Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

To Hans Wetzel,

I enjoyed your review of the KEF R100, and then reread your review of the KEF LS50. How would you compare the two speakers, their strengths and weaknesses? They are similar in drivers and construction, and also similar in price. Thank you.

Andy Mills
United States

True story, I didn't write either of the KEF reviews that you mention! Jeff Stockton wrote up the former for this site, and Doug Schneider the latter on our sister-site SoundStage! Hi-Fi. That said, I own a pair of LS50s, and previously owned a pair of R900s. I have not heard the R100s, unfortunately. There are a few points to note when comparing the two models, however.

The major difference is the cabinet. The additional dollars for the LS50 get you a more robust, more attractive (in my opinion) loudspeaker, one that has a curved polymer front baffle to mitigate diffraction, and a spongy, elliptical port on the rear to minimize resonance and "chuffing." Don't underestimate the effect that a cabinet can have on resultant sound -- there is a reason KEF's flagship Blade model looks the way it does. I can assure you that it wasn't designed to (just) look good, but, rather, to maximize the speaker's sonic performance. You might also have noted that the R100 and LS50 have slightly different frequency-response specs, as well as differing crossover points and efficiency ratings.

This is a bit of speculation on my part, but here are my reasons. The R100 is part of the R series, and like any major manufacturer, KEF takes great pains to make sure that each model sounds like its siblings. In other words, there will (or at least should) be a strong resemblance from something like the R100 on up to the R900, which I owned and loved for several years. If I had to describe the R900's sound in two words, it would be linear and balanced. It sounded coherent from top to bottom, with nothing accentuated or relaxed. As Jeff Stockton said of the R100, it just sounded kind of "right." When I purchased my LS50s, I heard a speaker that was very much cut from the same sonic cloth as the R900s, but was subtly different. I think KEF ever so slightly tailored the LS50's sound to have a slightly richer, more golden midrange, as well as a more prominent bottom end. I am always surprised when I play the LS50s at how much oomph they have down low. I am guessing here, but I would bet the R100 doesn't have quite the extension that the LS50 does, but may be a tad tighter in terms of its bass clarity. Personally, I think the LS50 is worth the extra money. I don't think anyone would argue with the assertion that it will be a hi-fi classic. How often can you say that? . . . Hans Wetzel