Question Kef LS50 Meta & Denon AVC-X3700H

RileyJ

Novice Member
I am considering buying my first surround sound system and I wanted to ask for help & thoughts here.

Goals:
Living in London our living room is strangely shaped: the wall with the TV has an angle of about 15deg, one of the walls is half opened towards the kitchen and the ceiling is half normal height and half double height. Also the layout of the room does not really allow us to put speakers on ear height as it would obstruct walking. So overall the space is rather strangely shaped and constrained.

Our use-cases are about 50% movies, 30% music and 20% gaming. Budget is about £2-4k.

Current solution:
The best option I came up with so far is to get 5 Kef LS50 Metas and the Denon AVC-X3700H as the AVR. The front LR and surround speakers will have to be mounted on the wall and angled slightly down while the centre speaker should have a pretty much perfect location. What I like about this setup:
1) The Uni-Q drivers seem to have a pretty decent off-axis behavior so the setup should make a decent sound in a larger area and should not have a strongly localized sweet spot.
2) The metas have a fairly uncolored and transparent sound.
3) The metamaterial should be decent at absorbing the back reflections so might be better at being mounted relatively close to the wall - probably about 20cm.
4) Although metas are rated at 8Ω they are more like 3.5Ω in reality according to KEF's whitepaper and people's measurements. The Denon seems to be one of the few AVRs rated to work at least down to 4Ω so it seemed like a reasonable choice.
5) We really like the design of the LS50s.

Cons/Issues:
1) Locations of speakers will not be optimal but there just isn't that much that we can do about it.
2) Metas seem to be really hard to drive. The AVR's amplifier’s quality is probably not good enough to make the metas shine. Based on the reviews there is no clear trend in which amps work well with them and I can't find people trying this specific combo.

Alternatives considered:
1) Quad S-2: They are cheaper and their sound might be a bit cleaner and better separated. The ribbon tweeter makes the vertical off-axis response deliberately weaker which is normally awesome, but in our case it would just make it harder/impossible to align everything well.
2) B&W 706: They are a bit more expensive and maybe a bit clearer. However I don't think I am fond of the sound and don't like the style so overall seems like a worse option.
3) Focal Aria 906: Much clearer vocals, but otherwise seems a bit more mudded. Since I listen to a lot of non-vocals music it also doesn't seem like a good option.
4) Kef Q350: Way cheaper, not as clear, not as pretty.
5) Wait until the lockdown eases and actually listen to speakers in stores rather than read reviews and listen to sound samples.

Future upgrade options:
1) Add an amp for the front LR stereo for music. X3700H has pre-amp outputs so in the future it should be straightforward to add an amplifier.
2) Add sub. I am not big on bass and LS50s in general seem to have a decent bass response. I would give it a try without a sub at first but I expect it to follow soon.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to summarize my thinking. Do you have any advice? Are there some options I am missing? Is my room doomed anyway and should I just save the money? :)

Thanks for any advice
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Welcome to the Forum.

The LS50s, like the R Series will sound better the more power you can give them the more you will be rewarded. The X3700 is good enough. Your biggest problem is having them wall mounted. Being rear ported there is going to be a potential problem with bass response. Leave the port fully open and the boundary issues that is going to cause could lead to very poor and boomy bass.

If moving them off the wall is going to be an issue then, certainly for film and TV, a sub is going to be pretty essential as you can close the port, or have it half opened and set a higher crossover to take some of the bass burden away from the LS50s. I have KEF R100s mounted on my rear wall as surrounds with the bass ports closed and have them with a 100hz crossover. I would not like to do that if they were my front speakers. My front R300s are 30cm away from the wall and half ported. This gives me a good controlled bass response at 80hz for film and TV. For music they are full range from a HT capable stereo amp with a good clean bass response. That how I would set up the LS50s if I had them.

With a 30% music interest I would certainly add a stereo amp with HT by-pass into the system. The Denon is not going to be a great performer for music, it's their one real let down but in fairness no AV amp is going to be able to compete with a stereo amp on the music front. I use a Rega Elicit-R alongside my Denon X6500 for music. There is no comparison. You could use a speaker switcher and a standard stereo amp which would cut down the cost considerably but don't skimp on a stereo amp for the LS50s, they'll never forgive you.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Our use-cases are about 50% movies, 30% music and 20% gaming.
Add sub. I am not big on bass and LS50s in general seem to have a decent bass response. I would give it a try without a sub at first but I expect it to follow soon.

Add the sub right away if funds allow. The higher part of use is movies/gaming, but no subwoofer isn`t ideal. There is quite clear benefits to have subwoofer taking care of the low end with larger driver and own amp. This range can´t be played with LS50s. You would be taking some weight off from receiver too and speakers are likely to sound better when crossed bit higher vs. running full range all five. At least consider some cheaper woofer from BK Electronics, like BK XLS200 (350£) / P12-300SB (399£). When you run the setup with Audussey the subwoofer will blend great with the rest of system and the XT32 version on X3700H will also eq the sub so it won´t sound boomy. I think you will be very pleased to have that extra weight and depth for movies and likely for games aswell.
 

Zarf2007

Active Member
I would get the following:

(appreciate if your room shape won’t allow in which case substitute the speakers I recommend for the LS50s)

pair of KEF R5s for fronts (black - open box at Peter Tyson £1500)
Pair of KEF R100 for surround (£400 2nd hand on eBay - KEF R100 Bookshelf Loudspeakers - Gloss Black Compact - Uni-Q Drivers | eBay )
KEF R2C centre speaker (£800 at Peter Tyson)
Denon x3700h (£1000 open box at Peter Tyson - in black)
BK P12-300SB sub (£400)
Rotel A11 Tribute Stereo Amplifier in black £500
Beresford speaker switch (£90 - Beresford TC-7210 Amplifier/Speaker Selector Switch Router | eBay)

the last item let’s you switch between the L&R speakers for HT or music.

These KEFs will give the same performance as the LS50 and won’t be as hard to drive from your amp. If you go down the LS50 route I would strongly recommend getting a 3 or 5 channel power amp.

Also you can go to atmos 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 by add a pair or two pairs of KEF Q50a (or R8a if you can afford) speakers in the future.

gone slightly over budget but Peter Tyson or other reputable dealers would likely give some discount or throw in speaker cable if you purchased some or all of it from them
 
Last edited:

RileyJ

Novice Member
Thank you all for advice!

Unfortunately our room doesn't allow us to put towers in our room. Actually we are going to have to be fairly creative in terms of speaker positioning. We are likely going to run some thin, deep shelves from wall to mount the speakers. Does anybody have any advice on this? When I looked at wall mounting it ussually refers to mounting the speakers directly against the wall or very close to it.

We did a bit more research into this and it seems like a sub is a must for this system to help the AVR handle the KEF's in terms of power. We are thinking about going for the XLS200-DF. We considered the P12-300SB but we probably don't need the extra power for the sake of our neighbours :)

In terms of amps I am still a bit uncertain. I looked at some reviews of the Denon x3700h but it seems quite decent. At 4Ohms 2-channels it seems to be happy to go to about 168W before THD goes bad. The speakers seem to be optimal between 40-100W and amplifiers which can go significantly beyond that seem much more expensive, so I am not exactly sure what to look for. Also when people say that the speakers need a lot of power, is that mostly applicable at higher volumes?

The suggestions seem to be to got for an integrated stereo amp with switching. What is the advantage of doing this compared to a power amp connected to the pre-outs for the front 2 LR speakers? I was looking for example at the Roksan K3 power amp. Is the DAC in the x3700h noticably worse?
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thank you all for advice!

Unfortunately our room doesn't allow us to put towers in our room. Actually we are going to have to be fairly creative in terms of speaker positioning. We are likely going to run some thin, deep shelves from wall to mount the speakers. Does anybody have any advice on this? When I looked at wall mounting it ussually refers to mounting the speakers directly against the wall or very close to it.

We did a bit more research into this and it seems like a sub is a must for this system to help the AVR handle the KEF's in terms of power. We are thinking about going for the XLS200-DF. We considered the P12-300SB but we probably don't need the extra power for the sake of our neighbours :)

In terms of amps I am still a bit uncertain. I looked at some reviews of the Denon x3700h but it seems quite decent. At 4Ohms 2-channels it seems to be happy to go to about 168W before THD goes bad. The speakers seem to be optimal between 40-100W and amplifiers which can go significantly beyond that seem much more expensive, so I am not exactly sure what to look for. Also when people say that the speakers need a lot of power, is that mostly applicable at higher volumes?

The suggestions seem to be to got for an integrated stereo amp with switching. What is the advantage of doing this compared to a power amp connected to the pre-outs for the front 2 LR speakers? I was looking for example at the Roksan K3 power amp. Is the DAC in the x3700h noticably worse?

The famous last words and then you will find yourself wanting more soon. :) It´s not about power, the larger size on cabinet and driver will be heard even without massive cranking! The extra weight and depth will be worth it for movies. It´s really not much more ££ and looking your total budget this is small slice of it. Only reason to pick something smaller would be if the size would be issue regarding placement. But in that case i would buy SVS SB1000 to get step up in performance with small cab over the XLS200. :laugh: I have had the BK Gemini II and XLS200 won´t be dramatically different for movies. But also noticing here at AVF over the years how people feel they come bit short with movies and due to that i see P12 / XXLS400 from BK as the sweet spot for most people offering good performance/value ratio. At least if one doesn´t have paper thin walls or some crazy neighbours. Example the BK XXLS400 is used in many hifi systems where speakers cost 2k£. It has high level and low level connections (simultaneously) if you buy stereo amp with the Denon later on.
 

Zarf2007

Active Member
Thank you all for advice!

Unfortunately our room doesn't allow us to put towers in our room. Actually we are going to have to be fairly creative in terms of speaker positioning. We are likely going to run some thin, deep shelves from wall to mount the speakers. Does anybody have any advice on this? When I looked at wall mounting it ussually refers to mounting the speakers directly against the wall or very close to it.

We did a bit more research into this and it seems like a sub is a must for this system to help the AVR handle the KEF's in terms of power. We are thinking about going for the XLS200-DF. We considered the P12-300SB but we probably don't need the extra power for the sake of our neighbours :)

In terms of amps I am still a bit uncertain. I looked at some reviews of the Denon x3700h but it seems quite decent. At 4Ohms 2-channels it seems to be happy to go to about 168W before THD goes bad. The speakers seem to be optimal between 40-100W and amplifiers which can go significantly beyond that seem much more expensive, so I am not exactly sure what to look for. Also when people say that the speakers need a lot of power, is that mostly applicable at higher volumes?

The suggestions seem to be to got for an integrated stereo amp with switching. What is the advantage of doing this compared to a power amp connected to the pre-outs for the front 2 LR speakers? I was looking for example at the Roksan K3 power amp. Is the DAC in the x3700h noticably worse?

I think while the power amp will help for HT, a stereo amp will get you the best musical performance. Ideally a stereo amp with ht bypass works best but those without can use the switch I mentioned. The sweet spot is both power and stereo amp! Most AVRs are just terrible for music. Also don’t forget the bluesound node 2i for all of your music streaming needs!
 
Last edited:

Jester1066

Well-known Member
The suggestions seem to be to got for an integrated stereo amp with switching. What is the advantage of doing this compared to a power amp connected to the pre-outs for the front 2 LR speakers? I was looking for example at the Roksan K3 power amp. Is the DAC in the x3700h noticably worse?
I have a Denon x4500h - great receiver for home theatre use, but severely lacking as far as 2 channel music is concerned. It wasn't until I got my Audiolab 6000A integrated stereo amp (which has HT Bypass) and used it via the Denon's L&R preouts, that I realised just how poor (compared to a dedicated stereo amp) the Denon was. The Audiolab has bought my front stand mount speakers - Monitor Audio Silver 100s - to life. I was astounded by the amount of detail I was hearing via the Audiolab that simply wasn't there when listening through the AVR.

So, although more expensive - I would spend the extra and get a good stereo integrated amp with HT Bypass, as it makes integration of a dual use Home Theatre/Stereo Music System easy.

Here's a list of amps with HT Bypass (sometimes called AV or Processor input too, but means the same thing!)

 

Tonestar

Standard Member
Hi,
As much as you like the LS50s you aren't going to get anywhere near the best out of them with the space you have to play with. I'd be looking at something front ported or something designed to work close to a wall such as the neat iota range. I'd also consider a sub from the get go and crossover around 100hz to avoid any boom from the closeness of the speakers to the wall.
As per previous posts I use a dedicated power amp for my front two speakers for music and it makes a huge difference. I use a power amp as I had it in loft stock, if I was buying afresh I'd probably look at a full integrated for the fronts with a HT Bypass.

 

RileyJ

Novice Member
So from all of the discussion I am fairly certain that I will get a sub. In terms of which one, that will depend on the space mainly.

However the part that I can't figure out is the amp for music. It seems like to get a decent sound out of the metas I would need to spend about £600 for the Audiolab 6000A or about £1300 for the Roksan K3. At that point I am reaching the price difference of Kef LS50 Wireless II which are about £1300 more expensive than the LS50 metas. From all of the reviews I found the Wireless II have pretty amazing amplifiers for the price and in terms of music sound quality are the way to go. The biggest issue I see there is I am not sure if they could be connected to the AVR.

Do you know if they could be connected through AVR pre-amp -> RCA -> 3.5mm audio jack -> Wireless II? Alternatively does the AVR x3700h have eARC out that could be used? Is this a completely ridiculous idea for some other reason?
One reason could be that the analog->digital->analog conversion that happens inside the Wireless II might introduce so much delay that they would be useless.

At this point I also feel like just giving up on the 5.1 and going for the wireless ones in a 2.1 setup and sacrificing the surround aspect...
 

Tom @ Cinehome

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
If you decide to just start with a stereo only set up, you should consider the Lyngdorf MH3 / BW3 or MH2 / BW2 loudspeakers and boundary woofers. Visually discreet, beautifully finished and sound superb with the TDAI-1120. We have installed many of these systems and have this on demonstration. Absolutely superb.

If you decide to go for surround sound and you're looking for a separate amplifier for 2 channel with HT bypass, again the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 is superb. Lyngdorf's RoomPerfect system won't change the sound of the LS50's, unlike the other room eq / correction systems around. It will preserve the very reason you bought them - their sound. It has enough power to drive the LS50's extremely well. Also, you mentioned you have an unusual room. Again, RoomPerfect takes a 3d measurement of the room and is sublime at getting the best from your loudspeakers.

It also has excellent streaming features, a turntable input and excellent app. It's subwoofer blend is unparalled too. This, combined with a Denon 3700, will deliver in spades and give you a "best of both worlds" system.

There are potential boundary issues using the LS50's so close to a wall which others have pointed out. Experimenting with closing the rear port will help mitigate a large degree of that which will, as mentioned, mean / may mean using a subwoofer. An SVS SB1000 is compact and performs extremely well and again alleviates some of the strain from the 3700.

We've done a lot of integations of the 1120 and Denon's and once set up correctly sounds superb.


mh-3-loudspeaker


Hope this helps? Best, Tom
 

The latest video from AVForums

Oculus Quest 2 VR headset + Rotel A14 MkII Amp Reviews & Best of the Month
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom