KEF LS50 Meta vs. Klipsch Reference R-51M
|KEF LS50 Meta Bookshelf Speakers
|Klipsch Reference R-51M Bookshelf Speakers
|Dimensions (H × W × D)
11.90” × 7.90” × 11.00”
302mm × 201mm × 279mm
13.00” × 7.00” × 8.56”
330mm × 178mm × 217mm
|ASR Score w/Subwoofer
TLDR Summary: In the arena of bookshelf speakers, the KEF LS50 Meta stands out with its innovative Metamaterial Absorption Technology, delivering a pure and natural sound. The Uni-Q driver array offers a three-dimensional soundstage with precise imaging. In contrast, the Klipsch Reference R-51M packs a punch with its dynamic, horn-loaded tweeter for efficient, lifelike sound. With a robust bass reflex via the rear-firing port, it ensures a powerful low-end response. The LS50 Meta leans toward audiophile refinement, whereas the R-51M brings energetic, room-filling performance, catering to different listening preferences within their respective price brackets.
The realm of high-fidelity audio is a battleground where speaker manufacturers consistently vie for the audiophile's heart, and two notable contenders have emerged with their own unique approaches to sound reproduction. On one side, we have the KEF LS50 Meta, a bookshelf speaker that is a testament to innovation and refinement. On the other, the Klipsch Reference R-51M, which brandishes a spirited sound signature that is as lively as it is assertive. The difference between these two is not merely one of sound but also of philosophy and design ethos.
The KEF LS50 Meta represents a continuation of KEF's storied legacy in the audiophile market, with its Uni-Q driver array taking center stage. This coaxial design offers a point-source audio dispersion pattern that theoretically leads to a more coherent sound image, minimizing the sweet spot and ensuring that the speaker's performance doesn't drastically change with slight listener movement. This intricate engineering creates a seamless integration between the tweeter and woofer, promising an immaculate stereo image and depth that are hard to rival in its class.
In contrast, the Klipsch R-51M leans heavily on its horn-loaded tweeter design, a Klipsch trademark that dates back to the company's inception. The Tractrix horn aims to enhance the efficiency and directivity of the high frequencies, projecting a lively and dynamic sound that many associate with a live music experience. Paired with the copper-spun IMG woofer, the R-51M is capable of delivering a punchy and energetic performance that can make the music jump out at the listener with a surprising sense of urgency.
Build Quality and Aesthetics
Regarding build quality, the KEF LS50 Meta exudes a premium feel with its dense construction and meticulous attention to detail. Its curved front baffle is not just an aesthetic pleasure but also serves to reduce diffraction effects, enhancing the speaker's overall audio fidelity. The LS50 Meta's finish, available in several colors, is refined and speaks to KEF's commitment to blending design with functionality.
The Klipsch R-51M, while built solidly, offers a more utilitarian design, with an aesthetic that harkens back to the classic era of American hi-fi. The R-51M's MDF build is robust, but the style is definitely more on the industrial side, with the textured wood grain vinyl wrap and the distinctive copper woofers delivering a look that's as bold as its sound. It doesn't quite reach the same level of elegance as the KEF, but it carries its own charm that resonates with those who favor a more traditional speaker appearance.
Compare to similar speakers
Performance in Different Spaces
The KEF LS50 Meta, with its more neutral sound profile, is remarkably adaptable to a variety of room sizes and acoustic environments. This adaptability is partly due to the patented Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) that KEF has employed to absorb unwanted sound coming from the rear of the driver, effectively reducing distortion and enabling a purer sound. This makes the LS50 Meta a forgiving choice when room acoustics are less than ideal, still providing exemplary performance without the need for extensive room treatment.
Conversely, the Klipsch R-51M's assertive presence means it can fill larger spaces despite its compact size, thanks to its high sensitivity and dynamic range. However, its forward-sounding character might require some careful placement and possibly a bit of room treatment to tame reflections and prevent the sound from becoming too aggressive, particularly in smaller or highly reflective rooms. Its sound signature can be a double-edged sword depending on the listener’s preferences and their space's characteristics.
Pairing with Amplification
When it comes to partnering these speakers with amplification, the KEF LS50 Meta is known to be somewhat picky, benefiting from high-quality amplification to truly shine. Its relatively low sensitivity means it often requires a bit more power to perform at its best. However, when matched with the right amplifier, the LS50 Meta rewards the listener with a refined and detailed sound that is both accurate and engrossing.
The Klipsch R-51M, on the other hand, is less demanding in terms of amplification due to its higher efficiency. It can be driven to satisfactory levels with modestly powered amplifiers, making it a more accessible option for those who may not wish to invest heavily in high-powered, audiophile-grade amplification. This efficiency does not detract from its ability to thrive with more powerful amplifiers, though; it merely broadens the R-51M's range of potential pairings.
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