Kef LS50s - great like me but need to come up for air

So over the years I've really enjoyed my primary speaker the Kef LS50s. They work well in my current setup: Schiit Aegir, NAD preamp (class A) in a small room (11'x14').

Maybe I like them so much because they are very much like me: precise, balanced, neutral but not overly. Contrary to many they are more on the warm than bright side. You just need to know how to place them and match them to the right components. Like me :)

However, l've gone through a change. I need to and been told by my wife and doctors that I need to relax some and come up for air. I've been working on this for the past 2 years. Now I've seriously realized my beloved music system has come to the same change point.

Like me and my ears I'd like to find a speaker with the same basic qualities of the LS50s but that can come up for air - call it more relaxed, warm...whatever. Those in the know will know what I mean. I can explain this more if necessary.

My budget is up to 1,500.00...I've online researched Harbeths, Dynaudio Evoke 20, Usher, Spendor but don't really know where to go from here. I've thought about higher sensitivity speakers but most quality speakers are physically too large (maybe).

Any input is appreciated.


The Listening Room appears to just have received a number of B stock Harbeths that are up for sale.  Not a bad way to start with something different.

I have had both evoke 20 and the small Harbeth. With my Pass lab integrated I preferred the Evoke(better bass and larger sound) over the small Harbeth. I also have a pair of the newer LS50 that I use with my tube amp. Using Dynaudio Special 40, and it is my favorite.

I have both ls50s and ls 50 metas.  If its the ls50s, you currently have, you really can't beat ls50 metas for overall performance for exactly your budget.


For that size room and sound, maybe an older pair of Vandersteen Model 1s or 2s?  Otherwise I'd second Harbeths.

For that budget you can get a new pair of Vandersteen 1Ci… still in production, constantly improved since 1977. The Meta Kef are excellent 2 !


How are the LS 50s Placed ... ??? ... positioned with toe in ... ? try no toe in.


Synthetic AI ***

Wow..thanks everyone for the responses. I have some options to look into.

rego has a good question that highlights my quest - the ls50s are ever so slightly toed in...5 to 10 degrees at most. However, I'm pretty sure I'm getting their best which I said before is great. I really spent a lot of time with the best placement.

But my age, ears, preferences are changing for good measure. I'm older...I don't necessary prefer the sharp, focused, ferrai sports with body hugging I prefer to go slower, take turns easy, have a smoke and enjoy the scenery when I'm driving. I still prefer quality though. Maybe the best Jaguar for post middle aged male. Hope this makes sense. It does to me.


" Maybe the best Jaguar for post middle aged male."

Just don't too far and end up with a 1959 Cadillac with bad suspension.

touche tony1954.

I won't end up there but I will have fun along the way!

So far the Heresy, Dynaudio Evoke 40 or maybe Evoke 20 and the small Harbeths look appealing. I'm leaning towards Dynaudio just by online research.

The Usher looks too expensive and the Vandersteen is just too big. I do care a little about room aesthetics.

Can anyone comment on the sound of the Heresy, they look interesting and I like the retro look. The Harbeths have a lot of reviews but mainly for near field??? My listening position is about 7 feet away from the LS50s.

Again...thanks everyone for the input. Any other speakers I should consider.


I know you said you wanted to stay at $1500, but I got a pair of Alta Audio Rhea's on Ebay for $2500 to replace my LS50's and it was just what the doctor ordered: more relaxed but still great imaging and detail. And 10 or 15 hz more bass response.  I had spent a lot of time and money on room treatments and tube gear to try to tame the LS50's, which always annoyed my aging ears.  I wanted exactly what you say you want, and I got it.

Step out of the box, speaker box that is.  Try the Magnepan LRS introductory model.  Don't like it?  Full refund, less shipping.

Look for a used pair of used Reynaud Twin MK II's (currently listed in the $500-$850 range).


I ran a pair in a much larger room with a 300B DH/SET amp (figure 7 usable watts, or so).


The $500 pair listed on USaudiomart are indeed the MkII version (emailed the seller earlier today) and I suspect that they are my old speakers due to pics of the minor corner damage/blemish.




It sounds like you are looking for bigger cabinets for a fuller sound. I'm concerned that you might be disappointed with a more laid back speaker. Have you considered Focal? Focals typically have good balanced sound and should match well with your NAD. Chora 806 is $1k or Aria K2 906 is $2k.  Might be worth a listen.

Good luck in the search!

KEF R3s are warmer and have better bass. They still use the Uni Q driver. The soundstage and detail are excellent. They are not that large and will not overwhelm your listening room. They are in your budget.

How about sell LS 50’s and buy SFmini Amator II

relaxed warm cool to look at and is keeper

pair it with McIntosh receiver ma5300

My 2 cents: Dynaudio strikes a good balance between detail and warmth so if you were to take the great things about KEF (detail) plus Harbeth (warmth) and combine them together you'd get Dynaudio sound. Seems like the most logical choice IMO but logic isn't enough in this hobby, best to audition both speakers at home if you can.

Another vote for harbeths. Maybe there is a better answer, but I don’t think there is any way you cannot listen to p3esr in trying to find bliss in this configuration. I have with aegir in nearfield, and they make me happy. I do have two small subs to fill out bottom a bit, but most of the time I hardly notice them. 

Look for a pair of EPOS Epic 2- efficient 4 ohm speakers that are v v v hard to beat

ALSO- a pair of Elac 2.0B6.2 designed by Andrew Jones and the very Best Buy on the planet- but they need at least 80 watts/


with either of the above you can spend v little and get a v easy to listen to speakers.

I have both !

My LS50 Metas were very sensitive to placement and were useless in the middle of the room compared to vintage Concords and Celestes (bad placement I know I know). They’re banished to the garage where ironically they sound fab and live next to ESL57s so I can switch between the two depending on mood/ music.


Was talking to a retired BBC engineer and interestingly he asked if I prefered the old KEFS to the Quads and I have to agree the old girls (made late 60’s?) are still rocking and are so easy to listen to but obviously not a small speaker (2ftx 1.5ft)

+1 for the Dynaudio suggestion.

i recently purchased the Evoke 30’s and happy with the warmth and relaxed nature. They are also very detailed paired with a Parasound A21+

The LS50s are a very well balanced speaker (albeit a revealing one) and you might find that changing them leaves you missing aspects of the sound that you traded for a different balance in an alternative speaker. However, if you definitely want to change, any of the classic BBC designs should work. If you have room for a floorstander, a used pair of ProAc Response 2.5s could also be considered - quite BBC-like in their balance (not quite as smooth in the upper midange) but with much more extended bass.

 + 1 for Epos Epic 2. Excellent speaker and well within your budget, especially if you can find a used pair...

Tough call.....I'd borrow a set of LS50 Metras if you can. If you think the LS50 are good, but need a bit of "something".....I bet the Metas would satisfy that "Thing". There are only three speakers in the last 50 years of playing with this stuff that totally blew me away...Dahlquist DQ10, Any Magnapan....KEF LS50 Metas.....PERIOD!

7 feet IS near field (unless you're comparing to wearing headphones)!  +1 for Heresy.

Consider a used pair of Revel M106. Musical but not "cool" like the LS50s.
I've heard the M106 well presented at a dealer, and have a pair of LS50s in my second system. 
The Revels have a wide open feeling, like the Heresy, but, to my ear, more precise.
Good luck!

I have found the Kef LS50s to be quite demanding but they will reward your efforts. Room treatment and the addition of a small sub (Rel T/5i) made for a much more enjoyable listening experience.

If your speakers are more than 15 years old, they could be in need of recapping. Replace any electrolytics and mylars with Polypropylene

If the tweets have ferrofluid, have them rebuilt.

I have LS-50s as my primary speakers. the 'body-hugging Ferrari sports seat' analogy is not far off. If your room placement can accommodate them, the Magnepan .7 is everything you are asking for. and will not leave you feel like you have compromised. With lesser box speakers than the LS-50 (and that's most all of them) you will rapidly become annoyed with box colorations that simply don't exist with the LS-50 or the Maggie .7s. The .7s, on the other hand, will provide you a transparent and large window that is a very different, but equally enjoyable, listening experience. 

If your NAD amp will drive the LS-50s to your satisfaction, it will handle the ,7s as well. 

My second recommendation, only if placement limitations preclude using the Maggies, would be the KEF R3. Think of that as the luxury GT version of the uncompromised sports car that is the LS-50. A little bigger, a little softer, but definitely cut from the same cloth. And in this case with another 1/2 octave or so of quite noticeable bass. A warmer, more forgiving speaker than the LS-50, for sure.

And I have to laugh at the Heresy recommendation. The most gawdawful speaker I've ever heard, No low bass, squawky,honky mids and harsh tweeters. Yes, they are efficient, and yes a good tube amp can tame them to some extent. I've always wanted to like them for their dynamics, but in 50 years of listening to several versions of them, on all kinds of amps, SS and tube, I've never heard them sound even good. The only Klipschs I've heard sound good sound were far bigger and in a very large room.  That seemst to be their place.

you definitely do NOT EVER want to put vandersteen anythings in any room that small, 11 x 14 is way too small for those speakers to sound as their designer intended, you will hear shoutiness at the crossover point @ 2.8 kilocycles. i learned this the hard way. those speakers are meant for a substantially larger room, like twice the size, at which point the shoutiness goes away and the magical imaging [with real depth] happens. a speaker i've used for many years now, the thiel cs.5, OTOH works very well in that size [11 x 14] of listening room, and unlike their bigger thiel brothers, these speakers are mellow yet still reveal details in the treble range that lesser speakers [including the aforementioned vandys] gloss over.


I like all of the ideas above. I am wondering if you can accomplish your goal with some different speaker wire. I am going to suggest Straightwire speaker cables. 
specifically the Expessivo II or the bigger Expressivo Grande II. You will be amazed at what these cables can do for your system. You get to keep your setup but just change the cables. Just so you know when KEF is demoed at shows they use Straightwire cables. They go together perfectly. You can keep the speakers you live but change and probably improve the sound quite a bit. Plus, these cables are so universal you can put them on almost any speaker. If you are in the Chicagoland area this store I buy gear from is a KEF and Straightwire dealer.

Also, you might want to look into the power cables. Straightwire has a Grey Lightning or Black Thunder power cable that won’t break the bank but really optimizes your gear. A different approach than changing from the LS50 to Harbeth speakers. I hope this helps. 

Not to change the subject, but if you really like the LS50's I would suggest trying a higher powered amplifier with your set up. I have LS50's and love them, but they are thirsty speakers. I listen at low volumes, but still feel that a higher powered amp is better able to deliver on their demands, especially when the impedance dips. I also have Schiit products, preamp and DAC, and love them, so nothing against the Aegir but at 20W it is well below the 40-100W recommended by Kef for these speakers.  As I have improved my amplification, to use an audiophile term, the 'ease' of music delivery has only improved.

For something completely different, keep an eye out for a pair of Ohm Microwalsh or 100 or 1000 speakers. You can always order new but seems Ohm is very backlogged of late so likely a wait there.  Not easy to find used these days but worth the hunt.


FWIW Kef ls50 metas and Ohm Walsh speakers are my two keepers these days. Two totally different but high quality windows into the music. ls50 metas for absolute performance (within their limits of bass extension and absolute SPL) and Ohm for overall musicality and performance. Both will reward power, current and quality amplification.

This is great. There are some really thoughtful options offered here that are really promising. Thanks everyone for taking the time to contribute.

Knowing that are multiple viable ways to go I want to share with you what I'm thinking and the best way to do this is too stick with the ferrari / jaguar analogy as this is my compass.

Which takes me first to the bigger box option (Kef r3 or Dynaudio 20,30, or 40). They are in my price range and I can see how a little rolling off the top freq and solid\wider lows would give me a different experience. The soundstage I think might even be somewhat wider. Staying in the Kef line plays it safe as I get a modified ferri (toned down). Motorcyle manufacturers do this all the time. However going to the Dynaudio definitely guarantees a different experience. I move from a ferrari to a jaguar...big move. Would I miss some of the Kef's accuracy and precision? I don't know. Right now I'm leaning towards a Dynaudio.

What I also found is a viable option is a sub! Thanks for all who mentioned this option. Your points are well taken. However I would still be in the Kef line and have a modified ferrari. Again would this be too safe of a move? Rather can I get some of the same characteristics of the Kef ls50s with a Dynaudio or other and also include a sub. With either decision Kef R3 or Dynaudio I'm still going to give a sub a try. Thanks Turnbrown and others for this suggestion.

As far as amps I think I have those covered if I go with the Dynaudio...I have the NAD 326bee (class AB) and a Mcintosh MA6200. 

As far a responding to a couple of other thoughts. Concerning - the Harbeth, I just fear it will be too soft\laid back from what I've read. I'm not a grandfather yet and not ready for the sporty Cadillac. But again who knows?

Concerning the Aegir and Kef Ls50 - I think a lot folks discount Class A because of the heat and low watts. Yes there is some heat but the constant flow of current to these speakers does something special. I tried it and just like others who have experienced the pairing of the Aegir and Kef LS50s it is very, very good. Especially if you have a good preamp.

So, I again I truly appreciative of all the input. I also think my car analogy is helping guide me to this decision. I'm going to try a Dynaudio 20, 30 or 40 and with a sub a little later down the road.




Awesome, let us know how it goes. My current speakers are Dynaudio and the non-fatiguing sound makes them really easy to live with.

Try a used pair of Klipsch Heresy or even Forte- they're relaxed, open, dynamic and super easy to drive. I've owned many Harbeth and some of the others you mention and I own a pair of KEF LS50 wireless too. I agree, all of these are "good" speakers but for a different almost fun sound the Klipsch may do the trick. 

I‘ve got a pair of Dynaudio Special 40s for sale in perfect condition for $2500. I love them, but needed something larger scale for my room. 

Atc11 v2 or the meta’ room is 10 by 13 feet.Im approximately 6 feet listening.Best room i have had ...ever.Can hear a mouse fart in there.Small sub would be another way to go.

For the price of take-out......have some fun!

PSB 300 or 300i

Especially in your room. a true audiophile.

Replaced my KEF LS50s (only happy at louder end of things) with a pair of LRSs and a set of Klipsch RP-600M.  Both were refreshingly different and fun.  The Maggies need power (Bryston 4B SST) but the RP-600M is happy with a 2W Decware.  Now have two systems I enjoy regularly. 

Seeing as you love the LS50s, you could try

  • Feed the KEFs with a tube amp
  • Try a tube preamp-e.g, Schitt Freya Tube Preamp, removing the NAD (under your budget)
  • Add a high quality, musical subwoofer


Each of these has some big benefits and would result a potential meaningful change without ditching the KEFs.  

If you want to replace the KEFs, there are great example suggestions above.  I loved the LS50s, but I preferred the Wharfedale Linton Heritage more--yet it is undisputed the KEFs had more detail and were a more advanced design.  The Wharfedale are super musical and smooth.  

I love the suggestion on Heresy.  If you could swing it a used Forte III (likely in the $2K range, they would sound super in that room size and you might not ever want a sub.  Heresy IVs are supposed to be spectacular.  I haven't heard those.  Disclaimer:   I moved into sampling and keeping horns about 3-4 years ago.  So I like them.  The power and clarity (AT LOW VOLUMES) with that Schitt into a Heresy or Forte would show you a relaxed big audio picture.  They are so efficient that things should open up to your ear.  

Enjoy your journey!  You are in a fun spot.  My recommendation is to have some fun if you have the time and patience.  

Sometimes we just need to try things out for ourselves.  It can be super fun, but also stressful so keep us posted!


I've heard the Epos, the Dynaudio, the Harbeth 3/5 and Usher.


My vote actually goes to ProAc Response 1 speakers.  If floorstand is OK, perhaps an audition of the PMC twenty5.23, not a big floorstander and the sound quality is really nice.


If budget allows, I can recommend the Sonus Faber Electa Amator bookshelf with a matching Sonus Faber sub.


Let us know what you have decided later.  :-)

How about the new KLH 5 recently reviewed by Stereophile? I think they're $2000 for the pair, not too big & if they are basically a modern version of the classic KLH/ AR / Advent sound, might be just what you want. Smooth, laid back w/ excellent bass. IMO, acoustic suspension bass design, if properly done, can yield the most realistic, tight, clean & extended response of all designs especially now w/ modern drivers & crossover components. Lack of efficiency is their only issue. Some very expensive speakers today utilize it, new Magico's, YG Acoustics etc. KLH is also coming out w/ a smaller, two way version, very soon. 


try a nice tube amp with the kefs

in a small room like yours you don't need alot of power, shouldn't break the bank

otherwise spendors, proacs and harbeths would bring some nice warmth and luxurious tone without excessive detail/stridency