KEF LS50 Meta Amp Pairing: 6 Best Amps + Pairing Guide

Choosing Amps for speakers in general is rough as the market can be confusing with a plethora of options. 

If you’re on the hunt for the best amp for your KEF LS50 Meta speakers, I hope to clear up your confusion. I found 6 amps worthy of being paired with your LS50 Meta. 

So, which is the best one when it comes to KEF LS50 Meta Amp pairing?

  • The best amplifier for KEF LS50 Meta is the Rotel RB-1582 MKII.
  • The runner-up in the competition for KEF LS50 Meta is Outlaw RR2160 MKII Stereo Receiver. 
  • The best premium Amp for KEF LS50 Meta is the Marantz PM8006 amplifier.

Pretty sure that wasn’t enough for you to come to a decision. So, we’ve got some interesting pointers for you regarding the Amps throughout the page. So, for those who have the time, try sticking around till the end. 

Does the KEF LS50 Meta Need Amps?

Yes, KEF LS50 Meta Passive speakers do require Amps since they don’t have built-in amps. However, KEF LS50 Meta Wireless doesn’t need amps like its passive counterpart. 

Amps in essence amplify the sounds from loudspeakers. Some Loudspeakers have built-in amps and hence do not require external amps unless you need some extra juice. 

However, there are exceptions. There are speakers that do not have a built-in amp to reduce the price and save on costs. KEF LS50 Meta is a part of this herd. Let’s talk about the best amp for the LS50 Meta.

Best Amps For KEF LS50 Meta

Image

Product

Unique Feature

Chipset

Price

Best Overall Amp for LST50 Meta

AKM DAC chip with DSD and 768kHz/32-bit PCM decoding capabilities

Solid Performer at sub-$1000

Outlaw DAC Chip

Flagship Quality Amplifier

Rega Custom Chipset

Best Premium Amp for LS50 Meta

Marantz HDAM

Precision in Sound

ESS Sabre SE9010K2M DAC Chip

Class-D Contender

Single-Channel ESS ES9018K2M Delta-Sigma Chipset

It takes a lot of careful consideration and research to pull the trigger on a good amp. Especially because these pieces of audio equipment are considerably expensive. 

Here’s a user rocking a Marantz Amp with their LS50 Meta Speaker-

Here’s my insight into each of the ones I’ve named today and why they’ll make a good addition to the KEF LS50 Meta-  

Rotel RB-1582 MKII Amplifier

The Best Overall Amplifier for KEF LS50 Meta

Specifications:

  • Amplifier Class: Class AB
  • Power Output: 200W into 8 ohms
  • Input: Balanced XLR, Unbalanced RCA
  • Output: RCA, Headphone Socket, PC-USB, USB Audio Class 1 (up to 24/96), USB Audio Class 2 (up to 32/384), 2 pairs of binding posts
  • Damping Factor: 800
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.03%

The Pros:

  • Excellent Audio Clarity and Details.
  • Impressive Loudness.
  • Can handle every audio format.
  • Very low sound distortion
  • High Output Power

The Cons:

  • Could be hard to find.

The Rotel RB-1582 MKII is the 1st product on the list. It worked well for me for almost all the speaker setups I’ve tried it with. When paired with the KEF LS50 Meta, it only impressed me to no end.

The Rotel RB-1582 MKII has the most impressive technicalities as well as functionalities compared to the rest. RB-1582 MKII is the best amp for KEF LS50 Meta with higher output and sound quality compared to the rest. 

The Rotel RB-1582 MKII has the highest power output of the bunch I’ve picked today. This has all the functionalities amps can offer. It has the highest damping factor, and the highest power output of the bunch I listed today. 

In my opinion, It is better than all the other amps I’ve mentioned today when paired with KEF LS50 Meta. My only gripe would be that I had to take measures to get my hands on one. 

In a Rotel RB-1582 MKII vs Rega Elex-R for KEF LS50 Meta Scenario, The RB-1582 MKII wins with a higher damping factor and a more powerful output compared to the Elex-R. However, the Elex-R is more widely available in the online market. 

Furthermore, in a Rotel RB-1582 MKII vs Cambridge Audio CXA81 for KEF LS50 Meta scenario, The RA-1572 wins all across the board.

Let’s get on with the experience. When I plugged in the RB-1582 MKII with the KEF LS50 Meta, the sound it produced was pure bliss to listen to. Rock, Acoustic, EDM, Metal, indie- Every genre sounded amazing with this amp. 

The loudness was perfect for me, I was satisfied with it at only 70% of the full volume. It does bring out the full potential of the LS50 Meta. No doubt I’ll use it for a long time. 

Furthermore, the instrumental separation was emphasized and the bass was also powerful. And to top it all off, the vocals were clear and perfect too. I also noticed no distortion at higher levels of loudness. 

So, if you can find one on the market, snag it right now without even looking at the other contenders. 

Outlaw RR2160 MKII Stereo Receiver

Impressive Bass at an Impressive Price

Specifications:

  • Amplifier Class: Class AB
  • Power Output: 110W into 8 ohms; 165W into 4 Ohms
  • Input: 4x Line Level RCA, 2x Optical, 2x Coaxial, 2x USB, 1x Ethernet, 1x Phono
  • Output:  2 loudspeaker; ¼” headphone, preamp outputs
  • Damping Factor: High
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.05%

The Pros:

  • Powerful Dynamics
  • Smooth sounds, Large Soundstage
  • Impressive Build Quality
  • Excellent Tonality

The Cons:

  • None at the price

The 2nd product on the list is the Outlaw RR2160 MKII. This stereo receiver was like a curveball for me since it was from a relatively less-known company. However, this far surpassed my expectations. 

The powerful dynamics, liquid smooth sounds, and large soundstage make the Outlaw RR2160 MKII, the runner-up amplifier for the KEF LS50 Meta Loudspeaker

Let’s first talk about the technicalities. Outlaw RR2160 MKII amplifier offers a low sound distortion of 0.05%, impressive power output of 110W per channel into 8 ohms, good choice of inputs as well as outputs. So it is not lacking at all in this aspect. 

Let’s now compare it to others from the list. 

In an RR2160 MKII vs Rega Elex-R scenario for KEF LS50 Meta, The RR2160 MkII wins all across the board because of its impressive specs. The specs held up in practical testing as well. 

Similarly, in RR2160 MKII vs Marantz PM8006, RR2160MKII wins in loudness and distortion. So, RR2160 MKII is overall better, although I do like the warm tone of the Marantz PM8006 more. 

Moving onto the testing part, When I used the RR2160 MKII with KEF LS50 Meta, the loudness was more than what I had initially expected. 80% of the full volume was enough for me and the distortion was low enough for me to not notice.

Furthermore, the highlight was definitely the bass. The bass of the RR2160 was beyond impressive and I prefer that for bass over most other amp contenders for KEF LS50 Meta. 

Specifications:

  • Amplifier Class: Class A
  • Power Output: 72.5W into 8 ohms; 90W into 6 ohms, 113W into 4 ohms
  • Input: MM inputs,  4 pr. x L+R – RCA type
  • Output:  1 pr. L+R – RCA type, Binding post – Bare wire and Banana plugs
  • Damping Factor: 126
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.007%

The Pros:

  • Impressive Phono stage
  • Large Soundstage, Impressive Resolution
  • Solid build and Finish
  • Very Low Distortion
  • Stable 8-ohm and 4-ohm output

The Cons:

  • Lacking Remote Handset

I’ll now start with the 3rd product on the list- Rega Elex-R. This one’s a classic and it is not fading away any time soon. It held up through my testing with LS50 Meta. 

In my opinion, the Rega Elex-R is a safe choice for KEF LS50 Meta. That’s because it has a good enough phono stage and impressive loudness. The only gripe I have about it is probably the rather poor handset and the comparatively lower output power. 

I’ll further compare it to a few other models to show you exactly why this one’s the overall winner of the list- 

In a Rega Elex-R vs Marantz PM8006 scenario, The Rega Elex-R wins with better dynamics and a higher damping factor. From an audio point of view, Elex-R has better clarity, tonality, and details than the Marantz PM8006. 

In a Rega Elex-R vs Music Fidelity M3SI scenario, The Rega Elex-R wins with higher damping factors and more clarity as well as details. The Music Fidelity M3SI does not lose out by much compared to the Rega Elex-R, but it does fall short in clarity. 

Moving away from the comparisons, I’ll talk about my personal experience with the Rega Elex-R. 

When I used Rega Elex-R with KEF LS50 Meta, everything just flowed. I didn’t notice any distortion at the highest levels, even when I strained my ears. However, the loudness felt a little lacking for me. 

Although the sound quality didn’t throw me off my rockers like the Rotel RB-1582 MKII. It wasn’t shabby at all. So, you won’t go wrong with this amplifier no matter what. 

Furthermore, it has good availability all across the markets. That’s why I called it the safe choice if you can’t snag yourself a Rotel RB-1582 MKII or an Outlaw RR2160 MKII.

Marantz PM8006 Integrated Amplifier

Best Premium Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Amplifier Class: Class AB
  • Power Output: 70W into 8 ohms; 100W into 4 ohms
  • Input: 6 Audio Inputs
  • Output:  1 Preamp output, 1 Audio Output, 4 Terminals
  • Damping Factor: 100
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.02%

The Pros:

  • Signature Warm Tone 
  • Punchy Bass
  • Solid build and Finish

The Cons:

  • Lacking Dynamics

The Marantz PM8006 is part of the Marantz premium lineup. The amp pairs well with the KEF LS50 Meta. The reason why I used this one is that I have a preference for the warm tone that Marantz is known for. 

So, I would call the Marantz PM8006 the best premium amplifier choice for KEF LS50 Meta. 

In terms of technicalities, PM8006 offers decent power output although a little low in my opinion. It is not lacking in inputs nor is it lacking in outputs. It has low sound distortions and a decently high damping factor. 

In other words, although PM8006 is not exceptional in technicalities, it doesn’t fall short by much and is a strong contender. 

From a strict comparison perspective, PM8006 is worse off than most other contenders on the list. However, that doesn’t hold up when it comes to testing it out with the KEF LS50 Meta. In my opinion, the Marantz PM8006 has the best tonality of the bunch. 

That amazing tonality came into view as soon as I played a song with the KEF LS50 Meta with PM8006. The signature Marantz warmth hit me. That alone made it a nice experience.

Furthermore, the mids were clear and country songs sounded especially nice with this amp. The warm tone really brought out a much larger soundstage than what its technicality offers. 

However, It wasn’t the loudest of the list but it came close to the Rega Elex-R in that regard. I also noticed that the bass rolled off when I used KEF LS50 Meta with the Marantz PM8006. 

If you got a taste for the unique warmth and unsurpassed tonality then I would suggest you buy the Marantz PM8006. It is a niche product in my opinion.  Though, you might want to look into Anthem amplifiers as well since Marantz and Anthem are closely matched.

Specifications:

  • Amplifier Class: Class AB
  • Power Output: 80W into 8 ohms; 120w into 4 ohms
  • Input:  TOSLINK, Coaxial & USB Audio Input, 1x balanced XLR, 4 x RCA
  • Output: Speakers A+B, 3.5mm headphones, Preamp Output, Subwoofer Output
  • Damping Factor: >110
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.02%

The Pros:

  • Well-Defined Low-end, Powerful Bass
  • Impressive Timing
  • Widely Available
  • Clear and Detailed Audio

The Cons:

  • Nothing of note

The second product on the list is the Cambridge Audio CXA81 Amplifier. This amplifier brings out the potential of the KEF LS50 Meta to the maximum and is only second to Rega Elex-R. 

That’s why I would call Cambridge Audio CXA81 the Runner-up amplifier for KEF LS50 Meta. 

From a technical perspective, the CXA81 offers a lot. High power output, good connectivity, a high damping factor, and low distortion- it has got it all. Its 80W into 8 ohms output is more than enough for the KEF LS50, at least according to the manufacturer’s specs. 

In a Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs Rega Elex-R scenario, Rega Elex-R wins because of better audio clarity and instrumental separation as well as a higher damping factor. However, The CXA81 has better power output compared to the Elex-R. 

Furthermore, in a Cambridge Audio CXA81 vs Marantz PM8006 scenario, The CXA81 wins because of its higher power output, higher damping factor, and better audio quality overall. So, Cambridge Audio CXA81 beats the Marantz all across the board.

Let’s talk audio, the CXA81 when paired with KEF LS50 Meta, had impressive timing as well as clear and detailed audio. The bass was decently deep and the instrumental separation was present and clear. The vocals were clear and powerful too in my experience. 

When it came to the loudness, The CXA81 brought out more sound from the LS50 Meta than even the Rega Elex-R. If not for the overall better performance of the Rega Elex-R, this would have snagged the crown instead. 

Even so, Cambridge Audio CXA81 is a competent amplifier and pairs well with the KEF LS50 Meta. It earned its place as the runner-up. So, If you want to, you can go for it. 

Cyrus One Amplifier

The Class D Contender

Specifications:

  • Amplifier Class: Class D
  • Power Output: 100W into 8 ohms
  • Input: Asynchronous USB, Optical Toslink, and Coaxial SPDIF, AV Bypass
  • Output: RCA, Headphone Socket
  • Damping Factor: 100
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.005%

The Pros:

  • Very Affordable
  • Impressive Damping Factor
  • Widely Available
  • Clean Sound with Punchy Bass
  • Low Distortion

The Cons:

  • No Built-in Wifi streaming option

Finally, this is the last product I’ll talk about today. The Cyrus One is the amplifier you should go for with KEF LS50 Meta if you want to go for a Class D amplifier with the KEF LS50 Meta. 

As the only Class-D amplifier on the list, it’s safe to say that Cyrus One is the best Class-D amplifier for KEF LS50 Meta. 

When it comes to technicalities, The Cyrus One is impressive and surpasses some Class A amplifiers too in loudness. The sound distortion is also lower than most. 

As for comparison, Cyrus One loses out to almost all the contenders in terms of audio quality. However, it boasts a higher output than Marantz PM8006 and Rega Elex-R as well as Cambridge CXA81. 

Let’s talk a little about my experience with it. The setup with LS50 meta was smooth and the sound was loud enough to 90% of full capacity proved sufficient for me. In my opinion, the loudness was better compared to Marantz PM8006 and Rega Elex-R. 

However, The music, although decent all across the board, fell short in details. I did not notice any sound distortion at any loudness level. So that’s a plus. 

So, if you want to buy a Class D amplifier for your KEF LS50 Meta, Cyrus One is your answer. 

KEF LS50 Meta Amplifier Pairing: My Method

To pair an Amp with the KEF LS50 Meta, I first matched the power output to at least higher than the manufacturer’s requirement of the LS50 Meta. Secondly, I looked at the impedance and sensitivity, and finally, I looked at the amps with lower sound distortion. 

Here’s a deeper analysis of each aspect of the compatibility-

What factors determine the compatibility between KFL LS50 Meta and Amp?

For that, you need to look into 4 things to figure out the compatibility- 

Impedance

The electrical resistance of your components is quantified by impedance. It’s expressed frequently with the symbol of Ω—as in 8Ω. 

And impedance is measured in ohms. This is a factor in figuring out how well your speakers and amp work together. 

Speaker ratings commonly range from 4 to 8 ohms. The typical operating range for amplifiers is, let’s say, 4 to 16 ohms. Check whether your specifications match or not. You should be able to connect a speaker with an impedance of between 4 and 16 ohms.

In general, it’s okay to connect higher-impedance speakers to an amplifier

However, you shouldn’t connect low-impedance speakers—say, let’s 4 ohms—to an amplifier that has a minimum 8-ohm restriction. 

Many speakers and amp manufacturers are migrating over to using “compatible with” ohm ratings. Which makes things a lot easier and eliminates some arithmetic work and guesswork.

THD+N

Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise is a measurement of amplifier effects on the output of the sound. Generally speaking, more distortion results in more sonic coloration. 

The output of the amplifier will sound more like the original recording when THD + N is lower. Speakers will, of course, have the most impact on the sound, so pick those that are suitable for your listening style. The lower the THD+N, the better the amplifier.

Power

A common misconception is that a larger volume equals more watts. But Watt is how power is measured. Watts is more about the amount of power that a speaker can withstand. And the amount of power that an amplifier is producing. 

Continuous Power is also known as Continuous Power Output or Continuous RMS Power. And Dynamic Power, sometimes called Peak Power, is frequently used in the specifications of amplifiers. In this article, we’ll discuss both continuous and dynamic power.

Continuous Power is the spec that tells us how an amplifier improves the sound. Say the amp states, “50 watts Continuous Power into 8 ohms.” The amp will provide 50 watts of continuous power to an 8-ohm speaker. 

We’re talking about power peaks during a dynamic song or soundtrack. “Dynamic power,” is a measurement of an amp’s maximum power output when pushed beyond its limit.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is essentially a measurement of the decibel volume of a speaker. When powered by one watt, it measures distances from one meter away.

You read that right, just one-watt power.

What makes sensitivity important? It has a direct bearing on how loud a speaker becomes. A speaker with a lower sensitivity(85db) sounds quieter than a speaker with greater sensitivity (88db).

Even in the same room and set up when distance and power are equal. Although sensitivity doesn’t determine if a speaker is good or bad. A higher sensitivity speaker may prevent you from purchasing a larger amplifier to achieve your preference.

Pairing an AMP with your LS50 Meta

Here are the steps you need to take to pair an Amp with the LS50 Meta- 

  • Get an amp with more power than your LS50 Meta. The LS50 Meta has a power handling capacity of 100 watts and you need amps with a power output of more than 150 watts to bring out the most from the LS50 Meta. The higher the power output, the better. 
  • Match the Ohms of amps with the LS50 Meta. The LS50 Meta has both 4 ohms and 8-ohm output so it’s better to take an amp that supports output into 8 ohms or 4 ohms or both. 
  • Put channel 1 into output 1 socket and channel into output 2 socket. 
  • The red socket is for positive and the black is for negative. So, be careful with matching these, otherwise, your amp might not work as planned. 
  • Both channels should be at the same volume. Otherwise, you might notice an imbalance in loudness and that might ruin your experience to an extent. 

KEF being in business for 6 decades tells a lot about how good their speakers are. And the ls50 meta is their signature product. So, if you can pair it with a suitable amp you can get the best of the best experience.

Furthermore, after matching an amp with your speaker, you might want to pair the amp with a sub. On that note, I’ve found that the KC62 goes especially well with the LS50 Meta.

With that out of the way, I’ll answer some of the frequently asked questions before concluding the article. 

FAQs

Do you need an amplifier for KEF LS50 wireless?

No, you do not need an amplifier for the KEF LS50 Wireless. The KEF LS50 Wireless comes with an integrated amplifier, unlike the KEF LS50 Meta. However, you may opt to get an amplifier anyways because the aftermarket amplifiers are almost always better than the stock ones. 

How many watts is LS50 Meta?

LS50 Meta has a max power handling capacity of 100 watts. However, despite the modest capacity of 100 watts, it likes its amplifiers big. The LS50 Meta is comfortable with amplifiers with outputs far above 100 watts, like 200w output amps. 

Does it matter what amplifier I use?

Yes, it matters what amplifier you use. Good amplifiers will have low sound distortion and will be loud as well as clear for the best experience. Bad amplifiers will have high sound distortion and will not be as loud, wasting a lot of your speaker’s potential. 

Final Words

By now, your confusion should be cleared. I hope I could help you decide which amp to buy for your LS50 Meta. 

With that said, I think the Rotel RB-1582 MKII is the best amp you can go for to pair with your KEF LS50 Meta. 

So, which amp did you decide to go for? Do let me know in the comments below. 

Till then, So long!

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