New front speakers (KEF LS50 vs B&W CM1)? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 12-21-2013, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all!

I posted this originally to the B&W thread but as my options are now wider I decided to start a new thread.

I just started saving money for new speakers. Here is my current setup:

Wharfedale 10.2 (x2)
Wharfedale 10.CM
SVS SB12-NSD
Anti-Mode 8033Cinema
Denon X1000

I listen to jazz, latin music, r'n'b etc. 50/50 for music and video material. I live in an apartment so I don't normally keep my audio all that loud.

In the last 6 months I've upgraded my system to include the sub (which is perfect!), the new receiver with Audyssey MultEQ XT and ultimately the Anti-Mode for the sub. Now I'm thinking about upgrading the speakers and thought I could ask for guidance here as I'm not that good with different speakers. I like the current setup but sometimes I'm just yearning for something more. I would save money for 3-6 months, sell my Wharfedales and buy something with All That Money. I'm going to keep the sub, the anti-mode and hopefully the receiver, too.

I'm a student (but I also work) so my budget is not so big, let's say that ideally it would be 1200 euros for three speakers but I know that ultimately I'm likely going to spend about 200-300 more. The thing is that I really love having a center speaker! Especially with movies I'm constantly surprised at how great the soundstage is in my living room and I wouldn't like to give that up. I don't live alone so perfect positioning isn't an option. Also the current room is acoustically not that good and I will live in a moderately small or small apartment for the rest of my studies (at least 4 years).

So what are my best options? I have now narrowed it down to:

KEF LS50 (500 euros)
B&W CM1 (400 euros)

I'm always going to use the sub with both music and movies so everything below 80 hz is "useless" on the speakers. For now I'm just going to buy two speakers but in the future I will upgrade it again with a center speaker. The center speaker for B&W is 600 euros and a third LS50 is the same 500 euros so the total difference will be just 100 euros, which is not a very big amount in this category. Both are in the top limits of my budget and I will definately not go over that. I have spoken with a local dealer and they will have the LS50 up for listening in January and they recommended a sit-and-listen for me with both speakers. I will do that as soon as they get the speakers. I have to say that I love the look on the KEF LS50! I understand that many won't like it at all but for me it works really good.

Also, these speakers are in a totally different price range than my current speakers (175 euros vs 400 euros per speaker for the CM1) but what is your take/guess on the difference in sound quality between my current setup and either of these? Also, have I understood correctly that my Denon X1000 will be enough for this kind of speakers? I really wouldn't want to buy a new receiver if this will do the trick.

I will welcome other options and suggestions, but would also like to hear about the differences between these speakers. Of course I will have a subjective view on them after listening but it would help me deciding if I knew what other people think!

Thanks in advance smile.gif
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post #2 of 18 Old 12-21-2013, 09:40 AM
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You should audition for yourself of course, but you avr should be fine driving either of those speakers. Personally, I'd go with three ls50s for the LCR. Using the same speakers is ideal and will give you the most seamless front stage for panning effects, etc.. I've heard both speakers and liked the ls50 much better. There was a lack of treble and upper midrange to me on the CMs like a wet blanket was draped over them. It was the same at different stores and different speakers, cm8/cm9.
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post #3 of 18 Old 12-21-2013, 10:50 AM
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IMHO, the CM1s are particularly lacking in clarity compared to the rest of the CM series. I would agree the LS50s would be a much better choice.

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post #4 of 18 Old 12-21-2013, 11:32 AM
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I'd definitely go with the LS50's. The only B&W speakers that impressed me were the Diamond series.
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post #5 of 18 Old 12-21-2013, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by LaoChe View Post

I'd definitely go with the LS50's. The only B&W speakers that impressed me were the Diamond series.

+1 heard a couple of the R2D2s that sounded like a live band
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post #6 of 18 Old 12-22-2013, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, all! I will ask them to demo all the three speaker setups for me! The LS50 is already a little over my budget but if the CM5s are that much better they could just fit in.

One thing that I startet noticing is that the LS50 is always named a "monitor speaker". What does this mean in real life? I still can't get over how cool they look, by the way! smile.gif

PS. Just a clarification. In my languange (finnish) the term "monitor" is usually used in the context of studio equipment. For example the genelecs are always called monitor speakers. I have little to no experience listening to genelecs so I can't combine the word with an acoustic character.
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post #7 of 18 Old 12-22-2013, 03:13 PM
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Nagysaudio seems to be pretty biased about the CM5s and posts similar responses quite often. I have a pair of CM5s and they are definitely superior to the CM1 and are a very good speaker. However, to say nothing else under $5000 can touch them is a major overstatement. In fact, there are speakers that cost less than the CM5 that are just as good and in many cases superior.

Regarding your your question about the term "monitor," you are in fact correct. Monitor traditionally refers to a loudspeaker designed for use in the studio. Now, it is more generically used to describe a very accurate speaker with a flat response.
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post #8 of 18 Old 12-22-2013, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post

Nagysaudio seems to be pretty biased about the CM5s and posts similar responses quite often. I have a pair of CM5s and they are definitely superior to the CM1 and are a very good speaker. However, to say nothing else under $5000 can touch them is a major overstatement. In fact, there are speakers that cost less than the CM5 that are just as good and in many cases superior.

Regarding your your question about the term "monitor," you are in fact correct. Monitor traditionally refers to a loudspeaker designed for use in the studio. Now, it is more generically used to describe a very accurate speaker with a flat response.

+1 for all of it.

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post #9 of 18 Old 12-22-2013, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by NagysAudio View Post

Neither. If you can afford the LS50s, you should be able to afford the CM5s. The CM5s are the best sounding speakers under $5000. Believe me, I've heard them all. LS50s are extremely bright and unnatural. And they're not even bright in a good way. They don't have a lot of detail, just a very hard piercing upper midgrange.

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post #10 of 18 Old 12-22-2013, 08:32 PM
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I have heard CM7s and LS50s. I am sure CM5s are good but as long as the room is not too large, five LS50s and two tight subs would be simply amazing.

Main Kef: Reference 205/2 & 202/2c, Surrounds: Kef XQ40, Velodyne Optimum 12, Integra DHC 80.3, Ayre K-5xeMP, Oppo BDP-103, Bryston 4Bsst2, Parasound Halo A31. Second B&W: 685 (3), CCM618, Def Tech Powerfield 1500, Onkyo TX-NR1008, DBP 2010, Samsung BD-C7900, Zone 2 Klipsch AW650. Sitting still CCM616, Kef...
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post #11 of 18 Old 12-23-2013, 12:15 AM - Thread Starter
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As I will always use a sub with these speakers, should I ask the local dealer to demo the speakers to me with a similar sub?

The thing is that I've been reading a lot about these speakers and even though the LS50's are generally loved, many have found them "too flat" or "lacking in bass". I can't comment on their sound yet as I'm still waiting for them to hit my local store but I have previously been a little wary of monitor speakers in the sense that I might like a little warmer sound. Is this "warmth" in sound something that comes with frequencies below 80Hz (subwoofer) or does is stem from the mid range?

How does LS50 fit in this? My problem is that if I'm not using a subwoofer in the demo at all (a 80Hz freq cut might do the same trick) I won't get to listen to them in the way they will be used in my system. I might confuse the lack of sub-80Hz freqs to lack of warmth.

Also: How will the use of Audyssey MultEq XT affect the sound in this regard? I have noticed with my current speakers that using the Audyssey "bypass L/R" mode unleashes the boomy sound of the 10.2's. That is not something I especially like and so the Audyssey treatment has made it much better for me. How will Audyssey treat the freq curve of the LS50's?

I just wish they had these speakers already so I could demo them! Just 2-3 weeks more... smile.gif
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post #12 of 18 Old 12-23-2013, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pasisti View Post

As I will always use a sub with these speakers, should I ask the local dealer to demo the speakers to me with a similar sub?

The thing is that I've been reading a lot about these speakers and even though the LS50's are generally loved, many have found them "too flat" or "lacking in bass". I can't comment on their sound yet as I'm still waiting for them to hit my local store but I have previously been a little wary of monitor speakers in the sense that I might like a little warmer sound. Is this "warmth" in sound something that comes with frequencies below 80Hz (subwoofer) or does is stem from the mid range?

How does LS50 fit in this? My problem is that if I'm not using a subwoofer in the demo at all (a 80Hz freq cut might do the same trick) I won't get to listen to them in the way they will be used in my system. I might confuse the lack of sub-80Hz freqs to lack of warmth.

Also: How will the use of Audyssey MultEq XT affect the sound in this regard? I have noticed with my current speakers that using the Audyssey "bypass L/R" mode unleashes the boomy sound of the 10.2's. That is not something I especially like and so the Audyssey treatment has made it much better for me. How will Audyssey treat the freq curve of the LS50's?

I just wish they had these speakers already so I could demo them! Just 2-3 weeks more... smile.gif

They sound great on their own but a subwoofer will make the listening experience that much better. The frequency response of the LS50 is 79 Hz-28 kHz (+/- 3 dB) so setting of a crossover of greater than 80 Hz would be advisable. Audyssey MultEQ XT should only improve the listening experience but you could listen in Direct mode as well just to compare.

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post #13 of 18 Old 12-26-2013, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by pasisti View Post

Thanks for the input, all! I will ask them to demo all the three speaker setups for me! The LS50 is already a little over my budget but if the CM5s are that much better they could just fit in.

One thing that I startet noticing is that the LS50 is always named a "monitor speaker". What does this mean in real life? I still can't get over how cool they look, by the way! smile.gif

PS. Just a clarification. In my languange (finnish) the term "monitor" is usually used in the context of studio equipment. For example the genelecs are always called monitor speakers. I have little to no experience listening to genelecs so I can't combine the word with an acoustic character.

I used to own genelec 1031a's... best speaker I've ever owned. The imaging was insane. They're not made any more, and they are over $2000 on the used market. I know how incredible small speakers can sound, which is why I am really interested in 3 ls50's for lcr, and also considering the emotiva stealth 8.
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post #14 of 18 Old 12-26-2013, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pasisti View Post

... One thing that I startet noticing is that the LS50 is always named a "monitor speaker". What does this mean in real life? I still can't get over how cool they look, by the way! smile.gif

PS. Just a clarification. In my languange (finnish) the term "monitor" is usually used in the context of studio equipment ...

Your understanding of the term "monitor" in this context is correct. Generally speaking studio "monitor" speakers are designed to have as neutral/flat/linear a response as possible (i.e. to not color the sound at all), while "some" home speakers are designed to have a specific sound signature (i.e. a little extra bright or forward,or a little warmer). The LS-50 was designed to have "studio monitor" accuracy for use both as a near-field monitor and as a home music speaker. But with it's combination of great sound and reasonable price it has really caught on in the home theater market also.
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post #15 of 18 Old 12-26-2013, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Great, thanks for the advice!

The local audio shop had a Christmas sale just now and I could have got these for 100 euros less but didn't want to risk buying without auditioning. Too bad they didn't have them at the store before, only for ordering.. Next week I'm going to try them out and hopefully make the deal! I have to admit that I've been dreaming about these babies for the last two nights biggrin.gif Can't wait.
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-05-2014, 08:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all!

I just wanted to return to say that I made my decision. As I said in my previous post there was a sale on the LS50's at the local audio store. I then realized that because in my country (Finland) the law says you have a 14-day money-back guarantee on anything you order online, I could just buy them for the low price and decide later when I get to listen to them. They are still on their way to my house but I had the chance to listen to them at a local "electronics hyper-market". They were awesome! I just loved them! They didn't have B&W there so I had to compare LS50's to those of Amphion, Elac and a couple of others. All the other speakers from the same price range seemed bland and unclear in comparison. I had an audio disc full of the examples of the types of music I normally listen to and the speakers worked perfectly on everything! Couple of speakers had more (not always better, though) low bass, but I have a subwoofer it doesn't matter. This visit also affirmed my concerns about whether I really could hear the difference between a pair 700$ and a pair of 1300$ speakers. And boy, could I!

So, in the end I got two LS50's for the price of 900 euros (1224 US dollars) and I can't get wait for them to arrive! I'll post some afterthoughts after I have received, setup, calibrated and listened to them for awhile (2-3 weeks), just in case someone else is looking for new speakers and is wondering about the KEF LS50's. smile.gif

Thanks everybody!

PS. When I listened to the LS50's they seemed to be driven by a mere Denon RCD-M39 (CD-player/amp, about 400$) and still sounded good to me.
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post #17 of 18 Old 01-05-2014, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by pasisti View Post

Hi all!

I just wanted to return to say that I made my decision. As I said in my previous post there was a sale on the LS50's at the local audio store. I then realized that because in my country (Finland) the law says you have a 14-day money-back guarantee on anything you order online, I could just buy them for the low price and decide later when I get to listen to them. They are still on their way to my house but I had the chance to listen to them at a local "electronics hyper-market". They were awesome! I just loved them! They didn't have B&W there so I had to compare LS50's to those of Amphion, Elac and a couple of others. All the other speakers from the same price range seemed bland and unclear in comparison. I had an audio disc full of the examples of the types of music I normally listen to and the speakers worked perfectly on everything! Couple of speakers had more (not always better, though) low bass, but I have a subwoofer it doesn't matter. This visit also affirmed my concerns about whether I really could hear the difference between a pair 700$ and a pair of 1300$ speakers. And boy, could I!

So, in the end I got two LS50's for the price of 900 euros (1224 US dollars) and I can't get wait for them to arrive! I'll post some afterthoughts after I have received, setup, calibrated and listened to them for awhile (2-3 weeks), just in case someone else is looking for new speakers and is wondering about the KEF LS50's. smile.gif

Thanks everybody!

PS. When I listened to the LS50's they seemed to be driven by a mere Denon RCD-M39 (CD-player/amp, about 400$) and still sounded good to me.

Congratulations! That's a great deal on the LS50s too. My guess is that you will be keeping them. wink.gif Fantastic speakers.

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post #18 of 18 Old 05-20-2014, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I have had the LS50's for 5 months now and I would like to give my opinions so far.

Well.. I just love them! And now that that's out of the way let's go to specifics smile.gif

My current setup:

2x LS50
SVS SB-12NSD
Antimode 8033 Cinema
Denon X-1000 (MultEQ XT)
WDTV Live

Use: Movies (blu-ray) and music. Music varies from cuban music to jazz and from r&b to classical and beyond.

My PC is connected to the audio system via HDMI and I use both it and WDTV live for music and videos. I use the WDTV Live when I want complete silence (gaming pc makes some noise) and no other distraction. Facebook I'm looking at you and your *pop* noises.

I have had two different rooms for the speakers with the same equipment and that is something I would like to share as I have found the results interesting. When I first bought the speakers, I used them to replace my Wharfedales (2x 10.2 + 10.CM) as I noticed that I had used so much more money on everything else in my setup and wanted to see what I could achieve with better speakers. I know, it's the basic "me wants" situation but what can you do? I had heard and read that the LS50 wouldn't have so much bass but it didn't worry my because I knew I would be using the sub with a crossover in the 80-100 region anyway.

My first setup was so that the speakers were 3 meters apart from each other and about 0,5 meters from the wall. The room was a basic apartment building living room and my distance was about 3-4 meters from the center of the speakers. The speakers were on basic 60 cm speaker stands. In that room they sounded phenomenal! I wondered about all the talk about the lack of bass because in that room the LS50's went so low I didn't even always remember to put the subwoofer on when listening to music (jazz/latin music). The speakers sounded very clear and detailed but even then I knew that the room layout was terrible and a part of the sofa was muffing the sound of the left speaker. It wasn't directly on the way as I could see the speaker but from my point of view where the speaker ended the sofa started. I could hear a tremendous difference if I raised my head even 10 cm. So visual contact to the woofers is not sometimes enough.

I then moved to my current, temporary apartment. I decided to unite my PC and A/V stuff to save space but in an ideal situation the speakers would be on stands on the sides of my desk. In this apartment, I have to have them on my cheap Ikea table and it really does some serious work on the sound. Before running Audyssey they sounded really muddy and all the bass was gone if run without the subwoofer. Audyssey worked quite well they sounded little better, and this near-field situation the imaging is of course perfet. I then decided to buy some basic speaker pads. That was the magic trick for my situation! The sound was so much clearer and detailed, I can really recommend this for anyone thinking about a table positioning for these (or any) speakers! Proper stands would, of course, still yield better sound.

Now I'm desperately waiting to find a bigger and a more permanent apartment, if that even can happen for a student with my income. I would really like to have the LS50's on real stands as that really changed the way they sounded! I already know which stands to buy, based on the height of my desk and my listening position. In my next apartment, the speakers and audio layout will be the defining thing, everything else will just have to follow. All in all, these speakers are the best I think I will be able to afford for 5-10 years and I have to say I'm in no rush. It's actually hard to imagine what better speakers would sound like, these are just so clear, detailed and focused but "bigger" than what they look. Plus they look amazing! I think I have found the speakers that will last me a lifetime. Unless my studies in musicology end up paying really well after graduating wink.gif
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