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Kef Reference 1 vs LS50M w subs

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Sgidora

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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.
No it’s good! I’m happy to hear any and all thoughts related to the topics at hand. Honestly I just wish I could go and hear the LS50 meta and R3 and Reference 1 all in one place.
I’m in Montreal/Toronto though and I don’t know of any places to demo, sucks that there aren’t more shops that carry the whole Kef line.

That’s why I was (am) hoping some folks who’d heard them could!
 

pablolie

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Many things to chat about in the original message.

IMO a lot will depend on your environment as to whether you will hear a difference.

With the LS50, IMO you will always need a sub and a setup that allows you to keep stuff under 70Hz or so away from the LS50 mains unless you use them as near field monitors. Mine are 6ft apart and I am about 7ft with them, and in my room like that they are perfectly room filling.

If I sat farther away from my system and the speakers were more apart, I think the Reference 1 would definitely give me a more cohesive presentation (and a pretty phenomenal one at that).

Whether or not you need a sub with the Reference 1 or not, again, IMO will depend on room conditions and how much you enjoy FX style bass.

As to "waiting for the Meta material"... well, wait and see. There are different theories possible there...

(a) They'll never do it because there's zero benefit to it in the higher end products. Maybe, just maybe, the Meta stuff is just clever marketing to drive an upgrade cycle for a product with a very large installed base.

(b) Also, the price of the LS50 makes the market more "upgrade friendly". OTOH, tell someone that just dropped $8k or more that you produced something much improved by adding $2 of plastic material behind the coax driver after 3 years, and they'll be "you a##, why not do it to begin with" and may consider other market alternatives to express their disapproval when and if they make changes. Hence KEF may stay away from hype with their high end products, I see no V.2s there yet with anything they've announced for like forever, like the Blades.

What matters most is that, properly set up and ideally dialed in for the environment, all these solutions provide phenomenal results. It's a great time to be an audiophile.
 
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pablolie

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Take a look at my Canadian dealer's list. It might help.
Also, check out some local audio meetings. I am in a local group that at first just got together to chat meeting in a wine store once a month, over time we started to go around listening to the different systems. Through such groups, eventually everybody knows somebody that may offer a chance to listen to equipment in their environment.
 

Rix403

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As I moved from the Kef R3 to the Reference 1, I can share that I was a bit disappointed. The Reference 1 clearly has better tonality and instruments sounds as they should. In some songs, I'm realizing foot taps or other features more clearly than the R3, which rendered those sounds as almost simple 'bumps'.

That said, the R3 comes off as having noticeably better detail and an elevated mid-bass that lends to it's rich/ambient/relaxed sound relative to the Reference 1. I was disappointed that the two seem similar in macro-dynamics, the same with image/soundstage, and (again) the R3 keeps seeming to provide greater detail and I wonder if this is because it's a much newer generation of the Uni-q system. The Reference 1 simply sounds more linear and a touch smoother.

I have put my R3s away to see if there's a 'brain' burn-in with sound and after a few months I'll go back to them to see how they perceive to sound versus the Ref1. I will say at this time, however, the Reference 1 is the second most disappointing purchase I've made in Audio. The Qutest being the worst and the R3 actually being my most delightful. But, a lot of that may just be how my supporting equipment and room set-up plays with the R3. I do not agree right now that the Reference line is in a different league. It's just different. I do not believe the price is justified at all.

Keep in mind that if you manage to hear all the speakers next to one another somewhere that the room and supporting hardware can be the key ingredients to what you're enjoying in that moment. Look up their amplifiers to see how they voice, pay attention to the room's size, materials, and speaker placement.
 

pablolie

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I think it's one of the big issues when subjectively comparing stuff... the inevitable diminishing returns result in comparison fatigue. I went through it when I struggled between picking the NAD M22 or the Benchmark AHB.

I also did when deciding whether to keep a $8k bookshelf or a cheaper one that I liked a lot.

It's easy to obsess over minute and sometimes irrelevant differences in an era where diminishing returns hit very rapidly.

I love the KEF Ref 1 but they are basically tower alternatives in a bookshelf format, with the setup challenges of towers...

Different tools for different needs. The bigger speaker often it not the best speaker in certain environments...
 

MarkWinston

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Many things to chat about in the original message.

IMO a lot will depend on your environment as to whether you will hear a difference.

With the LS50, IMO you will always need a sub and a setup that allows you to keep stuff under 70Hz or so away from the LS50 mains unless you use them as near field monitors. Mine are 6ft apart and I am about 7ft with them, and in my room like that they are perfectly room filling.

If I sat farther away from my system and the speakers were more apart, I think the Reference 1 would definitely give me a more cohesive presentation (and a pretty phenomenal one at that).

Whether or not you need a sub with the Reference 1 or not, again, IMO will depend on room conditions and how much you enjoy FX style bass.

As to "waiting for the Meta material"... well, wait and see. There are different theories possible there...

(a) They'll never do it because there's zero benefit to it in the higher end products. Maybe, just maybe, the Meta stuff is just clever marketing to drive an upgrade cycle for a product with a very large installed base.

(b) Also, the price of the LS50 makes the market more "upgrade friendly". OTOH, tell someone that just dropped $8k or more that you produced something much improved by adding $2 of plastic material behind the coax driver after 3 years, and they'll be "you a##, why not do it to begin with" and may consider other market alternatives to express their disapproval when and if they make changes. Hence KEF may stay away from hype with their high end products, I see no V.2s there yet with anything they've announced for like forever, like the Blades.

What matters most is that, properly set up and ideally dialed in for the environment, all these solutions provide phenomenal results. It's a great time to be an audiophile.

I dont think people want the Meta material they stuck behind the tweeter, rather people want the Meta tuning or voicing that makes it sound so good. Clearly the difference between the OG LS50's and the Meta's FR is not caused by that material. Subjectively, the Meta is one of the best sounding speakers Ive heard, topping the R series easily in my books. It has its limitations but the Metas are magical.
 
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Sgidora

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All of this is pointing me (gently) towards LS50 Meta’s and combining them with a sub (or two). I’m not sure where exactly I’ll be living next year but it’ll likely be an apartment with not a huge amount of space. Besides the size/space matching, I’m starting to get the feeling that at least until KEF announces new products or updates their top lines, the value proposition (even if you take into consideration the always present diminishing returns) just isn’t there for the Reference series compared to the other products in their lineup right now.

Now to be patient, as this purchase won’t be until May probably anyway… easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re excited haha
 

BrokenEnglishGuy

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As I moved from the Kef R3 to the Reference 1, I can share that I was a bit disappointed. The Reference 1 clearly has better tonality and instruments sounds as they should. In some songs, I'm realizing foot taps or other features more clearly than the R3, which rendered those sounds as almost simple 'bumps'.

That said, the R3 comes off as having noticeably better detail and an elevated mid-bass that lends to it's rich/ambient/relaxed sound relative to the Reference 1. I was disappointed that the two seem similar in macro-dynamics, the same with image/soundstage, and (again) the R3 keeps seeming to provide greater detail and I wonder if this is because it's a much newer generation of the Uni-q system. The Reference 1 simply sounds more linear and a touch smoother.

I have put my R3s away to see if there's a 'brain' burn-in with sound and after a few months I'll go back to them to see how they perceive to sound versus the Ref1. I will say at this time, however, the Reference 1 is the second most disappointing purchase I've made in Audio. The Qutest being the worst and the R3 actually being my most delightful. But, a lot of that may just be how my supporting equipment and room set-up plays with the R3. I do not agree right now that the Reference line is in a different league. It's just different. I do not believe the price is justified at all.

Keep in mind that if you manage to hear all the speakers next to one another somewhere that the room and supporting hardware can be the key ingredients to what you're enjoying in that moment. Look up their amplifiers to see how they voice, pay attention to the room's size, materials, and speaker placement.
Apparently (??) the Reference1 are even smoothness than the R series, a guy here was a bit dissapointed because he doesn't wanted even more smoothness..he wanted a brighter FR.


But anyway if you want a foward presentation, more perception of details and clarity just play with the FR

Keep in mind a warmer or smooth presentation cannot be equally clean and detailed as a neutral or bright FR.. It's also a matter of choice.


descriptors2.png


For example if you really like the Reference 1 FR when you listen the LS50 M you are going to be strongly dissapointed. It's also a matter of preference.. but if you know how to use the EQ, you can do a lot of things for change the FR.


Most musician's and bla bla, can hear all the detail and instruments and etc, only using the typical 249 bookshelves monitors..
 

jonfitch

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As I moved from the Kef R3 to the Reference 1, I can share that I was a bit disappointed. The Reference 1 clearly has better tonality and instruments sounds as they should. In some songs, I'm realizing foot taps or other features more clearly than the R3, which rendered those sounds as almost simple 'bumps'.

That said, the R3 comes off as having noticeably better detail and an elevated mid-bass that lends to it's rich/ambient/relaxed sound relative to the Reference 1. I was disappointed that the two seem similar in macro-dynamics, the same with image/soundstage, and (again) the R3 keeps seeming to provide greater detail and I wonder if this is because it's a much newer generation of the Uni-q system. The Reference 1 simply sounds more linear and a touch smoother.

I have put my R3s away to see if there's a 'brain' burn-in with sound and after a few months I'll go back to them to see how they perceive to sound versus the Ref1. I will say at this time, however, the Reference 1 is the second most disappointing purchase I've made in Audio. The Qutest being the worst and the R3 actually being my most delightful. But, a lot of that may just be how my supporting equipment and room set-up plays with the R3. I do not agree right now that the Reference line is in a different league. It's just different. I do not believe the price is justified at all.

Keep in mind that if you manage to hear all the speakers next to one another somewhere that the room and supporting hardware can be the key ingredients to what you're enjoying in that moment. Look up their amplifiers to see how they voice, pay attention to the room's size, materials, and speaker placement.

I've had both, the FR is pretty similar between the two speakers. I'll try to dig up my old Dirac measurements but as far as I recall the only difference was the Reference 1 has about ~7hz more bass extension and is a bit rolled off in the top end by 1-2 db around 8-10k compared to Kef R3. Otherwise they basically perform nearly identically. The Reference speakers sound signature has less air than the R series because of the slight roll-off on the top end.
 

Rix403

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Apparently (??) the Reference1 are even smoothness than the R series, a guy here was a bit dissapointed because he doesn't wanted even more smoothness..he wanted a brighter FR.


But anyway if you want a foward presentation, more perception of details and clarity just play with the FR

Keep in mind a warmer or smooth presentation cannot be equally clean and detailed as a neutral or bright FR.. It's also a matter of choice.


descriptors2.png


For example if you really like the Reference 1 FR when you listen the LS50 M you are going to be strongly dissapointed. It's also a matter of preference.. but if you know how to use the EQ, you can do a lot of things for change the FR.


Most musician's and bla bla, can hear all the detail and instruments and etc, only using the typical 249 bookshelves monitors..

I appreciate this explanation. I’m no expert, and that’s why I was making sure to emphasize it’s just my perspective.

I’d like to ask why a speaker would come to cost more money if the only real differentiator seems to be FR between the Ref1 and R3 - for example, if I could equalize the sound on the Ref 1 to sound like the R3, would the Ref 1 theoretically perform noticeably better?

Is there an equalizer anyone would suggest if I’m running Apple Music? I would like to play with this a bit.

Best,
 

BrokenEnglishGuy

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I appreciate this explanation. I’m no expert, and that’s why I was making sure to emphasize it’s just my perspective.

I’d like to ask why a speaker would come to cost more money if the only real differentiator seems to be FR between the Ref1 and R3 - for example, if I could equalize the sound on the Ref 1 to sound like the R3, would the Ref 1 theoretically perform noticeably better?

Is there an equalizer anyone would suggest if I’m running Apple Music? I would like to play with this a bit.

Best,
The woofer from references series are better, also the cabinet and finish

There is many differences between both but i'm not qualify enough to explain, but the R3 is a good speaker for the money, a low distortion with good directivity with kind of nice FR, it's rare to found under 2000 USD.



But you can tune the R3 or REF1 at your taste, also because both are coaxial it's pretty easy to play with the Eq



Personally i really like the highs from my R7s
 

Daka

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FYI Reference series now refreshed with Uniq 12 design and meta material - hence matching the latest tech from LS50 Meta - price roughly 1k higher as well.
 
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Sgidora

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FYI Reference series now refreshed with Uniq 12 design and meta material - hence matching the latest tech from LS50 Meta - price roughly 1k higher as well.
At the current prices, and from what I’ve heard people say, I’m not sure I could see justifying the price of the Reference One Meta over the LS50 Meta + dual KC62 subs.
 

Descartes

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At the current prices, and from what I’ve heard people say, I’m not sure I could see justifying the price of the Reference One Meta over the LS50 Meta + dual KC62 subs.
I could not agree more with you! It becomes the law of diminishing returns.
 

Daka

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At the current prices, and from what I’ve heard people say, I’m not sure I could see justifying the price of the Reference One Meta over the LS50 Meta + dual KC62 subs.
Very true - would be interesting for someone to AB compare.
It’s puzzling with KEF they have one of the best speakers for money (R3 or LS50) at the same time their reference line is not much different still pretty much same technology just more premium finish for 6-7 times the price. And some people still dig it. For me it doesn’t have that premium presence enough nor sound difference to justify that cost. There better options for the money.
 
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roryoconnor

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The Reference are handmade in the UK, whereas the R series, LS50 etc are made in China. They also look high end with a high quality cabinet and premium finish. Nice if you have a premium room to match :)

The LS50w with Kube subs and an outboard streamer & DAC have given me a fantastic sound in a 12 m2 room. Cant imagine it would get much better without spending a lot more cash. It absolutely is a great time to be a HiFi enthusiast. So much value at this price-point.
 

Daka

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The Reference are handmade in the UK, whereas the R series, LS50 etc are made in China. They also look high end with a high quality cabinet and premium finish. Nice if you have a premium room to match :)

The LS50w with Kube subs and an outboard streamer & DAC have given me a fantastic sound in a 12 m2 room. Cant imagine it would get much better without spending a lot more cash. It absolutely is a great time to be a HiFi enthusiast. So much value at this price-point.
They shouldn’t be selling reference for more than 3 x price of Rs in my opinion. Still diminishing value but more people would consider paying triple for 10% sound difference and slightly more premium build. Talking about premium build Hand made or not - from outside they look very similar to R except for silver one with aluminum plate in front. 6-7x Rs price that’s a fanboy pricing - only those will spend that and be happy about it.
Also you need to mind if you like to change speakers frequently you will lose close to 50% on them - there isn’t much people willing to pay even that for them used.
 

roryoconnor

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They shouldn’t be selling reference for more than 3 x price of Rs in my opinion. Still diminishing value but more people would consider paying triple for 10% sound difference and slightly more premium build. Talking about premium build Hand made or not - from outside they look very similar to R except for silver one with aluminum plate in front. 6-7x Rs price that’s a fanboy pricing - only those will spend that and be happy about it.
Also you need to mind if you like to change speakers frequently you will lose close to 50% on them - there isn’t much people willing to pay even that for them used.
I guess so. But isn't that one of the elements of a premium product... hand crafted with a personal touch. Like a HiFi white glove/ silver service - worth a premium price for some people, even if the sound quality is only slightly better. Perhaps this aspect is lost on a second hand purchase, which is reflected in the second hand price.

The difference between the R3 and Ref1 could be wider, depending on the amplifier. No point in an A/B test if the amplifier is only good enough for the R3s. Darko did a comparison of the Ref 1 with the Kii Three's using a Hegel H390, which resulted in a tie, subject to personal preference on overall presentation.

With their Muon speakers ( also handmade in the factory ), they will fly an engineer out to install and configure them anywhere in the world. I'm sure thats worth something to some folk ( I'd happily take a price reduction instead though )

.
 
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