Jump to content
  • The Computer Audiophile
    The Computer Audiophile

    KEF's New LS50 Collection

    A week and a half ago I published a review of a system that I use in my dining room. This system had to meet many requirements including aesthetic considerations, size limitations, great sound quality, limited cabling, Roon Ready, etc... The final price of the system is over $10,000 and it is fabulous. 

     

    (To be read in a Walter Cronkite voice) Hold on, I'm being told KEF has just announced something for a quarter of the price that may meet all my requirements, as of 2:00 AM Central Daylight Time. 

     

     

    20-KEF-LS50WirelessII-TitaniumGrey-Uni-Q-Close-0920.jpgThe KEF LS50 series has been a game changer of sorts for KEF. I'm not basing this on any official numbers, but I'm going on my own experience. Everyone talks about the LS50. Everyone recommends the LS50. Everyone has looked at getting a pair at least once. I could go on, but that's history. What's new are the LS50 Meta and LS50 Wireless II. 

     

    The LS50 Meta is certainly a nice passive loudspeaker using Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) and what I assume will be that great KEF sound for $1,499. However, the LS50 Wireless II is what has the wheels in my head turning. This looks like a king of the hill type of speaker, with all of its features, for $2,499. I can't wait to get my hands and ears on these. 

     

    The LS50 Wireless II is an active speaker with a new wireless platform engineered fro the ground up. I'm working on an interview with KEF to go over this new digital platform that includes new DSP and the new KEF Connect app. If I had to guess, I'd guess KEF is using a StreamUnlimited module inside the LS50 Wireless II.

     

    Have a look at these features.

     

     

    LS50 Wireless II gives you direct access to your favourite music services, including Spotify (via Spotify Connect), Tidal, Amazon Music, Qobuz and Deezer. You can even tune in to Internet Radio Stations and catch up on the latest podcasts through the KEF Connect app. AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast seamlessly connects your compatible Apple or Android device, whilst Bluetooth expands the options even further. There are also wired connections for your TV, turntable, CD player and games console, via the HDMI, analogue, optical and coaxial inputs. 

     

    And 

     

    Support for streaming music files up to 24bit/384kHz, as well as MQA Decoding, DSD256, and Roon Ready (RR coming soon) (UPnP working out of the box).

     


    On first blush the LS50 Wireless II seems too good to be true. Support of extremely high PCM and DSD sample rates, UPnP, Chromecast, and Roon Ready, for this price and this size etc... is crazy. I won't say it's too good to be true, but readers should know that there is a limiting factor, the interspeaker connection. The KEF LS50 Wireless II will accept up through 384 kHz and DSD256, but this material will be resampled to 192 kHz if using the wired speaker-to-speaker connection or to 96 kHz if the speakers are connected to each other via wireless. 

     

    20-KEF-LS50WirelessII-Mineral-White-TopDetail-0920.jpgTo me, this limitation isn't a major issue in this scenario, but purists should be aware of this digital signal processing. Speaking of DSP, it's probably crazy to assume high rate DSD and 384 kHz PCM would stay I their native rates anyway because speakers like this use DSP that doesn't operate at such high rates. In other words, even if the interspeaker connection was native (384/DSD256), the music would go through resampling for digital signal processing anyway. Thus, it's a non-issue and I'm happy to read KEF released this information publicly. I love transparency. 

     

    Another nice feature of the LS50 Wireless II is support for 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and both 2.4 and 5 GHz (LS50 Wireless version 1 supports 5 GHz but not 802.11ac). This has nothing to do with sound quality, but everything to do with moving HiFi forward and supporting technologies that high end brands should support. I have a few devices at home that require a crowded 2.4 GHz network and only support older 802.11 standards. These devices get annoying when I make network changes or try to improve my network performance, then realize I need to keep a certain configuration just so these devices can connect. Nice move supporting 802.11ac and 5 GHz. I really don't care about WiFi 6 yet and neither should you :~)

     

    Anyway, I'm very excited about the new LS50 Wireless II and I'm working on a pair for review as soon as possible. Here are accompanying details straight from KEF.

     

     

    20-KEF-LS50-Meta-Product-Info-Sheet.pdf 

     

    20-KEF-LS50-Wireless-II-Product-Info-Sheet.pdf
    20-KEF-LS50WirelessII-Finish-Assortment-Group-0920.jpg



    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Yeah, I've thought about them, too, but the LS50W are about $3600 where I live, which makes them a less appealing proposition.

    Chris, if you are in contact with KEF ask them about Roon and the Wireless model. AFAIR, there have been issues for Roon users with multi-room and a couple of other small issues.

    They seem to have been solved from what I see on the forums, but it would be useful for potential buyers to have this confirmed.

     

    Also, it used  to be that they didn't play gapless - except for via Roon, as they outside of Roon they are using the UPnP protocol. Is this still true?

     

    Resampling high rates internally: IME, not an issue with well engineered HW and SW, except for in the heads of some audiophiles. If they don't know it's happening, they don't hear it.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    37 minutes ago, ShawnC said:

    If these become RAAT certified by Roon, then I'm upgrading my Nocturne Edition pair. 

    Just curious what makes you so sure the upgrade is worth it? What if it is only marginal for an existing owner?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    4 hours ago, firedog said:

    Just curious what makes you so sure the upgrade is worth it? What if it is only marginal for an existing owner?

    So they can be grouped together with other zones.  Right now they can’t. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I have - and LOVE - the smaller Kef LSX and was recently (literally last weekend) thinking of upgrading to the original LS50 Wireless. I was also considering the Dynaudio Xeo 20 or the ELAC Navis ARB-51. 

     

    There is a lot to be said for a small form factor plug'n'play speaker for living room music. Same point as Chris made.

     

    I'm definitely in the frame for these new mark II models. 

     

    p.s.     Any idea as to availability - it just says pre-order on the Kef website. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The power cords and the Ethernet cable between the speakers, which is mandatory for best performance (in addition to a possible digital in cable to main speaker), add up to more cables than regular speakers with just speaker cables from amp. Unfortunately this spaghetti is a huge minus for these speakers, especially when they are put on stands.  
     

    FYI, I did once own the ls50W. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Chris

    If you review them, how about compare them against B&W Formation Duo ?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    2 minutes ago, FIndingit said:

    The power cords and the Ethernet cable between the speakers, which is mandatory for best performance (in addition to a possible usb cable to main speaker), adds up to more cables than a regular speaker with just a speaker cable. Unfortunately this spaghetti is a huge minus for these speakers. 
     

    I did once own the ls50W. 

    I certainly hear you but I envision a power cable to each speaker and a single cable between them on a good day, but I could live with just power cables and run all else wireless. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    2 minutes ago, R1200CL said:

    Chris

    If you review them, how about compare them against B&W Formation Duo ?

    Would love to but B&W has been a strange nut to crack over the years with numerous ownership changes and more marketing/PR contacts than you can imagine. I’ve gone from good relationships to can’t get in touch with anyone and around the circle more than a few times. Thus, I have no idea if anything will happen. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    7 hours ago, ShawnC said:

    So they can be grouped together with other zones.  Right now they can’t. 


    The KEF website  give a very good overview of the differences between the two models. 
     

     

     

    B7D9A769-4F9C-4180-9A90-735DB38A8E43.jpeg

    D135B725-0EFF-4715-95FF-33F1F566E062.jpeg

    F82EC87C-ABF9-461A-8407-84FF8609D0EC.jpeg

    EF50ED31-9316-4FE4-B779-A8777A4AA2D0.jpeg

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    So correct me if I am wrong,but this thing will accept DSD, but it will be resampled down to 24/192, at best, no matter what?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 x subwoofer outputs... so pair these with a pair of subs... nice.

     

    Airplay 2 and Chromecast Built-in covers casting directly from all the music streaming apps directly, on both iOS and Android. HDMI eARC input.


    Very future proof.

     

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    23 hours ago, firedog said:

    Just curious what makes you so sure the upgrade is worth it? What if it is only marginal for an existing owner?

    Upon further thinking, I'd probably just buy a new pair, if what Steve Guttenberg claims is that great of an upgrade in sound quality.  Maybe just get the Meta so I can try different amps with them.  When I first purchased these speakers, I said to myself that I'd never sell them because I could put them in any room.  I bought the Nocturne pair for the gimmicky glow design, most of my friends love that look, as I do.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    1 hour ago, asdf1000 said:

    2 x subwoofer outputs... so pair these with a pair of subs... nice.

     

    Airplay 2 and Chromecast Built-in covers casting directly from all the music streaming apps directly, on both iOS and Android. HDMI eARC input.


    Very future proof.

     

     

    I use a pair of the original LS50Ws with KEF R400b subs, and it works really well. The pair of subs cost about the same as the LS50Ws - £2000 in the UK. However, the new KF92 subs are twice as expensive and so a pair of them would be £4000 which seems a bit much relative to the speakers.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    35 minutes ago, Richard Dale said:

    I use a pair of the original LS50Ws with KEF R400b subs, and it works really well. The pair of subs cost about the same as the LS50Ws - £2000 in the UK. However, the new KF92 subs are twice as expensive and so a pair of them would be £4000 which seems a bit much relative to the speakers.

    Sure, but you can also buy their 10b or 12b subs which are pretty much full range and cost a fraction of the price of the KF92. In fact you can buy 2 or 3 of them for that price. I'd guess for most LS50 users they'd be quite adequate. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    1 hour ago, Richard Dale said:

    I use a pair of the original LS50Ws with KEF R400b subs, and it works really well. The pair of subs cost about the same as the LS50Ws - £2000 in the UK. However, the new KF92 subs are twice as expensive and so a pair of them would be £4000 which seems a bit much relative to the speakers.

    Very nice.

     

    I've heard this same setup you have, with digital room EQ done via Audiolense and it sounded very nice. As good as anything I've ever heard (including Kii3's and D&D 8C's but without separate subs).

     

    A pair of subs properly integrated into the room changes a lot.

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    3 hours ago, asdf1000 said:

    Very future proof.


    Yes, and finally without USB input 😀

     (But HMDI for TV sound). 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now



×
×
  • Create New...