KEF LS50W vs Dynaudio Xeo 20

Ktbrooke

Standard Member
Hey all,

I thought I would post this here, for anyone in the future who is frantically googling, trying to determine what to purchase between these two active high end heavyweights! I struggled to find a comparison online when I was deciding between the two.

A few months ago I grabbed myself a pair of KEF LS50 wireless speakers based on all the incredible reviews and almost unanimously positive forum feedback. People were gushing over them, saying that they sounded like speakers worth ten times their price. I took the punt, without hearing them first.

My first impressions were good. There was a clarity unlike any other speaker I'd owned. The sound stage was incredible, I could hear each instrument individually and to use a cliche, I heard new things in tracks I'd played a hundred times over in the past. I recall playing "Ordinary World' by Duran Duran and almost falling over in disbelief when the chorus came on. For TV, they were great too. Dialogue was crystal clear, and movies sounded good. A plus for people who use their speakers for all round entertainment purposes.

However, just like a new relationship getting into long term territory once the honeymoon period was over, I started to detect small annoyances in the KEFs that bugged me. Firstly, there was a real lack of delicacy in the vocals. With my previous passive Dynaudio speakers, I could almost hear the trembling emotion in a singers vocal. The KEFs just didn't convey that and given a lot of the music I listen to is quieter and vocal based, it's an important feature for me. Secondly, everything I played on the KEFs sounded a little bit congested, almost digital. My room is quite bright, so I played around with the DSP settings (a great feature) but no matter what I did, it wouldn't solve the issue. When an Otis Redding song came on, and I turned it to a high volume, it had a hint of harshness. Nothing sounded analogue, no matter the source.

In the end, I couldn't shake these issues, so I ended up selling the KEFs and buying myself a pair of Dynaudio Xeo 20 active speakers, partly because of my positive experience with their passive speakers in the past. I've owned the Xeo 20 for two weeks now and I'm sold. They are the real deal, a true 10/10 bookshelf speaker. The clarity is there, just like the KEFs, but there is so much more room for the music to exist. It's quite remarkable. The music seems to float around in the air inside my room, so you never feel like it's coming from two small speakers. most importantly, the emotion is there too, I can now hear every quiver in a fragile voice during a song.

Of course, everything is subjective and based on personal preference, and I think the KEFs would be better for electronic music, and possibly hard rock. Plus, the KEFs are ever so slightly better for TV. Of course, that would be splitting hairs as the Xeo 20 do a fine job of that too. I'll note that the KEFs also have a USB input, and the XEO 20 don't. If you listen to a lot of music via USB on a computer source then that's something to consider. The XEO 20 have a separate hub with inputs incl USB you can buy, but it's quite expensive. I'm absolutely fine with the optical, bluetooth, aux and RCA options myself.

Ultimately, if you're looking for a refined, nuanced speaker that will deliver an emotional, magical sound, then I'd recommend you go with the Dynaudio Xeo 20. They don't quite have the same configuration options as the KEFs, but there's more than enough for your average punter. They also make analogue sources sound truly analogue, and playing a record on them is out of this world.

However, if your tastes run electronic, or hard rock, or if you watch a lot of films and want speakers as much for that as for music, then the KEF LS50W would be a good choice.
 

Orobas

Active Member
Very accuracte comparison there and a good article. :)
 

keylion

Active Member
Very good write up, thanks for taking the time to share. Hopefully it will be useful for others in a similar position.
 

Ktbrooke

Standard Member
The more I break in the Dynaudio Xeo 20, the more I'm absolutely sure they are a level above the KEF. Absolutely sublime sound and so much more enjoyable to listen to that the KEF. The Xeo 20s seem to be a little bit more forgiving of source (not hugely though, as they are very transparent speakers) but I can listen to some average mixes on the Dynaudio whereas the KEF just made me want to turn it off!
 

Orobas

Active Member
The Dynaudio range have always been about the input to them.. fed cheap.. they sound cheap.. give them something quality and not too complex to chew on and they'll sing till your volume pot ends!
 

Ktbrooke

Standard Member
Agreed. When I played a Father John Misty record last night, I turned it way way up and it sounded glorious in every way. Not a hint of harshness, even in my bright room!
 

stevewestern

Active Member
Again, thanks for this - my local (ie 2hours away) hifi dealer has only a small range of gear in stock, but he does have the xeo 20's - he no longer rates brands like Kef since they started to be made in China..
 

Ktbrooke

Standard Member
Ah, well I’m not opposed to gear made in China if it’s quality. The KEF LS50W are a great speaker, and you only have to read forums and reviews to see that a LOT of people rate them highly. I just couldn’t continue with the flaws detailed above, especially since I love jazz and folk music. I need delicacy in my sound. The XEO 20 have that in spades. Also, I listened to a few heavier records today and they held up great. Feel like I’ve reached my bookshelf speaker end game.
 

stevewestern

Active Member
I agree, I don't care where its made as long as it sounds good, lasts and has some support should things go wrong. I think the guy was saying much the same, and as a small business in a shrinking market they have to be careful what they sell and take care of their clients.
It was interesting hearing him talk, and made me realise why I'd rather spend a little more with him than going to a box-shifting chain.
To be fair to him, he didn't mention kef's by name - that was my bad choice of words, but the sort of makes they stock include Graham audio, Proac, Dynaudio.
Anyway, I'm getting off topic, sorry...
 

Ktbrooke

Standard Member
Absolutely, I get ya. I’m the same, I purchased my Dynaudio from a small local dealer. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you give them a listen. The fact they are active, so no need for an expensive amp and dac, is just icing on the cake!
 

papaboa

Novice Member
Thanks for this review from a year ago! As a fan of both first order crossovers (Dynaudio) and concentric drivers (KEF), I'd love to hear the two side by side to compare. Dynaudio is now on my list to consider.

From my own experience, I've listened to top-of-the-line KEF reference monitors and mid-priced Q-series ones, and the difference is striking. KEF can make fantastic speakers. There's always some price/performance tradeoff. Maybe Dynaudio really nails it with the Xeo's.

Anyone check out the Edifier Airpulse A300 and able to share a comparison of those? They're closer to half the price, so I wouldn't expect as much from them. But they have ribbon tweeters, which I'm also a fan of.
 

Helix Hifi

Active Member
It does not surprise your findings about your old KEF speakers sounding a bit digital vs Dynaudio. KEF do make great speakers, but the ones you had have always sounded too hot in upper midrange making the sound super fast but annoying in the end. Dynaudio are way warmer in the sound. That’s just shows its important to match your speakers correctly.
 

daytona600

Active Member
Heed type 20 900wpc make LS50 sound like toy speakers

 

Jason72

Active Member
Probaly not relevant to the discussion but I have a pair of KEF LS50's and also a pair of Dynaudio Excite X18's. I did an A/B comparison and was genuinely shocked at how much better the Dynaudio's sounded.
 

Spooky Electric

Novice Member
I’m currently on the lookout for a new pair of bookshelf speakers and the Dynaudio Xeo 20’s are a definite front runner.

I currently have a pair of passive KEF LS50’s powered by a Cambridge Audio 650A amp, which play music stored via iTunes (outputted via the Pure Music software package) on a Mac Mini.

Excuse my ignorance, but given this currrent setup, what would be the best method of connection between the Dynaudios and the Mac Mini, should I go for the speaker upgrade?
 

DT79

Well-known Member
I’m currently on the lookout for a new pair of bookshelf speakers and the Dynaudio Xeo 20’s are a definite front runner.

I currently have a pair of passive KEF LS50’s powered by a Cambridge Audio 650A amp, which play music stored via iTunes (outputted via the Pure Music software package) on a Mac Mini.

Excuse my ignorance, but given this currrent setup, what would be the best method of connection between the Dynaudios and the Mac Mini, should I go for the speaker upgrade?
There’s a optical input and the Mac Mini has an optical output, so that would be best (and then one speaker would connect wirelessly to the other). Alternatively you can get the Connect wireless adaptor and go optical into that and then wireless to both speakers If that’s more convenient.
 

Spooky Electric

Novice Member
There’s a optical input and the Mac Mini has an optical output, so that would be best (and then one speaker would connect wirelessly to the other). Alternatively you can get the Connect wireless adaptor and go optical into that and then wireless to both speakers If that’s more convenient.
Thanks!

Any recommendations for a good optical cable to go between the Mac Mini and the speakers?

I have a 2011 Mac Mini btw, so, have read I may also need an adaptor such as the one linked below?:

 

DT79

Well-known Member
Thanks!

Any recommendations for a good optical cable to go between the Mac Mini and the speakers?

I have a 2011 Mac Mini btw, so, have read I may also need an adaptor such as the one linked below?:

You can buy ones which have an integral 3.5mm jack on one end, and many others come with the adaptors bundled, but an optical cable is one of those things where it either works or it doesn't, so just buy something cheap that has good customer feedback on Amazon.
 

Spooky Electric

Novice Member
You can buy ones which have an integral 3.5mm jack on one end, and many others come with the adaptors bundled, but an optical cable is one of those things where it either works or it doesn't, so just buy something cheap that has good customer feedback on Amazon.
Thanks again!

The consensus on this thread seems to favour the Xeo 20’s over the LS50 Wireless, but does anyone here rate an alternate bookshelf wireless speaker set (at a similar price point) over both of these?


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Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Thanks again!

The consensus on this thread seems to favour the Xeo 20’s over the LS50 Wireless, but does anyone here rate an alternate bookshelf wireless speaker set (at a similar price point) over both of these?


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I’d certainly consider these.


Genuine three way active speakers. They’d be my first choice out of the current three.

This guys reviews are worth a watch.


 

Danial

Active Member
The consensus on this thread seems to favour the Xeo 20’s over the LS50 Wireless, but does anyone here rate an alternate bookshelf wireless speaker set (at a similar price point) over both of these?
I have a pair of Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duos, which I love. At the moment, you can grab an ex-demo pair (with stands) for £2299 from SSAV, which is a bargain compared to the RRP of £3499 (plus £699 for the stands).

This guy has a tendency for hyperbole, but I think it gets the point across:
 

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