KEFs, Headphones, Denon AVR 3803 and What to Do?

Simonofthepiemans

Novice Member
Hi All

Any input welcome for the newbie please.

Some background waffle:

I've never been an "audiophiliac" but I do like my music. I used to run a basic set-up with a pair of Sony SS-H3500 stand speakers through an (antiquated) Kenwood/TRIO A-3X amplifier which gave up the ghost about a year ago. It was used primarily for CD music, plugging my laptop in the Aux, and also as 2.0 for films. Since then I've moved house and the amp and speakers have remained unloved and lost in the loft. Not having sorted the amp out I've instead subsisting on my headphones for streaming services and my own, ripped catalogue.
Since Covid has reared it's head I'm working from home and acutely aware of my lack of audio ability. Headphones can become oppressive if worn constantly and my partner's little Bluetooth speaker is such that playing music through it make me want to weep with sadness. Also, the whirr of my laptop disc drive stop me playing CD's through it. I'm very keen to rectify this situation.
So, I started browsing and the KEF LSX's caught my eye for an all in one solution at about the right price. A replacement for the amp, an upgrade on the speakers, streaming or Bluetooth pretty covered, I could hook the CD player into the Aux input and there's a Toslink for filmic endeavors. My main room is only 16m2 so these would fit well and nullify the space required for separates.
Obviously browsing throws up a black hole load of other options when you consider how much audio, inputs, streaming and the like has moved on since my last amp so I've tried to keep it simple. I did then start veering towards the LS50 Wireless for a better soundscape and the additional RCA and USB inputs. I quite like everything I'm reading about the KEFS aside from the fact that, to a point, they are going to be restrictive.
Also, dumb question. I presuming the 3.5mm Auxiliary Input on the LSX is just an input, and can't be used for headphones? The LS50W has nothing in this regard either. If that is the case it's a bit annoying that all the processing and amplification is happening in the units yet there's no option to benefit from it with a headphone out. An option a standard amp or other unit would have.
Add into this that a friend recently gave me their old Denon AVR 3803. A very lovely A/V receiver at the time and no doubt still OK. I'd initially disregarded this from my thoughts as it seemed like redundant overkill given that I don't intend to run multiple channel surround. That, and being a bit older kit in itself, it's also a behemoth. It's massive and a bit big for my space. I've not even tried it with my old speakers.
So, my question is really should I pursue my original tack of either of the KEFS (they both have some fingering hoveringly good options out there at the moment), or is it worth considering the Denon to power some newer speakers. Would it be capable of being a suitable pairing for say, a set of LS50 passives. Reading tells me they take a certain level of power and quality to get the best out of them. There's a few LS50 bundle offers currently on Peter Tyson paired with some entry level amps that's i'm not sure would be better, worse or indifferent to my Denon.

Any thoughts? Hopefully that isn't an incoherent mess
Cheers
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
A big :thumbsup: for the LSX from me. One of my best purchases ever. I even bought a KEF 8b Kube sub for it but really not needed for music but adds the extra low rumble for films.

3.5mm is a feed in only

Originally I had my PC connected via 3.5mm and PS4Pro via Optical but since moving over to an LG 55" OLED for all my gaming I just have optical out from TV into LSX and PC/PS4 sending audio to TV via their HDMI connections. Spotify or Tidal direct to LSX controlled via smartphone perfect. Spotify especially easy to use with LSX.

If you want excellent feed to your headphones via your smartphone control have a look at a Fiio BTR5 for ~£85.
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
Only consider LS50W if you need the extra space filling power. You will get nothing better than the LSX for under £1K IMO. You have to spend some to get an LS50 sounding as good as an LS50W and LSX is near same just less output power.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
LS50s perform at their best with a good power supply. The 3803 is capable of 110 watts into 8 ohms with 2 channels driven and as a receiver was well respected in its day. However Denon's reputation for good stereo performance with music does leave a lot to be desired and I fear the LS50s would be wasted on it, they really do need a good quality integrated stereo amp to make them sing. As a short term power unit then it will at least give you something to power them with but will leave you wanting more.

Like most Denons it will also have a pretty strong headphone jack.
 

Simonofthepiemans

Novice Member
Thanks @psikey @gibbsy I appreciate your feedback.
Much as I'd like to I'm not going to be able to stretch to both a decent amp and speakers in the near future. Sounds like the LSX's are going to fulfill most of what I require.
@psikey are you using yours with stands? Any recommendations for a compatible stand suitable for the LSX's smaller footprint. Not massively keen on the the price of the KEF proprietary stands.
 

Apollo83

Active Member
I'll suggest something different:

Set up your Denon AVR with the Sony Speakers out of the loft.
See what you don't like.

Pro's:
Immediate improvement for Covid lockdown
Zero Cost.

Con's:
Undoubtedly not the sound you would get from the KEFs... but maybe good enough for a while?
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
Thanks @psikey @gibbsy I appreciate your feedback.
Much as I'd like to I'm not going to be able to stretch to both a decent amp and speakers in the near future. Sounds like the LSX's are going to fulfill most of what I require.
@psikey are you using yours with stands? Any recommendations for a compatible stand suitable for the LSX's smaller footprint. Not massively keen on the the price of the KEF proprietary stands.
Just some of these small small ones so they sit on floor under the LG and can angle them slightly too.

20200520_134304.jpg


They only just fit the 4 pads on stand to the 4 pads on underside of LSX. Fine for me and best option I could find to be low enough to fit under TV but also angle up.

IsoAcoustics ISO130 Speaker Stands (Pair) - Black£76.81
 
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