Going beyond the KEF LS50W magic

This morning the courier took away my second pair of faulty KEF LS50W’s and in the next few days I’ll be getting a full refund (kudos to the dealer). As a temporary stop-gap I am using a Bluesound Powernode 2 and a pair of Monitor Audio GS10’s that I’ve had stored in the shed for the last 6 years. They sound surprisingly good but they lack the magic of the LS50W’s.

I won’t be buying another pair of LS50W’s but I do want to get close to re-creating their beautiful musicality. Obviously, the LS50W’s are a highly integrated design and - apart from the Dynaudio 200 XD’s - I’ve not seen anything that will get close.

Here are my two options (I know there are more but I’m restricting myself to these):

(1) Integrated DAC/amp feeding a pair of passive speakers
(2) High-end DAC/pre-amp feeding a pair of active speakers

The critical req’t is that the front-end streamer/source has to fully support the RAAT protocol. Also, I want volume control in Roon that directly changes the volume in the streamer/(pre-)amp (not digital volume).

With respect to (1), I have a demo lined up at my local dealers to hear the following:

2x Bluesound Powernode 2 (both set-up in ‘mono’ mode and feeding a speaker each) paired with:

KEF R300
Monitor Audio GS10 (already own)
Amphion Argon 3S (arriving tomorrow)

With respect to (2) I have been eyeing up studio monitors (e.g. Adam A7X, Dynaudio LYD-7) and active speakers (e.g. Acoustic Energy ActiveOne). I’ve not ventured too far down the active speaker route so far.

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I rather fancy the Argon3s I must admit. That rear passive radiator should make it flexible. I fancy the AE1 active too - a bit unusual these days in that it’s a basic single analogue input, class a/b arrangement with amps in both speakers. Ideal for a Bluesound Node 2 input. I guess both speakers have a studio monitor influence.

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Yes I’m quietly hopeful about the Argon3S (thanks @jon_michaels for the tip). The trait that I really like about the KEF LS50W’s is their transparency to the music. Apparently the Argon3S are similar in this regard. Main difference is that the Argon’s are rated down to 30Hz which is just insane for a standmount.

I’ve had Amphions twice. They’re very good. Always a question of rooms and personal taste though.


@Rik_Carter just my opinion but I think it would be hard to be disappointed by the Amphions. I’ve listened to many, many speakers and owned quite a few good ones, and the Amphions were among the best I’ve experienced. They’re esthetically super nice too imo.

That said, it’s about synergy with the electronics to a large degree, I fed them top-end amplification so it’ll be interesting to see how the Powernodes do!

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@jon_michaels @jobseeker
I am wondering whether to use a pair of the Amphion Amp100 mono’s?? I can get a pair for the same price as a single power node. So, in this scenario I’d have a single Bluesound Node 2 feeding a pair of the Amphion amps -> Amphion Argons. I can get all this stuff on loan or on money-back return so I’m happy to experiment. BTW,those things are tiny and lightweight so I can position them just behind/below the speakers (probably off the floor at the base of the speaker stand). What do you reckon? Will they do the job? Given that they are a patented Amphion amplifier design I can’t help but think that they should make the Argon’s sing!

Just a quick update.

Firstly, I’ve been in touch with Anssi Hyvonen at Amphion who has giving me some useful information about the Amphion AMP100 mono amplifiers. They are based on the Anview

“One of the reasons for particularly high synergy [of the Anaview amplifiers] with Amphion is that they used our hifi products to develop them.”

This is ideal and hopefully this satisfies what I think is one of the biggest factors in the performance of the KEF LS50W’s - great synergy between the amps and the drivers. This bodes well.

Secondly, I’ve been musing about the DAC source. At the moment I’ve got the Bluesound Powernode 2 (not yet heard with the Argon 3S but doing a great job with my MA GS10’s) which does 24/192, Roon Ready and only requires ethernet connection. However, the preferred connection to the Amphion AMP100’s is balanced XLR rather than unbalanced RCA. Admittedly, the cable run wouldn’t be long (3m each side) so I’m pretty sure it won’t be too detrimental. So, not to worried about that. However, I did have a moment of realisation. My ROCK is 2m from my desk at which I do most of my listening. Why not just get a USB DAC rather than a streamer/DAC? And, while I’m at it, go to town a bit with a higher end DAC than what is in the KEFs (still largely unknown what they use but some spurious research suggests the chip is nearly 10 years old).

First impression of the Amphion Argon 3S being powered by the Bluesound Powernode 2. The bass is deeper, grippier and more authentic than the LS50W’s in the sub-60hz region. Put it like this - I definitely do not need a sub with the Argon 3S. Expect to see a 3-mth old REL T7i on the forums soon :smiley:

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I’m very envious. I know the 30Hz ia an expected in-room response and is a -6db figure, but I don’t think you can do a great deal better in a stand-mount of those proportions. How close to the wall are they? I used to have a pair of Xenons - they could kick a bit with the side firing 8” bass drivers. I had some earlier Argons too.


-6dB at 30hz is also the same spec as the REL T7i. Now that is impressive.

In more good news I’ve been chatting with Anssi about DACs and it looks like they’ve been using the Mytek Brooklyn DAC in their own labs. So, I’ve also managed to get my hand on one of those at a very fair price too… :slight_smile:

So, the set-up that a pair of powernode 2’s in parallel playing into KEF LS50 and/or KEF R300 are going to be compared against is: Roon ROCK server - [USB] -> Mytek Brooklyn DAC - [Balanced XLR] -> Amphion AMP100 mono - [30cm speaker cable] -> Amphion Argon 3S.

I’m enjoying my little resurgence into component matching. Albeit, with the Amphion stuff I’ve basically copied what the guys in Finland are using in their lab.

The passive radiator is 53cm from the front wall and 63cm from side wall.

I’ve never had that amount of rear space to play with sadly. I’m building a house in Madeira with a dedicated music room, but I can still only make it 4m x 4m, so my lack of rear accommodation will continue :disappointed_relieved: Still, I will have a house in Madeira, so maybe not too much cause for sadness :heart_eyes: I’ve wondered about going really ‘out there’ and trying a pair of Larsen 4.

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wow that sounds amazing Paul.

sorry to hear of your problems.

I have a pair of the X300A’s and they are great sounding and a fraction of the price of the LS50W.

And also a pair of Adam A5X’s and it’s a close run thing between the two sets. I love them both, but at least the A5X’s allow me to pair with great DAC’s like the Chord Mojo which is my go to DAC for all uses. Oh, and of course they can be paired with the great Subwoofer options from Adam or others, unlike the X300A’s .

There’s something pretty beguiling about the Kef’s though, they sound superb on a pair of stands with room to breathe.

A 2nd Darko review here…

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Havent thought of the x300a’s… I have a Mojo in my bedroom headphone setup. So I could experiment!

the X300A’s are really very good value.

Here’s a very interesting and inciteful video comparing. And the X300A’s come off v well, imho.

If they did a vanilla powered LS50 without the DAC’s, I’d be in like a jot. I just find the lack of ability to switch DACs quite limiting in this day & age, especially when you go up to the price point of the LS50W. For the “throwaway” price of the X300A’s it’s much less of an issue.

I’ve not stopped listening to the Argon 3S. There is something very, very special about these. Apart from the bass and the transparency, balanced cohesion, etc. the most striking aspect is the directedness of the sound. I am sat 3m away but it genuinely feels like I’m wearing headphones. I’m pretty astonished right now. And this is with a single Bluesound Powernode 2. This combo would cost me £2100. I dont want to jump to any comparisons with the LS50Ws just yet but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

I think that’s their ‘UDD’ waveguide and very low crossover point at work perhaps

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Its magical. Definitely no marketing BS from Amphion with that UDD claim.

To recreate some of the LS50 Wireless sound signature, go with a passive coaxial driver design – for similar point source dispersion – and use convolution to apply an impulse response correction filter – for time coincidence.


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