In just a few years, the KEF's LS50W speakers have become something of a modern classical sound circle.
Intelligent digital editing allowed them to deliver an old, powerful sound that threatened the size of their library's speaker – and even the $ 2,200 price. A combination of natural inputs and wireless connectivity bridges the gap between traditional speakers and speech lovers in search of opportunity.
All this led me to name the LS50W the best gateway in the world of hi-fi speakers. Now, the KEF has a new model, LSX, which takes many of what makes the LS50W excellent and turns it into a much smaller, cheaper and more colorful package.
The LSX retailer for $ 1,100 a pair and is about one third of the volume of the LS50W – slightly larger than Apple's HomePod. They come in a range of colors such as blue, green, red and black patterns covered by cloth as well as white shiny.
I had the opportunity to check them in person, and I am particularly in love with the blue – there should be more blue speakers, people – although I dig the red and green too too. The cloth may be a bit divisive – usually, the cloth is on it front of the speakers, after all – but I think it is a wonderful look that best blends in home decor.
As with the LS50W, LSX differs from most speakers in the tweeter and woofer so the sound comes from the same point. This should lead to a more realistic, wider soundstage than comparable speakers with a separate woofer and tweeter.
The full-blown launch event was not just a great place to do the critical listening, but the speakers showed KEF's usual mid-slide transparency, which tends to separate hi-fi speakers from more mainstream products.
They also had more sticks than I expected. The LSX has a bandwidth of 49 Hz – 47 kHz (-6 dB), which is solid for a 4.5 inch woofer and should be enough for most people – especially if you are listening to a nearby installation. Not the crazy subwoofer levels are similar to the similar size but much more expensive Devialet Phantom Reactor, but you can also add a powered subwoofer through a door on the back.
Unlike the LS50W, the LSX does not have touch buttons for switching inputs, which seems to me annoying. You can use the remote or the application, but since I expect many people to end up using LSX as desktop speakers, the controls in the box would be nice.
Fortunately, you still have almost the same connectivity as the LS50W, with some new tricks. There is an aux 3.5mm aux port, Toslink optical port, Bluetooth AptX and Wi-Fi for Spotify and Tidal through the KEF application. The only thing missing is the USB port for online connection to your computer.
LSX will also introduce AirPlay 2 support early next year. Unfortunately, the company has not announced plans for Google Cast, but the USB port on the back makes it easier to connect a Chromecast sound.
A significant improvement over the LS50W is that LSX does not demand a cable between the two speakers – are "wireless" in a more traditional sense. However, the KEF still lets you use a wired connection that will reduce the delay and offer slightly better audio quality (24bit / 96hz vs 24bit / 48hz).
Everything adds an attractive package that brings KEF's hi-fi experiences to its most affordable product for a long time. The amount of $ 1,100 has not changed, but considering it to be more than a pair of Sonos Play: 5, it should be feasible for a fairly wide audience.
The speakers will be available through KEF Direct, Amazon, Magnolia Home Theater and other KEF representatives soon. We will review our LSX soon, so stay tuned as we try them under more controlled conditions.
Post November 1, 2018 – 14:11 UTC