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How to evaluate a ELAC Navis bookshelf (powered speaker) versus the KEF LS-50 Wireless 2 (active speaker)?

mel

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How to evaluate a ELAC Navis bookshelf (powered speaker) versus the KEF LS-50 Wireless 2 (active speaker)?

* KEF claims “end-to-end 192kHz/24-bit high-resolution digital signal path”. I am not certain what the constraining factor in their DAC / DSP system is, or what the significant feature advantage(s) might be.

  1. Can you tell me how a studio grade DAC connected (balanced XLR) to the Navis powered speaker perform, compared to an all-in-one DAC/DSP system?

I am under the impression the DAC has the largest influence on the final sound, at least with my limited equipment.

* RME ADI-2 DAC (studio), which has XLR output.
* AudioEngine A3 speakers (powered) connected to two
* REL T/Xero MKIII subwoofers.

I mostly listen to acoustic music like classical or jazz

* within six feet
* at low volumes
* in small spaces.

Tidal Masters is my source from a Mac M1 laptop.

I am veering towards the Navis because the division of function is distinct. I do not know what to expect as a difference in sound. Both the ELAC and KEF architectures appear to be perfectly valid approaches that probably achieve a very similar sonic end.

Some examples of music I use to evaluate performance by, in no particular order. Hi-def status does not seem to play a prominent role. The bit depth and sampling rate do not seem to make a substantial difference. MQA appears to be a moot issue.
I evaluate music as a triangle consisting of the following primary attributes. I try to place a music piece inside the triangle. I view acoustic equipment as the means to that end. Substituting concrete measurements for these concepts makes the number more meaningful and easier to realize.
  • Rhythm (speed, responsiveness, etc...)
  • Melody (tone, frequency ranges, drivers, amplification, etc...)
  • Harmorny (dynamics, crossover, spacial, etc...)

 
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VonGoethe

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I compared the Elac NAVIS ARF-51 Stand speaker paired with RME ADI 2 DAC with the KEF LS 50 w I in my own room and decided to go with the KEFs.

Meanwhile I have upgraded to the WII, which have better mids and smoother treble but with deeper sound and perfect presentation and separations.

I would go with the KEFs W II.
 
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mel

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I compared the Elac NAVIS ARF-51 Stand speaker paired with RME ADI 2 DAC with the KEF LS 50 w I in my own room and decided to go with the KEFs.

Meanwhile I have upgraded to the WII, which have better mids and smoother treble but with deeper sound and perfect presentation and separations.

I would go with the KEFs W II.
Thanks.

Do you attribute the better sound to any particular feature, or lack of feature?

Some examples of music I use to evaluate performance by, in no particular order. Hi-def status does not seem to play a prominent role. The bit depth and sampling rate do not seem to make a substantial difference.
  1. Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli - I love the hall acoustic decay effect on call/response of instruments
  2. El Arte Del Bolero - Very artistic
  3. Chic Corea Plays - Wide diversity of genres on piano
  4. Duke Ellington & John Coltrane - The melodies and harmony are fantastic
  5. Marsalis Standard Time - All Volumes - Aesthetic and skillful playing of jazz standards
  6. Masterpieces In Miniature - Dynamics
  7. Soultrane
  8. GO
I evaluate music as a triangle consisting of the following primary attributes. I try to place a music piece inside the triangle. I view acoustic equipment as the means to that end. Substituting concrete measurements for these concepts makes the number more meaningful and easier to realize.
  • Rhythm (speed, responsiveness, etc...)
  • Melody (tone, amplification, etc...)
  • Harmorny (dynamics, crossover, spacial, etc...)
Based on your response, my guess is your view of the KEF is closer to the triangle center. The Navis might be closer to the one of the triangle verticies?


 
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mel

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Here's an example evaluation.

The KEF DSP features, crossover and delay/phase correction between drivers, is processed before amplification. How would these KEF features enhance the naturalness of the sound during last minute of Good Bait on Soultrane, compared to the ELAC Navis?

I am unsure about the role the DAC plays in the overall processing. Since the DAC processing occurs first, I assume it has the primary influence, because imprecision in the decode phase will cascade in subsequent processing, e.g, magnify (amplifier) or distort (crossover). Tidal reports this recording as "HiFi", so less than 24/192 "Master" level.

The separation of the high pitched tones of cymbals (drums), piercing, rich saxophone tones, and deep bass seems primarily to be a DSP function. I imagine the amplification stage is less critical?

How does the "active" DSP hardware relates/affects the rendering of the musical parts, as opposed to "powered" Navis processing?
  1. harmony
  2. melody
 

VonGoethe

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All I can say that listening to Jazz is an absolute pleasure with the Kefs.
With Rock the Navis performed a bit better.
But as I mostly listen to jazz, hardbop and bebop, the Kefs are perfect for me.
 
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mel

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All I can say that listening to Jazz is an absolute pleasure with the Kefs.
With Rock the Navis performed a bit better.
But as I mostly listen to jazz, hardbop and bebop, the Kefs are perfect for me.
I find that helpful, because we both seem to be in the same music space. The Navis might perform better for the wide dynamic range in classical music, too.
 
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mel

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Doesn't the Navis use a passive low level crossover?
Yes, for the three drivers. ELAC expresses it as being entirely in the analog domain. No digital processing in the speaker.

The amplifier is entirely analog, too. The so-called BASH amplifier type. A hybrid combination of class D and AB.

The numbers are easy to understand. I have trouble making meaning and realizing the sound from the measurements. I have difficulty relating the signal processing to how I hear music, as:
  • rhythm
  • melody
  • harmony
The order varies by music piece.

How do the analog (powered ELAC) or digital (active KEF) hardware features make the music more or less:
  • Rhymthic?
  • Melodic?
  • Harmonic?

ELAC Navis:

Speaker type: 3-Way Powered
Tweeter: 1″ Soft Dome Concentrically Mounted
Midrange: 4″ Aluminum
Woofer: 5-1/4″ Aluminum
Frequency Response: 44Hz – 28kHz
Crossover Frequency: 2.2kHz / 260Hz
Total Amplifier Power: 300 Watts Total
Bass Amplifier: 160 Watt Bash Amplifier
Midrange Amplifier: 100 Watt Bash Amplifier
Tweeter Amplifier: 40 Watt Class AB Amplifier
 
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mel

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To be more clear, the Kefs are the reason I started loving jazz.

I have the Kefs combined with the R400b subwoofer, which is in my opinion a perfect match - some call this combination poor mans blade.

Here is a good review of this combo (but with W I): https://www.stereopluss.no/en-kombinasjon-laget-i-himmelen.6028694-355425.html
Please use google translate.

I will look into it. I am intrigued by KEF KC62 Uni Core technology. Symmetric drivers! It also has the same DSP engine as KEF LS-50W:

uni-core-img_2_.png
 
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mel

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To be more clear, the Kefs are the reason I started loving jazz.

I have the Kefs combined with the R400b subwoofer, which is in my opinion a perfect match - some call this combination poor mans blade.

Here is a good review of this combo (but with W I): https://www.stereopluss.no/en-kombinasjon-laget-i-himmelen.6028694-355425.html
Please use google translate.
I love jazz because I love the sound of acoustic instruments. I also love brass instruments and piano.

Adding the cost of the subwoofer(s) is important. The cost will more than double with two KEF subwoofers!

What percentage impact, would you say, the subwoofers have on:
  • rhythm (80% ?)
  • harmony (20%)
  • melody (0%)
 
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Ron Texas

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Yes, for the three drivers. ELAC expresses it as being entirely in the analog domain. No digital processing in the speaker.

The amplifier is entirely analog, too. The so-called BASH amplifier type. A hybrid combination of class D and AB.

The numbers are easy to understand. I have trouble making meaning and realizing the sound from the measurements. I have difficulty relating the signal processing to how I hear music, as:
  • rhythm
  • melody
  • harmony
The order varies by music piece.

How do the analog (powered ELAC) or digital (active KEF) hardware features make the music more or less:
  • Rhymthic?
  • Melodic?
  • Harmonic?

Between the two I would get the Kef's. I presently have LS50's. However, to make LS50's sing you need 2 subwoofers and a relatively high crossover point. I'd say 100 hz is a minimum. I'm using 170 hz and effectively have a 3 way system. Getting this to work wasn't so easy.
 
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mel

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Between the two I would get the Kef's. I presently have LS50's. However, to make LS50's sing you need 2 subwoofers and a relatively high crossover point. I'd say 100 hz is a minimum. I'm using 170 hz and effectively have a 3 way system. Getting this to work wasn't so easy.
I really appreciate the advice. Certainly is time consuming and tries my patience. I cannot believe how much time it took me to figure out how sound fills my room. All these details are worthwhile discoveries, but painstaking.

I have two REL T/Zero MKIII subwoofers. One subwoofer does not sound good, because it distracts me.
 
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mel

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Between the two I would get the Kef's. I presently have LS50's. However, to make LS50's sing you need 2 subwoofers and a relatively high crossover point. I'd say 100 hz is a minimum. I'm using 170 hz and effectively have a 3 way system. Getting this to work wasn't so easy.
What percentage impact, would you say, the subwoofers have on:
  • rhythm (80% ?)
  • harmony (20%)
  • melody (0%)
I visualize subwoofer function inside a triangle. This approach helps me understand how DSP processing (KEF active) or analog (powered ELAC) affects sound production.
  • Rhythm (speed, responsiveness, etc...)
  • Melody (tone, frequency ranges, drivers, amplification, etc...)
  • Harmorny (dynamics, crossover, spacial, etc...)
 
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Ron Texas

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What percentage impact, would you say, the subwoofers have on:
  • rhythm (80% ?)
  • harmony (20%)
  • melody (0%)
I don't look at music in that framework. Subs extend low frequencies which are usually rhythm and provide additional dynamic range, which is important with those small 5" drivers. There's a zillion ways to approach putting a system together.
 

VonGoethe

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In my opinion, the W II should also sound fine in a small room without sub for jazz.
Also without a sub, these are really top notch bookshelf speaker.
If you have the feeling something is missing, you can add a sub in a second step - i can really suggest the r400b. It has also a twin bass drivers. And used you could get this for round about 400$.
But this will then happen with any bookshelf speaker - ELAC or KEF.
 
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mel

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I don't look at music in that framework. Subs extend low frequencies which are usually rhythm and provide additional dynamic range, which is important with those small 5" drivers. There's a zillion ways to approach putting a system together.

I'm trying to distinguish between DAC / DSP processing in active KEF, versus DAC / analog crossover/amplifier in powered ELAC. I find this framework helpful to that end.
 
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mel

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In my opinion, the W II should also sound fine in a small room without sub for jazz.
Also without a sub, these are really top notch bookshelf speaker.
If you have the feeling something is missing, you can add a sub in a second step - i can really suggest the r400b. It has also a twin bass drivers. And used you could get this for round about 400$.
But this will then happen with any bookshelf speaker - ELAC or KEF.
The subwoofers can have a significant impact on affordability and enjoyment. I approach the purchase as an investment. I do not want to upgrade every other year, after I finally learn what is going on.
 
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mel

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In my opinion, the W II should also sound fine in a small room without sub for jazz.
Also without a sub, these are really top notch bookshelf speaker.
If you have the feeling something is missing, you can add a sub in a second step - i can really suggest the r400b. It has also a twin bass drivers. And used you could get this for round about 400$.
But this will then happen with any bookshelf speaker - ELAC or KEF.
Did you find the app made any difference configuring the DSP equalizer parameters?

I could play with the DSP equalizer parameters to learn how the music parts are affected:
  • rhythm
  • harmony
  • melody
The ELAC Navis parameters are binary switches on the back of the speaker. Much less sensitive than the variable DSP equalizer parameters.

I also have an AV receiver with DSP functions. They never made a significant difference. Nice toy features to sell product.
 
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Ron Texas

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I'm trying to distinguish between DAC / DSP processing in active KEF, versus DAC / analog crossover/amplifier in powered ELAC. I find this framework helpful to that end.

Most around here would say DSP is better. Look at all the interest in DSP powered speakers like Genelec. Just because I don't completely understand what you are thinking doesn't make you wrong. You could be on to something.
 
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