Which is better Kef LS50 Wireless 2 or B&W Formation Duo?

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No via Apple TV hence Airplay. On the Apple TV it is easy to switch from TV speakers to the Formation Duo's
It is also possible to connect it via Bluetooth (TV to speakers)
Thanks! (y)
 

misteronline

Active member
Feb 6, 2021
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Hello Solo,
I listened to both KEF LS50 W2 and B&W formation duo, and the 4 family members were uninymous (from kids to mummy) to award B&W with the best sound. Clariry, bass depth, better stereo image.
But... price tag is really high.
I consider using those as home cinema with an Apple TV, that might compensate a little bit for the price.

I have doubt that a pair of B&W could provide a relevant home cinema sound with clear central voices, and not to much "left and right sound". This is often the issue when plugging in just a pair of speakers without a central one.
Does Apple TV provide good configuration options to have a good central audio channel ?

Thanks for your answer.
 
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manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
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Hello Solo,
I listened to both KEF LS50 W2 and B&W formation duo, and the 4 family members were uninymous (from kids to mummy) to award B&W with the best sound. Clariry, bass depth, better stereo image.
But... price tag is really high.
I consider using those as home cinema with an Apple TV, that might compensate a little bit for the price.

I have doubt that a pair of B&W could provide a relevant home cinema sound with clear central voices, and not to much "left and right sound". This is often the issue when plugging in just a pair of speakers without a central one.
Does Apple TV provide good configuration options to have a good central audio channel ?

Thanks for your answer.
The Sonos Amp apparently works well with movies, almost creating a phantom centre image. Worth investigating. And it’s powerful enough to drive many speakers.
 

Solo

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2021
25
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Hello Solo,
I listened to both KEF LS50 W2 and B&W formation duo, and the 4 family members were uninymous (from kids to mummy) to award B&W with the best sound. Clariry, bass depth, better stereo image.
But... price tag is really high.
I consider using those as home cinema with an Apple TV, that might compensate a little bit for the price.

I have doubt that a pair of B&W could provide a relevant home cinema sound with clear central voices, and not to much "left and right sound". This is often the issue when plugging in just a pair of speakers without a central one.
Does Apple TV provide good configuration options to have a good central audio channel ?

Thanks for your answer.
You are correct that it will not provide an accurate home cinema effect. The centre speaker is missing. The Duos are essentially for music. But having said that it does sound a lot better than through the tv speakers. For home cinema the Formation Bar would be a better option, with the bass and two flexes you can have a 5.1 surround system.

The price of the Duo’s are steep indeed. But you can find some ex demos or showroom models for significantly less than RRP.
 
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jaxwired

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Feb 7, 2009
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For what its worth, Ive owned the formation duos for about a year now and I think they are superb. And in response to the post that questioned whether the kef wireless needed a sub, to compete with the formation duos, the would absolutely need a sub. The formation duo bass is spectacular. They sound like enormous speakers. Yet they have superb imaging and delicate highs. I owned the original version of the kef wirelesss ls50w and quickly sold them. They were completely unimpressive to my ears. And I’m a big KEF fan. I wanted to like them but they were bass light and lacked attack. They sounded to me like they needed higher quality amps. Not the case for the formation duos. And the integrated stands make the formation duos look like a million bucks.
 
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Deleted member 2457

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For what its worth, Ive owned the formation duos for about a year now and I think they are superb. And in response to the post that questioned whether the kef wireless needed a sub, to compete with the formation duos, the would absolutely need a sub. The formation duo bass is spectacular. They sound like enormous speakers. Yet they have superb imaging and delicate highs. I owned the original version of the kef wirelesss ls50w and quickly sold them. They were completely unimpressive to my ears. And I’m a big KEF fan. I wanted to like them but they were bass light and lacked attack. They sounded to me like they needed higher quality amps. Not the case for the formation duos. And the integrated stands make the formation duos look like a million bucks.
Cheers!
 

gowiththeflow

Well-known member
Jan 10, 2009
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An update to this thread.

B&W have now released a new Formation “Music“ app which introduces direct connection to a number of streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz., plus the Tune-In radio portal.

This app will be expanded over the next few months, to take over the functions of the original set-up and control “Home” app. More streaming services will also be coming.
Hopefully there’ll be some extended DSP functions coming, such as room placement and possibly some form of room correction, for those that need it.

+
 
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RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
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I currently own the Kef LS50W II's. They are used in a room approx 5x6 meters with a small L section.

For me they have enough bass without a sub but they have that 'Class D' bass control meaning, its tight, fast, punchy and has little boom. Some may well think it lacks bass but it's there and goes fairly deep (for such a tiny speaker and driver). Having said that it has warmth and body both in the bass and mid range unlike some Class D amplifiers. To me it certainly sounds 'analogue'.

If you come frome a conventional amplifier/speaker system it may take a (little) acclimatisation but I think its worth it. I came from a Hegel/Quad system but wanted to reduce box count. So far I have not regretted it.
 

RoA

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Feb 11, 2021
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I realise I have not really given a reply to the original post with my last comment.

I highly respect Jaxwires opinion, I have followed his contributions for a long time. -

Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to listen to the B&W's but they do look amazing to these eyes. - B&W long had a history of good bass for their compact speakers and I would fully expect the Foundation to follow this trend. I would guess the speaker has more bass then the Kef. - I really also like the integrated stand.

As to attack I also agree with Jaxwire that in ultimate terms (to which he is used to) there could be more attack and physicality to the sound of the Kef. It is a small speaker and can't defy physical laws.

I think, by not trying too hard to create a lifestyle product (although I really like the looks) B&W may have created a better speaker by making less compromises.

As to value, if indeed they require no sub it seems good value in the high end. Buying Kef's new KC62 'Super sub' in addition to the MetaWII brings them more or less to the same price level.

Which one would I get?

Based on nothing else than seeing reviews and JW's opinion I would choose the B&W.

Still, very happy with the KEF and the B&W was out of my range.
 
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Arpeggio

Member
Apr 5, 2021
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No via Apple TV hence Airplay. On the Apple TV it is easy to switch from TV speakers to the Formation Duo's
It is also possible to connect it via Bluetooth (TV to speakers)
Do you use your TV speakers as the centre channel in this set up?
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
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Just had a call from Sevenoaks, B&W are moving Warehouse so delivery delayed until end of week or beginning of next. -
 

FigaroHiFi

Active member
Jun 20, 2021
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I have the Formation Duo and the only thing I don't like is lack of digital input to feed my lossless and high-res library and I'm not a roon person. Otherwise, the sound is spectacular, it's essentially a full range tower speaker in a bookshelf body. If you compare to other bookshelves it's too expensive but if you compare to 805 D3 it's pretty cheap and probably sounds better!
 
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Deleted member 2457

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I have the Formation Duo and the only thing I don't like is lack of digital input to feed my lossless and high-res library and I'm not a roon person. Otherwise, the sound is spectacular, it's essentially a full range tower speaker in a bookshelf body. If you compare to other bookshelves it's too expensive but if you compare to 805 D3 it's pretty cheap and probably sounds better!
Thanks for the input. (y)
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
292
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I have the Formation Duo and the only thing I don't like is lack of digital input to feed my lossless and high-res library and I'm not a roon person. Otherwise, the sound is spectacular, it's essentially a full range tower speaker in a bookshelf body. If you compare to other bookshelves it's too expensive but if you compare to 805 D3 it's pretty cheap and probably sounds better!
I broadly agree. It is difficult to compare it directly to others, the Buchardt A500 may be the closest and certainly worth considering too if the direct sale model doesn't put you off and a more conventional looks appeals. It also has far more adjustment possibilities.

One of the German online reviewing sites did a direct comparison between the Duo's and a pair of B&W 702s2's with a Rotel RA 1592. No comparison with the separates combination failing in every aspect. - Andrew Robinson and partner (Youtube) still think the Duo's are one of two best hifi products they had reviewed, the other being a very expensive Technics combination of separates with matching Technics High End speakers. The Duo's also bettering the top 800 series standmount.

If I had a criticism of the B&W's (and I have a few) it would be the App(s). There are two which seems totally unnecessary and they are overly simplistic, not in a good way. Kef's Wireless II DSP adjustments are far more extensive with room correction included of which there are none with the Formation Duo. If you want to have electronically adjustable cut off frequencies for subwoofer connection you will have to use the Formation sub.

Again, others such as Kef, Kii, Buchardt etc give you this as part of the App.

Volume steps are far too large. They should half if not quarter them. Kef's are far finer adjustable.

The good news is sound (and to me looks) which is, as Figaro said, spectacular.

Still, it feels like a half finished product due to App restrictions and omissions.

I have contacted B&W several times. To their credit they have responded every time with the reply 'we will pass this on to the development team' . As to Room Correction they said if enough customers request it they would consider this. - Clearly, the average Formation Duo purchaser doesn't care about room correction (or they have not got a clue what it is!). Big opportunity wasted for a product such as this.

Unfortunately, App updates are far and few in between, the last one adding Alexa ... .

The base of the speaker which houses the amplifiers and router/mesh network electronics also gets fairly warm. I measured 45 degrees at the outside. My guess is to have them at the bottom makes them run hotter than have the rear mounted as others do. How this will/could affect longevity I have no idea. So far there are no problems reported AFAIK since they have been released but it has not been long enough yet.

After a few weeks of use, yes they are better than the Kefs but don't have it all their way.

The Wireless II's are slightly more transparent with a smidgen more accuracy and openess in sound stage and tonality, especially voices. Treble is slightly better integrated/more coherent and sounding more 'together'. Perhaps not surprising as a modern version of the LS35A and the co-axial driver arrangement. The Duo's add a little warmth which is not entirely accurate but treble quality and extension are, if anything, better. The sweetness and crystalline clarity is a thing of beauty though can, in its default middle tone control position, stand out if recording quality is sub-optimal. It is however adjustable which goes some way to ameliorate this but it never quite achieves this as well as a co-axial. - The Wireless II is definitively not sterile or lean sounding though, instead threading the almost perfect middle ground. - The Kef app is also more complete and feature rich.

However, whilst great dynamically and likely bettering many equally priced separates combinations in this respect, they lack the fullness, solidity, power and dynamic reach of the Formation. Bass of the Wireless is good for medium rooms of maybe 25 sqm but not as weighty and punchy as the Duo's which, if anything, can be a little strong depending on room. I have turned bass down to two notches from minimum for my use in my room. They will likely power/pressurize even larger rooms effortlessly.

Would I buy it again? Yes, provided they expand on the App so I likely would wait until the next update. If not I'd go Buchardt.
 
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