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KEF LS-50 Wireless II vs. wired floorstanders?

RBinDC

Well-known member
Aug 21, 2020
33
17
45
I’m considering buying the new KEF LS-50 wireless speaker set and perhaps adding a subwoofer. I like the fact that it is a plug and play solution to my needs, ie, streaming HD music from Tidal or Amazon and providing 2-channel sound for movies. While surround sound would be nice, it is impractical in my open living apartment.

But before I commit to this system I want to make sure that I like the sound quality at least as much as from a pair of comparably priced floorstanders plus an integrated amp with a streaming capability.

Last night I went to BestBuy (I live in the US) and auditioned the B&W 600 series driven by a Marantz PM7000n both with and without SVS SB2000 Pro subwoofer. I liked the sound - warm and crisp. Adding the subwoofer didn’t appreciably improve the sound quality but perhaps the music being played was not sufficiently low-frequency challenging. Or maybe at my age (83) I can’t hear the low frequencies any more.

Next I had the salesman substitute the B&W 700 series, which cost 2.5 times more than the 600 series. To my ears the improvement was there but rather marginal. Not enough to justify spending $3000 more.

Best Buy did not yet have the KEFs set up in the audition room so I could do a direct comparison. But they did have them on a shelf in their open area where I did hear them. They seemed too bright and lacked the warmth of the floor standers but the auditioning conditions were suboptimal.

The KEFs were placed way too high (7 feet) and within inches from the back wall. Also, the salesman said they were new and not broken in. What did jump out was that they had more bass response than my 2012 vintage, passive LS-50s driven by a modestly priced Yamaha AVR.

I know I need to go back and audition the KEFs when they are set up on stands in the same room as the floorstanders. But I have to say that I really liked the sound I heard from the B&Ws, even the entry level ones.

Best Buy also sells Martin Logan so I will try out their floorstanders as well.

Lastly, should audition the floor standers with a more powerful amp? The 7000n is only rated at 60 watts per channel. Is that enough to extract the best from the B&Ws?

At my age I don’t want to get seduced into chasing the ideal sound with separates. Being an electrical engineer I started to get interested in tube (valve) amps until I looked at the prices and saw the black hole that leads to. Best Buy has a high end ($75,000) system using dual Macintosh Power amps. Maybe for laughs I will audition it too and see if I can hear any difference. LOL!

Cheers,

Bob Borlick
Washington DC
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
749
261
19,270
Adding the subwoofer didn’t appreciably improve the sound quality

But I have to say that I really liked the sound I heard from the B&Ws, even the entry level ones.

Cheers,

Bob Borlick
Washington DC
SVS are extremely good subwoofers for movies, while REF are the ones for music. If they're not for you, don't buy them.

If you really liked the B&Ws then go with them.
 

Matte

Well-known member
Sep 22, 2014
13
2
10,520
KEFs always seem to have a clean open slightly clinical sound, but I am considering them, possibly with a sub. The connectivity appeals to me also.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
383
237
19,270
If Best Buy have the KEF R series, then the cheaper floorstanding models in the range should undercut the active LS50s. They’ll share the basic concentric design of the LS50 that you know, and which gives good integration between drivers. Worth an audition.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
448
190
11,070
I’m considering buying the new KEF LS-50 wireless speaker set and perhaps adding a subwoofer. I like the fact that it is a plug and play solution to my needs, ie, streaming HD music from Tidal or Amazon and providing 2-channel sound for movies. While surround sound would be nice, it is impractical in my open living apartment.

But before I commit to this system I want to make sure that I like the sound quality at least as much as from a pair of comparably priced floorstanders plus an integrated amp with a streaming capability.

Last night I went to BestBuy (I live in the US) and auditioned the B&W 600 series driven by a Marantz PM7000n both with and without SVS SB2000 Pro subwoofer. I liked the sound - warm and crisp. Adding the subwoofer didn’t appreciably improve the sound quality but perhaps the music being played was not sufficiently low-frequency challenging. Or maybe at my age (83) I can’t hear the low frequencies any more.

Next I had the salesman substitute the B&W 700 series, which cost 2.5 times more than the 600 series. To my ears the improvement was there but rather marginal. Not enough to justify spending $3000 more.

Best Buy did not yet have the KEFs set up in the audition room so I could do a direct comparison. But they did have them on a shelf in their open area where I did hear them. They seemed too bright and lacked the warmth of the floor standers but the auditioning conditions were suboptimal.

The KEFs were placed way too high (7 feet) and within inches from the back wall. Also, the salesman said they were new and not broken in. What did jump out was that they had more bass response than my 2012 vintage, passive LS-50s driven by a modestly priced Yamaha AVR.

I know I need to go back and audition the KEFs when they are set up on stands in the same room as the floorstanders. But I have to say that I really liked the sound I heard from the B&Ws, even the entry level ones.

Best Buy also sells Martin Logan so I will try out their floorstanders as well.

Lastly, should audition the floor standers with a more powerful amp? The 7000n is only rated at 60 watts per channel. Is that enough to extract the best from the B&Ws?

At my age I don’t want to get seduced into chasing the ideal sound with separates. Being an electrical engineer I started to get interested in tube (valve) amps until I looked at the prices and saw the black hole that leads to. Best Buy has a high end ($75,000) system using dual Macintosh Power amps. Maybe for laughs I will audition it too and see if I can hear any difference. LOL!

Cheers,

Bob Borlick
Washington DC
Hi Bob, Its nice to see you're still enjoying the hobby and that you're not afraid to try new tech!

The simple answer is yes.

TBH depending on the size floorstanders being used the kef will be more than a match Im sure. Id probably get the wireless 2 model if you can though as its been vastly improved with the software side of things
app is much better and the little computer/Dsp/brain is fair more powerful.

The problem i have with the kefs is not the sound as that can be tailored to suit your needs, (you mention brightness that can be adjusted). It's not the app and it's not there all in one nature (though that bothers me 2). Its the connectivity, if you have external sources it leads to a very messy looking system. More so than a traditional system. Many wires trailing up to a speaker. I find it unsightly IMO.

Subwoofer wise someone mentioned SVS for movies Rel for music, Well if the subwoofer weren't set correctly you wont hear much difference regardless of sound difference between subwoofers (app could have the subwoofers turned right down) and the real reason you'd go with Rel over another brand would be the high-level connection and since the kefs dont allow that sort of connection then its kind of waste. Personally, id be looking velodyne.

Sounds like you're on the right track anyhow let your ears decide
 

RBinDC

Well-known member
Aug 21, 2020
33
17
45
What do you mean by “high level connection?” WiFi vs. wired? I have a Cat 6 cable from my router to my currebmnt AV receiver which I could connect to the KEFs.

Or are you referring to the 24 bit/192 streaming format?
 

Deliriumbassist

Well-known member
Apr 27, 2011
17
4
18,525
What do you mean by “high level connection?” WiFi vs. wired? I have a Cat 6 cable from my router to my currebmnt AV receiver which I could connect to the KEFs.

Or are you referring to the 24 bit/192 streaming format?
He means taking a speaker level output into the subwoofer. Essentially, you run speaker cable from the amplifier to the subwoofer as well as to the main speakers. Some people believe this gives better integration as the amplifier is giving its own flavour to the subwoofer as well as the main speakers. I'm not so sure about how much more beneficial that is however, as the subwoofer's own amplifier is still in the signal path, adding its own flavour to the subwoofer only. I find it much more preferable to have a good subwoofer and the ability to use both a high pass filter (for the main speakers) and a low pass filter for the subwoofer to tweak the 'handover' between the two.
 

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