio outputs, it is likely you will need to increase the volume to hear speech anyway, as the dynamic range of movies is usually high.
As above. I use a stereo setup for movies and never noticed recessed voices when I set the blu-ray to stereo output. Heard the LS50's too on a brief occasion and didn't notice any recessed midrange. I would test with stereo output and see if that fixes it.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
152
88
18,670
Hi,

Are the films by Christopher Nolan? There were complaints where his response was that it made the film different and he was trying things out. He purposefully made the dialogue difficult to hear.

This was reported in Home Cinema Choice a year ago.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

muljao

New member
Jul 18, 2016
154
0
0
shadders said:
Hi,

Are the films by Christopher Nolan? There were complaints where his response was that it made the film different and he was trying things out. He purposefully made the dialogue difficult to hear.

This was reported in Home Cinema Choice a year ago.

Regards,

Shadders.
Funny you say that, I remember reading that "Bane" in "the dark knight rises" had to have some tweaking after the film was finished due people unable to make out what he was saying. They should of tweaked it more me thinks, I still couldn't understand him
 

Compactdisco

New member
Apr 19, 2016
3
0
0
YiannisK said:
Goodmorning to all

I would like to ask for some advice / opinion from you, especially if you own the KEF LS50.

I have them paired with a Rega Elicit (Mk2). Prior to that I had an Arcam A29 driving them. The Elicit is a major improvement (especially in the bass and rhythm) but a problem persists and it has to do with vocal clarity. In short, while the midrange is great, I get the feeling of a recessed top. Music sounds great most of the time but I do get this feeling some of the top end is a bit more laid back compared to what comes before in the frequency spectrum

This issue is however evident when i watch movies (Apple TV4 > TV > optical to Rega Dac-r > Rega Elicit). The vocals / voices / speech sound a tad recessed and they are not easy to understand, especially if other things are happening in the scene. I wonder if this is indeed the sound signature of the LS50?

I did some research and found that the frequency response of the LS50 shows a slightly prominent 2-5KHz followed by a dip in the 6-10 Khz range.

This varies in magnitude but it is shown in a number of reviews.

http://www.kef.com/uploads/files/en/review/LS50_HFN_0712.pdf

http://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-ls50-anniversary-model-loudspeake...

Prior to the LS50 I had the B&W CM1 S2 which had the opposite issue (prominent '...ssss' and sibilance at the top while midrange was recessed). My room is underdamped and bright so I have always had issues with treble (especially for example with Monitor Audio speakers I had a while back).

Am I doint something wrong with positioning or perhaps something else? Maybe the above is indeed the sonic signature of the LS50?

I can try using EQ with movies if I swap the Apple TV with a PC but I would love to first ascertain if indeed this is needed.

Many thanks in advance

PS: I have had the LS50 for a few months (totally broken in) positioned on solid stands and about 11inches from the back wall, slightly toed in. Cables are Chord Odyssey II.
If I understood correctly, the vocal clarity issue was also present when running the LS50's with the Arcam FMJ A29? I'm a A29 owner and I've been thinking about getting the LS50's. Your experience with LS50 run by the Arcam amp would be highly appreciated. Thanks
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
742
305
5,270
If I may add my two cents. I also run my TV/movies via a stereo amp for a while now. Some were already mentioned by others.

Lack of central channel and surround sound mix is one issue. Even if you set your bluray etc. to output stereo it will still come across another issue imho soundstaging.

What is the virtue of stereo amps and draws you in when listening to music in this case will be a curse. The better the amp is at giving away depth of the recording and it's presentation that puts vocals deeper into the mix the worse it will be for TV/movies. Also the brighter and more forward the amp is the better for movies. Warmer and more laid back amps won't do as well.

I demoed LS50 and believe this this issue to be mostly down to amp+source and only somewhat to do with speakers.

Although a metal dome tweeters or ribbons in my experience will do better in such setups or any brighter sounding speakers for that matter.
 

YiannisK

New member
Apr 30, 2015
9
0
0
Many thanks to all for the great ideas / suggestions.

I did indeed try the LS50 with the Arcam A29 initially. I tried this system with a Rega Dac, a Naim Dac V1 and even an old Cambridge audio Dacmagic. The Rega Dac was the best while the Naim Dac V1 made it sound thin and with limited bass. I believe that the A29 will work fine as long as you pair it with a warm-ish source (e.g. Rega). I did not try the matching Arcam Irdac.

The full rega system sounds great with the LS50s, especially with music. I get good quantity of bass with this system although it can sometimes feel a tiny bit uncontrolled. Very small price to pay for what I gained. The vocals are also better with this system but the issue with movies is not completely fixed.

I recently bought the new Apple TV4 and discovered it allows a 'reduction of loud sounds' in the settings. This fixes things a bit by reducing the dynamic range. Having said that, it does sometimes reduce voices as well (which is strange). I also followed your advice and selected stereo ouput. An improvement overall but not a total fix. I can live with this however.

Totally agree regarding bright amps / bright speakers being good for movies etc. I had an Arcam A19 paired with Monitor Audio silver RX1 speakers which was the best for movies and TV. Amazing clarity and it felt super comfortable with vocals etc. But... a bit bright with music, especially if turned the volume up a bit. So it seems exactly as described above... what works for music might be less good for movies. Overall I prefer what I have now as music is more important for me.
 

seemorebtts

Well-known member
Feb 2, 2013
66
0
18,540
YiannisK said:
Many thanks to all for the great ideas / suggestions.

I did indeed try the LS50 with the Arcam A29 initially. I tried this system with a Rega Dac, a Naim Dac V1 and even an old Cambridge audio Dacmagic. The Rega Dac was the best while the Naim Dac V1 made it sound thin and with limited bass. I believe that the A29 will work fine as long as you pair it with a warm-ish source (e.g. Rega). I did not try the matching Arcam Irdac.

The full rega system sounds great with the LS50s, especially with music. I get good quantity of bass with this system although it can sometimes feel a tiny bit uncontrolled. Very small price to pay for what I gained. The vocals are also better with this system but the issue with movies is not completely fixed. 

I recently bought the new Apple TV4 and discovered it allows a 'reduction of loud sounds' in the settings. This fixes things a bit by reducing the dynamic range. Having said that, it does sometimes reduce voices as well (which is strange). I also followed your advice and selected stereo ouput.  An improvement overall but not a total fix. I can live with this however.

Totally agree regarding bright amps / bright speakers being good for movies etc. I had an Arcam A19 paired with Monitor Audio silver RX1 speakers which was the best for movies and TV. Amazing clarity and it felt super comfortable with vocals etc. But... a bit bright with music, especially if turned the volume up a bit. So it seems exactly as described above... what works for music might be less good for movies. Overall I prefer what I have now as music is more important for me. 

 
I would try a clearer audio chopper line power cable for your amp its £175 and will fix a lot of your problems ie more control and better vocals and you get a 60 day trial
 

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