Has anyone compared these speakers, KEF LS 50/Vandersteen 1Ci?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ThorensSme, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    Currently own the KEF LS50, which is remarkable in so many ways. But sometimes I find myself wishing there was a little more immediacy and warmth to the sound, perhaps a touch more forward. Has anyone directly compared these two speakers? Or if you just have experience with the Vandersteen's I would be into hearing that too!

    I expect the increased sensitivity of the Vandersteen speakers would be plus for low level listening and overall dynamics. And I expect the fuller frequency response would go a long ways for a bit more boogie factor.

    Equipment list in my profile is accurate.
     
  2. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Funny, I was doing this just last week. The following is my recent post from another thread:

    To add to this, I don't find the sensitivity of the 1Cis to be of any real advantage, even in my larger than average room. The KEFs are clearly more power hungry, but my 90 watt/ch amp has no problem driving them. After I posted the above opinion, I hooked up the Vandys for a final listening session and came to the same conclusion. The KEFs are a more refined speaker and equally musical. Other than bass below the 50Hz range and a bit of "scale", I don't perceive any notable advantage with the Vandersteens. I suppose they might work better in terms of total volume output, but both speakers are rated around 106 db max SPL.

    Edit: Wow, just noticed you and I use the same amp.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
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  3. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    Very interesting. We also have the same amplifier, the Yamaha AS1100! Thank you for the input. I assume the KEF's to be the more refined/resolute speaker as well. In that respect it is crazy good. But as always, looking for that little bit extra. I suppose what I really need is a tube phono stage to pair with my SUT, still using the built-in yamaha one, which is pretty decent.
     
  4. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    Helom, are you using the stands designed for the Vandersteens? The ones that allow for proper rake angle.
     
  5. timind

    timind Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    Interesting thread as I'm listening to the 1Ci as I type this. Been living with them for a couple weeks now. I had a pair of the LS50s during the summer for a couple months so my opinion isn't based on direct comparison.
    My initial reaction to the KEFs was an immediate WOW. Easy to see why they are so impressive upon first listen. For me though, they became a little too unforgiving and more than my ears could handle. I thought the bass through the LS50 was amazing for the size. Like Helom said, not that deep, but I found it very well defined and punchy.
    My biggest complaint with the Vandersteen is the bass. You can hear it go fairly deep, but it lacks punch. I haven't seen a frequency response for the Vandy, but I'll bet it's flat from the 50-200hz. It's probably more correct. That doesn't make it more enjoyable though. I prefer vocals and piano on the Vandersteen.
    The problem with both speakers for me is they are being compared to my Revel M22s which really are the best standmount speaker I've heard (long term).
    If you lived nearby, I'd let you borrow the Vandies for a listen.
     
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  6. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks for the thought! No Vandy dealers around here, so that’s why I am picking the forum brains.

    I wonder if your room dimensions aren’t giving the typical room boost that rectangular rooms might give more of?
     
  7. timind

    timind Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    My room is a near perfect 12X12 square. It took me a while to find the optimum speaker placement in the diagonal setup I use. After finding it though, I don't deviate placement by more than a couple inches so I figure bass response should be the same for most speakers. Here's a pic with the LS50s I've posted here a few times:
    [​IMG]
    There are bass traps in three corners.
    No pic with the Vandersteens yet.
     
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  8. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I initially thought the 1Cis surpassed the KEFs in terms of midbass, but after my second comparison, I agree with your assessment. The KEFs have more upper bass "punch."

    I do find it interesting that you found the KEFs less forgiving. Maybe that's only because my pair is not yet broke-in.



    Yes, the original Vandersteen stands. I filled them with 7.5 shot. I read somewhere that the Sound Anchor versions are superior, but the OEMs are decent.

    I used the rule of thirds and proper rake per the manual. I was meticulous and experimented with slight variations so I do believe I optimized their placement. The rake angle is critical for extracting their musical timing.
     
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  9. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    Noted.
     
  10. timind

    timind Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    I worked particularly hard on this. The diagram in the manual could be done a lot better IMO, and that thing has been around for a while. I had to ad a thicker bumper under the rear leg to get the correct (less) tilt. Couldn't get it with just the spikes.

    My experience with Vandersteens tells me most people use too much tilt.
     
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  11. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    I've found the KEF's to be extremely revealing of what cabling, and equipment are behind them. I had transparent the wave cabling on them for a while, and found the bass to be muddy and midrange to be recessed. When I put Kimber 4TC in, the entire balance shifted up, but not bright at all. I also think our Yamaha MOSFET based integrated's have a very lyrical quality to them, that doesn't hide poor recordings, but certainly makes them more listenable.
     
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  12. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Hey I just noticed that AMAZINGLY that thing has pre-out/main-ins. I wonder if the warmth you are looking for would be served by a subwoofer, and fiddling with crossover settings...
     
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  13. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    So pre-out to powered subwoofer? I wouldn't know where to begin for looking for subs, I also live in an apartment so I can't get to crazy!
     
  14. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston TX
    I live in an apartment and I might go crazy, LOL. Since all my listening is computer playback, I use a little eq on the LS50's and it works. Note the LS50w has better bass response than the passive units and the only way it could be done is with DSP EQ.
     
  15. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Unfortunately the outputs and inputs cannot be used simultaneously, so there's no way to use a sub's high-pass crossover.
     
  16. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    So, sounds like both of you don't feel like the Vandersteen is 'warmer' tonally? And that its mid-bass output even with its 8-inch driver is not any punchier or dynamic?

    Those were my main questions. I love the KEF's, but sometimes I think I might want a speaker a tad more forward, with more bass. Though, in reality I am probably just having nostalgia for the Dahlquist DQM9's I used to have...
     
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  17. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Well, that's one possibility, but it has a class D amp on the woofer and class AB amp on the tweeter, along with electronic crossover implemented with DSP, so there is no big inductors (and their resitance) in series with the bass unit and the cabinet may have the alignment changed to take advantage of that and go a little lower in response, or like a subwoofer, they can make it go as low as is safe for the bass driver and can build in protection in the amp. But yea, it's all done via digital processing, the crossover can even be compensated for phase response, and all kinds of things can be done once you commit to the digital route.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  18. JackG

    JackG New Member

    Location:
    NJ
    I briefly looked at the Onkyo A-9150 to replace my A-9555 and it does the same thing. wtf is up with mutually-exclusive pre-out/main-in jacks?
     
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  19. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    ?!?! Really? That can't be right-the whole point of those inputs is to, say, loop a processor. How are those turned on/off in the settings?
     
  20. timind

    timind Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    I would use "smoother" instead of "warmer" to describe the 1Ci. When I think of a warm speaker, I think of the Meadowlark Kestrels I used for many years.
     
  21. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    It's correct. It clearly states the fact in the owner's manual. I think Yamaha intends them to be used for home theater bypass or running a second amp for another pair of speakers. There's other amps that operate this way. The amps equipped with jumpers are becoming rare.

    The one feature I really liked about the Halo Integrated was the high-pass bass management built into the amp.
     
  22. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I felt the 1Cis were quite a bit brighter at their neutral treble setting. It might have been a reaction with my room, due to their minimal baffles, though, I did have each over 4' away from the side walls, and first refelection points are treated.

    I had to have the trim at -1.5db to match the KEF's treble balance. I wouldn't describe them as a bright speaker overall, just brighter than the KEFs and Spendors.

    Both speakers are quite revealing of amp differences, so it could just be a matter of gear matching. With both my Yamaha amps, I find the KEFs are smoother, more articulate, and have less diffused imaging.
    The imaging of the Vandys reminded me of Maggies: wide and deep, but lacking a bit when it comes to definition, sort of like their was a "mist" ("Maggie mist?") or fog to the sound. That's not to say their sound is muddy or unclear, just not as clear as the best I've heard.

    I wonder if ProAc or ATC might fit your needs. I haven't heard either but I've been told they're more on the exciting/ dynamic end of the British spectrum.
     
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  23. timind

    timind Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    I'm gonna reduce the treble and see how it sounds.
     
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  24. ThorensSme

    ThorensSme Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    Excellent recommendation. I do have an ATC dealer near me.
     
  25. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    These speakers approach to midrange is so drastically different. The LS50 sounds very contemporary and very cohesive and direct with the concentric driver. The Vandersteen has it's mid-woofer pointed up at the ceiling. It has a big sense of space and soundstage though. I think of some of those 70s Tannoy studio monitors and suspect that's kind of in the middle—concentric drivers but more forgiving cone material. I'd rather live with the Vandersteens, but if I was doing some critical studio work, I'd favor the LS50s.
     
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