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TomW

Sydney Audio Club Meeting - Sunday 10th September 2017 - KEF LS50 Wireless

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TomW   

For our September club meeting we’re very pleased to be able to present the new KEF LS50 Wireless speakers.  

 

The KEF LS50 Wireless speakers are being kindly provided by the Lifestyle Store in North Parramatta.  (Refer to https://www.lifestylestore.com.au/.)   Alex Wilson from the Lifestyle Store will talk about the equipment.  At $3799 RRP the KEF LS50 Wireless speakers may seem expensive – but the truth is, they’re a bargain.  All you need is a source and a cable into the KEFs and they do everything else.  They handle digital and analogue inputs, have internal DACs, source control, volume control and amplification, and of course.. speaker drivers!  If they didn’t sound great, that would be all for nought – but they sound excellent too.  We’ll also have the new Oppo UDP-205 universal player on hand, also from Lifestyle.

 

We will also have their precursor, the KEF LS50 passive speakers, such that we can do a comparison.  Of course the passive speakers need separate amplification and cabling both of which can and will influence the sound.  So we can’t really compare apples to apples, but it’ll offer you the chance to hear which configuration you might like best.  Note that the emphasis on the day will definitely be on the active version.


The featured system on the day will be:  

 

KEF LS50 Wireless Active Monitor speakers:  Taken from the Lifestyle website… “The KEF LS50 Wireless is a complete and fully active music system designed for how high resolution music is now enjoyed. It delivers exceptional sound quality, once only achievable by putting together a system of high quality separate components … LS50 Wireless delivers a clear, accurate and transparent sound that creates an intense, rich, and multi-dimensional soundstage experience. Made possible from its small enclosures through expert acoustic design and state-of-the-art technologies.”  Refer to https://www.lifestylestore.com.au/kef-ls50-wireless-active-monitor-speakers.html.

Also checkout Marc’s excellent and comprehensive review at http://www.stereo.net.au/reviews/review-kef-ls50-wireless.  Marc mentions some of the capabilities of the KEF LS50 Wireless this way … “You can connect the LS50 Wireless via your smartphone or tablet, either via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (aptX) and stream Tidal, Spotify or your choice of local music. Or you can make the connection via USB or Toslink directly to your PC or laptop, or even your TV, taking advantage of the built-in 192/24 DAC.


Oppo UDP-205 universal player:  Taken from the Lifestyle website “The UDP-205 provides reference level sound quality through the analogue outputs, improves the clock precision of the HDMI audio output, and increases the power of the built-in headphone amplifier. For the analogue output stages, the UDP-205 utilises two ES9038PRO DACs, which are the flagship of the ESS Sabre Pro series, delivering best-in-class audio performance.”.   $2199 RRP.   Refer to https://www.lifestylestore.com.au/oppo-udp-205-4k-blu-ray-player.html and http://www.livingsound.com.au/2017/04/oppo-udp-205-universal-player/


The other system on the day will be:  

 

KEF LS50 Mini Monitor (passive) speakers:  Taken from the Lifestyle website “An innovative concept inspired by the legendary LS3/5a, LS50 mini monitor speaker is designed to bring professional studio monitor concept into the home. Rarely the case in such a compact design, the LS50 monitor delivers a rich, multi-dimensional ‘soundstage experience’ that is out of all proportion to its size. Patent-pending acoustic designs, together with state-of-the-art technologies from KEF’s latest flagship Blade loudspeaker, provide the ultimate studio experience – even in the smallest of spaces.”   On special now at $1999 RRP normally $2599 RRP
Refer to https://www.lifestylestore.com.au/kef-ls50-mini-monitor-speakers.html and http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/kef-ls50-loudspeaker/


AudioGD SA-2 DAC:   Refer to http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/SA/SA2/SA2EN.htm


AudioGD Master 10 Integrated amp:  A fully balanced design with the gain stages and pre-driver stages working in class A, discrete analog stages without any OPA or coupling caps in the signal channels.   Refer to http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/Master10/Master-10EN.htm and http://6moons.com/audioreviews/magnepan2/4.html

 


The second half of the music sessions will be our popular BYO.   Members and guests are welcome to offer music to share with us all.  So bring along your favourite music on CD/SACD or USB flash drives (sorry, no vinyl).  All we ask is that the music and recordings be interesting.  We'll ask you to tell us a little about the artist/recording before it is played.  Tracks over 6 minutes will be faded out, to give everyone a fair go. 

 

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran, you will have the opportunity to listen, learn and share your experiences with others.  Feel free to come and hear the capabilities of the system, or to just share the experience with like-minded music lovers in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.  

 

Guests are welcome – we are a very friendly club so you don't need to know anyone to join us for an afternoon of fine music and sound.

 

Venue:  Epping Creative Centre, Dence Park
Address:  26 Stanley Road, Epping 

 

When:  Sunday 10th September 2017

Doors open at 1pm
Meeting starts at 2pm

 

Best regards,
Tom Waters
President
Sydney Audio Club
W: www.sydneyaudioclub.org.au
FB: https://www.facebook.com/sydneyaudioclub
E: [email protected]

Edited by TomW

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Odyssey   

This is interesting. I might come along. I heard the KEF LS50 on the Yggdrasil / Ragnarok combo and it's really solid.

 

I have to hear the AudioGd Master 10 and compare it against my Ragnarok. :)

Edited by Odyssey

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Marc   

Appreciate your comments @TomW, thank you.

 

The LS50 Wireless was one of the most enjoyable reviews I've performed and a simply stunning product.

I recently had the rare chance to sit down and listen to music in Hong Kong with Victor LO, the owner of Gold Peak Acoustics (which owns the KEF brand) and an enthusiast/audiophile himself.

One of his comments to me when he heard the final production sample of the LS50W was "what have we done?" ... referring to the possibility they'll never sell another KEF product now!


This will be a great event I am sure.

 

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Nigel   
On ‎4‎/‎09‎/‎2017 at 6:31 AM, Odyssey said:

I have to hear the AudioGd Master 10 and compare it against my Ragnarok. :)

 

 How are you going to do that with different room, speakers and probably music.

Not to mention acoustic memory is not very good, after just a few seconds, let alone after a drive through Siddley.

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Odyssey   
On 05/09/2017 at 4:33 PM, Nigel said:

 

 How are you going to do that with different room, speakers and probably music.

Not to mention acoustic memory is not very good, after just a few seconds, let alone after a drive through Siddley.

 

Too true but nevertheless I'll go for a listen.

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TomW   

Our September meeting showcased the KEF LS50 Wireless speaker/system and the KEF LS50 passive speakers.  It attracted a reasonably large audience, with quite a few guests in attendance as well.

 

Alex Wilson of the Lifestyle Store kindly provided the KEF LS50 Wireless speakers and the very new Oppo UDP-205 (the replacement for the BDP-105).  Alex gave a great overview of the KEF LS50 Wireless and explained all its features and functionality.   The KEFs work on the principal of a master and slave speaker.  The right speaker is your master and it talks to the left speaker via ethernet.  Both are active of course, so each requires a power cord.  Perhaps a bit odd to some is that the KEF master provides for a USB input but not an SPDIF input.  Perhaps that is just down to available space on the back of the master speaker – it is pretty crowded. 

 

Just before the break we also indicated that KEF announced that the LS50 Wireless will be Roon-Ready within the next 2-3 weeks.  That means you can then run the Roon Core on your PC/Mac and the RAAT (Roon Advanced Audio Transport) on the master KEF speaker.  (The RAAT is effectively the renderer of the music.)   From what I could tell from the announcement, the Wireless may also then support gapless playback as well.  You should be able to implement all these changes with a download – no hardware change is required. 

 

Apparently KEF believe that the LS50 Wireless sound better with Tidal than other inputs.  To test that, Alex set up a local network via his phone such that we could stream from Tidal.  He chose a familiar track from Tidal that he had previously burned to CD.  We compared the Tidal version (CD quality) to the CD played on the Oppo and output via analogue outs and the optical output.  We didn’t take a vote on this but it seemed that most people didn’t think the Tidal streaming was woeful or second best.  If you want a simple system for home without heaps of CDs or LPs lying around, this is a good way to go.

 

We then compared the Wireless to the KEF LS50 passive speakers.  The passives were driven by the analogue outs of the Oppo UDP-205 into the AudioGD Master Integrated amp, and then into the passive speakers.  The passives speakers have the identical height and width of the Wireless active model, but are about 2.5 cms shorter.  The additional space in the back of the active speaker is used only for the electronics.  The internal capacity of each is the same and the drivers are the same.  In fact, when you look at both from the front you can’t tell the difference. 

 

To compare, we first played two tracks thru the Oppo and into the Wireless active speakers.  We then switched to the passives, and played the same two tracks.  We then discussed the differences, and prepared to vote for preferences.  We had 40 attendees but unfortunately many chose to not vote.  There was a preference for the passive speakers over the active speakers by 12 votes to 7 votes.   I should stress here that the passive speakers have a few years of run-in on them, whereas the active speakers had just a few weeks if that.  And of course, the passives will sound different depending on the amp you chose to drive them with.  Our amp on the day was Class A/B whereas the active speakers have a Class A/B amp for the tweeter and a Class D amp for the mid/woofer.  The days when Class D inevitably sounded bad are long over – they can be very competitive now.  So much so that high-end companies like Jeff Rowland use them in their best gear.  So strictly speaking, the Class of amplification shouldn't really be considered a factor. 

 

After our last comparison, we then had our break and our BYO session immediately afterwards.  

 

Here are some comment lifted from the Feedback forms…

 

"Very good.  Value for money speakers."

 

"British sound.  Punched well above their weight."

 

"Appreciate seeing audio shops demonstrating equipment and therefore promoting hifi as a hobby."

 

"Impressive system (Active)."

 

"Passive speakers sounded realistic."

 

"Good A/B comparison.  This was a good meeting."

 

"Actives seemed to lack definition in midrange."

 

"Very enjoyable meeting."

 

"Preferred passive system - more fluid presentation."

 

"Passive - impressive.  Active - fantastic detail but a lot of harshness."

 

"Not ultimate sound but very good value."

 

"Thank you to Alex and Steve P for great systems."

 

"Nice sound for size.."

 

"Very impressed with the speakers."

 

 

We greatly thank the Lifestyle Store and Alex for his presentation.


 

Edited by TomW
Spacing

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