KEF Reference 1s v LS50 Metas

Amp will be Ayre AX-7e integrated (60 watts@8Ω, 120 @ 4Ω).

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Having just upgraded from the original LS50's to the Reference 1 (non-meta), the answer is easy, go with the Reference if it is in your budget. 

Some caveats, the Reference need more space than the LS50, so if you are in a very small room, the LS50 might be the better choice, and then add a subwoofer. 

Both speakers require a good power amp that can handle some impedance shifts. The AX-7e does double the wattage when the impedance halves, however the overall wattage is not ideal for these speakers. If you intend to rock hard, this is probably not the amp of choice. I skimmed Art Dudley's review of the amp, and JA's measurements, and they showed some concern for pairing it with low impedance speakers. With either KEF, you might not get quite the bass response you are looking for with this pairing. I don't doubt that it will sound good, but it might be possible to do better.

Both speakers are really awesome, but I am obviously biased. Either one will work, depending on your space. Add a subwoofer to the configuration regardless.


My OP should have been clearer. I have LS50 Metas and Reference 1s that I’d like to use with my AX-7e and C5xeMP for a vintage setup.. The room is 14 X 19 and used mainly for HT with a Sony HT A9 setup. Any listening will be to jazz and baroque at low to moderate levels. I was impressed when I paired the AX-7e with the LS50 Metas. I’m downsizing, so the Ayre gear I used with the Reference 1s will be sold. But the Reference 1s are so handsome it’s hard to let them go

My primary listen is in the living room using LS60s with a pair of KC62 subs and an Ayre DX-5 DSD, with streaming via Roon.

Got it. Keep the References. You can always buy a new pair of LS50’s if you experience regret, Refs are a bigger loss. 

I agree the Ref 1 are handsome speakers, likely also more of a hassle to match components to. I'd have to go between speakers and intended amp to be sure. Out of curiosity isn't the Ref 1 a step above the LS60?

Certainly in terms of MSRP they are a step above.  When you add the cost of the Ayre gear I used with the Reference 1s, the cost is much more.  The speakers sound a bit different, but I'm not sure which I prefer.  Both sound superb.  Although both render large orchestration well, I prefer cool jazz, piano solos, and baroque, and both speakers excel with that music  The LS60s are much more convenient to use, so I even use them as a sound bar with a 75" Sony.  I'll be using the Reference 1s with an Ayre AX-7e integrated, C5xeMP disc player, and QB-9 for a link to a Roon Nucleus.

KEF has done a great job with their Connect app that permits setting a number of parameters of the DSPs within the LS60s.  I use it to integrate the LS60s with the room and the KEF KC62 subs.  I have no equivalent for the Reference 1s, although I low passed them at 80 Hz to a pair of Velodyne HGS-15s and high passed at 80 Hz with a passive balanced Marchand filter.  I used the Reference 1s with Ayre 5X Twenty series Roon-ready DAC, preamp, and amp, gear I plan to sell.