KEF LS-50

MJ18.12.2012

Stand mount monitors

KEF presents the LS-50 as an ultimate studio monitor. Well, there is a lot of passive studio speakers that are at least as good as the LS-50, a dozen of those that are better than it, and a handful of those that let the LS-50 eat the dust. The problem is that none of the latter are that cheap. Therefore I would reformulate the KEF's claim to the ultimate affordable studio monitor.

Function and form

92%
Ease of use
40%
Sound
86%
Appearance

The convex front panel, that is made of injected polymer, hosts the patented Uni-Q driver. The reviewed pair was in glossy black with a copper-finished driver, but KEF offers many more exciting colour ccombinations.

Inside the LS-50 there are two perpendicular braces (alike B&W's matrix technology) that are damped by a viscoelastic spacers in the contact points with the cabinet. The reflex port is unusually eliptical and made of frequency-tuned rubber, which should help suppress airflow resonances.

The Uni-Q driver is derived from the KEF's Blade flagship. The central 1" aluminum dome has - according to KEF - the break up mode at 48kHz, far away from audible range. The visually striking turbine design is actually a waveguide that also makes the dome stiffer. From 2.2kHz the midrange cone starts to operate. It is made of magnesium-aluminum alloy.

Bass management

Weight
30
Slam
36
Articulation
32

The pair of small KEFs does not have a lot of bass on its own, so a subwoofer (or two) should be obligatory for serious listening. With the subwoofer (I used Bowers & Wilkins and KEF subs) the sound was exemplary flat and balanced.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
62
Air
60
Transparency
60

In hybrid reccordings, the LS-50 correctly sorted out human element (hovering female vocal) from synthesized sounds (the rest). This is because it illuminates the reverberation that was picked up by microphones during the vocal recording and let you hear the pitch black background of electronic instruments that were recorded from their digital outputs. The KEFs also readily resolve the case when reverb is added by a console and this was the thing I liked the most - these monitors should let you hear the music from an audio engineer's perspective, and they do.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
46
Dynamics
59
Temporal resolution
52

The LS-50s need proper burn-in. Without that they sound constricted and flat. Once given few dozens of hours in use, they became relaxed and sweet. I loved how sensitive were the KEFs to subtle dynamic shifts. With Mighty Sam McClain I could hear fine shadings of the Hammond organ and guitar dialogue, always liquid and soulful, like with the best turntables. And the more hours I spend with the LS-50s the more resolved they got. 

For some ears the LS-50s' sound may be too dry as the speakers are voiced neutrally. The die-hard audiophiles will miss more pixels in sound, the lovers of colours may find the LS-50s too laid back. Formy ears they were accurate, honest and not showing off.

Spatial resolution

Holography
47
Soundstage width
50
Soundstage depth
50

The concentric Uni-Q driver is an amazing thing if you look for sound coherence. If yu pay attention to proper matching and the placement of the speakers in your room, then they will reward you with a three-dimensional illusion and disappear. Especially at night sessions, when everything went quiet, I often (with my eyes closed) tried to localize the KEFs in my room, without success. The filled the room with music and let it communicate.

Price as reviewed:27 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Perfect Sound Group, Praha, tel. +420 722 960 690

Associated components

  • Sources: Accuphase DP-78
  • Amplifiers: Accuphase A-60
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Krautwire Fractal, HGA DNA, Krautwire Guru S
  • Subwoofers: 2x Bowers & Wilkins ASW610, KEF Q400b
  • Power conditioning: Nordost Thor (modified)

Gallery

AQ Passion Orca

The Passion Orca is an improved version of the Acoustique Quality’s flagship stand-mounted speaker. Alike any other top model the Orca received meticulous attention to detail with only one exception: it was not designed as a ...

Recommended resellers

AQ s.r.o., Červenka, tel. +420 585 342 232

Sound
84%

ATOHM GT 1.0

These Atohm monitors are like a magnifying glass that lets the listener look deep into music. Despite their size they provide explosive dynamics against clear and quiet backdrop - not unlike premium headphones that let you hear a ...

Recommended resellers

Nisel SK, Bratislava, tel. +421 905 203 078

Sound
59%

AURUM CANTUS Leisure 3SE MkII

The craftsmanship is immaculate - the glossy finish is spotless and seamless, this Aurum Cantus monitor is like a supersmooth monolith. There are several layers of hand-polished lacquer on the cabinet that is assembled from extremely ...

Recommended resellers

Hifi studio MeLissa, Brno, tel. +420 777 04 1313

Sound
52%

BOWERS & WILKINS 805 Diamond

Unlike the previous generations of B&W’s the new Diamonds are real diamonds. Within its price range they rank amongst the best available loudspeakers and in certain aspects (airy detail, excellent soundstaging, responsiveness and ...

Recommended resellers

Eurostar Ostrava, Dobřejovice u Prahy, tel. + 420 323 606 877

Jasyko, Brno, 541 210 108

Profimedia, Opava, 553 759 017

Sound
75%

BOWERS & WILKINS PM1

The PM stands for "Prestige Monitor". Bowers & Wilkins ventured into Bugati and Bentley's world with the timeless and luxurious design, sleek aerodynamic curves and premium technologies. It has been long since I had such a exquisite ...

Recommended resellers

Eurostar Ostrava, Dobřejovice u Prahy, tel. + 420 323 606 877

Jasyko, Brno, 541 210 108

Sound
57%

DALI Katch

The Dali Katch is a piece of beauty. The reviewed Cloud Gray unit with its smoky pink-beige finish was an ultimate eye-catcher for any female visitors. VThe visual appeal of a luxury handbag easily overcomes any objections of your ...

Recommended resellers

CZ: Horn Distribution, Praha, +420 272 656 485

Sound
12%

DEFINITIVE TECHNOLOGY Demand D9

The size of the D9 does not allow to pair the dynamic abilities of these small monitors with a sense of scale and weight, yet they can play impressively loud without any stress. And you bet I played them loud. Add crystalline highs ...

Recommended resellers

CZ: Horn Distribution, Praha, +420 272 656 485

Sound
47%
Back to category