From KEF LS50s to R500s

To Doug Schneider,

I’ve just read your review of the KEF R500 speakers and it was very informative. I have a pair of LS50s that I’ve enjoyed very much for the last four years.

I’m thinking of upgrading to a pair of R500s as I’m looking for a bit more weight in the bass, but still want to maintain the wonderful open sound in the midrange of the LS50s. I listen to a lot of jazz trios with stand-up bass, and jazz vocalists, as well as classical. I’d rather not add a sub to the system and keep everything simple.

My room is about 17’ x 19’, but is open to a dining area on the side and the entry behind my listening area. The LS50s are 2’ from the front wall and spaced about 7’ apart. Preamp is tubed (Audible Illusions Modulus 3B), power amp is tubed (Music Reference RM-9, about 100W per side).

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this scenario. Also, since the R500 has been on the market for about seven years, are you aware of any changes to the R series that might be around the corner? My dealer is discounting the R series, which leads me to think this might happen.

I want to thank you in advance for your help and your audio reviews. I find they are very clear and to the point.

Eric L.
United States

Since you like your LS50s, moving upwards to a pair of R500s is a reasonable way to go if getting more bass is what you are after. I, too, like to avoid subwoofers, since they can sometimes be difficult to integrate with the main speakers.

The R500 delivers substantially more bass than the LS50 does, but whether you find them as open sounding in the midrange remains to be seen -- sometimes extra bass can alter the perception of the frequencies that are higher, though a lot of it has to do with room acoustics. It’s really something you’ll have to try in your own room. Of course, once you install them, work on placement -- where the LS50s are might not be exactly right for the R500s. Insofar as your preamplifier and amplifier go, I am sure they will work just fine, particularly if you are already happy with them driving your LS50s.

Seven years is a long time for a speaker line to be on the market, so if KEF replaces the series this year, either with new models or something else altogether, I wouldn’t be surprised. I haven’t heard that they will, but since the Q models were revamped and released last year, it’s likely that the R models are next in line. Should you wait and see? Maybe, maybe not. Even if they come out with something new, they are likely to be a little more expensive, since newer models usually come out higher in price. If dealers are discounting the R models, that can make already-great speakers even better deals than they are now. . . . Doug Schneider