LSX: how KEF shrank the wireless LS50W...
KEF has popped out a colourful family of LSX wireless stereo speakers, which roughly halve both the size and price of the company’s successful LS50W model. It’s even less in volumetric terms, indeed — the LSX is 24cm high rather than the LS50W’s 30cm, and its width is more than halved, making it slightly slimmer from the front, and reducing its final volume to around a third that of the LS50W.
But it is “not simply a baby LS50W”, insists Ben Hagens, KEF Product Specialist (pictured below), who spoke at the launch of the LSX in the trendy Smart Artz Gallery in South Melbourne. This is about KEF changing what hi-fi can be — a product for the 95%, not the 5%, he said, noting wisely that “You shouldn’t have to spend more time learning about a product than using it.”
Ease of use is one thing; performance is another. KEF’s specs indicate little loss of low-end extension from the shrinkage — the quoted -6dB figure for the LSX goes to 49Hz, compared with 43Hz for the LS50W.
In addition to shrinking the enclosure, the LSX uses a smaller version of KEF’s coaxial Uni-Q driver, combining a 19mm aluminiumdome tweeter within a 115mm magnesium/ aluminium-alloy mid/bass cone, compared with the 25mm/130mm combo in the LS50W. One useful change is the banishing of the connecting cable, the LSX speakers able to talk wirelessly and share music up to 24-bit/48kHz, while adding an Ethernet link between them raises this to 24-bit/96kHz. Their internal amplifiers deliver a quoted 30W to the tweeter and 70W to the woofer; this compares with 30W and 200W in the LS50W.
Once the master speaker is networked (dual-band Wi-Fi or Ethernet), two integrated KEF apps allow the LSX speakers to stream Spotify Connect and Tidal directly, and files via DLNA from home shares. They are due to gain Apple’s AirPlay 2 in the new year (which will allow a degree of multiroom use and voice control from Siri), in addition to their Bluetooth streaming which includes the aptX codec if your Android phone supports it (no AAC codec for Apple users, perhaps because AirPlay is on the way). And there are physical inputs — optical digital (very handy for TV audio), and an analogue minijack. There’s a wired subwoofer output so you can connect a powered subwoofer, and a small remote control is also provided.
While the LS50W has been appearing in various bespoke finishes, KEF has gone all out from the off with the LSW, releasing the five colours shown above. The white is a full gloss finish. The Black, Blue, Red and Green (this last a Signature edition for designer Michael Young, who oversaw design for the LSX) have their contoured front baffle in a matte finish while the sides are wrapped with fabric from Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat (the same source harman/kardon has chosen for its upmarket Citation range; see previous issue).
We applaud the idea of bringing better sound to the masses through such an easy and neat piece of design. The new KEF LSX Wireless Music System is priced at $1895 per pair. More info: au.kef.com