KEF LS50 Wireless or LS50 + New Amp?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jp2000, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    I doubt that and I'm sure it would sound just fine. The issue is admittedly more philosophical than anything else since I haven't heard the speakers or this technology. But the logic is...If you are going to finish digital, what not start digital and save yourself thousands of dollars on an analog rig.
    Bananas&blow and Guildx500 like this.
  2. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    I get it. I admittedly paused when thinking about upgrading the analog side of my system as a result. Man am I glad I did, the difference in just the turntable/cart combo is very noticeable. My new Phono preamp arrived the other day and I'm anxious to see if I can hear a difference there as well.
    Dennis0675 likes this.
  3. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    If you're looking at your main, primary stereo system and you want to have an analogue source like a turntable, then I would suggest the passive LS50s and an outboard amplifier.

    I saw this as someone who loves the idea of the new active wireless LS50s - in fact, I'm planning to get them for my living room/great room in the next year or so. But that system will not have a turntable feeding it (and will not really be my primary critical listening system either, since it will be in the house's public area).

    I'm sure the LS50s do sound great with the right tube amp. But as small standmount speakers with only an 85dB SPL efficiency rating, they're not going to really open up, IMHO, with low-powered tube amps. They need some real wattage, and just as important a high-current amp.

    Finally, I don't love the idea of everything being converted to 24/192 PCM - particularly all my CD/redbook music, since the 44.1k to 192k conversion produces rounding errors. However, the flood of rave reviews for the active LS50s confirms my suspicion that custom-matching the amps to the drivers, and integrating custom tailored DSP into the digitization step, creates sonic benefits that likely far outweigh any sonic degradation caused by the 24/192 conversion.
    I know this is :hide: territory as far as some are concerned, but to me it's logical that impedance matching, individual tuning of to drivers (Class D for power-hungry woofers, refined Class A/B for the tweeters), DSP to smooth out any remaining frequency nonlinearities - and especially handling the driver crossover in the digital domain instead of with capacitors and such - is going to produce highly audible improvements that are likely to swamp any micro-changes produced by upsampling.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
    martinb4, patrickd and Robert C like this.
  4. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    Analog to digital!
    Digital upsampling!
    Audiophile blasphemy!

    In my experience with the passive version and the new active version I agree with that last paragraph 100%.

    Do you want me to swing by and grab your audiophile card and hand it in with mine?
    amgradmd, ThorensSme and tmtomh like this.
  5. Spsesq

    Spsesq Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    I have the following set up. Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum I (the version with the KT-120 power tubes), and the LS50 speakers (not the wireless). I auditioned this set up at a local high end stereo retailer in New Jersey. They sounded so good, my usually unimpressed and "who cares" wife thought they were so amazing she said to get the set up. I actually heard details on our test recordings that I did not hear before. What I did end up doing was rolling the 12au7 tube from the original supplied with the amplifier to a NOS Mullard 4003 and boy the sound is incredible. I highly recommend this set up. The LS50 technology and sound in my 14'x10' room sound great, clear with no distortion. Bass is very good and I don't use a subwoofer.

    Also the customer service at Rogue is very good. You can talk to them directly if you have any questions. I also have a Project Debut Carbon Esprit turntable with a Ortofon 2M Black cartridge and the phono stage is need for anything else. However if you are a headphone person, you will need a headphone amplifier because the Cronus Magnum does allow sound bleed. I called the Rogue guys and they suggested a headphone amp. I found that the Schiit Audio Vali 2 with a rolled tube (NOS Telefunken) is perfect for my Beyerdynamics Custom Studio headphones.

    Best of luck, you will not be disappointed with this setup.
    martinb4 and Dennis0675 like this.
  6. TeflonScoundrel

    TeflonScoundrel Forum Resident

    I have owned a pair of the passive LS50s for a few years and I used them with an Audio Research VSi60 primarily. I have ordered a pair of the LS50 Wireless and will be receiving them early next week. I'll be sure to post my thoughts once I've had a little time to listen to them.
  7. Guildx500

    Guildx500 Forum Resident

    You're going to need a phono stage if you get the wireless. I'd get the wired all the way and start with your Brio. The Rogue is good gear.
    Spsesq likes this.
  8. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!

    Eastern MA
    I've used my LS50 with a Rogue Sphinx (v2) and a Yamaha A-S701.

    The Rogue and the Yammie both sounded good but had differences. The Rogue had a better phono stage, but the Yamaha's line-level input sounded better (especially with the CD Direct mode). I decided to keep the Yamaha and sell the Rogue figuring I could experiment with external phono stages (I also got a great deal on the 701). However, that comparison was done when the Yamaha was brand new. The phono stage has broken in considerably and I think it has improved. Possibly still not as good as the Sphinx's, but much nicer than brand new.

    FWIW, I had a chance to buy a used Rogue Triton from @GoldprintAudio for a decent price but passed on it. Probably should not have done that...
  9. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Forum Resident

    I'd be willing to give the speakers a shot. But I would be hesitant about losing my all-analogueness. For my flac files I'd be all about it. I know some of the active fans swear by the sound quality and there are some valid reasons to believe it would be great sound.
  10. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Forum Resident

    I have the A-S801 in my chain and I love it and it probably has the same phono stage as your 701. If you are big on vinyl I would strongly encourage you to give the Lounge Audio LCR a shot. It transformed the sound quality of my vinyl. Much, much better phono stage than the onboard Yamaha one. Not just louder but open and more depth. I was surprised at the difference it make. For $320 delivered, it has to be one of the best ways to improve your sound at a modest cost.

    Back to the thread. Based on the incredible reviews of the LS50's, to me you can't go wrong either way. I would prefer the flexibility of switching up my amp, but I guess you could do that with a pre-amp as well. Let us know what you decide.
  11. brimuchmuze

    brimuchmuze Forum Resident

    You're looking for truth on a forum? :)

    All I can say is I thoroughly enjoy my LS50+Brio-R.
    andybeau likes this.
  12. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Christiansburg, VA
    I hope this post is not read the wrong way.

    I am very intrigued by these speakers (wired or wireless), always have been.
    So I'm reading this stuff about converting analogue to digital and I'm thinking why?
    So I read the review that was linked and it said something about using an ethernet connection between master and slave.
    Then I read another review, read the Kef brochure, and visited the website.
    Even with all this I had no idea how the master-slave hookup really worked.
    Couldn't find any pictures of the back of both speakers on Google.
    Finally, I downloaded the manual to figure this out.

    So you have to plug both speakers in!, and you still have to hook a cable between the two.
    If you have to plug both they should, at the very least, have a wireless connection between the two.
    Even though the master has an analogue input, it gets converted to digital and then back to analogue again.
    Sorry, but I don't understand this design, it seems stupid. I'm not saying they can't sound very good, because with a digital input there is no harm done other than the inconvenience of having to power both of them.

    With a turntable, I'd get the passive version with an amp.
  13. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Forum Resident

    As difficult as it is to come to a consensus on this forum, Whenever there is one I put a lot of faith in it. One of those consensus is that the LS-50's are terrific sounding speakers and I've never heard them but I trust that they sound great. KEF is a highly regarded speaker company. So I'd trust that they can put together a terrific sounding active LS-50. So I think the OP can't lose either way.

    Some other forum derived facts:

    The Beatles Mono set is pretty good.
    Lounge LCR delivers.
    Vinyl is better.
    Digital is better.
    Vinyl Nirvana Tables are sexy and amazing sounding.
    There will never be a good sounding Queen II.
    The word "vinyls" is never acceptable under any circumstances and is justifiable cause to permanently ban said offender. Not even as an intentional joke. Just don't do it. Ever.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
    Helom, Lebowski, krlpuretone and 6 others like this.
  14. Lorraine

    Lorraine Forum Resident

    Stamford CT
    :laughup: this is terrific -- it deserves its own sticky thread and have people adding all the other immutable SHF facts:biglaugh:
    Bananas&blow likes this.
  15. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    TheLS50 IS a great speaker, regardless of version. It's why I lived with a pair for nearly 4 years (a long time for me) and went back to them, albeit in active form (wireless is a bit confusing a name) after a year.

    FWIW, I had them paired with a 100W McIntosh MA6300 and thought they sounded great. That was being fed by a Mac Mini serving AIFF through an Oppo HA-1, a Rega Planet 2000, and a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon.

    I just can't get over how much better the active version sounds in my room. Again, if the OP has a dealer close by I'd encourage them to listen to the passive with as many different amps as possible and then to the active version and decide for themselves.
  16. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good

    Where I work they recently dropped Wilson Audio, Sonus Faber, Monitor Audio, and few others (two channel wasn't are core business) and they went with B & O and B & W. it's all about aesthetics and support of are real core business (Low Voltage Integration).

    What I can share is I'm personally devastated. I do not like the sound of wireless at all. Even the big B&O 90's. Maybe I'm a dinasour and out dated but I'll keep tubes, tri-wires and big speakers. I miss the SF Amanti's…
    JakeMcD likes this.
  17. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    It's funny because I don't use them wirelessly at all, only the other three inputs: Analog, Optical, USB.

    To the OP - FWIW KEF often debuted the original version with Parasound amplification. I believed they often used the A21. I initially tried them with an A23 (using a Benchmark DAC2HGC as a preamp) and was unable to get my subs to blend in well. Had Parasound's Halo Integrated been available at the time I might have given it a shot due to some nice built-in bass management.

    Others also seem to be getting nice results with class D amplification from Bel Canto, Heed, etc.
  18. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    Wow! All of this from simply reading and not a second of listening? Impressive.

    Yes John, they require power. Each speaker contains dedicated amplifiers for the tweeter and the woofer along with a DAC. They interconnect via an ethernet cable to keep everything in the digital domain once it's received into the Master speaker.

    From a design standpoint KEF has been able to custom match amplification to the drivers better than the majority of us ever could, wish as we might. On top of that add complete control over the signal and drivers via DSP and you have a resulting sound that's just impressive to these ears.
    tmtomh, Robert C and JakeMcD like this.
  19. JakeMcD

    JakeMcD Forum Resident

    Wgb113 has owned 'em both, so I'd say his words carry a lot of weight for a comparo. Still, all of this love for the KEFs and no one knows what size room they are going to serve. I've had my passive LS-50s in 4 rooms now. They improved in each room until they went into a living room due to a new home purchase. Now they are simply lost and not up to the task.

    LS-50s rightfully earned their terrific sounding speaker reputation, but that still means terrific sounding speaker...for such a small speaker.

    Amen to this.
  20. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Christiansburg, VA
    Well, my post basically had NOTHING to do with how they sound, just the design decisions.

    Anyway, my view is that if you want to put an amplifier in each speaker (and I think this is a good design choice), then you should make them identical, ie. no master-slave relationship.
    The current design is kind of half baked, there is an interconnection between the two speakers and yet you still have to plug both of them in.
  21. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Lexington, NC
    Two things here..... you would have to increase cost in order to do this (make each identical). And you would have to have a way to connect the digital inputs in to each speaker (thus a digital cable running to each speaker for the signal unless you are streaming wireless). KEF's solution is WAY easier and the smart choice in my opinion.
    martinb4, Ivand and wgb113 like this.
  22. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    They ARE identical internally aside from the preamp functionality since it's impossible to split digital signals L/R.
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  23. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Christiansburg, VA
    Ah! why not just go wireless to the speakers? Then you only have to plug them in. The design has already committed to digital anyway.
  24. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Christiansburg, VA
    What is this fake news! They are clearly not identical.
  25. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Lexington, NC
    And yet again you are adding cost and a more complex solution..... not really what KEF was shooting for with this speaker.

    Are they truly wireless, no....but I don't know of any powered hifi class speaker that is. The fact is, the wireless 50's are a killer sounding speaker at what most would consider a bargain factoring in the performance/sound qualities that you get out of them.
    tmtomh, wgb113 and Ivand like this.

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