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KEF LS50 Wireless speakers: a new classic and a game changer

 
KEF LS50 Wireless speakers

 

To celebrate KEF's 50th anniversary, the company produced the award-winning LS50 speakers. These classy monitors have continually impressed us and they form the basis of a game-changing new version: the LS50 Wireless model. The intention of the £2000 LS50 Wireless speakers is to provide a separates-quality system including streaming functionality where the only thing on show is a pair of swishy speakers.

Unless powered by a battery, no wireless system is truly wireless; for speakers to avoid speaker cables, they need mains power and that means power leads. In the case of the LS50 Wireless, each speaker has its own plug and there's also a cable to connect the two. However, the speakers contain audiophile electronic components that, if they could be purchased separately, would need quite a few interconnects. And, of course, numerous boxes.

The LS50 Wireless speakers come in three striking colour options and in each case, the Uni-Q drivers are different-but-complementary colours from the cabinets. Colour combinations are gloss black with blue drivers, gloss white with copper drivers, and titanium grey with red drivers. The cabinets are gorgeous; build quality is second to none.

Each drive unit is fed by its own amplifier with each speaker's tweeter being fed by a 30-watt amp and each mid-bass unit being powered by a 200-watt amp. Power output is, therefore, considerable. However, an external subwoofer can be connected if deeper bass is required.

The rear of the left speaker includes a balance control but it's the rear of the right speaker that reveals the LS50's versatility when it comes to both placement and sources/connections. Simple, easy-to-understand switches change the tone of the output to take into account whether the speakers are placed on stands or on, say, a bookshelf and whether they're in free space or up against a wall. Finer adjustments to the EQ are possible via the iOS/Android app that even accounts for the differing acoustics of listening environments, be they minimalist rooms with wooden floors and blinds or lounges filled with soft furnishings like curtains, carpets, rugs and cushions.

Basic functions like altering the volume, changing inputs, etc. can be made via the supplied remote control or the touch-sensitive control pad that sits atop the right speaker.

Unlike most 'wireless' speakers, the LS50s handle high-resolution files, with the onboard DAC capable of handling 24-bit recordings and sampling rates up to 192kHz (via USB) and 96kHz (via the optical connection). The third physical input type is a pair of standard phonos so even a record deck can be connected (via a pre-amp).

As for wireless playback, up to eight Bluetooth devices can be recognised at any one time with the LS50, which supports aptX. Computers, tablets and smartphones can also be accessed via dual-band Wi-Fi, as can NAS drives. There's also an Ethernet port. By registering a pair of LS50 Wireless speakers with KEF, customers receive three months' free subscription to the Tidal streaming service, giving access to millions of high-resolution audio tracks. KEF will update its app to add integrated support for additional music providers. Until then, music from Apple Music, Spotify, etc. can be accessed by streaming it over Blueooth.

We sell other active speakers and other 'wireless' speakers but nothing like the LS50 Wireless. With the LS50 Wireless, KEF has taken a classic hi-fi product and added modern functionality, flexible connection options and sharp stylng to produce a swishy, minimalist design with uncompromised sound quality. It's being touted by the hi-fi press as something of a game changer and is somewhat of a classic already. You can purchase this amazing product from Hi-Fi Stereo.


Date of article:06/09/2017


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