Driving KEF LS50W via Raspberry Pi?

I currently use a couple of Raspberry Pis to feed DACs and I’m considering getting a pair of KEF LS50w. It seems that people have struggled with some issues when playing directly to them via Roon, but does anybody here have experience using a Raspberry Pi as a Roon bridge and just feeding the speakers via USB? This might seem silly, but I have the Pi anyway, so shouldn’t make that much of a difference. And if it means no worrying about stuttering, etc., that might be the better solution. Is there any reason not to do it?

I’d try Roon direct to the speakers first to see if that is stable. This will probably give best sound. If this is not stable a Pi feeding the USB input will work fine. It has the additional advantage of synchronised playback with your other Pi zone(s) if you need that.
Disclaimer: I don’t have LS50w (but also considering a pair) myself so I am a bit on ‘the outside’ here…

Yes but there will be some internal delay due to the DSP within the LS50s, so not sure how in sync that would be in practice. It may be possible to compensate via Roon settings by delaying other zones to match?

I run mine from a Pi with hifiberry digi+ pro hat via optical. No issues at all.

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Can you get more that 96kHz from this?

Maybe a Sparky and a USBridge from allo.com is worth considering?

I don’t actually care about perfect synchronization anyway. When I want to sync, it’s so I can hear the same thing in different places when I walk from room to room, but I don’t blast the music loud enough that it would bother me that one room was slightly ahead. I actually wish Roon would just let me group zones no matter if they’ll be perfectly in sync or not, but that’s for another thread ;p

I’ve been using Raspberry Pis directly with several different DACs now and haven’t had any issues at all. They’re not doing anything else, and I even run them in DietPi’s powersave mode.

The optical in on the KEF is 96kHz, yes. But all signals go through KEFs processor snd are upsampled to 24/192.
I have tried them all and the only ones that I heard issues with were bluetooth (degraded SQ) and wireless (signal dropout/stutter). The wireless got better with the eero mesh network that I went to.

There are “great” differences between the Pi’s and the Sparky. No ethernetbus and usb-bus are shared. That can make a huge difference.

That’s why I use WiFi :wink: Also, my DACs are all asynchronous and able to handle a bit of jitter. I don’t believe that a Sparky would make any difference with a decent, current-generation DAC.

Hi bearFNF,

I realize this was some time ago, but if you please offer some advise, as we are having issues with the KEF ls50w I am finding it difficult to get credible information on better ways to connect to the kefs.



Well, I am connecting them to RPi with RoPieee and a HiFiBerry Digi+ Transformer Version via optical. This is for music playback in Roon. This is the method I use to enable me to group them with other zones.

I am also connecting to them via ethernet and WiFi for use with Roon when it is only the KEF I will be playing to.

I also have RCA connected from my TV for movies and TV watching.

Because all connections to the KEF go through the built in DAC and the signal gets converted to 24/ 192 for all of the connections any of them work just fine. I have seen some people claim that they feed the analog input with their own DAC and it sounds better to them. Have not done this myself so cannot speak to it.

I stay away from bluetooth. It works but is not as reliable as optical or sound as good optical or Wifi connection.

Not sure if this is what you were looking for?

Hi Bear,

Thanks for the comprehensive response, my issue is that the ls50 has lost its optical port, waiting on repair centre to get back regarding this issue.

Would you say that lan to usb would be the next best alternative.

Not certain what would render the optical moot, so not sure what repairs would entail.

The issue I have is finding a device that access the music from synology nas as the kef app is unreliable at this time.

Thanks in advance

I would think that just for now using the analog or Wifi input would work fine.

I have not used USB much so can’t speak to it. But others I have seen have used it just by attaching a laptop or computer directly to the KEF.

With ethernet/WiFi the KEF show up as a zone in Roon.

You can add your NAS to Roon as a watched folder (settings/storage) and use Roon to send music to the KEF.

can anyone tell me which usb cable I need to connect an ifi zen stream to kef LS50W (1st gen) speakers?