KEF LS50 Wireless review
In July I got a pair of the KEF LS50 Wireless speakers as an upgrade from KEF X300A Wireless speakers I had prior. As I’ve mentioned in the past I was really impressed with the X300A speakers, but these brand new LS50 Wireless speakers by KEF are just a whole new level of awesome. After countless hours of burn in, I’m ready to write my review.
The traditional KEF LS50 speakers have been widely regarded as some of the best hifi speakers for their size since their release in 2012. As an aspiring audiophile, I’ve been aware of the KEF LS50s for quite some time, but I didn’t feel like purchasing speakers along with a really good amplifier (because the traditional LS50s are passive) as I felt that could get very pricey very fast. Then, recently, KEF released the LS50 Wireless speakers and everything changed.
Despite the likeness in name, the LS50 Wireless speakers are more than just Bluetooth and WiFi-enabled versions of the LS50. They are active powered speakers, unlike the passive KEF LS50, meaning each speaker has its own power amplifier built-in. What’s really nice about the LS50 Wireless is that each speaker has two amplifiers, one for its tweeter and one for its woofer, a dedicated DAC (up to 24-bit/192kHz), as well as a dedicated DSP (digital signal processor) for each.
What makes the KEF LS50 Wireless speakers rock?
The KEF LS50 Wireless speakers offer an audiophile-grade stereo speaker system with a single purchase. Everything is built right into the speakers and boy do they sound incredible.
But the built-in technology in each speaker is the secret sauce, each speaker is built around KEF’s signature Uni-Q driver (comprised of a tweeter and woofer) a hefty cabinet (no joke, each speaker weighs 22.5 pounds), which, along with 230-watts per channel, are able to produce powerful, detail-rich audio that has virtually zero distortion at any volume level — again, these speakers sound tremendous.
The speakers can play up to 24-bit/192kHz audio files (which, if you didn’t know, you can purchase on HD Tracks)–I’ve personally invested in quite a few high-fidelity albums and can honestly say when you play them on these speakers, the difference is real. Clearly, you’ll want to listen to your favorite songs and albums in a lossless audio format like FLAC or Apple Lossless in order to get the most out of these.
In my experience with the LS50 Wireless speakers, what’s really exceptional is the separation between the treble and mid-range and how well you can hear different instruments–it’s like each instrument is coming out from its own location. If you close your eyes and just listen, it’s like the music is being played right in front of you. I especially noticed that acoustic tracks were particularly incredible, I could really hear/feel each string being strummed. Bottom line is the soundstage is magnificent.
Where the magic comes from
The magic of the KEF LS50 Wireless, other than those unique drivers, is that there are two custom amplifiers and two built-in DACs in each speaker. This, along with an intuitive app (available for iOS and Android) that lets you adjust the DSP and other settings, including adjusting the speakers to fit your room configuration, such as if the speakers are up against a wall or in a large room, or perhaps you want more bass or treble, you can adjust all that via the KEF Control app.
There’s also another app called KEF Stream that is designed to let you stream your music from your smartphone/tablet or even local media server to the LS50 Wireless speakers. Additionally, if you are a Tidal and Spotify subscriber, you can stream to the speakers directly through their respective apps.
When you unbox the speakers, it’s immediately clear that the right speaker is the main/master one. On the top of the speaker you’ll find a neat little LED display that allows you to toggle between inputs. You will also find the back of the right speaker offers numerous wired connection options, including optical, USB-A and analog RCA inputs. I personally have been using the speakers mostly by directly connecting them to my iMac Pro over USB as I feel it offers the best possible quality being purely digital.
Additionally, on the back of the right speaker, there are buttons to select whether the speaker is on a stand or sitting on a desk as well as whether or not the speaker is against a wall or if there’s empty space behind it. You will want to set the options accordingly. If I may, I’d definitely suggest buying a pair of stands for these speakers, it makes a huge difference. These IsoAcoustics have rave reviews but are $200. I personally use these AudioEngine DS2 desktop speaker stands and feel they work perfectly–they’re also only $34.
I should also note that I’ve been using an app called Amarra sQ+ to further enhance the sound and I’ve found it really does improve the audio. If you’re interested in checking that out, which I highly recommend, you can do that here.
The KEF LS50 Wireless speakers are an engineering marvel, so much incredible tech packed into a bookshelf pair of speakers. If you’re thinking that they’re a bit pricey–you would be correct. The KEF LS50 Wireless speakers retail for $2,199. But you have to remember, you don’t need to buy an amplifier or any other hardware–this is an all-in-one product. After hours and hours of listening to music on these I’m really glad I bought them. I listen to music a lot and I enjoy music a lot. These speakers make the experience so much better.
The KEF LS50 Wireless come in three color options: Gloss Black/Blue (that’s what I went with), Titanium Gray/Red, and White/Copper. You can buy them on Amazon today.
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