KEF LS50 is one of the most revered monitors in the world, highly praised by professionals and adored by audiophiles, rave reviews from critics, not to mention the multiple awards it has won over the years. And the KEF LS50 is not even expensive to begin with, for such superb sound quality, the asking price is certainly affordable. KEF have certainly have outdone themselves by designing this magnificent HiFi gem of a product.
It is absolutely necessary to get the best matching amplifier for KEF LS50 so that you can unleash the speaker’s fullest potential, and not ruining the sound quality of KEF LS50. To do so, we must first find out the sound characteristics of the LS50 monitors as well as their limitations if there are any. With a full understanding of their sonic performances, then we can match the right amplifier.
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Sound Characteristics and Merits of KEF LS50
No matter how many years it has been, I always find that KEF LS50 are incredibly good-looking speakers and their aesthetics are both bold and minimalistic, absolute stunners. In terms of visual design, there shouldn’t be any issue pairing them with most amplifiers. With the high gloss piano black speaker cabinet, they will look great in most home interiors. The Uni-Q driver array with its striking bold color creates a signature uniqueness that no other brands have.
The KEF LS50 sensitivity is the first sign that they need high power amplifiers, as 85dB (2.83V/1m) is rather low. For a speaker of their size, having a frequency response of 79Hz-28kHz (±3dB) and a frequency range of 47Hz-45kHz (-6dB) is impressive. The nominal impedance is 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms) and the amplifier requirement is between 25-100 Watts, We probably should aim for amplifiers that can provide a power output of more than 70 Watts since KEF LS50 is quite power-hungry.
The moment we start playing KEF LS50, it already impresses us with the amount of transparency and resolution in its sound reproduction. Every musical detail is crystal clear, you will hear everything, and surprisingly they are not clinical as bad recordings still sound quite good. Usually, studio monitors are merciless, bringing the good and the bad into the light which sometimes makes it unbearable to listen to them. KEF LS50 may not be as clinical as other studio monitors but they are still faithful in terms of music presentation, it is as close as possible to what the artists want you to hear, without ruining the enjoyment.
The scale of the soundstage and the precision of the stereo imaging is simply exceptional, every pluck of the strings, the airy echo of the vocals, the subtle ambience and more, are clear as day. We probably hear new details from our favorite tunes which made us keep playing more and more songs, so to find out what we have been missing out on all these years. The bass reproduction is superb, rich with details. It is agile and taut, never sounding exaggerated. KEF LS50 can reach deep into the lower frequency as well which is good news as there is no need to add a subwoofer into the mix.
These monitors may sound slightly bright or harsh, and so when matching amplifiers, we need to be careful not to pair the LS50 to bright-sounding amps. This may make the overall sound quality too bright and cause listening fatigue thus ruining your enjoyment. If that ever happens, you might want to use copper speaker wires as it may help lower down the “brightness” of the sound. We should also avoid using subwoofers if possible unless most of your music is bass-heavy such as movie soundtracks, dubstep, etc. We find that KEF LS50 perform their best on its own but this is just our preference.
KEF LS50 Specifications
- Speaker Type: 2-way bass-reflex (rear port)
- Drive Units:
- Uni-Q Driver Array: 1 inch (25 mm) vented aluminum dome tweeter, 5.25 inch (130 mm) magnesium/aluminum alloy
- Frequency Response (±3dB): 79Hz-28kHz
- Frequency Range (-6dB): 47Hz-45kHz
- Amplifier Requirements: 25-100 Watts
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms (min. 3.2 Ohms)
- Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 85dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 302mm x 200mm x 278mm (11.9″ x 7.9″ x 10.9″)
- Weight: 7.2kg (15.8lbs)
Best Amplifiers to match with KEF LS50 Monitors
Rega Elicit-R is one of the best amplifiers that you can get to match with KEF LS50, this amp certainly has the power to fully drive your monitors. Elicit-R is a superb award-winning amplifier that is also revealing and transparent but still able to sound relax and warm without being clinical. By pairing KEF LS50 with Rega Elicit-R, you will have an audio system that can deliver to you an enjoyable and faithful music presentation of your favorite music without missing any subtle details. You should really audition them and check out the sound quality yourself, well worth your time and effort.
If budget is not an issue and you only want the best sound quality, you might want to go for Devialet 120. With Devialet 120 SAM (Speaker Active Matching) technology, this premium integrated amplifier can further improve the bass performance of KEF LS50, allowing it to dig deeper into the low frequency and never needing a subwoofer at all. You can further adjust the bass level via the settings provided by Devialet 120. The pristine sound quality of this high-end amplifier is one of the best at this price range. It is recommended to audition them first together with your KEF LS50 before you decide to invest.
Parasound HALO Integrated is probably the best amplifier to match with your KEF LS50 monitors since KEF uses Parasound equipment and gears for some of their demos at various HiFi shows. The transparency and music details which the Parasound HALO Integrated can reveal are astounding. It is neutral sounding with just a tad of warmth. Halo amp has class-leading control over the music delivery, no matter how complex and demanding the music is, it never loses its cool. Parasound HALO is more than capable of delivering to you the emotions of your favorite tunes without sounding harsh or hard.
For tube amplifiers, the Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum ii will be an ideal match for your KEF LS50 standmounters, as it brings boldness and muscle into your music. Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum ii brings full-bodied sound onto the table while KEF LS50 complements with transparency and excellent stereo imaging. This combination also produces a more punchy and a bit of warmth sound reproduction. There is a certain energy that the Cronus Magnum ii provides and what it lacks, the KEF LS50 will help to overcome which overall makes it a fun and entertaining audio system. If transparency and subtle details are really crucial to your music listening, you probably might give it a miss.
Peachtree Audio Nova 150 has more than enough power to drive the mini-monitors and the warm neutral sound characteristic of the amplifier works great with KEF LS50. Nova 150 delivers plenty of details and never sounding clinical or hard. Furthermore, the price point of this integrated amp is reasonably affordable. It has a built-in DAC which is a cool feature to have. The only qualm is that the aesthetic design of the Nova 150 looks a bit vintage and doesn’t match well with KEF LS50 stylish modern look. Definitely worth your time to check this amp out.
Marantz amps are quite sought after by LS50 speaker owners, but try to avoid those with low power. Marantz amplifiers tend to be musical sounding though. You might also consider getting HiFi separates such as mono power amplifiers. Good studio monitors have built-in mono amps for each of their drive units. Typically Class D power amps are more affordable than Class AB. You will require a separate stereo preamp either integrated with DAC or you can get an external digital-to-analog converter. This route can be more expensive but the difference in sound quality could be well worth the investment.
To sum it up
We didn’t mention using a subwoofer to supplement the bass as we find that KEF LS50 sounds the best as a pure 2.0 stereo setup. Unless your favorite tunes require a sound system that can hit deep bass extension and have a strong mid-bass response, then getting a subwoofer will be a great idea. Do go for sealed subwoofers and not from just any brands, you should get subwoofers from brands such as Ken Kreisel, Rythmik Audio, etc. As there are famous for their speed, agility, and musicality.
KEF LS50 are truly remarkable monitors and the recommended amplifiers mentioned in this article are some of the best matching amps that can fully unleash their potential. You should take your time to audition each one of them before deciding, as once you found the best matching amplifier for your KEF LS50, you will be enjoying your music for hours on end. Of course, feel free to use them as references when hunting for other brands/model amps, always trust your ears as they are the best judges for sound quality.