KEF LS50 Anniversary Model loudspeaker Sam Tellig May 2014

Sam Tellig wrote about the LS50 in May 2014 (Vol.37 No.5):

The Croft Phono Integrated amplifier and KEF LS50 loudspeaker made a spectacular combination in my listening room. I welcomed the Croft's warmth, immediacy, and tonality. Once again, Sam's maxim is proved: You can have excellent hi-fi for very little money; you just can't have a lot of it.

The KEF LS50 retails for $1500/pair. You'll need to sit them on stands 20–22" high. I think they're best suited to rooms of small to medium size. I found them very flexible in terms of room placement. Their Uni-Q concentric drive-units—a 1" tweeter nested inside a 5.25" mid/woofer—make them ideally suited for nearfield listening. (I would like to see a protective cover that I can place over the speakers when they're not in use.) They sounded as one, even from close-up. They also worked well spaced far apart and close to the sidewalls. (But avoid room corners.) Placed just right in a room, the LS50s could deliver surprising bass: down to around 50Hz.

Sensitivity (2.83V/m) is a claimed 85dB. The nominal impedance is 8 ohms, with a minimum of 3.2 ohms. At higher listening levels, that might put a strain on the Croft in a larger room. Flea-watt SET amps seem out of the question. (KEF suggests amplifiers with outputs of 25–100Wpc.)

I found the LS50's tonality spot-on, more neutral than sweet. Soundstaging and imaging were top-notch. Definition was superb, ranking with the very best speakers at any price. I haven't had such great sound in my listening room since the departure of Quad's ESL-2805 electrostatics.

Despite the "LS" designation, the LS50 is not a minimonitor à la the BBC LS3/5A, with a pumped-up midbass and a soft treble. Brass could bray; strings could sound wiry when they should. Percussive sounds were quick and clear.

The LS50 was introduced in 2011, to mark KEF's 50th anniversary. The good news is that although the 50th-anniversary year has passed, it will remain in production. —Sam Tellig

COMPANY INFO
GP Acoustics
US distributor: GP Acoustics
10 Timber Lane
Marlboro, NJ 07746
(732) 683-2356
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Audio Asylum Bruce from DC's picture

Being a dedicated "stand-mount" guy and something of a cheapskate, this review got me really excited.  Maybe I should replace my 10-year old Joseph Audio RM7si Signatures!

Imagine my disappointment when I went to KEF's US website and tried to find a dealer.  Even at maximum range from my location -- Washington DC -- I came up empty.  There is a local dealer, but it stocks only KEF's low-line stuff, not any of the fancy products (including the Reference Series).

Assuming that one would agree that Washington DC is not the sticks, it might be worthwhile for Stereophile to enquire of KEF exactly how many US dealers the company has which stock this product -- or the Reference series for that matter.

Sergei's picture

The reason you can't find a pair Audio Asylum is because KEF in their wisdom decided to insult all of their loyal dealers by offering this product ONLINE ONLY!

I am a Canadian Dealer(soon to be ex-dealer now) for KEF. We had a clent want to hear a pair of these and most likely purchase due to being a long time KEF fan. To both of our surprise when I contacted my KEF rep he explained this was ONLY available through the KEF online store.

We played him a pair of other bookshelf speakers he happily purchased instead.

There is really no logic as a business man and Hi-Fi enthusiats that KEF would want to snub their dealer base with an "Anniversary" product. We were even considering displaying the Blade's in our showroom...

 

hcie95he's picture

In the review the LS50 is compared with the B&W CM5 and the LS3/5a. In the past John reviewed also the Harbeth P3ESR and the Spendor SA1, which are both more expensive. I am wondering if the LS50 is in the same league as the Spendor and the Harbeth?

By the way I am surprised that KEF doesn't sell the LS50 in the US via their dealer network. In Europe you can buy and audition them via their dealers.

norcalhifiguy's picture

 

Sad to see the previous comments, but as the owner of small audio shop in a very small town I can say with absolute authority that these are indeed available from direct dealers. (I can't speak to the Canadian issue as we are in the US)

We are thrilled to have these on display in our main listening room and must say they live up to the great reviews. These are amazing little speakers.

Please, do seek out and support your local independent audio dealers. 

These are people that love great audio as much as you do.

Hear them in person. Buy them locally!

audiodoctornj's picture

As one of KEF's highest level dealers, Audio Doctor, has the Blades, the entire Reference Series, R Series, Q Series, and T Series products as well as the LS 50, I can tell you they are available at select dealers, I don't know the issue with the Canadian distributor but they should be available to them as well.

WIth that being said, I do feel that is unfortunate that KEF does not have more stocking dealers with the LS 50, or with a wider range of their products.

The current KEF lineup is some of the best products the company has ever produced and in particular the BLADE represents $60,000.00 and above levels of performance for $30k, the BLADES are amazing speakers!

I feel that there are a few issues going on, Stereophile and the Absolute Sound do not really do comparative anaylsis of one product to another in their reviews, if they did and were not affraid to stand up to their advertisers, they  would proclaim that the BLADE is a bargin for the abolute top level of performance that they give and would recommend that anyone looking at a Wilson, Magico or YG etc should give the BLADES a listen before considering spending more on anything else.

We did the High End Audio Show in NYC last year, and our setup with the BLADES and all Chord Electronics sounded as good as any of the other setups at the show including a $300,000.00 plus YG setup and another mega dollar MBL setup and these were $30k speakers standing up agains $110k speakers!

So in summation, KEF makes fantastic products, has a weak dealer network, and needs to revamp their advertising and marketing to get more people excited by their products.

You should hear a pair of LS 50 setup with the really nice little KEF R 400 sub you have a roughly $3k package that sounds remarkable, huge soundstage, shocking dynamics and great transparency!

If anyone wants to visit our shop call 877 428 2873 and make an appointment to hear these incredible little jewels.  

10sephirot's picture

The little KEF sure is getting good reviews.  Lets face it looks count also.  It made me think about what stands would look best.  In my opinion the Usher RSW-708 in walnut would be a very special look:

http://audioscape.ca/wp-content/uploads/usher-rws708.jpg

The KEF plus the stands I subjectively think look best is a $2000 proposition. 

I'll go ahead and match that up to the Vincent Audio SV-236 in black:

http://www.audioadvisor.com/ViewLargerIMage.asp?title=Vincent+Audio+-+SV...

another $2000.

I'll go ahead and add the Musical Fidelity MMF-51SE:

http://www.elusivedisc.com/images/MMF-51SE-Large.jpg

Yeah well anyway that is another grand.   $5000 total.

I told all this to Santa and I got thrown out of the shopping mall.

But in all seriousness this is what a good review makes us do: dream. 

Thanks Stereophile.  Another afternoon wasted daydreaming:)

JRT's picture

In the measurements, the waterfall diagram showing polar response in the vertical plane passing thru the voicecoil centerline appears to be much smoother than the polar response in the horizontal plane.   So I think the first tweak for improved performance, clearly demonstrated in the measurements, would be to lay the speaker on its side.  

prof's picture

In the measurements, the waterfall diagram showing polar response in the vertical plane passing thru the voicecoil centerline appears to be much smoother than the polar response in the horizontal plane.

Umh, no. You've been fooled by the difference in scales. The scale on the vertical waterfall plot is ±45°. The scale on the horizontal waterfall plot is ±90°. At ±45°, the horizontal dispersion is as-smooth or smoother than the vertical dispersion.

techblogpool's picture
ryebread's picture

Quest For Sound in Bensalem, PA

bought them last week, epic speakers

wgb113's picture

@ryebread,

Curious what amplification both QFS and you are using.  I might try to head over there for an audition.

Bill

Gradofan's picture

 

The sound I'm getting from this set up is "stupendous!"  Don't think it can get any / much better - certainly not for less than 10X the price!

 

Using the Sony  XA5400ES SACD/CDP (the best there is), into the Anti-Mode 2.0 as a pre and DSP to eliminate the "room boom," into a tube buffer, into the Class D Audio amp into the LS50's and R400b produces real "you are there" sound.  Incredible detail, resolution, tone, tenure, texture, stage, image, bass, mids and treble... etc., etc...  

 

Hard to believe... really... 

 

And just an incredible value!

 

wgb113's picture

Everything I've read about the LS50s indicate that they're great for a small room.  My room is REALLY small @ 10'x12'x9'.  It's been acoustically treated but placement of the speakers and listening position results in a near-field setup.  Are the KEFs going to work well in such a setup?  It seems their manual recommends 6'-10' between the inner sides of the cabinets before toeing in.

Bill

Azani's picture

I've just purchased the pair after searching high and low for floor standers to replace Rogers LS2a/2. Auditioned Harbeth P3ESR, like it but thought it sounded like big voice coming out from small mouth. Haven't got the chance to audition any Spendor monitors tho. 

Anyway, my room is also small (8x13)' with acoustic treatment but still able to handle LS50 quite well. Generally, a slight enhancement from Rogers LS2a/2, livelier that is.

just yesterday, started to experience sudden annoying jerks and "tone switching" (for the lack of better word) on the right speaker whenever CD is played. It was fine the day before. Yet to figure that one out. Anyone experience it?

Cheers

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