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Kef LS50 original (ex-demo) vs. LS50 Meta (new)

lmlmlm

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Jan 9, 2021
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I've found a local shop which sells both LS50's (Meta and original version), but with the original version in an ex-demo pair for half the price of the new LS50 Meta .

The guys told me, despite the marketing buzz, the difference in sound quality is not that significant, and becomes more noticeable at louder volumes. Which may or may not be relevant in my case, with a smallish room (3x4 meters and listening to pretty much everything from ambient to techno, electronic of every type, then some hiphop, trap, jazz, via laptop streaming and also have an Ifi Zen Dac).

They also said the Meta's are a bit more power-hungry than the originals, in which case I could get away with a Rega Brio for the ex-demo LS50 option (non-Meta).

I have also listened to both pairs in this shop, via a very powerful amp which I will probably never need (or want), and honestly I was not able to tell a big difference between the Meta and original LS50. They both sounded awesomely similar.

What do you guys think ? I could afford either way, but don't want to stretch it.

Will the original LS50 pair well with a Rega Brio, or should I look at some other amps ?

thanks
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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The LS50s, even the Meta, are a bit of a Marmite speaker. And taking them to the Brio is I think a bit ambitious.

I would take Steve’s advice and try B&W 606/7 S2, or a higher end Dali in your room.

The Dalis would be a cinch to place. The B&Ws, if you can, 30cms from sidewalls, 20-30cm from back wall. The Dali’s would need less space apart I would imagine, but give the B&Ws at least 1.8m apart.

As a sidenote, your dealer seems to contradict most others - the Metas seem to be more compatible and better at lower volumes than Mk1s.
 
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Al ears

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The LS50s, even the Meta, are a bit of a Marmite speaker. And taking them to the Brio is I think a bit ambitious.

I would take Steve’s advice and try B&W 606/7 S2, or a higher end Dali in your room.

The Dalis would be a cinch to place. The B&Ws, if you can, 30cms from sidewalls, 20-30cm from back wall. The Dali’s would need less space apart I would imagine, but give the B&Ws at least 1.8m apart.

As a sidenote, your dealer seems to contradict most others - the Metas seem to be more compatible and better at lower volumes than Mk1s.
That's what I understood.....
 
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RoA

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Feb 11, 2021
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I am not surprised they sound similar, they would. I got the active Meta and listened to them side by side with the original. Very similar as they would be too.

Unfortunately I don't have any user experience with the Passives.

A guy over at another forum just bought a s/h pair of original LS50's and likes them. Powered by a 50 or 60 year old Pre-Power from Quad.

In his main system he uses a pair of Falcon LS3-5a's which are £2500. The Kef's obviously do something right.

I have read numerous reviews of the LS50 Wireless. Some contradicting, some calling them bright. Now I am super sensitive to bad higher mid and treble quality and have to say emphatically that neither the original or the Meta Actives suffer from this. Indeed, I would describe them on the lush and full side with a slightly tilted down treble. They are not forward sounding but instead have a deep and (relatively) broad sound stage but not overly so.

I would expect the Passive version to have a similar sound when used with matching amplification. I don't think either that you have to spend huge amounts to get good sound out of them.

They will likely not have that upper bass hump that makes speakers sound bigger than they are. They are more on the accurate side but without taking your ears off in the process but they may lack the fun factor of some shop floor optimised designs.

As to B&W, I would guess their lower cost models may be the polar opposite of the LS50 so if you dislike one you probably like the other.
 
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lmlmlm

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Jan 9, 2021
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I've been watching John Darko's LS50 showdown video and he's making a good point, that the Meta paired with a capable amp is getting quite close in price to the Wireless 2 version. Which is also interesting, because that would rule out the need for an external amp and dac and you'd just have the system in-a-box, streaming included. Maybe I'll just wait for Black Friday on the Wireless 2's.
 
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manicm

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I've been watching John Darko's LS50 showdown video and he's making a good point, that the Meta paired with a capable amp is getting quite close in price to the Wireless 2 version. Which is also interesting, because that would rule out the need for an external amp and dac and you'd just have the system in-a-box, streaming included. Maybe I'll just wait for Black Friday on the Wireless 2's.
Don’t let anyone put you off the Wireless 2s, as everything there’s a trade off and all technology goes obsolete at some time. But my HEOS Soundbar still works after 3 years, I can still stream Spotify or Tidal.

The streaming on the Wireless 2 is pretty comprehensive with MQA support etc, and the app is great.
 
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lmlmlm

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Jan 9, 2021
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Even more interesting Steve Guttenberg says is his review he had used the Meta's with the Rega IO (30 W/channel) and it played "very very well".

He later mentions pairing with more powerful amps, obviously it gets better with more juice added, but it does seem again the same impression we get from the Darko review, that the Meta's are indeed not as power-hungry as the original LS50's.

I'm probably not going the low-power way, but also found this topic where the Musical Fidelity M2si (60 W/channel) is said to work fine with the Meta's.
 
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manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Even more interesting Steve Guttenberg says is his review he had used the Meta's with the Rega IO (30 W/channel) and it played "very very well".

He later mentions pairing with more powerful amps, obviously it gets better with more juice added, but it does seem again the same impression we get from the Darko review, that the Meta's are indeed not as power-hungry as the original LS50's.

I'm probably not going the low-power way, but also found this topic where the Musical Fidelity M2si (60 W/channel) is said to work fine with the Meta's.
Maybe, but I’ve stopped watching Guttenberg. I find his reviews too casual, and not really informative anymore. He seems to be the retired pensioner audiophile.
 
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AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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I like both but would go for the regular LS50's. Practically the small difference in signature is not worth the pricing 'in my opinion'. True advantage of the meta's is that the regular LS50 became more affordable.
 
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Oxfordian

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Mar 20, 2021
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Interesting thread, I have been looking at speakers for a small listening room and the KEF LS50 Meta have been suggested, powered by an Audiolab 6000A.

The key part of the discussion was listening to the system in as close a replication of your listening room or better still in your listening room at home via a demo kit set-up, the latter is going to be my choice and the store is willing to work with me on this.

A lot depends on how you want to listen to your music, we are all different and our perceptions of what is good will vary accordingly. Something bright and harsh to my ears may sound spot on to someone else.
 
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reddev

Active member
Mar 29, 2021
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Hi I have the LS50s old version paired with the brio(new model) and they sound fantastic
also using
rega rp6 Exact
Marantz cd6006 uk
 
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nopiano

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Feb 15, 2009
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I’ve seen three pairs of barely used Meta LS50 sell in the last few days at between £750 and £800. Two were on eBay, the third on another forum.

While earlier ones still fetch up to £500 or so, depending on finish and condition it’s a close call in value terms.

Re the original post, there’s nothing in KEF’s spec nor any review to suggest they are any different in sensitivity.
 
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manicm

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I’ve seen three pairs of barely used Meta LS50 sell in the last few days at between £750 and £800. Two were on eBay, the third on another forum.

While earlier ones still fetch up to £500 or so, depending on finish and condition it’s a close call in value terms.

Re the original post, there’s nothing in KEF’s spec nor any review to suggest they are any different in sensitivity.
They’re equally sensitive at 85db, but the Metas have a slightly higher minimum impedance at 3.5ohms compared to 3.2.
 
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nopiano

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They’re equally sensitive at 85db, but the Metas have a slightly higher minimum impedance at 3.5ohms compared to 3.2.
...which doesn’t really tie in at all with the suggestion in the opening post that the new ones are more power hungry, does it? If anything the fractionally lower impedance draws more power, but the numbers are so close as to be within production variance, I’d have thought.
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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...which doesn’t really tie in at all with the suggestion in the opening post that the new ones are more power hungry, does it? If anything the fractionally lower impedance draws more power, but the numbers are so close as to be within production variance, I’d have thought.
As I said, most reviews I’ve read or watched suggest the newer model is more forgiving.
 

lmlmlm

Well-known member
Jan 9, 2021
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Guys, I have re-read my original question and I think I've made a mistake: they actually said the originals were slightly more power-hungry than the Meta's.

Can't edit my original post anymore, but just mentioning this to avoid confusion in future replies.

thanks for everybody's ideas here
 
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nopiano

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Guys, I have re-read my original question and I think I've made a mistake: they actually said the originals were slightly more power-hungry than the Meta's.
That’s making sense now - thanks for the clarification!

Are you any nearer deciding? It’s a close call on value, and I’d personally be happy with either. But equally, as others have suggested, there are some super alternatives from the like of B&W or Dali, to which I’d add Revel - the Concerta2 M16, often avail for under £800 now. Any chance your dealer can lend you some others?
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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That’s making sense now - thanks for the clarification!

Are you any nearer deciding? It’s a close call on value, and I’d personally be happy with either. But equally, as others have suggested, there are some super alternatives from the like of B&W or Dali, to which I’d add Revel - the Concerta2 M16, often avail for under £800 now. Any chance your dealer can lend you some others?
I think the alternatives are a easier load than any of the LS50s, especially if you are using a Rega Brio. I would suggest something in the region of a Rega Elex-R would give the quality to drive the Kefs or perhaps Arcam A39, which are both in the same ballpark as my amplifier.

For years after the originals came out WHFI seemed to recommend Arcam A19, which given its 50 watt per channel seemed quite puzzling. The Kefs need quality aligned with decent power.
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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I am not surprised they sound similar, they would. I got the active Meta and listened to them side by side with the original. Very similar as they would be too.

Unfortunately I don't have any user experience with the Passives.

A guy over at another forum just bought a s/h pair of original LS50's and likes them. Powered by a 50 or 60 year old Pre-Power from Quad.

In his main system he uses a pair of Falcon LS3-5a's which are £2500. The Kef's obviously do something right.

I have read numerous reviews of the LS50 Wireless. Some contradicting, some calling them bright. Now I am super sensitive to bad higher mid and treble quality and have to say emphatically that neither the original or the Meta Actives suffer from this. Indeed, I would describe them on the lush and full side with a slightly tilted down treble. They are not forward sounding but instead have a deep and (relatively) broad sound stage but not overly so.

I would expect the Passive version to have a similar sound when used with matching amplification. I don't think either that you have to spend huge amounts to get good sound out of them.

They will likely not have that upper bass hump that makes speakers sound bigger than they are. They are more on the accurate side but without taking your ears off in the process but they may lack the fun factor of some shop floor optimised designs.

As to B&W, I would guess their lower cost models may be the polar opposite of the LS50 so if you dislike one you probably like the other.
I'm the other way round: Had the originals on demo but not heard the Metas.
 

lmlmlm

Well-known member
Jan 9, 2021
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The ex-demo original LS50's are not available any more, so probably left with the Meta option, with Rega Brio (honestly not sure if this is strong enough at 50w/pc) or Musical Fidelity M3si (85w/pc and DAC inside) or Atoll 100 (as suggested by a local shop, 100w/pc with optional DAC inside). I hesitate on this however, as it may be too expensive and too powerful for my needs and my room. I could maybe delay this and hope to get a better deal for Black Friday, but that's in 6 months :)

John Darko also pairs the Meta's with the NAD C316v2 and he finds that interesting to some degree.

Also a bit discouraged with the Meta option, because adding a good amp and a dac goes way, way way above the the price of the Wireless 2's, which are stand-alone without the need for external boxes and wires. And they're also streaming.

Going back to passives, I am also very much considering :
  • Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 or 12.2 with the Rega Brio or NAD C316v2. John Darko made a video about the 12.1 which kind of stuck with me.
Other solid options that have been suggested but I'm not sure about :
  • Dali Oberon 1 or 3: no idea about Dali's sound, but they do seem to be highly recommended. A local shop actually packages the Oberon 3 with the Sonos Amp, but I have not read anything yet about the Sonos Amp. Rega Brio or NAD C316v2 again a more likely option
  • BW 607 or 606 with the Rega Brio seems to pair well and again very recommended. I have seen BW in a shop last week and thought they were a bit goofy with that black sock-looking sponge thing in the middle of the driver.
  • Monitor Audio Bronze 50 looks cool, but again not sure about the sound
More Youtube video's to watch I guess :)
 
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plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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The ex-demo original LS50's are not available any more, so probably left with the Meta option, with Rega Brio (honestly not sure if this is strong enough at 50w/pc) or Musical Fidelity M3si (85w/pc and DAC inside) or Atoll 100 (as suggested by a local shop, 100w/pc with optional DAC inside). I hesitate on this however, as it may be too expensive and too powerful for my needs and my room. I could maybe delay this and hope to get a better deal for Black Friday, but that's in 6 months :)

John Darko also pairs the Meta's with the NAD C316v2 and he finds that interesting to some degree.

I am also very much considering:
  • Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 or 12.2 with the Rega Brio or NAD C316v2. John Darko made a video about the 12.1 which kind of stuck with me.
Other solid options that have been suggested but I'm not sure about ...
  • Dali Oberon 1 or 3: no idea about Dali's sound, but they do seem to be highly recommended. A local shop actually packages the Oberon 3 with the Sonos Amp, but I have not read anything yet about the Sonos Amp. Rega Brio or NAD C316v2 again a more likely option
  • BW 607 or 606 with the Rega Brio seems to pair well and again very recommended. I have seen BW in a shop last week and thought they were a bit goofy with that black sock-looking sponge thing in the middle of the driver.
  • Monitor Audio Bronze 50 looks cool, but again not sure about the sound
More Youtube video's to watch I guess :)
What speakers do you currently use?

Let's get this into perspective. You can hook up any amp with any priced speaker. For example, I could play my Leema with a 10k pair of speakers and would no doubt sound fine. Will the Leema make the most of a 10k speaker? probably not.

Don't watch too many YouFace videos, go and experience it for yourself with the Brio.
 
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lmlmlm

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Jan 9, 2021
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Currently using a desktop setup with some basic Edifier Studio 1280T via Ifi Zen Dac via laptop streaming.
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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Currently using a desktop setup with some basic Edifier Studio 1280T via Ifi Zen Dac via laptop streaming.
I would suggest you demo other speakers, along with the Kefs, before committing. Hi-fi is a strange interest/hobby. Just because a component gets rave reviews it doesn't mean you'll like them and/or they'll synergize with your amp. Synergy is everything when it comes to hi-fi.
 

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