Official Kef LS50 owners thread

Discussion in 'New Gear - Values' started by canuckaudiog, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Now we're talking! Buying the UMIK-1 has been one of the best purchases I've ever made. Figuring out where the problems are in my room has been invaluable in figuring out what to do. When you get it let me know, I'll throw you some resources your way that you can use to start using it right away. It's a very handy tool to have.

    I imagine what you're going to discover is you will have a valley somewhere in your frequency response. i.e., the room mode. For me it's about 55Hz (then 110Hz, and so on and so forth), for you it'll likely be somewhere around there, depending on the size of your room. Mine is 13'x16'x7.3'.

    So far, I've been able to learn two major things with it. One is obviously the bass response in my room. The other is I learned the importance of getting the speakers exactly the same distance from each other and the walls. The treble response would go from having a severe, 6dB dip at around 10-15kHz, to being ruler flat. And the sound reflected that as well - everything sounded much clearer and defined once I broke out the tape measure and got the speakers to be within a percentage of each other.

    If you have any questions about it just let me know, I'll be happy to help. I look forward to seeing the frequency response plot of your system.
     

     

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  2. bleu

    bleu New Member

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    @canuckaudiog nice score! I’m jealous yet glad for you. If your LS50Ws are titanium or black, I suspect you won’t wait long.

    Enjoying Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’ right now. :beerchug:
     
  3. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    I ordered the titanium, so they shouldn't take too long. I really wanted to get the white LS50s originally, since my space is beige with earth tones, but I loved the way the titanium KEFs looked and while grey and red is a bit odd with beige, it seems to work. I guess it just works out that those stands are not backordered.

    Once I get them in I'll share my impressions and snap some pictures so you can have look. If you want to know anything specific just ask :)
     
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  4. bleu

    bleu New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    If mine stay backordered too much longer, maybe I'll fuss a bit and see if I can get a discount. Kef Direct did charge my Paypal account right away, after all.

    I started a Tidal HiFi trial to take another crack at lossless, and I wouldn't say there's no chance I'm just psyching myself out, but I think I can hear a moderate improvement with some material when I A/B with Spotify. Just a little more depth and clarity. However, since Tidal is embedded in the LS50 app, I'm also beginning to realize why people hate the latter so much. The Spotify UI, at least compared to embedded Tidal, is far better. Also, I'm not sure of this yet, but I think that the LS50 app might keep some processes running in iOS after using it, even when nothing appears to be playing. I say this because I've had a couple odd battery drain instances on both my iPhone and iPad in the last day or two. It's a bit of a quandary; do I want lossless or do I want bug-free operation? What I think I'd really like is lossless Spotify for $15/mo.:idea:
     
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  5. neevo

    neevo Super Member

    Messages:
    1,333
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I think we’re the same person! DSP’s and Titanium LS50’s :D
     
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  6. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Interesting! That's too bad the UI is so buggy. That seems to be a common comment regarding the app. Thankfully the software end of things can be updated but yes, I would agree that Tidal sounds better than Spotify. I've tried the three major streaming services, Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music, and in order of sound quality I would say it goes Spotify, Tidal and then Apple Music. All three have their pluses and minuses.. Apple Music being the best sounding with excellent playlists, but also having no integration with the LS50s or any remote capability. Tidal has a great interface (outside of the LS50 app), MQA files, good sound quality, but I find the worst music selection. Spotify has the remote capability and also a great interface with well curated playlists, and the best integration with the LS50s, but the worst sound quality. If they do come out with a lossless option, I will have to try it.

    However, it strongly depends on how they encode the files. Codecs are really important. Spotify, with their lossy files, uses Ogg Vorbis @ 320kbps. I believe Tidal is using WAV files compressed into FLAC. Apple Music uses their own codec @ 256kbps. There's a reason MP3s do not sound very good and it is because of the encoding process. So, if Spotify offers a lossless solution and does a great job with the encoding, it might end up being the best of the three. I sure hope so since I would love to have that interface back.

    But, putting that aside, one solution I've heard is using Roon. Though, that's a very expensive solution. It does give you everything you want, including connectivity with the LS50s and Tidal, and an awesome remote app with a fantastic interface. Honestly if I didn't like the way Apple Music sounded so much over Tidal, I would seriously consider the $120/year to use it. It is very good from what I've read and seen.

    Hah how about that :) You are sure in for a treat when you get your system EQ'd. It's going to blow you away. I guarantee it!
     
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  7. bleu

    bleu New Member

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    Very interesting stuff about codecs and your take on those streaming services, and your take on Apple Music is interesting. I know virtually nothing about SQ variability among codecs. I haven't streamed Apple Music much, though I have bought music on iTunes. I'm a big Apple device user and could see streaming from a watch at some point so it would be nice if it was integrated with the LS50W. Alas, the fact it is not pretty much takes that platform out of consideration for now. I started a Roon trial today and after a couple hours getting familiar, I'd say it is pretty great. It introduces a way of streaming my library without using (Apple) TV. It also looks like it can play a single source to my living room and studio simultaneously, which is a capability I've yet to enjoy. So far so good with Tidal, too. Tempting but yes it is expensive and I'd be tempted to get the lifetime membership, because it could save a lot of money in the long run. But then, what if something better comes along after two years? Also...I'm getting bit of a turntable bug. Ouch. I guess I'll just keep using Roon for two weeks and see how attached I get.
     
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  8. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    I think I might have to give Roon a try myself. Though, I'd want to use it for Tidal, but eh, why not? It might be worth going back to Tidal for, since I can get the Hifi quality for half price thanks to me being a student. I really miss having a nice interface and remote capability, which Roon would solve.

    Oh and, my stands have arrived - I'll be picking them up tonight.
     
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  9. bleu

    bleu New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Still no news on my stands. :thumbsdown:

    I'm leaning towards sticking with Roon; I think it's my best option overall and it is pricey but probably worth it: essentially for $30/mo I get a huge selection of music tied in pretty seamlessly with my own digital library. In 1986, I got my first CD player and a single cd cost around $18 IIRC. We've got it pretty good these days.

    Roon makes Tidal so much more usable with the LS50W and it makes my own collection much easier to play: hitherto I've had to have both my TV and computer on and stream from my iMac, where my files are stored, to Apple TV. If you haven't noticed, I don't like having to turn my TV on to listen to music. ;) I don't have a huge collection but there are some favorites that aren't available to stream.

    The metadata definitely enhances the browsing/selection/discovery process, though one can also fairly point out that it's not exclusive content; you could just google it.

    I haven't figured out a way to sync my LS50Ws with my studio setup yet. Not a big deal but I hope it's possible.

    If Spotify had a lossless option it would be a tempting alternative. It is nice to be able to turn on the LS50s, grab my iPad, and start enjoying music. Roon requires that extra hardware component. So there's a trade off--a couple more steps to get going overall but fewer steps to access my personal library.

    Anyway, I probably will stick with Roon, at least for a bit (it's nice that you can get a partial year refund if you decide to quit it), but I probably won't spring for the lifetime membership. I'm not ready to bet on Roon being my best solution for 5+ years at this point.
     
  10. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Here's a quick shot of the LS50 on the performance stands. Looks awesome! I haven't hidden the wires because the wires are too short :-( I'll have to invest in a longer Ethernet cable. Once I lose the media stand and place the computer in-between I will be able to hide the rest of the wires though. For now this is okay.

    IMG_20180212_182734.jpg

    Edit: Wow, there is an immediate difference over what I was using (which admittedly were pretty cheap, low end stands). They sound less congested and colored in comparison to before. I haven't even filled them yet, though I don't know how much of a difference that will make (but I am willing to find out).

    Very nice. Me likey.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  11. bleu

    bleu New Member

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    Location:
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    Wow, they do look fantastic! Also glad to hear you got a real sound improvement out of them. Sure look forward to getting mine. I think the 9' cable is too short for most setups; I got a 15' for mine almost immediately.
     

     

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  12. bleu

    bleu New Member

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    Location:
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    Still not quite sure what to do re: Roon. It's fantastic software, but it's not as stable on my network as Spotify direct to the LS50W. My iOS remote loses connection with the core and the music stops maybe every couple hours on average. I think it's partly because I'm having ISP issues; I think it takes Roon longer to recover from an interrupted internet connection than Spotify. A technician is coming over tonight to address those and we'll see how much that helps.

    Even with Roon running 100% smoothly, I can make a devil's advocate argument against it: yes, the metadata is really great but maybe even to the point of distracting from the music a bit. There's something to be said for just closing your eyes, enjoying the music, and forgetting everything else. Everything Roon aggregates is accessible on the web. And Roon + Tidal HiFi is basically $30/mo. vs $10/mo for Spotify alone. Some will disagree with me, but to my ears, the audible difference in FLAC vs 320mbps mp3 is subtle at best and paying double for FLAC in sheer terms of performance is an overpay (relative to $10/mo for 320). At the same time, I'm pretty strongly against settling on a sub-CD technology standard for music distribution. In fact, I think we have the technology to economically gravitate towards a 24bit/192kHz standard where we basically maintain the resolution that most studios operate with in music production, and I strongly support that. So I remain willing to pay $20/mo for FLAC, though I think $15 would be more reasonable in relative terms--but you can easily argue that $10/mo for unlimited streaming is a massive underpay and that we all need a major attitude adjustment! If I ditch Roon, though, I will ditch Tidal and hope Spotify introduces a lossless tier soon. Tidal is just garbage outside of Roon in terms of its UI with the LS50W.

    What I am sure of, though, is that as someone who is really passionate about music, the LS50/LS50W is one of the best lifestyle upgrades I've ever made!
     
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  13. bleu

    bleu New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I got some wireless network interference and router frequency switching issues sorted out at my house and Roon is running much smoother. I'm keeping it! Now my only dilemma is that if I don't pay extra for Tidal's 'HiFi' tier, Roon will tell me that my signal path is 'low quality' even though I'm pretty convinced that FLAC vs. 320kbps makes no audible difference to me. First world problems indeed.

    Still waiting for those stands. I think I'll ping KEF Direct on that.:rant:
     
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  14. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Awesome, bleu! Having network problems is a bummer. Especially with a platform like Roon - it just has to work well to justify the cost.

    I'm definitely interested in your findings and it sounds like Roon and the LS50s is a pretty sweet combination. I'm currently struggling with interface problems myself, and that's because of my decision to stick with Apple Music. The problem is that Apple Music doesn't have any sort of remote capability, and I want to eliminate my monitor (or at least, be able to leave it off all the time). The best listening is with the lights off, and having the monitor off is a nuisance in that setting.

    I think I might just have to download Roon for a trial as well and give it a spin. Sounds like it just might be the ticket.
     
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  15. bleu

    bleu New Member

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    22
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Getting the TV screen out of the picture (pun intended) was important to me, too, and I'm not sure how you'd accomplish that with Apple Music and the LS50W. Well, okay; I can think of a couple ways. One would be a 3rd gen Apple TV with the toslink out. I also really like streaming direct from the LS50 too, though, and to do that you might be stuck with either Tidal or Spotify. I read up on codecs and better understand them now; I can see why AAC vs Mp3 or FLAC might be more important than sampling rate to some. But Tidal sounds fine to me and Roon wraps around it nicely. I'd definitely recommend trying it out since it's easy to set up and free for two weeks (or thirty day, really, with a bit of hassle to get refunded). My moment of truth came last night and despite some reservations such as Tidal's survival, I found myself clicking the 'lifetime membership' button. They just seem to be well ahead of anything similar so my gut feeling is that Roon will be a great product for some time and they'll deliver a viable streaming alternative somehow if Tidal folds. So I went all in.

    Looks like my stands will com in late March/early April. Quite a wait, but at least they gave me an ETA this time.
     
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  16. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    My dream is to have only the speakers, and all of the associated equipment completely hidden. That was one of the draws to the LS50W for me, is that possibility. I wish Apple Music made that easier but like you said it's challenging. I thought about the Apple TV as well, but I understand the way it streams is not exactly high quality. I think it acts as an Air Play hub for an iOS device, basically (which I don't have). The other option is a Sonos Connect, which will work, but then I realized that I have a parametric EQ for my subwoofers running in the background on my PC. To replace that would be a bit pricey and the options I looked into were less than ideal.

    Like you said though, if I were to ditch Apple Music and go with Tidal or Spotify, all of these problems would be solved. With no information on the horizon as to Apple Music developing a remote capable app or something like that, I'm seriously considering it. Roon would be icing on the cake because I know as a program it functions well, and your comments are confirming that. The only major drawback for me is the lack of curated playlists (which I think Roon would solve), and the music selection. But - Tidal does have a large collection. Large enough that I think I could be satisfied with it. The addition of MQA is nice too, though I am very happy with the way Apple Music sounds and when I trialed Tidal before, while MQA did sound great, it was not enough of a difference for me to continue with the service. Now that I am facing this interface problem though, it might be time to go to Tidal after all.

    Decisions, decisions!

    And hey - great news about your stands. An ETA is nice! You will be very happy with your stands. This weekend I tidied up my stereo space and also hid the wires into the stand. It looks a lot nicer than before, I'm quite happy I decided to get the stands for that reason alone. You can still see the wires on the floor but they are not hanging out anymore. I still have to find myself a longer ethernet cable though. Regardless they are a perfect fit for the speakers and are high quality.
     

     

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  17. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
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    @bleu Question for you re: Roon.

    How does it connect to the LS50s? Is it over the network? Reason I ask is if that's true, does that mean then, I could load Roon onto the computer in another room, and then over the network (and using the remote Roon app), connect my LS50s to it, and thus eliminate the need for a computer directly inside my listening space? I discovered that Roon has a built-in DSP that I can load Parametric EQ settings into, which would eliminate the need for Equalizer APO on the computer connected to the LS50s right now.
     
  18. neevo

    neevo Super Member

    Messages:
    1,333
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    @canuckaudiog i have the traditional non powered LS50’s and use both a Sonos Connect and miniDSP to stream music and run the PEQ as you know. It’s a brilliant system and allows for simple streaming as the Sonos app is so easy to use.
     
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  19. bleu

    bleu New Member

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    22
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Pretty much 'yes' to all. I'm running Roon core and hosting my library on an iMac that is in another room from the LS50Ws. Everything is wireless here and now that my setup's been optimized it's running very smooth and stable. I'm not using the DSP right now but I did play around with it a bit. Seems quite nice.
     
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  20. canuckaudiog

    canuckaudiog On a quest for high fidelity

    Messages:
    7,800
    Location:
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    How do you have your chain set-up if you don't mind me asking? And how was the process of getting the PEQ going in the miniDSP? Sounds like you're rocking!

    And, most importantly, how do you find your system now with the PEQ involved?

    Oh awesome. Okay. I think it's pretty well settled then, I'm going to give Roon a shot. I've already talked to my wife about it and she's on board. She likes the idea of being able to set-up multiple rooms with one music library, because she does like to listen to music in her office and in the bedroom, and with Roon that will be easily facilitated. For me, I can move my computer from my listening space into the living room, which achieves my goal of removing the computer and the monitor, and allows me to use the Roon app to select music to play on the LS50s. I think I'm going to have the coolest stereo I've ever owned!

    Awesome. I'm going to hopefully give this a try tonight. My wife has a Spotify subscription so I can use that for now, and I do have some music stored on that computer so I can see how that works.
     
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