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Audience The One vs. KEF LS50 ??? [speaker choice]


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I'm in the process of upgrading our bedroom music system, and I'm thinking of getting new speakers to replace the Audioengine P4 speakers there now.

 

I've taken my older Arcam integrated amp, CIAudio DAC, and Squeezebox Touch -- all previously in my main music system -- put them in the bedroom, and would now like to upgrade the speakers.

 

Size matters, since the P4 speakers, along with other gear, are sitting -- and the new ones will sit -- on our solid wood dresser on top of Audioengine stands.

 

So, between the KEF LS50 and the Audience The One, what are the pros and cons of each?

 

Dave, who realizes the Audience is $1K and the KEF is $1.5K but that isn't a decision point too much here although he doesn't want to spend more than the price of the KEF

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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I reckon LS50 deserves better placement that sitting on the dresser...

Don't you have the possibility to place it on stands?

 

No, stands aren't possible.

 

But the dresser, and the reason I mentioned it as solid wood, is Stickley furniture.

And that means solid is super-solid, and is likely more immune to vibration than most stands.

 

When you use the word "deserve," how do you mean that in this context?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Resonance isn't the issue with placement on a dresser top, it's the ground plane reflections of midbass that's the problem. As a cone driver radiates it's field in a 360 degree wavefront, the longer less directive waves will contact the desktop first. As they do, those frequencies will be amplified so to speak instead of a natural decay as the waves travel,to 4 pi space for a speaker on a stand. This is called boundary loading. Same thing for placing a speaker up against a wall. Both are real work worst case examples UNLESS the designer accounted for this in the crossover by modifying baffle step compensation.

 

Now, as to your comparison. As a speaker designer, for average or non nearfield use a two way speaker will always perform better than a Fullrange driver. Off axis response in a Fullrange driver is limited by the driver diameter. The smaller the driver, the better the off axis response but they never get any better above 3-4khz here as they just can't be that small and produce any low end response. A driver needs to displace air to do that and 3" drivers simply aren't up to the task. Some mfgrs will produce a driver it's longer cone excursion or in and out motion to compensate for surface area limitations....and that's ok for a driver operating in a passband. That's NOT ok for a Fullrange driver producing mid and high frequencies as well for as the cone moves to produce bass and lower midrange, that same movement will affect the higher freq reproduction.

 

That being said, for a design perspective the KEF has the Audience beat hands down in every area, particularly in what the KEF does as a concentric driver moving the drivers acoustic centers in complete alignment with near zero lobing from the polar response. But the KEF does share a negative in that again, the seperate tweeters performance is compromised by the moving midbass cone when playing low frequency material. Therefore, the KEF is also somewhat limited in playback range to a nearfield setting.....which if I'm not mistaken is what it was designed for.

 

So if you're looking for a bedroom speaker for casual, background music listened off axis, neither speaker is the right application, BUT the KEF would be the lesser of the two evils. You didn't mention what the primary listening position would be so I 'assumed' in bed!lol......kindly correct me if I am wrong in that you have a nearfield, on axis LP instead. In my bedroom two carefully placed in ceiling speakers easily outperform any box speaker in this application......and given the cost of what you're comparing, if you can install them yourself, equally or less expensive. Since you have an amplifier already, the powered KEFs aren't really neccessary other than to eliminate the amplifier.

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I'm in the process of upgrading our bedroom music system, and I'm thinking of getting new speakers to replace the Audioengine P4 speakers there now.

 

I've taken my older Arcam integrated amp, CIAudio DAC, and Squeezebox Touch -- all previously in my main music system -- put them in the bedroom, and would now like to upgrade the speakers.

 

Size matters, since the P4 speakers, along with other gear, are sitting -- and the new ones will sit -- on our solid wood dresser on top of Audioengine stands.

 

So, between the KEF LS50 and the Audience The One, what are the pros and cons of each?

 

Dave, who realizes the Audience is $1K and the KEF is $1.5K but that isn't a decision point too much here although he doesn't want to spend more than the price of the KEF

 

FYI: A Stereophile review of 'The One' Audience ClairAudient The One loudspeaker | Stereophile.com

The Truth Is Out There

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I just ordered the Ones to see if they sound better than my mini Magnepans but my set up is for a desktop system. Call audience and they will give you 30 day return shipping both ways included. So nothing to loose.

 

Very very interesting.

 

I don't see anything about that free trial on their website.

 

So is there anyone specific there to ask for?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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I have the LS-50s. They do deserve proper placement and sound excellent when that is done.

 

Read Stereophile's review of the Audience the One today just by coincidence. Seem to remember them saying these speakers tolerated poor placement better than most. The example of within a bookshelf was given.

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I have the LS-50s. They do deserve proper placement and sound excellent when that is done.

 

Read Stereophile's review of the Audience the One today just by coincidence. Seem to remember them saying these speakers tolerated poor placement better than most. The example of within a bookshelf was given.

 

Yes, and that's the reason at this point I'm leaning much more toward the Audience the One speakers.

 

In fact, for the same placement tolerance reasons, I'm really more and more curious about the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 speakers, new, also small (although a bit bigger than The One model), and the early descriptions make them seem as if they'd be even better for my desktop-like-but-not-exactly-really situation.

 

And Maelob, I sent an email to John McDonald, but haven't heard back from him. Thanks for that suggestion.

 

Dave, who has the impression that these are glory days for audio equipment where there are a lot of ways to make good decisions

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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It may make some cringe, but this situation is exactly what good looking volumes from a used book store are for. Raising speakers above a flat plane surface to minimize those pesky reflections. Amazing what a difference that can make, and it can have a very large WAF too. Our bedroom speakers are raised this way and flanked by female oriented decorative objects. I have not mentioned to Karen those expensive dolls with their yards of fabric actually help the sound.. ;)

 

You really need to get a listen to both speakers in your space. The Audience The One is a nice speaker, and I have never heard it live up to its reputation, though admittedly, I have only heard it in two installations. The people that own them love them though. Eveyone I know that has the KEF's adores them and they sound good everytime I hear them. To my ears they have a particular sound that is easy to hear. Pleasant and not tiring a trifle on the forward side I think. Excleent perhaps, for your use.

 

Of course, I use a set of PSB Imagine Bs in the bedroom, and I love them. They don't have the brassy clarity of the KEFs, but with the grill on, they look really really nice. High WAF.

 

No, stands aren't possible.

 

But the dresser, and the reason I mentioned it as solid wood, is Stickley furniture.

And that means solid is super-solid, and is likely more immune to vibration than most stands.

 

When you use the word "deserve," how do you mean that in this context?

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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It may make some cringe, but this situation is exactly what good looking volumes from a used book store are for. Raising speakers above a flat plane surface to minimize those pesky reflections. Amazing what a difference that can make, and it can have a very large WAF too. Our bedroom speakers are raised this way and flanked by female oriented decorative objects. I have not mentioned to Karen those expensive dolls with their yards of fabric actually help the sound.. ;)

 

You really need to get a listen to both speakers in your space. The Audience The One is a nice speaker, and I have never heard it live up to its reputation, though admittedly, I have only heard it in two installations. The people that own them love them though. Eveyone I know that has the KEF's adores them and they sound good everytime I hear them. To my ears they have a particular sound that is easy to hear. Pleasant and not tiring a trifle on the forward side I think. Excleent perhaps, for your use.

 

Of course, I use a set of PSB Imagine Bs in the bedroom, and I love them. They don't have the brassy clarity of the KEFs, but with the grill on, they look really really nice. High WAF.

 

Good point about raising the speakers above a flat plane surface.

 

At the moment, with our Audioengine P4 speakers, I'm using the company's DS2 desktop stands, shown below.

I was thinking those same stands would work well with new speakers, too.

And perhaps that raises the speakers enough above the dresser's surface.

 

O'wise, we've been selling and giving away a bunch of books. Perhaps I could try some of them, too, before they go.

 

Dave, who is going to use some of his credit at the local used-book store this afternoon to shop for CDs

 

 

DS2_dims.png

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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I usually listen to speakers first and then look at the measurements to confirm what I'm hearing. Since I've not heard either speakers, one can argue I shouldn't comment. But in reality, Audience the One and KEF LS50 are completely different beasts with different design philosophy. Audience eliminated the crossover but sacrifices a flat frequency response. So your sound will be colored. KEF LS50 tries to have a flat frequency response with a crossover. That said, speaker placement can have a bigger effect on frequency response than speakers themselves. And different people may prefer different frequency responses or the absence of crossover. I would never buy speakers without hearing them first with my own gear. But for speakers like Audience The One, I think this rule is especially true.

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The tilt may cause more problems that it solves, at least with some people. Assuming you are lounging about on the bed listening to these, you may want no tilt, or even a slight downward tilt, so the tweeters are aligned with the height of your ears. Tilting the speakers can cause some interesting phase effects. If you need the upward tilt, you might look at a set of Magnepan Minis or something along those lines.

 

Good point about raising the speakers above a flat plane surface.

 

At the moment, with our Audioengine P4 speakers, I'm using the company's DS2 desktop stands, shown below.

I was thinking those same stands would work well with new speakers, too.

And perhaps that raises the speakers enough above the dresser's surface.

 

O'wise, we've been selling and giving away a bunch of books. Perhaps I could try some of them, too, before they go.

 

Dave, who is going to use some of his credit at the local used-book store this afternoon to shop for CDs

 

 

DS2_dims.png

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I would never buy speakers without hearing them first with my own gear. But for speakers like Audience The One, I think this rule is especially true.

 

I basically agree.

 

Which is why, as noted earlier in this thread and in another one I started, I like to buy audio toys from retailers that allow me to audition the gizmo in my home for at least 30 days, with a full return if the item doesn't work for me.

 

So, for the Audience The One speakers, that means a purchase from Music Direct for me, since I can do that full in-home audition that way. With that method, if the speakers don't work, it would cost me only the return shipping.

 

But for the KEF LS50 speakers, which seem to be more particular about placement than the Audience speakers, I can find no source that allows a return in full. Buying direct from KEF would allow a return, but in addition to return shipping, there's a 15% restocking fee, which would be $225…kinda costly for an in-home audition.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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The tilt may cause more problems that it solves, at least with some people. Assuming you are lounging about on the bed listening to these, you may want no tilt, or even a slight downward tilt, so the tweeters are aligned with the height of your ears. Tilting the speakers can cause some interesting phase effects. If you need the upward tilt, you might look at a set of Magnepan Minis or something along those lines.

 

Ah, another useful point, Paul.

 

However, "bedroom" placement can be a bit misleading, for in addition to the bed, we have a comfortable chair that's in-line with the audio setup, not anywhere near as low as the bed.

 

And so, with my current Audioengine P4 and stands setup, the speakers basically are the same level as my ears in that chair, and that chair is one place I like listening to music in that room.

 

But thanks for the caveats.

Really, at its best this forum has been a learning treasure for me.

 

Dave, who says everything in his signature below for the main system other than the speakers has been added in the year since he started haunting these realms and getting good ideas from others here

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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I am laying in bed with my best friend and wife, two cats, and a dog enjoying the Enigma variations in 24/96 right now. Definitely the best seat in the house! :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Ah, another useful point, Paul.

 

However, "bedroom" placement can be a bit misleading, for in addition to the bed, we have a comfortable chair that's in-line with the audio setup, not anywhere near as low as the bed.

 

And so, with my current Audioengine P4 and stands setup, the speakers basically are the same level as my ears in that chair, and that chair is one place I like listening to music in that room.

 

But thanks for the caveats.

Really, at its best this forum has been a learning treasure for me.

 

Dave, who says everything in his signature below for the main system other than the speakers has been added in the year since he started haunting these realms and getting good ideas from others here

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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But for the KEF LS50 speakers, which seem to be more particular about placement than the Audience speakers, I can find no source that allows a return in full. Buying direct from KEF would allow a return, but in addition to return shipping, there's a 15% restocking fee, which would be $225…kinda costly for an in-home audition.

 

That's just about right. That would be the discount they would have to offer someone to purchase a returned pair. They turn around and sell those as "refurbished" because once the seal is broken on a pair of speakers they are considered used.

David

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That's just about right. That would be the discount they would have to offer someone to purchase a returned pair. They turn around and sell those as "refurbished" because once the seal is broken on a pair of speakers they are considered used.

 

David,

 

If I understand correctly, you're in the retail audio business, with a physical-world shop.

That would color your perspective, as it would mine if I were at that end of things.

 

However, as a customer, if I can deal with reputable online dealers who offer better return policies, why shouldn't I do it?

I get the sense that you think it's the wrong thing to do, even though those online dealers -- who most certainly have figured their cost margins -- can afford to offer such help. Please tell me if that sense about your take on things is incorrect.

 

And yes -- help.

That's because there's no better way to audition audio equipment than in my own home, in the room where it will live, with the other equipment that it will hook up with in the long run.

 

I mean, if I took advantage of such liberal return policies -- say by ordering things I'm planning to return even before I get them -- that would be the wrong thing. But I only order items that I expect I will like or love, and will keep.

 

The massive changes in commerce, due the Internet, are difficult for many physical-world retailers. That I understand.

But to disparage those customers who use the Internet, and don't misuse actual shops -- say by checking out products there first, and then buying online -- might not be the best way to deal with those massive changes.

 

Dave, who also finds the manufacturer direct model also with return policies might be even better than online retailers in some ways

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Your sense is not correct. Having lent out numerous items for home trial I do have a sense of how it works with customers and usually they are truly in the market and not just tire kickers. But, my policies are not as liberal and I will usually allow for a weekend or a couple of days audition time before needing a demo product back. A good many of the companies I deal with don't allow dealers to sell on the internet anyway so mostly it doesn't affect me at all.

 

It was surely not my intent to disparage anyone in the comments I made about Kef's return policy. Simply pointing out why they are what they are from them. They have been around a long time and know how to sell things so I'm pretty sure they gave their policy some thought and how it would be perceived by customers before implementing it. Certainly things have and are changing with the internet becoming more of a marketplace and we are adapting. We do mainly custom systems in people's homes and do A/V commercial work also which is actually been a nice change of pace from the strictly high end world. We draw up systems, people do a little auditioning, we give them an estimate and they order it. Frankly a very large percentage of them hardly need coaxing or steering or even many choices from what we propose. They are usually so delighted to hear a decent sounding system that the nuts and bolts does not concern them nearly as much as how the system sounds as a whole and how it can fit into both their home and their lifestyle. Because these folks are not shopping for a very very defined and elusive finite "sound" they basically are doing what they do when they hire any other professional they hire for other things in their lives, they Take our advice. No shopping the internet, no listening to every single thing in a certain price range, they just trust and then we deliver. And what we deliver is one hell of a lot better system in almost all case than they have ever owned and that is good enough for them. They buy it, they use it, they love it.

 

So. In answer to your comment on how to deal with changes. We are dealing with it. And we are not disparaging anyone while we are doing it. Sorry if you got that "sense" from me.

 

I have zero problem with the online retailers that offer 100% money back on purchases before 30 days but I do wonder how they manage to give such a guaranty. I am guessing they must do enough volume to offset the occasional return.

David

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Hi David- the single downside of working with a vendor that way probably never applies to you. But it sure does to a whole lot of vendors I have to deal with.

 

The end result is that you can never pay those kinds of vendors upfront, and never completely until they have the job done right. It is annoying and stressful to have to deal that way, but if you don't make sure the vendor has some skin in the game, the job often doesn't get done right.

 

It will always be something- cables not run correctly, or an unauthorized substitution, or something along those lines. Dealing with an upfront money back guarantee is so much less stressful.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Hi David- the single downside of working with a vendor that way probably never applies to you. But it sure does to a whole lot of vendors I have to deal with.

 

The end result is that you can never pay those kinds of vendors upfront, and never completely until they have the job done right. It is annoying and stressful to have to deal that way, but if you don't make sure the vendor has some skin in the game, the job often doesn't get done right.

 

It will always be something- cables not run correctly, or an unauthorized substitution, or something along those lines. Dealing with an upfront money back guarantee is so much less stressful.

 

Not the same scenario as the online seller but I get your point. For sure that is how we operate also in that we do not collect the last payment until everything is finished, installed and the customer is happy. Of course we offer a guarantee that everything is done as per signed contracts. I don't mind one bit offering a guarantee in these instances. That's how things are done.

 

The point I was trying to make is that our customers do not then wait a couple weeks and say "you know, the highs in the living room system aren't quite as crystalline as we'd like. Can we get a new amp to replace that one." Has never (I know, never say never!) happened. They listen when we show them systems when we first meet, we go over options, explain quality differences, they make choices, we install the system and they call after everything is installed and gush about how much they love their system. I'm not trying to say we're perfect or trying to toot our own horn but more I am making the distinction of type of client we have been dealing with and how they approach a music system. Just a different business model than an online retailer is all.

David

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...but more I am making the distinction of type of client we have been dealing with and how they approach a music system. Just a different business model than an online retailer is all.

 

Different business model, for sure.

But also a very different target market for you vs. for the higher-end online audio retailers.

 

I'm curious, then, David: Have you seen former customers migrate from the hand's-on help you offer to the self-audio-care that most of us here on CA are practicing?

 

Dave, who simply says different customer types and thinks also of how he does all his own bike mechanics building up bicycles from bare frames vs. his cycling friends who pop into the bike shop for every "little" thing such as a derailleur adjustment

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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