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KEF LS50s or ?


blessingx
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Been waiting for a new space to upgrade from the Quad 12Las (which would move to a desk). New home so starting the hunt. Still need to keep the speakers on the smaller side and due to quirkiness of doorways positions wall mounted (or narrow stand) would make most sense on one channel and bookshelf on the other. Thus looking at both options and then dealing. Gallo Strada 2 & sub being maybe an obvious choice with the positioning, but can't stop thinking of the KEF LS50s. They seem nearly perfect (well, without hearing yet) for the space with the exception on the rear firing port on the one channel. Reviews seem pretty consistent. Am considering the Harbeth P3ESRs & sub too. Anything else I should to look at or impressions on the above? It's a smallish medium sized room (don't have measurements) and would be driven by bridged Parasound Zamps at least initially. Thanks in advance to those with more experience in speakers than I (everyone).

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I actually know someone with Stradas as their desktop speakers, I'll find out if they still have them.  Otherwise I got nothing, all three sound like good choices, although the KEFs are in a completely different price point than the Gallos.  I think the Harbeths are more comparable price-wise to the KEFs.  I think I heard Wharfedale make some pretty nice powered monitors.

 

What exactly is the issue with the quirky space?

 

PS  My Dynaudio Special 25s come with little foam "corks" for the rear ports for when they're facing the wall, so the ports are optional-ish -- it does change the sound, but it's within spec.  I actually prefer it that way in my current configuration and have them in there.  The KEFs might be the same way.

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Ignoring the subs (which in the end may be necessary with all three) the Gallos are $2K for a pair and KEFs $1.5, so not widely divergent.

The quirkiness is the space goes (r to l) stairs down, recessed built in cabinet (likely where equipment will go and possible right channel on top), about 10" of wall, fireplace, about 10" of wall, stairs up, about 10" of wall.

And you're right the KEFs have two foam sizes for experimenting.

Edited by blessingx
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you can see how I run my fifties. You can probably guess that the right channel is the most troublesome as it has what seems to be corner loading. This gives some room boom in the upper bass area.

 

As for the sound - I do believe they do some things that are out of reach for most conventional speakers at that price range. Phase coherence is extremely good and the cabinet is inaudible, also the speaker sound very fast in the transients. If you like the Quads then I'm sure the fiftiess will also suit you. However they absolutely don't have the stereotypical British sound.

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I have had several different Gallo setups, including the Ref 3s, the Due in pairs and multi-channel, and now the Strada 1s for my 3.1 HT setup.  I loved the Ref 3s and still think they are remarkable speakers.  The Dues are not particularly inspiring and work for small desktop or back channels in multichannel/HT setups, but cannot serve as mains.  Unfortunately, I haven't heard the Strada 2 but overall I wonder if the Stradas would be unsatisfying as mains for a 2-channel setup, even with a good fast subwoofer.  I have not listened to music on them much, so I should probably try it out -- and you are welcome to come by and do some listening, Ric.  You've seen them, but I have them wall mounted and I have a REL subwoofer in the room so you might at least be able to get a sense of how the Strada 1s handle the task.

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Thanks for the advice and offer Al. I think Gallo said at the Strada 2 introduction I will sell no wine before its time with the sub they overall outperformed the Ref towers, but like the Classicos, they keep the other models around because some people still want what they want. Who knows, but that line always kept me interested.

And thanks for the heads up Rob. Great price. Will probably hold off until I decide a direction (or even move in), but deals like that are tempting.

Edited by blessingx
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I have the Strada 2's and the TR-1 sub, it is indeed a great combo; I have also owned the Ref 3.0's in the past, but cannot feasibly compare them (different rooms, different systems).

 

I have my Strada's on the floor stands.  Initially (on my wood floor) the sub didn't integrate well, so I had it turned down too much and had a bit of an upper bass suckout that....sucked.  Since put the sub on a slab of granite, about 6-7" high, and now works much better,  I have owned and love Gallo's for their CDT (tweeter) for many a year now, dating back to the polymer sphere References.

 

All that said, I have more of a gut feel that the Strada's may not do as well on the desktop.  Can't even say why, just not sure about them SO nearfield.  But I never tried them there, so take it for what it is, just a gut feel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

^Thanks.

Still researching (and Sonus Faber's Veneres have been added to the list), but spent a couple hours listening to KEF LS50s, R300s, and R700s (which all have Uni-Qs) today. I don't know really the price point competition, but damn, the R700s sounded great. If my space was different I'd probably head straight there (or R500s). Back to bookshelves, the 3-way R300s and 2-way LS50s sounded pretty different on the same system. Suspect most would prefer the fuller, dare I say more natural sounding, R300s, but the positioning on the LS50s was really great (and probably my preference). Pick your poison.

Edited by blessingx
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spent a couple hours listening to KEF LS50s, R300s, and R700s (which all have Uni-Qs) today. I don't know really the price point competition, but damn, the R700s sounded great. If my space was different I'd probably head straight there (or R500s). Back to bookshelves, the 3-way R300s and 2-way LS50s sounded pretty different on the same system. Suspect most would prefer the fuller, dare I say more natural sounding, R300s, but the positioning on the LS50s was really great. 

 

Aren't the Kef R series surprisingly great?  I personally prefer the floor-standing R series to LS50, which obviously has the size advantage.  I think I might even prefer the R900 to Kef's flagship the Blade, with side-firing woofers.  

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^ Thanks for the suggestion. Will definitely investigate.

 

Just got back from a couple hours with Sonus Faber Venere 1.5 & Venere 2.0 bookshelves and Martin Logan Motion 15 bookshelves and the Motion 40 floorstanders. Course a million variables in the listening rooms, and maybe this is common knowledge, but its like the imagining gets less exact the more complicated the speaker design (there were several other traits which definitely improved). Haven't quite jumped in with the full-range single driver crowd (and I know the monitor rep), but judged solely on imaging the LS50s and Motion 15s were in the top three heard over the last 24 (including a few not mentioned). Course that's not everything and the listening rooms were far from ideal, but it was surprising to me. Not surprising: the Veneres were easy on the eyes.

Edited by blessingx
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Ah, okay.

 

Yeah, the LS3/5a -- although two-way, and not concentric -- was pretty fabulous for near-field listening, largely because that's what they were designed for.  I'd lean towards the LS50 just for that reason.  I imagine (straightens throat) the imaging would be pretty superior on those.  Bookshelf speakers aren't necessarily designed for nearfield listening.  So...not quite common knowledge, but it's probably a statistically accurate generalization.

 

I'd be less concerned about the port.  The biggest concern with having it close to the wall is that any chuffing might get exaggerated, and I've never been able to hear any on any speaker.

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The problem is that I don't have an amp for them and that would certainly make them quite a bit more expensive. :(

The Quads have been sitting unused for quite a while. I keep having problems with them. The balanced and unbalanced connections seems to be loose on one of the speakers. This was after I already had Colin fix the poor connection to the tweeter when he was here a year ago. After having the problems and hum I have had with these, I would certainly not buy any more Quad stuffs.

I am using Airmotiv 4s on the desktop right now which are actually pretty good.

Edited by shellylh
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