20 November, 2012

Preview: KEF LS50

The KEF stereo pair is likely more perfectly matched than the duo on the TV screen. :-) Yamaha NS-1000 to the L wall, used in against-the-wall assessment below.
Preview: KEF LS50, Part I

KEF LS50, Part I, Part II, Part III

Official KEF LS50 Info

KEF Makes Wave 
KEF seems to be on a roll. After the sensational Muon and Blade, KEF introduced the LS50 to mark its 50th anniversary. The look is as bold as its bigger brothers. For my taste, it is dashingly beautiful; just look at the sensuous waveguide!

I previously wrote about my my KEF Overview and Audition of KEF Blade and LS50 at the Dealer. A bit later, I ordered a pair but had to wait 2 months for the new shipment and allocation. It must be one of the few successful new bookshelves!

The LS50 received rave reviews everywhere. The most comprehensive is HiFi News, and there are many others in various languages available at the official site linked above (here is just one, in English from What HiFi). Soon after it won the yearly European EISA Award (for what it's worth).

Quick Preview
For a quick setup, I installed it in my "Go-To" System (description here). The KEF LS50 replaced the Pioneer SP-21BR-LR.

The Go-To System (Gulag 1/Island B), for Quick Sessions of Radio and CD Replay:

Integrated Amp: Musical Fidelity A-1S
Tuner: (tentative) NAD 4020A

Fresh out of the box, the LS50 trumped the humble Pioneer in sound. The Pioneer does nothing wrong, but that does not close the gap between it and the LS50, which does everything right! Hey, it better be, as the KEF is much more expensive (though still a bargain). Some observations:
  • The sound is direct, open and uncongested. One expects nothing less from a co-axial "point-source" driver. This is a serious rival to the Tannoy Autograph Mini (and I suspect it is quite a bit more potent).
  • The sound is lively, with excellent PRaT. (the Pioneer is a little weak here). Transients are fast, and the leading edge is well conveyed (unlike some older/classic co-axials).
  • Although highly revealing and neutral, the sound is highly textured and has a sheen, which renders violin replay heavenly. I ran through several Bach violin concerti by the likes of Oistrakh, Szeryng and Menhuin, and it was sublime!
  • The solid enclosure is happily rather immune to the environment. Whereas the light-weight Pioneer suffered from colorations introduced by the platform on which it was placed, the LS50 did not, at least not at the admittedly lower volume that I use. Rest assured that I shall test these with proper stands (my Foundation), but that's for later.
When these are run-in, I shall install them in Reference System B to have a go at the TAD TSM-2201. I suspect it shall be a tough fight - that is how good the LS50 is!


  1. HI Dr. How far along is the shootout between the KEF LS50 and other gems in your collection? I am in processing of contemplating a pair for myself to replace my old but trusty Focal JMLab Cobalt 806s, and would love to hear more from you. Cheers,


  2. Sorry I haven't done much comparison, but I have recently moved the LS50 into my DESKTOP, sacrilege! I must say it blew away everything (including my LS3/5A) there!