KEF LS50 Wireless
FOR Clarity and insight; taut bass; dynamics; features; build AGAINST Some small usability issues
When someone says
the words ‘hi-fi system’, what do you think of? If you’re anything like us, you’ve just pictured a separates combination made up of source – maybe a streamer, CD player or record player – an amplifier and speakers.
Active speakers are a building block for an alternative solution. They have clear performance benefits and reduce the box count, yet many enthusiasts don’t like the lack of easy upgradability or the fact that you still need to add a preamp and a range of sources too.
But what if you didn’t? Imagine active speakers with preamp functionality; something that includes digital and analogue inputs. They would certainly need Bluetooth, and perhaps even streaming services such as Tidal built-in. You know what would also be nice? A streamer, so that any music stored on a NAS unit or computer connected to your home network could be replayed. The good news is that such a product exists. It’s KEF’S LS50 Wireless.
An evolved design
The two speaker boxes here are arranged in a master-and-slave configuration. As usual, wireless doesn’t actually mean wireless. While these KEFS are better than most, you still have two mains leads – one for each speaker – and the connecting lead between them.
The award-winning passive LS50S are the basis for this design – the drive units remain unchanged. These speakers use a Uni-q array where the 25mm aluminium dome tweeter sits in the centre of a 13cm magnesium/aluminium mid/bass cone.
These are true active speakers where each drive unit has a dedicated power amplifier. The digital signal path is 24-bit/192khz-capable and there’s a dedicated DAC for each drive unit.
Normally we’d recommend sticking to the wired network option for greater stability but we used the twin-band (2.4ghz/5ghz) wireless option for most of our test without issue.
A great way to play your Part
We start off with Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa and are deeply impressed with what we hear. The LS50 Wirelesses sound clean and precise. They dig up so much detail and deliver it in an organised and stable manner. We’re struck by the KEFS’ subtlety and their ability to generate strong dynamic shifts without stress.
These are small speakers but at volume they ll our medium-sized listening room with ease. They render a lovely, expansive, neatly layered soundstage too.
A move on to Massive Attack’s Angel reveals the LS50S’ impressive bass performance. You won’t get really deep floor-shaking bass, but low frequencies are taut, articulate and punchy. We also hear a transparent midrange and insightful highs. Vocals are delivered with passion, while percussion comes through with bite, rhythmic articulation and composure.
“Low frequencies are taut, articulate and punchy”