Kef LS50 Meta vs Focal Aria 906

jonnybee123

Active Member
Kef LS50 Meta vs Focal Aria 906's review

I started reading and watching the reviews on the net regarding the new Kef LS50 Meta. There are so many rave reviews out there at the moment I became curious to hear for myself if they were any match for my similarly priced Focal Arias on dedicated stands.

So I decided to bring home a pair of Kef LS50 Metas on demo for the long New Year's weekend courtesy of Audio T in Bristol.

They only had a white pair on demo but I wasn't too concerned as if I were to buy a new pair I would have ordered them in black.

So I got them home and sat them on top of my Focal stands and used several blobs of blu tac to keep them in place while I did AB comparisons with the Focals.

At this point the wife walked in and said.. "They look like mini washing machines, they're so ugly" I ignored her sarcastic comments and assured myself it's not the looks it's the sound that counts.

The Focal Arias are known for their great reproduction of vocals. As I mainly listen to female vocals I've been very happy with them and had no thoughts of upgrading until I read about the LS50 Metas.

I watched several video reviews and everyone are saying amazing things about these speakers. I just had to demo them.

So I connected them up to my Rega Elex R and switched off my BK S P12-300SB sub as I was curious to see just how low these mini wonders would go without the help of the sub.

After experimenting with positioning I finally settled on a little toe-in and moved them slightly wider apart than I was used to with the Focals.

The build quality of the Kefs are very solid indeed. I didn't realise when I bought them that they do not come with speaker grills. The speaker binding posts at the rear are of a very high quality and the units themselves are quite heavy for such a small size stand mount.

So what did I think of the sound of the new Kef LS50 Meta? Well the imaging between the speakers is very good indeed, that'll probably be down to the Uni Q drivers. The bass was unexpectedly full and deep and the sound stage in particular was more back towards the line of both speakers. If I only had the Kefs to listen to and had no other speakers to compare them with I'd say the Kefs are a very capable speaker indeed.

But for me the Kefs were no match for my Arias. The Kefs sounded 'shut in' in comparison to the Focals. The Focals defined instruments much more clearer and the Kefs vocals were just uninspiring in comparison to the Focals

Guitars strings were extremely revealing with the Arias and sounded uninteresting with the Kefs. Vocals with the Focals were rich and velvety but the Kefs made them sound less than three dimensional.

Maybe the Kef LS50 Meta would sound better with a more expensive amp or in a different listen environment with more space and better acoustics but in my humble living room, in my favourite armchair they were just no competition against the Arias.

The Focal Aria's will be with me for many years to come I think. The combination of the Focals and the BK sub with DSPeaker Anti-Mode taming the lows and boominess are for me a match made in heaven. The Kefs have reminded me just how astoundingly good the Focals 906s are.

If you too have been reading the Kef LS50 Meta reviews like I have and are curious I would definitely recommend you give them a home demo. They are very good sounding speakers. But I don't think they are the giant killers everyone is making them out to be. This is only my personal opinion with my 50 something year old ears. To you they may sound amazing who knows?

The Focals are back on their stands now pride of place and the Kefs are back in their box and ready to be taken back to the shop after the New year. I had high hopes with the Kefs but they just didn't do it for me I'm afraid.

Source. Tidal HiFi
Streamer - Bluesound Node2
Amplifier - Rega Elex R

Happy New Year to one and all 🙂

IMG-20210101-WA0000.jpeg


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Profanum

Standard Member
Nice review! I am looking to buy LS50W II for my TV, still doing the research, but I love the looks!

You should try and compare Dynaudio Special 40 with Focals, you won't be dissapointed.
 

goingoingong

Distinguished Member
Kef LS50 Meta vs Focal Aria 906's review

I started reading and watching the reviews on the net regarding the new Kef LS50 Meta. There are so many rave reviews out there at the moment I became curious to hear for myself if they were any match for my similarly priced Focal Arias on dedicated stands.

So I decided to bring home a pair of Kef LS50 Metas on demo for the long New Year's weekend courtesy of Audio T in Bristol.

They only had a white pair on demo but I wasn't too concerned as if I were to buy a new pair I would have ordered them in black.

So I got them home and sat them on top of my Focal stands and used several blobs of blu tac to keep them in place while I did AB comparisons with the Focals.

At this point the wife walked in and said.. "They look like mini washing machines, they're so ugly" I ignored her sarcastic comments and assured myself it's not the looks it's the sound that counts.

The Focal Arias are known for their great reproduction of vocals. As I mainly listen to female vocals I've been very happy with them and had no thoughts of upgrading until I read about the LS50 Metas.

I watched several video reviews and everyone are saying amazing things about these speakers. I just had to demo them.

So I connected them up to my Rega Elex R and switched off my BK S P12-300SB sub as I was curious to see just how low these mini wonders would go without the help of the sub.

After experimenting with positioning I finally settled on a little toe-in and moved them slightly wider apart than I was used to with the Focals.

The build quality of the Kefs are very solid indeed. I didn't realise when I bought them that they do not come with speaker grills. The speaker binding posts at the rear are of a very high quality and the units themselves are quite heavy for such a small size stand mount.

So what did I think of the sound of the new Kef LS50 Meta? Well the imaging between the speakers is very good indeed, that'll probably be down to the Uni Q drivers. The bass was unexpectedly full and deep and the sound stage in particular was more back towards the line of both speakers. If I only had the Kefs to listen to and had no other speakers to compare them with I'd say the Kefs are a very capable speaker indeed.

But for me the Kefs were no match for my Arias. The Kefs sounded 'shut in' in comparison to the Focals. The Focals defined instruments much more clearer and the Kefs vocals were just uninspiring in comparison to the Focals

Guitars strings were extremely revealing with the Arias and sounded uninteresting with the Kefs. Vocals with the Focals were rich and velvety but the Kefs made them sound less than three dimensional.

Maybe the Kef LS50 Meta would sound better with a more expensive amp or in a different listen environment with more space and better acoustics but in my humble living room, in my favourite armchair they were just no competition against the Arias.

The Focal Aria's will be with me for many years to come I think. The combination of the Focals and the BK sub with DSPeaker Anti-Mode taming the lows and boominess are for me a match made in heaven. The Kefs have reminded me just how astoundingly good the Focals 906s are.

If you too have been reading the Kef LS50 Meta reviews like I have and are curious I would definitely recommend you give them a home demo. They are very good sounding speakers. But I don't think they are the giant killers everyone is making them out to be. This is only my personal opinion with my 50 something year old ears. To you they may sound amazing who knows?

The Focals are back on their stands now pride of place and the Kefs are back in their box and ready to be taken back to the shop after the New year. I had high hopes with the Kefs but they just didn't do it for me I'm afraid.

Happy New Year to one and all 🙂
How much running in, if any, did the LS50s get?
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Nice review! I am looking to buy LS50W II for my TV, still doing the research, but I love the looks!

You should try and compare Dynaudio Special 40 with Focals, you won't be dissapointed.
Not really a fair comparison. At 3x the cost of the Focals, they should sound better!
 

jonnybee123

Active Member
How much running in, if any, did the LS50s get?
This was the shops demo model. I couldn't tell you to be honest I assume it has done the rounds being a new and highly rated popular speaker. The speakers were couriered from one of their other stores up country somewhere.

I'm not saying the LS50 Meta is a bad speaker. My preference between the two was for the Focal Arias. My piece was about a direct comparison between the two brands and in my opinion the Focals sounded better.
 

jonnybee123

Active Member
Not really a fair comparison. At 3x the cost of the Focals, they should sound better!
The Focals were reviewed on Avforums back in 2013 priced at RRP £898. They were selling in Richer Sounds recently for £799 now reduced to £699. The Kef LS50 Meta are currently on sale for £1000 here in the UK. I think I said they were 'similarly priced speakers' . Not quite sure where you got 3x the cost from? If you're a fan of the LS50 meta that's great. I did what everyone on here advises you to do when buying speakers that's to listen to them first before buying and to let my ears decide. My ears decided on the Focals. 🙂
 
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acgingersnaps

Active Member
The Focals were reviewed on Avforums back in 2013 priced at RRP £898. They were selling in Richer Sounds at £799 now reduced to £699. The Kef LS50 Meta are currently on sale for £1000 here in the UK. I think I said they were 'similarly priced speakers' . Not quite sure where you got 3x the cost from? If you're a fan of the LS50s that's great. I did what everyone on here advises you to do when buying speakers that's to listen to them first before buying and to let my ears decide. My ears decided on the Focals. 🙂
Hi. He was suggesting the dynaudio special 40. £2.7k. Not heard the meta's so can't comment on them.
I have heard the floorstanding version of yours and it sounded very good.
 

jonnybee123

Active Member
Hi. He was suggesting the dynaudio special 40. £2.7k. Not heard the meta's so can't comment on them.
I have heard the floorstanding version of yours and it sounded very good.
I do apologise. £2.7K is way out of my price range so it wouldn't be worth me giving them a demo if I couldn't afford to buy them.
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
I do apologise. £2.7K is way out of my price range so it wouldn't be worth me giving them a demo if I couldn't afford to buy them.
Mine too!
 

goingoingong

Distinguished Member
The Focals were reviewed on Avforums back in 2013 priced at RRP £898. They were selling in Richer Sounds recently for £799 now reduced to £699. The Kef LS50 Meta are currently on sale for £1000 here in the UK. I think I said they were 'similarly priced speakers' . Not quite sure where you got 3x the cost from? If you're a fan of the LS50 meta that's great. I did what everyone on here advises you to do when buying speakers that's to listen to them first before buying and to let my ears decide. My ears decided on the Focals. 🙂
I've ordered some KEF LS50 Wireless which should be coming next week. I was interested to read your comparisions between the Aria 906 and the Meta as my fallback from the KEF was Focal.

But in my case a Shape 50 or 65 studio monitor which seem to be sort of like active versions of the Aria 906 in terms of the drivers used (flax bass/mid and aluminium/magnesium tweeter with poron suspension). At around £800 or £1000 they compare well to the passive 906 in price although they don't look as domestic room friendly. And despite being studio monitors they are well reviewed as also being suitable for audiophile use https://www.soundstagesimplifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/131-focal-shape-65-analog-active-loudspeakers

From your comments on Focal vs Kef I'm wondering now whether to cancel the LS50W and just go straight to the Focal instead....
 
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jonnybee123

Active Member
I've ordered some KEF LS50 Wireless which should be coming next week. I was interested to read your comparisions between the Aria 906 and the Meta as my fallback from the KEF was Focal.

But in my case a Shape 50 or 65 studio monitor which seem to be sort of like active versions of the Aria 906 in terms of the drivers used (flax bass/mid and aluminium/magnesium tweeter with poron suspension). At around £800 or £1000 they compare well to the passive 906 in price although they don't look as domestic room friendly. And despite being studio monitors they are well reviewed as also being suitable for audiophile use https://www.soundstagesimplifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/131-focal-shape-65-analog-active-loudspeakers

From your comments on Focal vs Kef I'm wondering now whether to cancel the LS50W and just go straight to the Focal instead....
I definitely heard the difference between the two in favour of the Focals. But please demo them both if you have the opportunity. :)
 

trojantrow1

Standard Member
this is really interesting as I have owned LS50's for some time. and recently got the upgrade bug as there are some things I don't like about the sound. Other things I do.

So I picked up a pair of used focal Aria 906's. so here is what I think. I will elaborate but in short, the LS50's are back on their stands.

firstly my system is the following

5 x 4m room
emotive XMC-1 AV processor
Nakamichi AVP-1 7 channel class AB 150w x 2 @ 8ohm and 110W x 7 @8Ohm
Source = windows 10 PC, jriver media centre with blurays and flac files for music / youtube via Virgin V6 box and also Netflix and amazon prime

I'm really hoping this helps people and I'm going to give the Focals another try anyway just incase. but here goes.

first impressions of the focal were very good. I was convinced straight away that these are better than my LS50's.

Focal pro's = Bass is a bit deeper, bass is louder, the whole speaker is louder for the same amount of watts (more sensitive). the sometimes harsh upper midrange of the LS50's don't have that issue on the focals. The vocals still sound good. Same kind of tone as the LS50s which I wanted. The louder you play the focals the better they get and they do so in such an unrestrained way, they never sound pushed and never loose their composure where the kefs will start to become limited more quickly.

I had the focals in for 2 days listening to all my favourite track and movies. Ran them with no eq and run dirac live also and integrated the subs I have.

then I started to think something was missing. I actually noticed them from the beginning. There were a few things that I picked up on that were not a deal breaker at first because of all the good points above. I never said anything to my wife. I just kept it shut and continued listening convincing myself that in 8 out of 10 ways, the focals are the better speaker.

then one night after a few Gin's. (not too many) I turned to my wife and said "you know what, somethings not quite right". then she piped up and said "Well I prefer the Kefs" this is coming from somebody who hates the way the kefs look so nuff said!

what was the problem...... Well. for a start I noticed that they sounded full and nice at low volumes, and massive and amazing at very high volumes. But at that volume in the middle where I listen (once you have got over the gimmick of the focals being much louder) then I think the Kef somehow sound more special. so the focals only come in to their own when at insane levels.

The bass is more controlled on the Kefs period. the focals do an impressive job considering there is more bass and its not wobbly by any means and in some ways better. but the Kef's are tighter and clearer. Low notes on piano sound more real.

Also, I'm sorry to say that you can tell that the kef has an inert Box and the focal does not. Its not bad. but not as good as the Kefs. everything that comes out of the Focal sounds great, but has a certain colouration to the sound. I believe Vocals sound more real, instruments sound more real and guitars especially sound more real.

Kef has better imaging. Not a contest. it goes wider than the Focals. Watching move is is better with the Kefs as things fire around the room more. The focals just give a wall of sound that is ok but doesn't have the directivity and finesse of the Kefs.

instrument separation is more difficult but i think the Kef has this.

the biggest thing for me was that when you listen to the Kefs. You dont feel like your listening to speakers at all. You close your eyes and they are gone.

The focals are better in many ways than the Kef. More dynamic. More Bass, more volume. and overall a bit more balanced sound as the vocals don't stand out as much so it doesn't get in the way of other instruments in a recording.

but the areas that the Kefs wins out on just so happen to be the most important areas to me.
the issue is, kef gave us a taste of High end. I believe 2 3rds of high end and if you want an LS50 with its issues fixed YOU HAVE TO PAY. reference 1 is whee its at
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
this is really interesting as I have owned LS50's for some time. and recently got the upgrade bug as there are some things I don't like about the sound. Other things I do.

So I picked up a pair of used focal Aria 906's. so here is what I think. I will elaborate but in short, the LS50's are back on their stands.

firstly my system is the following

5 x 4m room
emotive XMC-1 AV processor
Nakamichi AVP-1 7 channel class AB 150w x 2 @ 8ohm and 110W x 7 @8Ohm
Source = windows 10 PC, jriver media centre with blurays and flac files for music / youtube via Virgin V6 box and also Netflix and amazon prime

I'm really hoping this helps people and I'm going to give the Focals another try anyway just incase. but here goes.

first impressions of the focal were very good. I was convinced straight away that these are better than my LS50's.

Focal pro's = Bass is a bit deeper, bass is louder, the whole speaker is louder for the same amount of watts (more sensitive). the sometimes harsh upper midrange of the LS50's don't have that issue on the focals. The vocals still sound good. Same kind of tone as the LS50s which I wanted. The louder you play the focals the better they get and they do so in such an unrestrained way, they never sound pushed and never loose their composure where the kefs will start to become limited more quickly.

I had the focals in for 2 days listening to all my favourite track and movies. Ran them with no eq and run dirac live also and integrated the subs I have.

then I started to think something was missing. I actually noticed them from the beginning. There were a few things that I picked up on that were not a deal breaker at first because of all the good points above. I never said anything to my wife. I just kept it shut and continued listening convincing myself that in 8 out of 10 ways, the focals are the better speaker.

then one night after a few Gin's. (not too many) I turned to my wife and said "you know what, somethings not quite right". then she piped up and said "Well I prefer the Kefs" this is coming from somebody who hates the way the kefs look so nuff said!

what was the problem...... Well. for a start I noticed that they sounded full and nice at low volumes, and massive and amazing at very high volumes. But at that volume in the middle where I listen (once you have got over the gimmick of the focals being much louder) then I think the Kef somehow sound more special. so the focals only come in to their own when at insane levels.

The bass is more controlled on the Kefs period. the focals do an impressive job considering there is more bass and its not wobbly by any means and in some ways better. but the Kef's are tighter and clearer. Low notes on piano sound more real.

Also, I'm sorry to say that you can tell that the kef has an inert Box and the focal does not. Its not bad. but not as good as the Kefs. everything that comes out of the Focal sounds great, but has a certain colouration to the sound. I believe Vocals sound more real, instruments sound more real and guitars especially sound more real.

Kef has better imaging. Not a contest. it goes wider than the Focals. Watching move is is better with the Kefs as things fire around the room more. The focals just give a wall of sound that is ok but doesn't have the directivity and finesse of the Kefs.

instrument separation is more difficult but i think the Kef has this.

the biggest thing for me was that when you listen to the Kefs. You dont feel like your listening to speakers at all. You close your eyes and they are gone.

The focals are better in many ways than the Kef. More dynamic. More Bass, more volume. and overall a bit more balanced sound as the vocals don't stand out as much so it doesn't get in the way of other instruments in a recording.

but the areas that the Kefs wins out on just so happen to be the most important areas to me.
the issue is, kef gave us a taste of High end. I believe 2 3rds of high end and if you want an LS50 with its issues fixed YOU HAVE TO PAY. reference 1 is whee its at
Interesting you noticed the weirdness in the bass on the Focal's trojan, I had the same problem, I really wanted to keep them as they were good in all other areas. The problem I found with them is they tended to smudge the bass notes in a strange way, the bass is there but it's not detailed like I've heard in other speakers, I don't know what the reason for this is, maybe the flax Bass cone is too overdamped or the porting isn't quite right or maybe internal wadding isn't optimized who knows?. Strangely puting gaffer tape over quarter of the ports improves things greatly but obviously that's not really a viable long term solution. I ended up selling them because this problem kept bugging me and once you hear it you cant un-hear it. Shame really as I loved the build quality and the rest of the sound they produced -if only Focal could sort this out in a newer model they'd have a real giant killer.
 

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