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KEF LS50W (wireless) - how's the reliability and long term outlook?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by TheVinylAddict, Aug 9, 2020.

  1. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    I am on the hunt for my next bookshelf - and for the secondary system I am targeting, they'll be close to the wall and the space for components is small, so the less components the better. Note the room is not small, it is not a near field situation.

    Enter the LS50W. I've read a lot of testimonials, seems like many like the sound - and many like the DSP software for tuning them to the space.

    But this post is about their potential long term viability. One thing that stands out is KEF is only offering a 1 year warranty on the amp section (5 year on passive section, drivers). I did a double take when I saw that. Doesn't exude a ton of confidence from the manufacturer with that short a warranty on a $2500 speaker.

    Then coupled with there being a fair amount of feedback on hardware failures, warranty repairs, etc I thought I would query owners here. There is a roonlabs site where many users have shared their trials and tribulations starting in 2017 -- where it seems most of the complaints were loaded toward the first year or two of production.

    What say ye --- how are yours running, have you experienced issues and do you think these are a speaker you'll have in 10 years? They are on sale for $1799, but that's still a lot of coin, and I don't want to have to find another in a few years.....
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  2. toddfan

    toddfan Forum Resident

    Overland Park, KS
  3. kaikki on aivan jees

    kaikki on aivan jees Well-Known Member

    Not directly applicable, but I've had a pair of the smaller, sister LSX actives in my 14'x17' kitchen for a year and a half. They're positioned on some tall floor cabinets, on the short side of the room, facing towards the cooking area, ~10" from the rear wall -- obviously not ideal positioning and in a room with lots of reflective surfaces.

    I got them because unlike the LS50Ws, the connection between the speakers can be wireless, albeit at a lower bit rate (given the other compromises with positioning and general mismatch, this downgrade seemed unimportant.) And of course because they're half the price of the LS50Ws.

    Short review: no reliability problems, although updating the firmware to support Airplay 2 was a big hassle. The included DSP is of limited value, IMO -- of course my odd placement may be unconquerable by DSP.

    And the sound? Given all the drawbacks above, surprisingly good. More than fine for music to cook with.
    TheVinylAddict likes this.
  4. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    Me too! :D

    Realizing of course forums are not always as good at discussing this aspect as they are at recommending what to buy.
  5. NapaBob

    NapaBob Forum Resident

    Napa Valley CA USA
    For about a year, I’ve been using the LS50Ws as desktop speakers connected to a Windows 10 PC. I connected via the USB port on the speakers. The sound was pretty good! But, about 3 months ago, I began to have mysterious crashes of the PC. It got so bad that it was happening almost every night. I did all the usual things to try to either figure it out or go back to a stable version of the OS.

    Jumping to the end of the story, I finally isolated the issue to the LS50W driver in Windows. When I switched to the headphone output connected to the AUX input – no more crashes, but of course, the sound was nowhere near as good.

    Since I was putting a real sound system in my office, and, I admit, now being mad at KEF, I just sold the LS50Ws.
  6. TeflonScoundrel

    TeflonScoundrel Forum Resident

    I’ve had a pair of LS50W for about 2 years and a pair of LSX for about a year. So far the only issue I’ve had was updating the firmware for the LS50W the first time. I think the issue was actually caused by a faulty USB cable, because switching to another cable and restarting the update fixed it and I’ve not had any issues updating since then.

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to other comparably priced equipment and haven’t heard anything that gives you the sound quality of either the LS50W or the LSX at their respective prices. I’m very impressed with them.
    Ivand and TheVinylAddict like this.
  7. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    They haven't been in production long enough to be bullet proof long term.
    That said they might be worth the risk because people who have not heard them do not understand what they are capable of. They can play near full range without strain and fill a large ballroom crowded with people and sound amazing while doing so.
    See if you can get an extended warranty. If they can make it through two years, your odds of having a good one increase quite a bit.
  8. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    I've read your contributions / feedback on these in a few other threads - you seem to like them. I also know the reputation of KEF on many lines for SQ vs others.... SQ is not what I am doubting or has me balking at all.

    The one year warranty and the number of folks with failures on other sites has me balking..... you can buy a set of passives (of many brands) and have a speaker for many, many years. For $2500 ($1799 on sale) that is what I'd like here too....... but it just feels like there's a possibility you won't be playing them in 5-10 years, KEF only giving a year is not a strong vote of confidence on how they view the long term reliability, just saying. If it were three years for instance, I probably would have already bought them.
  9. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    If I buy with a Visa, I believe I can extend the warranty by a year, but not sure how that will be handled if something actually happens.

    Then, I saw Amazon offered a 3 year extended through Asurion, with the first year concurrent, so it's really two years. Then, with Visa covering the second year, it's really only one year. Then, Asurion gets a lot of bad reviews. I've seen five year warranties offered but they get pricey.

    Bottom line is I am not one who likes to buy warranties anyway, if I add up all the purchases for 45 years I've made NOT getting extended warranties, I could have paid for 50 LS50W's if you catch my drift. So way ahead on that front. But there have been a couple of purchases where I did when there was doubt, and one time it did pay off. I'd rather buy things where I don't have to worry about a warranty because the expected life and experience with that is high.

    I am starting to wonder if these are for me - KEF doesn't seem that confident in their long term viability to start, then the number of people online that chose to share is curiously high.... there are always potential issues with electronics, and expected failure rates --- but given three years on the market, there are a lot of people who took the time to share they had a board or hardware failure.

    I am certain there are a lot of "mine are fine" scenarios, but like many things you have to weight both sides and not ignore the bad experiences and account for how many there are relatively speaking.

    All that said, I still like what these are designed to do, saving the external amp, DAC, etc for the secondary system I will be using them in.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  10. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Eagle, Idaho
    The one year warranty is a deal breaker from me.
    TheVinylAddict likes this.
  11. UltraDNS

    UltraDNS Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    I can't speak to the wireless version, but the wired version has been going strong for 2+ years for me without a hitch.
  12. shiwo

    shiwo Well-Known Member

    I have a pair of LS50W that I got second hand from someone in 2017. After two years of regular use at moderate volume, the main speaker suddenly started to do some rattling sound like in the vid :

    This was a known issue from the first batch of LS50Ws and it was coming from a faulty amp board. I thought that with the one year warranty well expired and the fact that I got it second hand I was done for. However I gave it a shot and contacted Kef America customer service (I'm in Canada) to explain the situation and what could be done. They replied next day and after a few back and forth that took a week to clarify the situation, they proposed me to send them my pair of speakers.
    Eventually the cost to ship them the speakers was the only thing I had to pay.
    After they received them they just agreed to change the faulty amp boards (not sure if they changed it only on the faulty speaker or on both), no questions asked about the warranty or invoice. I received them back 4 weeks after the day I shipped them and they are singing without any troubles to this day (1 year and a half since repair).
    So all in all I was very happy with Kef's customer service.
  13. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    My takeaway from this is that the speaker failed.....

    It's great they helped you after some back and forth, but I'd rather be in a situation with a speaker that doesn't fail, and doesn't require the opportunity for the company to display their customer service skills.

    The more I think about it, the more I realize these probably aren't for me.
  14. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    I'm starting to think the same way.
  15. shug4476

    shug4476 Forum Resident

    A Class D amp is in theory more likely to fail. There is a price to be paid for small, powerful, efficient amps - longevity is the cost.

    The problem with the LS50W, or any similar convenience product, is if Kef withdraw support for the more technically complex parts, you are left with nothing but a pretty piece of junk.

    Not for me!
  16. uffeolby

    uffeolby Forum Resident

    Västerås, Sweden
    I love my LS50 Wireless. Though my amp blew up after 23 months, luckily here in Sweden we have 24 months garantee so I got myself a new pair which has served me well now for over a year.
  17. kmurp

    kmurp Well-Known Member

    Upstate NY
    I’m starting to have an issue over two years in. It started when I moved the speakers to a new electrical plug. The speakers, at times, will quit working and the power button on the main speaker flashes. KEF support suggested trying to plug them into a different power outlet. They also suggested unplugging each for five minutes then plugging back in. This latter move does work but it’s a pain.
  18. drumhead

    drumhead Active Member

    Me three.
  19. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    Again, my takeaway is IT FAILED! Within two years.

    That's great you were able to get it replaced, but for me I'd rather have something more reliable. There are just so many testimonials out there to these failing hardware-wise, the WiFi being flaky, the software being horrible, the remote being cheap and not knowing what input you are on.......

    ..... when I started this post I really, really liked the idea of the LS50W, and I still do ------- but the more I read, consider, the more I realize this could be $2K for something that might be a doorstop in five years.

    I'll wait for an active that has great sound like this one, but where the company has enough confidence in the product to put a five year warranty on the amp, not one year. But it's now clear why it's one year....... they don't last!

    I do wonder why Europe was given a TWO year warranty on the amp, and US only one year? Is there something about the design that makes 230V more favorable for longevity? Or does KEF just think Americans will abuse it more? :)
    shug4476 likes this.
  20. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    ..... and another.... yikes that is not good.

    Glad I started this thread -- and thank you all for the candid replies. It's important we stick together and share the good with the bad, makes the products better in the long run.
  21. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    I owned a pair for about 6 months back in 2018. I sold them to a friend who still uses them regularly. So one trouble free pair.
  22. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    For two years...... :)

    Stated earlier, I am certain there are many (most) pairs out there that have not experienced issues - the "mine are fine" crowd hopefully should dominate. Plus they've only been out three years, so we don't have a "time-tested" litmus yet.

    But in electronics, there is always that "% failure rate after 12 mos, 24 mos" etc --- I would really, really love to see the actual numbers for the LS50W. Typically on reliable gear this number can be well below 1%. But on the Roon site I referenced earlier, there were users quoting KEF CS reps saying a couple years back that it was 3%. Which to me is high. I wouldn't be surprised with all the reports across the net that it is even higher given these have only been out three years. The reports are relatively high from my gut feel.
  23. Chilli

    Chilli Pretend Engineer.

    It's realistically nearly impossible to tell given that those who haven't had problems are unlikely to mention it.

    The issue I would have is the perceived value for money, for a moderately mass produced small speaker with some DSP and Class D amps it should be cheap to knock these out. For similar money you could get a really solid pair of Genelecs which would run pretty much forever without worry.
  24. The Vinyl Lover

    The Vinyl Lover Well-Known Member

    Three+ years of a happy KEF LS50W owner here, these really make me happy every day.
    Ivand and kaikki on aivan jees like this.
  25. shug4476

    shug4476 Forum Resident

    My thoughts exactly. It is very difficult to find a pair of Genelecs that have failed.

    If you really love the LS50, get the passive pair and one of the many convenience amps that proliferate these days.

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