• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Kef Reference 1 vs LS50M w subs

Sgidora

Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
11
Likes
11
Hello all!

Sorry if this post is similar to discussions already had, I’ve read through everything and couldn’t quite find the info I was looking for.

I’m looking to upgrade from my KEF LS50 speakers that I’ve owned for about 6 years.
I’m currently running them with an Arcam A49, and am looking to upgrade them this spring.

Originally, I was planning on upgrading to some used Ref 1s, but with the introduction of the meta material I’m a bit unsure of what to do now.
Does anyone have any experience comparing the Ref 1s to LS50 Metas with matching subs (such as KC62)? How do they compare?

On the other hand, I can’t imagine that KEF won’t be releasing new products with the meta material within the year… but information has been scarce even when I ask around at dealers.
I heard whispering of a floor standing speaker inspired by the LS50, making use of all their new technical advancements, an ‘LS60’ so to speak… has anyone heard anything better than vague possibilities?

I also know that the reference line is due for an upgrade anytime now as it’s their oldest line. I could see them adding the meta material to the reference line in the next year? Again, does anyone have any info on this?

TLDR:
Has anyone compared the Reference 1 to LS50 Meta with subs? Also, does any one have any info on upcoming KEF releases? Particularly new Reference line or ‘LS60’?
 

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,652
Likes
6,997
Location
BC, Canada
Reference 1 are US$8000/pair

How can you compare them with LS50M at US$1600/pair?

That’s like comparing a Toyota to a Lamborghini.

We know Kef leaked LSX mk2 already. But beyond that, it’s anyone guess.
 
OP
S

Sgidora

Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
11
Likes
11
Reference 1 are US$8000/pair

How can you compare them with LS50M at US$1600/pair?

That’s like comparing a Toyota to a Lamborghini.

We know Kef leaked LSX mk2 already. But beyond that, it’s anyone guess.
I mean if you add dual KC62 subs to the LS50M then you're up to ~$6000 compared to $8000 for the Ref 1.
Add on to that the the former are 7 years newer than the Ref 1s and I think it's a totally fair comparison.
If anyone has heard both please do chime in. Thanks so much!
 

aarons915

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 20, 2019
Messages
588
Likes
969
Location
Chicago, IL
TLDR:
Has anyone compared the Reference 1 to LS50 Meta with subs? Also, does any one have any info on upcoming KEF releases? Particularly new Reference line or ‘LS60’?

I think the Reference Ones are an amazing overall speaker but I was in a magnolia recently that had the LS50 Meta and Reference One available to switch back and forth and as good as the Reference One are, I kept thinking that I couldn't justify the price difference with how good the LS50 sounded. Add a few subs and cross the Meta over around 100-120Hz and I'm pretty sure you'd have a system that beats the Reference Ones at less than half the overall cost.
 

BoredErica

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
529
Likes
702
Location
USA
Perhaps Ref 1s can get louder than Metas. That's an advantage for people who need it. As far as I'm concerned you should be getting subs no matter which speaker you choose.
 

alex-z

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Messages
427
Likes
700
Location
Canada
Neither, get the R3's with subwoofers.

LS50 Meta are great speakers but cannot play nearly as loud. Even if you cross at 100Hz, your mid-bass output is limited by the 5.25" woofer.

I would skip KEF subwoofers and go for something high performance like a pair of HSU VTF-3 MK5.
 

phoenixdogfan

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
2,140
Likes
2,416
Location
Nashville
I have never heard the Ref 1's which is one reason why I keep putting it on lists of speakers I want either Amir or Erin to review next, but I do have to ask exactly what the extra cost will buy anyone who opts for it over say an LS50 Meta. Given the widespread availability of Eq, DSP and Subs, the question becomes even more pertinent.

Based on everything I've been able to glean, the biggest thing is more dynamic range with less IMD in the mid bass as well as sheer loudness capability. Everyone has to judge for themselves how much import they would attach to that trade off.

I do know, however that it should be possible to put together a two channel system with the Metas, miniDSP Flex Preamp/Processor/Xover/4 ch Dac with Dirac Live, VTV Purifi Eigentact Amp, and two SVS SB 2000 Pro subs for a little over $5000. That's $3000 less than the price of the Reference 1's.
 
Last edited:

jonfitch

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
374
Likes
415
The Reference series are more laid back than the LS50 or the R series, with a couple db more treble roll off.
 

bo_knows

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
467
Likes
444
Location
Dallas, Texas USA

Attachments

  • R500 vs Ref3 FR.jpg
    R500 vs Ref3 FR.jpg
    226.6 KB · Views: 361

Martist

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
38
Likes
44
I have had the reference 1 and all the r series..

The reference 1 is a very smooth sounding speaker. Sometimes to smooth for me.
The low end is better then the low end in the r serie.

I found that the r3 with subs is a nicer combo. I think the reference are not worth the price premium. Maybe 7 years ago.

I guess because of the newer uni q driver in the r serie.

I never listened to the the ls50 meta. If they are comparable to the r3, save your money. Buy two subs and the cheaper speakers.
 
Last edited:

bo_knows

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
467
Likes
444
Location
Dallas, Texas USA
You do realize the listening window is not the same thing as the power response, right?
Well, I had to get educated in a hurry but yes, I think I grasp the concept.
I assume when you say power response you mean "sound power". Correct?
Meaning, LS50 and R series sound power curve is less tilted than the Ref series. Is that what you are implying?
 

bo_knows

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
467
Likes
444
Location
Dallas, Texas USA
The Reference series are more laid back than the LS50 or the R series, with a couple db more treble roll off.
I stand corrected and agree that Reference 3 is smoother sounding (I guess less bright) than my R500.
On-axis anechoic measurements don't show a downslope in the highest frequencies (not that I can see) but my right ear is less irritable and fatigued when listening to Ref 3 vs R500.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_6031.JPG
    IMG_6031.JPG
    175.6 KB · Views: 276

alitomr1979

Active Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
123
Likes
68
I stand corrected and agree that Reference 3 is smoother sounding (I guess less bright) than my R500.
On-axis anechoic measurements don't show a downslope in the highest frequencies (not that I can see) but my right ear is less irritable and fatigued when listening to Ref 3 vs R500.

Maybe is not the ears but your brain? I am talking about psychoacoustics. Those FR graphs look very similar, with a notable difference being the extra output in mid bass on the Reference. Maybe the extra energy there makes you perceive less treble??
 

Descartes

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 27, 2020
Messages
797
Likes
376
KEF made preliminary announcements about their 60 year anniversary in 2021 and yet they didn’t release anythingat least at 50 years they released the LS50!

Just some playlists:

The Reference Series was launched in 2014 making them 8 years old and they need an update!
 
OP
S

Sgidora

Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
11
Likes
11
KEF made preliminary announcements about their 60 year anniversary in 2021 and yet they didn’t release anythingat least at 50 years they released the LS50!

Just some playlists:

The Reference Series was launched in 2014 making them 8 years old and they need an update!
I'm still keeping my fingers crossed!
 

bo_knows

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
467
Likes
444
Location
Dallas, Texas USA
KEF made preliminary announcements about their 60 year anniversary in 2021 and yet they didn’t release anythingat least at 50 years they released the LS50!

Just some playlists:

The Reference Series was launched in 2014 making them 8 years old and they need an update!
What kind of update do you think they need? I would think if they change the shape of the speaker, it would be able to image a bit better but then it would morph into a blade. It will be interesting to see how much more they can squeeze out of the passive design and how much audible this would be. It's definitively an uphill battle for KEF engineers at this point.
 
Last edited:

bo_knows

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
467
Likes
444
Location
Dallas, Texas USA
Maybe is not the ears but your brain? I am talking about psychoacoustics. Those FR graphs look very similar, with a notable difference being the extra output in mid bass on the Reference. Maybe the extra energy there makes you perceive less treble??
It's definitively my right ear that gives me grief and it's been like this for the past 30 plus years. I understand what you are trying to say and yes, I can tell reference speakers have more mid/upper bass energy than my R500 with the subwoofer (at least in my room). I would think ear and brain work together so I either hear or don' hear those high frequencies. In my case, I would like to believe that my hearing is good up to 15khz maybe a little more. The problem that I'm finding with the Reference speakers is that I keep turning the volume up and then I realize that I'm listening too loud. As for why reference speakers sound smoother than my R500, well there's a lot of different factors that come to play and I'm not really sure which ones make the biggest difference. First of all, new speakers are not in the same position as the old ones, tweeter height on ref is at 34 inches vs 32 inches on R. According to KEF, the reference series Uni-Q driver has really low distortion. Different cabinet design and bracing and etc.
Then there's more bass (what you mentioned). All these things combined, result in sound that is more realistic, accurate, and detailed. Reference is just in a different league and the price reflects it.
 

bo_knows

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
467
Likes
444
Location
Dallas, Texas USA
Am I a thread killer? LOL. Sorry, didn't mean to derail the thread. Please continue, I really enjoy reading all the member's comments.
 
Top Bottom