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KEF LS50 Meta Review (Bookshelf Speaker) Video

abdo123

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Well -sue me but I can't hear any difference between the originals and the LS50 Metas. I like my originals in Racing Red, so I kept those. I don't believe a piece of rubber makes a big difference, and my listening session confirmed my suspicion. I think KEF is trying to drive the same upgrade cycle as smartphones go through, experimenting with marginal innovation and price and see how that drives buyer behavior.

The key to me is -as has been incessantly stated- to pair them with a good, musical sub, but also very importantly to set the sub crossover anywhere from 60-80Hz to let the LS50 focus on what they do best. Different amps will have different slopes, so experiment with whatever sound best for you. I'd say if you're a basshead you may want 2 good subs and set things at 120Hz or so, but then you'll have to set up things very carefully. The rewards will be huge though.

I'd venture to say if you carefully balance any LS50 with optimal sub crossover, placement etc for your room, you'll get total reference sound. Prolly much better and easier (and at a fraction of the cost) of reference full-range floorstanders (which are near impossible to set up optimally in anything other than a purpose-designed, large room).
How far do you sit from your speakers?
 

pablolie

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BoredErica
> There were multiple changes coming into Meta, not just the metamaterial. Are you saying Kef took 9 years to refresh the speaker
> and all they did was ...
The big news -as the name implies- was indeed the meta-material. As to the rest, for the most part we're all left to guess. :)

> Audio in general is like that. The difference between half decent speakers aren't HUGE. ...
I completely concur. The measurements of both versions are actually extremely close - to the point one has to objectively wonder if they are indeed discernable to the human ear. To me, in the same system -which was carefully set up using Dirac info- they were not, and I decided to keep the original ones for pure esthetics. :) I sold the Metas to a friend.

> What makes a sub musical vs good but not musical?
The two mean the same, I think. Control over the limited range is probably what you'd measure. We all know setup is key to get balanced performance with a sub, and we have all heard systems where that is not remotely so... :)

abdo123:
> How far do you sit from your speakers?

These days, for true listening, around 7ft and straight in the middle with the speakers pointed at me. The speakers are about 6ft apart. The sub is where it was calibrated to go. Cutoff is 70Hz, but the LS50 start to slightly come to life at 50Hz when I try test tones, we all know the rolloff is not abrupt. It's clear the LS50 work much harder with that 50Hz test tone when I turn off the sub crossover. Even though I never listen too loud (I only do enjoyable, dedicated music listening with jazz and classical, with other music I don't think too much about it), I imagine that really reduces distortion with the LS50. To me - that did a huge difference in my enjoyment of the LS50, offloading the lower bass. I wonder if that's why I didn't hear a difference with the Metas, because they sound better in a full range use case? BTW my friend has a bigger room than mine, doesn't use a sub and is super happy with the Metas. There's no doubt they are fantastic speakers.
 

groovybassist

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BoredErica
> There were multiple changes coming into Meta, not just the metamaterial. Are you saying Kef took 9 years to refresh the speaker
> and all they did was ...
The big news -as the name implies- was indeed the meta-material. As to the rest, for the most part we're all left to guess. :)

> Audio in general is like that. The difference between half decent speakers aren't HUGE. ...
I completely concur. The measurements of both versions are actually extremely close - to the point one has to objectively wonder if they are indeed discernable to the human ear. To me, in the same system -which was carefully set up using Dirac info- they were not, and I decided to keep the original ones for pure esthetics. :) I sold the Metas to a friend.

> What makes a sub musical vs good but not musical?
The two mean the same, I think. Control over the limited range is probably what you'd measure. We all know setup is key to get balanced performance with a sub, and we have all heard systems where that is not remotely so... :)

abdo123:
> How far do you sit from your speakers?

These days, for true listening, around 7ft and straight in the middle with the speakers pointed at me. The speakers are about 6ft apart. The sub is where it was calibrated to go. Cutoff is 70Hz, but the LS50 start to slightly come to life at 50Hz when I try test tones, we all know the rolloff is not abrupt. It's clear the LS50 work much harder with that 50Hz test tone when I turn off the sub crossover. Even though I never listen too loud (I only do enjoyable, dedicated music listening with jazz and classical, with other music I don't think too much about it), I imagine that really reduces distortion with the LS50. To me - that did a huge difference in my enjoyment of the LS50, offloading the lower bass. I wonder if that's why I didn't hear a difference with the Metas, because they sound better in a full range use case? BTW my friend has a bigger room than mine, doesn't use a sub and is super happy with the Metas. There's no doubt they are fantastic speakers.
Lots of info on the LS50 Meta changes in KEF’s white paper.

https://us.kef.com/pub/media/wysiwyg/ls50/20-KEF-LS50-Collection-WhitePapers.pdf
 

pablolie

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Thanks - we all know that driving upgrade cycles is a huge motivator in technology (I work in Silicon Valley in High Tech). I also spend a lot of time writing white papers, but it's not in consumer electronics at all, so I am not claiming more familiarity with the topic we're discussing than any other of the very smart contributors that bless this forum.
I found the white paper a great read. I do however question stuff like Figure 9, where they show a comparison between what seem identical parts, just one is fully assembled and the other is not. The difference seems to be in the metal used at the base, and whether it's for improvement or for cost savings is anyone's guess. :)
We all know there are 2 things that drive successful products' development: (a) Milk more profit from the same functional product via cost reduction, and (b) genuine innovation to stay ahead of the inevitable competition a successful product will attract.To even remotely think that KEF was only and exclusively motivated by (b) is a naive assumption. :)
 
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