SVS Ultra Bookshelf vs KEF LS50: Which is Better?

SVS Ultra Bookshelf vs KEF LS50

There are several brands out there that rival for your attention when you’re looking for bookshelf speakers. Two of the best manufacturers are SVS Ultra Bookshelf vs KEF LS50.

Both companies have a reputation for building some of the best sounding speakers that also catch the eye. But, really, what are the primary differences between the two?

Bottom Line Up Front: These are both great speakers for the money and fundamentally similar. That said, the higher audio quality output that works in more room configurations and setups is definitely the KEF LS50 Meta’s (Amazon / Crutchfield). If you are on a budget, the SVS Ultra’s (SVS Sound / World Wide Stereo) are very similar and an excellent value, just a tad more limited.

Main Differences Between SVS Ultra Bookshelf vs KEF LS50

The main differences between SVS Ultra Bookshelf vs KEF LS50 are:

  • SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speakers will set you back by around $1,000, whereas KEF LS50 Meta costs $500-1,000 more.
  • SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers have a one-inch aluminum dome tweeter and 6.5 inches (165 millimeters) glass and fiber cone midrange drivers, whereas KEF LS50 Meta uses the Uni-Q driver array. The one-inch (25 millimeters) aluminum dome drivers for high frequencies and a 5.25-inch (130 millimeters) aluminum cone driver for the midrange and low frequencies are placed at the same plane.
  • SVS Ultra Bookshelf has a frequency range of 45 hertz to 32 kilohertz, whereas KEF LS50 has a broader range at 47 hertz to 45 kilohertz.
  • SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers are bigger at 15 by 8.5 by 10.9 inches (381 by 216 by 277 millimeters), whereas KEF LS50, which measures 11.9 by 7.9 by 11 inches (302 by 200 by 280.5 millimeters). These dimensions mean that you can put the LS50 in more room configurations than the SVS Ultra.

But despite these differences, the KEF LS50 Meta and the SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speaker are two of the best speakers that you can purchase right now. It’s almost like the SVS Ultra’s were specifically modeled as a more affordable version of the LS50’s. 

KEF LS50 Meta Speakers | Amazon

Designed around the Uni-Q 12th Generation with Metamaterial Absorption Technology driver array, this solid, compact loudspeaker is capable of delivering detailed sound anywhere in the room.

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Which one is better for you? Read on and discover the features for both speakers and some of their alternatives.

SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speaker: What You Need to Know

SVS is an Ohio-based company that joins the audio equipment market to give consumers a choice to stay away from overpriced subwoofers and speakers that don’t live up to their price tags. SVS is known for using the best technologies, expertly engineered designs, and exhaustive testing.

SVS Ultra Bookshelf

To say that their speakers are some of the world’s best is not an exaggeration. The SVS name is synonymous with top-notch speakers at a price that your budget will love. One of the company’s current offerings is the SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speaker.

Does this product live up to the SVS reputation? How good is it, and how does it compare to the KEF LS50 Meta?

SVS Drivers

The aluminum dome tweeter measures one inch (25 millimeters). It’s FEA-optimized and gives you greater sound clarity. The aluminum material allows the speaker to deliver a transient response, which means that the sound starts and stops when it should. As a result, the SVS Ultra Bookshelf is very responsive, and the sound that comes out of it is alive and crisp.

Meanwhile, the midrange drivers measure 6.5 inches (165 millimeters) and are made with a glass and fiber cone. These drivers are stiff and sensitive and have aluminum shorting rings that don’t allow for distortion.

It also has a long stroke motor and suspension, while the coil formers reduce the noise from air compression when these drivers are pushed in high gear.

FEA-Optimized Cabinets

The cabinets you see on the SVS Ultra Bookshelf are designed for the best optimum sound. The chamfer, which acts as the front baffle, sports a design that delivers reduced edge diffraction for acoustic clarity and more accurate sound stage.

The tweeter and the midrange drivers also have their own enclosures. This setup allows the speaker to have optimized performance while keeping the interaction between the two drivers minimal.

SVS Soundmatch Crossover

This speaker uses the SVS Soundmatch Crossover technology that allows you to have accurate sounds at a wide frequency range. The crossover circuit divides the full-range signal and then divides it into different drivers.

For instance, the low frequencies are sent to the woofer, and the higher frequencies are sent to the tweeter, and so on.

The Soundmatch Crossover technology ensures that the frequencies are divided and then sent to the right drivers so that the bass sounds booming and authoritative while the middle ranges are crisp and clear and the highs are sparkling with clarity.

What You Would Like About the SVS Ultra Bookshelf

There are very few speakers in our book that command respect even before you plug them in and hear them in action. The SVS Ultra Bookshelf is one of them. 

These speakers are available in two designs. The black oak veneer is for those who like their speakers to look like speakers.

SVS Ultra Bookshelf

On the other hand, the piano black version is eye candy with its glossy and gorgeous finish. What’s more, the anodized aluminum rings give these speakers a more modern and serious look.

Excellent and Detailed Sound

However, we understand that the SVS Ultra is a speaker. How it looks takes a backseat to how it sounds. And these speakers do sound great. If you would like to hear every detail, then you will be happy with the SVS Ultra Bookshelf.

It delivers when it comes to mid and high frequencies. 

What You Should Know Before Buying the SVS Ultra Bookshelf

Among the things that you will notice about the SVS Ultra Bookshelf is that it delivers nicely when it comes to the middle to high frequencies. However, if you are using these speakers to watch movies, you will find that while dialog and other sounds come off excellently, explosions and rumbling effects can come across as, well, “meh.”

Don’t get us wrong. The company says that these speakers can handle down to 45 hertz, and it can handle bass better than most of its competitors. But if you want to get into Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust or have more satisfying car chases, shoot-outs, and disaster scenes, you will want to consider connecting to a subwoofer.

SVS has a subwoofer matching tool if you’re going to buy from the same manufacturer.

Specifications at a Glance

  • Dimensions (HWD): 15 by 8.5 by 10.9 inches (381 by 216 by 277 millimeters)
  • Weight: 19 pounds (8.6 kilograms)
  • Frequency response range: 45 hertz to 32 kilohertz
  • Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB, 2.83 volts at 1 meter (39 inches) full-space


  • Tweeter: One-inch (2.5 millimeters) aluminum dome
  • Midrange drivers: 6.5 inches (165 millimeters)

Bottom Line

The SVS Ultra Bookshelf is a gem of a speaker that looks good with a well-thought-out design. Choose the premium glossy piano gloss with aluminum accents and you can modernize your space. Or you can just go with the black oak option if you’re into classic looking speakers.

On its own, the SVS Ultra Bookshelf will deliver excellent sound with a level of detail and accuracy that you will love. It handles bass quite well, but you can just add a subwoofer if you like a more powerful bass. Overall, however, you get a pretty balanced sound with a lot of dynamic potential.

There is really not much that you wouldn’t like about the SVS Ultra Bookshelf. If you like how SVS speakers sound, then you will like this one too.


  • Excellent and balanced sound
  • No corners cut as far as parts and components are concerned
  • Eye-catching and functional design
  • Reasonable price
  • Excellent sound stage


  • It needs a woofer for really booming bass

KEF LS50 Meta: What You Should Know

KEF LS50 Meta

The KEF LS50 Meta has a two-way bass-reflex design. Every detail and component of this speaker has been designed to make it sound great. It has curved front baffles that have low diffraction. The rear panel has been designed to mirror the fronts. The cabinet is reinforced too.

These visual enhancements are meant to help the speaker deliver excellent sound, giving it the acoustics it needs to deliver. You will find these speakers to be visually appealing, but the beauty is only an offshoot. KEF aimed to make its speakers nice to look at and still impress you with how they sound.

What’s more, you have four different finishes to choose from: carbon black, mineral white, royal blue, and titanium gray.

KEF LS50 Meta Speakers | Amazon

Designed around the Uni-Q 12th Generation with Metamaterial Absorption Technology driver array, this solid, compact loudspeaker is capable of delivering detailed sound anywhere in the room.

Buy at Amazon
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
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The LS50 Meta uses the Uni Q driver array, consisting of a one-inch (25 millimeters) aluminum dome driver for high frequencies and a 5.25-inch (130 millimeters) aluminum cone driver for midrange and low frequencies.

Together, this allows this speaker to have a frequency range of 47 hertz to 45 kilohertz. That’s a wide range of sounds that it could replicate.

KEF’s unique driver array looks like it got rid of the tweeters, mid, and bass drivers and just used a single driver. But don’t be fooled by how these speakers look. The company might have changed how their drivers are arranged, but what matters is that it delivers really great sound.

Metamaterial Absorption Technology

These KEF speakers use the Metamaterial Absorption Technology, which helps to eliminate noise from the back of the driver. You get the most natural sounds because of this technology.

Here’s a video that shows the MAT in action:

What You Would Like About the KEF LS50 Meta

It’s obvious how the company has given a lot of thought to the design of these speakers and how the design would affect its sound. All that research, testing, and design hours pays off as these speakers give you some of the most impressive sounds out there.

Plus, it delivers mind-blowing bass even with its compact size. You may be very flexible where you place these speakers as they measure only 11.9 by 7.9 by 11 inches (302 by 200 by 280.5 millimeters) or roughly the width and depth of a writing pad.

What Might Be Better About the KEF LS50 Meta

There is not much that you will not like about the KEF LS50 Meta. It sounds as great as it looks, and it’s one of the more eye-catching speakers in town. However, it is more expensive than the SVS Ultra Bookshelf.

And if you’re forced to say something terrible about the Meta, you can say that the bass is not exactly floor-shaking. But it’s definitely a whole lot better than other speakers in its price range and size.

Besides, you can hook it up to a subwoofer and solve that problem.

Other KEF LS50 versions

KEF LS50 Wireless II

The KEF LS50 Meta is one of the two LS50 speakers that the company is currently selling. The other one is the KEF LS50 Wireless II, which is $1,000 more expensive.

Both the Meta and Wireless II have the same Uni-Q driver array. However, the Wireless II delivers a broader frequency range of 40 hertz to 47 kilohertz than Meta’s 47 hertz to 45 kilohertz.

That means that the Wireless II has more earthshaking bass. What’s more, the Wireless II uses built-in digital signal processing to deliver a much more refined sound than the Meta.

The Wireless II can playback streaming music via services like:

  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • Internet Radio
  • Qobuz
  • QQ Music via QPlay
  • Spotify
  • Tidal

It makes use of both AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast platforms and also plays music from Bluetooth-enabled devices (hence the wireless speaker name). You can play different formats, too, including MP3, M4A, AAC WAV, FLAC, LPCM, WMA, AIFF, and OGG.

The Wireless II is slightly bigger than the Meta, measuring 12 by 7.9 by 12.2 inches (305 by 200 by 311 millimeters) and weighing 22.2 pounds (10 kilograms).

The Original KEF LS50

Both the Meta and the Wireless II update to the original KEF LS50 and its Wireless counterpart, which were introduced in time for the company’s 50th anniversary. However, the KEF LS50 was not too good with high frequencies, often coming off as harsh. The KEF LS50 Meta improves on that while keeping prices steady at $1,500.

With the same price as the original and improved sound quality, there’s no question that the LS50 Meta is meant to replace the anniversary product.

Specifications: KEF LS50 Meta at a Glance

Design Two-way bass reflex
Metamaterial Absorption Technology Yes
High frequency driver One-inch vented aluminum dome
Midrange and low frequency driver 5.25-inch aluminum cone
Crossover frequency 2.1 kilohertz
Frequency range 47 hertz to 45 kilohertz
Typical in-room bass response (-6 decibels) 26 hertz
Frequency response (±3 decibels) 79 hertz to 28 kilohertz
Harmonic distortion (90 decibels at one meter) <0,4% 175 hertz to 20 kilohertz


<0,1% 300 hertz to 10 kilohertz

Maximum output 106 decibels
Recommended amplifier power 40 to 100 watts
Nominal impedance 8 ohms
Sensitivity (2.83 volts at one meter) 85 decibels
Weight 17.2 pounds

SVS Ultra Alternatives & KEF LS50 Alternatives

While I really like both the SVS’s and LS50’s, there’s a really good tier of comps I ALSO consider to be comparable in this category.

The following options are really good substitutes if you can find for a good price OR depending on more personalized use cases and audio setups:

ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers

ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers

The ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 Bookshelf Speakers gives you a budget-friendly pair of speakers that can rival the sound of more expensive speakers. These ELAC speakers sell for around $250 to $350 yet have aramid fiber woofers with a sensitivity of 87 decibels at 2.83 volts at one meter and a wide-dispersion tweeter.

The ELAC Debut 2.0 has a rated frequency response of 44 hertz to 35,000 kilohertz and a rated impedance of six ohms. These speakers have a booming bass, and the cloth dome tweeter measures an inch (2.5 millimeters) while the woofer measures 6.5 inches (165 millimeters). It plays back music without any distortion, even at high volumes.

What’s more, you can easily use these bookshelf speakers with a surround sound system. The Debut 2.0 series has everything you need to match the sound of these speakers. However, the veneers of the Elac B6.2 are not as polished as other speakers in its price range.

ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 Center Speaker | Amazon

Dual 5-1/4" woven aramid fiber bass drivers and 1" soft-dome tweeter delivers deep impactful bass and smooth extended highs for both movies and music.

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  • Excellent value for money
  • Excellent sound


  • The cabinets do not have a refined look to them.

Q Acoustics 3020i Bookshelf Speaker

Q Acoustics 3020i Bookshelf Speaker

The Q Acoustics 3020i Bookshelf Speaker delivers a wide soundstage, clear and detailed sound, and booming bass. And they cost less than $350 a pair.

What’s more, these speakers look good too. There are four finishes to choose from: arctic white, carbon black, English walnut, and graphite gray. These are accentuated with a chrome bezel.

These speakers measure 11 by 6.7 by 11.1 inches (278 by 170 by 282 millimeters) and weigh 10.6 pounds (4.8 kilograms). You have easily removable grills.


The Q Acoustics 3020i has a five-inch (125 millimeters) bass driver and a 0.9-inch (22 millimeters) treble unit. It can deliver accurate responses to anywhere from 64 hertz to 30 kilohertz.


  • Made with MDF with an elegant finish, instead of fake wood grain
  • The grilles are kept in place by magnets
  • Excellent sound for the very low price


  • It needs a subwoofer for those who like deep bass
  • You might need to place it further from the wall

Monitor Audio Bronze Series 1

Monitor Audio Bronze Series 1

Another worthwhile competition to both the SVS Ultra Bookshelf and KEF LS50 is the Monitor Audio Bronze Series 1. These speakers are the ones to buy if you’re a bass monster, with a 5.5-inch (140 millimeters) bass driver. It also has a wide soundstage that can deliver excellent sound music.

It comes with an MDF cabinet with vinyl veneer finishes. You can choose from either walnut or black oak.

Monitor Audio Bronze100 Bookshelf Speakers | Amazon

Monitor Audio signature C-CAM Gold Dome Tweeter upgraded with the new Uniform Dispersion (UD) Waveguide for an incredibly lifelike sound.

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  • Better bass reproduction than other speakers in its price range
  • Very affordable speakers


  • Treble is problematic, and live concerts might come off as a bit tinny

Frequently Asked Questions

And now, here are some of the questions that we get from our readers regarding bookshelf speakers.

Question: What is FEA-optimized?

Answer: When reading about speakers you will come across the term FEA-optimized, but what does it mean? FEA, in this instance, stands for finite element analysis. It’s a design philosophy that ensures that there are no undue stress concentrations and bottlenecks, which makes way for better speaker performance.

FEA-optimized means that the design is exceptional in that you have a more lightweight and cost-effective part without limiting performance. As a result, the speaker drivers work better, costs cheaper, and are lighter than other similar components.

Question: What are bookshelf speakers?

Answer: Bookshelf speakers get that name because they are supposed to be placed on elevated spaces like shelves, tables, and bookshelves. These speakers generally fill up a medium-sized or small area with sound.

You can also buy speaker stands if your shelves are crowded. The best placements for bookshelf speakers are to have them at your ear level. Further, you should not put these bookshelf speakers directly at you. Instead, angle them at 10 and 2 o’clock positions from where you are.

There are a variety of available bookshelf speakers. Some help enhance your viewing experience, and there are bookshelf speakers that can make music sound better.

Bookshelf speakers generally come with a fuller frequency range, so one of the things you should think about is having a lower hertz for all those heavy bass lines and booming explosions in movies. You should also choose products with higher wattage for more output.

The Bottom Line: SVS Ultra or KEF LS50’s?

Despite its higher price point, you can’t find any significant flaws with the KEF LS50 Meta. It’s easily one of the best bookshelf speakers that the company has produced in recent years. 

That said, just because they are better doesn’t mean they are 2-3X better as the price suggests. I found the SVS Ultra’s to punch above their price point and be a solid budget alternative if the LS50’s are out of reach.

KEF LS50 Meta Speakers | Amazon

Designed around the Uni-Q 12th Generation with Metamaterial Absorption Technology driver array, this solid, compact loudspeaker is capable of delivering detailed sound anywhere in the room.

Buy at Amazon
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
02/23/2024 04:03 am GMT

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