Question Fyne 501 + Cambridge Evo 150 or keep my Kef LS50Ws?

Doulikemyname

Member
Aug 5, 2021
3
0
20
Hi All,

Issue:
I have had the Kef LS50Ws mk1 for the last 2yrs and love them. I have them paired to Kef's 10b subwoofer which is a great pairing to support the LS50Ws with lower ranges.

Where I live it is very difficult to find audio enthusiasts and even harder to find decent stores but just recently a new store has opened selling Fyne audio, B&W, NAD and Cambridge Audio so I'm over the moon.

I had a quick demo of the fyne audios 502 (and 702 but they are out of my price range) together with the Cambridge Audio EVO150 but unfortunately the store doesn't have great sound treatment and the store dimensions are very different to mine so it ended up sounding a bit tinny unfortunately.

I've heard of pairing issues with Fyne Audio but I don't want separates outside of the one streamer amp due to available selection, space and funds.

Room size:
The Kefs definitely punch above their weight but sometimes struggle to fill my room (total size is around 4m X 7m of which the listening area is 4m X 4m i.e. c.175sqft) which is why the sub supports so much.

Music style:
Electronic, Synthwave, Classical, Rock, hip hop/reggaeton or what is big in the charts, regional i.e. Latin & Qawwali, pretty much a mix of everything

Source:
Spotify Connect for music but also use it as a 2.1 home theater

Ask for help:
It'll be very difficult to test at home or take my Kefs in for a test so wanted everyone's opinion if this is a worthwhile upgrade? Also anyone had experience of Fyne Audio 502 and what have they paired then with? Any experience with EVO 150?

Any opinions would be appreciated!
 

EricLeRouge

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2020
63
35
1,570
Hello Doulikemyname — I am a big fan of the LS50w 1st Gen, and I think you may want to investigate an upgrade of your existing pair (so to speak :) ) before you change your system or spend more money.

If you don't use the USB input of your LS50Ws (with a decent cable and a good source), then you have not untapped the full potential of those speakers. In my experience, they cannot be compared with any system (speaker, cables and receiver) for less than 5,000€, possibly more.

To get a glimpse of the full potential of those speakers, I recommend testing Qobuz hifi (free trial) and Audirvana software (free trial), using a laptop (I use a macbook which is totally silent) . You also need a decent quality USB cable (B to A - I started this route with Audioquest Pearl, which is very reasonable), and yes, there is a huge difference between that cable and a generic or noname cable. I have invested in a more expensive USB cable (Audioquest Carbon) but to be honest, the improvements are not a day-and-night difference, and the Pearl is the best value point in my opinion.

You then can drive the entire setup from your phone, tablet, or any other laptop connected to the same wifi network (I use an iPhone, an ipad, and my main Mac to start/select the music, set volume and adjust subwoofer gain, etc). Of course if you have a library of music, you can use it connected to your laptop. You are in effect bypassing Kef Connect, and using only Kef Control (for on/off, sub gain, etc) and Audirvana for music selection and volume.

What this gives you is the full potential of the Kefs, at high resolution (up to 24/192), and using their internal DAC, which is, quite frankly amazing for the price. The rest (bluetooth, Kef Connect, etc) is a bonus, but nowhere near the quality of that USB signal path. I don't know if the second generation has a similar signal path, because they have removed the USB on the MK2.

However, two caveats:

1) The main downside of this setup is that you have to dedicate a laptop (or small computer) to this function, and it will sit nearby, connected to your Kefs. However, you can use an old model, and almost never have to deal with it (I used a 2012 Mac Mini (which is broken at the moment), and my 2014 Macbook Air is on all the time and is activated only when I play music).

2) While that setup is quite stunning (I have friends who have paid the price of a car for their system, and don't get the same level of clarity and ease in their setup), it is a 100% digital system and very much a Kef system. The focus is on clarity, ease, with little or no added color, warmth, or whatever some people may like in tube systems, for example. So it makes a great digital system (the best I have had and a giant killer in my opinion), but will not compete with a highly synergetic analog system in the €5,000 to €10,000 price range.

On the second issue, I also use some analog sources on the Kefs (using RCA inputs, with decent QED cables), with a Thorens TT and a first gen Sony SACD player (for the smooth sound of SACD), and the result is really good, but not up to the best analog systems, obviously. For analog, I have kept my 'main' system which is now dedicated to vinyl and SACD — but I have to admit that over the past two years, the mix has shifted from 80/20 analog on 'main system' to 80/20 on digital/Kef on Qobuz/Audirvana/Macbook.

Overall, even though I use a decent analog setup (Rega P9/Ortofon Quintet Black with Audiomat phono pre), I find that the Kef digital setup that I describe is giving my vinyl rig a very serious run for its money, and only the best pressings make a real difference for me, or at least one that justifies bothering with manipulating my records with everything that it involves.

Anyway, I hope you can experiment and try to optimize before you upgrade, as I think it would be a lateral move, more than an upgrade. After two years, I am still experimenting and improving my Kef setup, and still finding ways to improve or enhance the sound almost constantly.

Hope this (unashamedly biased) testimony helps. Have fun!
 
D

Deleted member 116933

Guest
The above exemplifies why I'm not a fan of the kefs, sure they sound good but when you have to start plugging things into them this is where things start to get messy and unsightly for me, sorry. (not that it matters what i think about that)

I Haven't heard the Cambridge so can't pass comment, but I have been there and done that with another brand, Naim and their uniti range and for the sort of money they are asking for these all in ones it just not worth it the streaming tech is moving at a constant rate and so quickly, Heck we have just recently seen it with apple music.

And because of that (apple music) at this moment in time id sit back and watch the landscape unfold for a while and see who brings apple into the fold in regards to connect apps and also who is going to support CD-quality Spotify because not all will be able to that id bet money on it. Make no mistake there are devices in the wings ready to rock with these features.

Just my 2 cents but i wouldnt be buying expensive streamers just yet.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Doulikemyname

Member
Aug 5, 2021
3
0
20
Hello Doulikemyname — I am a big fan of the LS50w 1st Gen, and I think you may want to investigate an upgrade of your existing pair (so to speak :) ) before you change your system or spend more money.

If you don't use the USB input of your LS50Ws (with a decent cable and a good source), then you have not untapped the full potential of those speakers. In my experience, they cannot be compared with any system (speaker, cables and receiver) for less than 5,000€, possibly more.

To get a glimpse of the full potential of those speakers, I recommend testing Qobuz hifi (free trial) and Audirvana software (free trial), using a laptop (I use a macbook which is totally silent) . You also need a decent quality USB cable (B to A - I started this route with Audioquest Pearl, which is very reasonable), and yes, there is a huge difference between that cable and a generic or noname cable. I have invested in a more expensive USB cable (Audioquest Carbon) but to be honest, the improvements are not a day-and-night difference, and the Pearl is the best value point in my opinion.

You then can drive the entire setup from your phone, tablet, or any other laptop connected to the same wifi network (I use an iPhone, an ipad, and my main Mac to start/select the music, set volume and adjust subwoofer gain, etc). Of course if you have a library of music, you can use it connected to your laptop. You are in effect bypassing Kef Connect, and using only Kef Control (for on/off, sub gain, etc) and Audirvana for music selection and volume.

What this gives you is the full potential of the Kefs, at high resolution (up to 24/192), and using their internal DAC, which is, quite frankly amazing for the price. The rest (bluetooth, Kef Connect, etc) is a bonus, but nowhere near the quality of that USB signal path. I don't know if the second generation has a similar signal path, because they have removed the USB on the MK2.

However, two caveats:

1) The main downside of this setup is that you have to dedicate a laptop (or small computer) to this function, and it will sit nearby, connected to your Kefs. However, you can use an old model, and almost never have to deal with it (I used a 2012 Mac Mini (which is broken at the moment), and my 2014 Macbook Air is on all the time and is activated only when I play music).

2) While that setup is quite stunning (I have friends who have paid the price of a car for their system, and don't get the same level of clarity and ease in their setup), it is a 100% digital system and very much a Kef system. The focus is on clarity, ease, with little or no added color, warmth, or whatever some people may like in tube systems, for example. So it makes a great digital system (the best I have had and a giant killer in my opinion), but will not compete with a highly synergetic analog system in the €5,000 to €10,000 price range.

On the second issue, I also use some analog sources on the Kefs (using RCA inputs, with decent QED cables), with a Thorens TT and a first gen Sony SACD player (for the smooth sound of SACD), and the result is really good, but not up to the best analog systems, obviously. For analog, I have kept my 'main' system which is now dedicated to vinyl and SACD — but I have to admit that over the past two years, the mix has shifted from 80/20 analog on 'main system' to 80/20 on digital/Kef on Qobuz/Audirvana/Macbook.

Overall, even though I use a decent analog setup (Rega P9/Ortofon Quintet Black with Audiomat phono pre), I find that the Kef digital setup that I describe is giving my vinyl rig a very serious run for its money, and only the best pressings make a real difference for me, or at least one that justifies bothering with manipulating my records with everything that it involves.

Anyway, I hope you can experiment and try to optimize before you upgrade, as I think it would be a lateral move, more than an upgrade. After two years, I am still experimenting and improving my Kef setup, and still finding ways to improve or enhance the sound almost constantly.

Hope this (unashamedly biased) testimony helps. Have fun!
Thank you for this in-depth comment!

I actually already have my pc connected via USB to the Kefs but haven't thought of playing music through that medium, I'll definitely experiment these next few days.

Your comment got me thinking of a dedicated streamer (no integrated amp streamer) to hook up to the usb slot that could handle the music as a dedicated machine, not sure if you know of such a solution?
 

Doulikemyname

Member
Aug 5, 2021
3
0
20
The above exemplifies why I'm not a fan of the kefs, sure they sound good but when you have to start plugging things into them this is where things start to get messy and unsightly for me, sorry. (not that it matters what i think about that)

I Haven't heard the Cambridge so can't pass comment, but I have been there and done that with another brand, Naim and their uniti range and for the sort of money they are asking for these all in ones it just not worth it the streaming tech is moving at a constant rate and so quickly, Heck we have just recently seen it with apple music.

And because of that (apple music) at this moment in time id sit back and watch the landscape unfold for a while and see who brings apple into the fold in regards to connect apps and also who is going to support CD-quality Spotify because not all will be able to that id bet money on it. Make no mistake there are devices in the wings ready to rock with these features.

Just my 2 cents but i wouldnt be buying expensive streamers just yet.
Thank you for the response, all fair comments and you are right although if it's a system such a blu OS it should technically be able to keep with the times (until the stop as has happened with the Kef software for my 1st gen LS50Ws!).

I'm investing in some sound treatment for my room right now so definitely will experiment a bit more with my current setup before jumping into new gear.
 
D

Deleted member 116933

Guest
Thank you for the response, all fair comments and you are right although if it's a system such a blu OS it should technically be able to keep with the times (until the stop as has happened with the Kef software for my 1st gen LS50Ws!).

I'm investing in some sound treatment for my room right now so definitely will experiment a bit more with my current setup before jumping into new gear.
Blu os normally keeps well with the times but no harm in waiting. A few month for Spotify and Apple apps
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
On the alternative to the active KEFs I’d simply add that I think it’s pretty hard for a traditional system to compete in sound quality for the £. Fyne speakers typically attract comments about care with matching and the tweeters seem to be the reason. Many modern designs go for extended or elevated highs to add ‘air’ or ‘detail’ which is exciting in a demo. But at home it can be wearying, and an annoyance unless you have only excellent recordings and carefully partnered kit.

I am an ATC fan, and though they aren’t universally loved - what speakers are? - you might consider the active SCM19 or 40s. The latter are under five grand used, if that’s not too spendy for you. Perhaps the used or trade in value of your KEFs need to be considered too.

Let us know how the room treatment goes. Good luck.
 
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