KEF LS50 Wire­less £1999

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

Is it any sur­prise see­ing the KEF LS50 Wire­less at the top of this cat­e­gory? Where most sys­tems are one-box sys­tems that fall into the “just-addspeak­ers” va­ri­ety, KEF has in­cor­po­rated all the box-bound fea­tures into the stereo speak­ers them­selves. It is a gen­uinely all-in-one stream­ing sys­tem that gives us not a glimpse but a full look at the hi-fi of the fu­ture.

Based on the Award-win­ning LS50, these wire­less cousins are beau­ti­fully built and fin­ished, with some clever tech­nol­ogy packed into a con­ve­nient (yet stylish and mod­ern) pack­age.

All in the box

These are true ac­tive speak­ers – each drive unit has a ded­i­cated power am­pli­fier. A 30W Class A/B cir­cuit feeds the tweeter, while a 200W Class D mod­ule pow­ers the mid/bass unit. The dig­i­tal sig­nal path is 24-bit/192khz ca­pa­ble, and there’s a ded­i­cated DAC for each drive unit. You also get pre-amp func­tion­al­ity, a streamer, Blue­tooth and Tidal built in. Any mu­sic stored on a NAS unit, com­puter or smart­phone on your home net­work can also be re­played.

At the rear of the right speaker you’ll find stereo ana­logue and USB Type B con­nec­tors along­side the op­ti­cal socket. You’ll also find a sub­woofer con­nec­tion and an eth­er­net socket.

But none of this would mat­ter if they didn’t also de­liver on pure per­for­mance terms, and the speak­ers are eas­ily on par with more tra­di­tional set ups.

The LS50 Wire­less sound won­der­fully clean and pre­cise, dig­ging up so much de­tail and de­liv­er­ing it in an or­gan­ised and sta­ble man­ner. We’re struck by the KEFS’ sub­tlety and abil­ity to gen­er­ate strong dy­namic shifts.

They de­liver a lovely, ex­pan­sive sound­stage that’s neatly lay­ered and nicely de­fined, and they’re able to go pretty loud, too.

Play­ing Mas­sive At­tack’s An­gel shows the LS50S’ im­pres­sive bass per­for­mance. These aren’t big speak­ers so you won’t get re­ally deep floor shak­ing bass, but they gen­er­ate low fre­quen­cies that are taut, ar­tic­u­late and punchy.

Insightful and trans­par­ent

The good news con­tin­ues higher up the range with a trans­par­ent and fluid midrange and insightful highs. Vo­cals are de­liv­ered with pas­sion while per­cus­sion comes through with bite and com­po­sure. The LS50S are rhyth­mic too, de­liv­er­ing the song’s un­mis­tak­able mo­men­tum with de­ter­mi­na­tion, al­low­ing the song’s nat­u­ral flow to come through.

Over­all, these speak­ers have the in­sight to un­ravel a record­ing yet never go so far as to tear the mu­sic apart. They’re in­for­ma­tive but al­ways mu­si­cal with it.

KEF has done a ter­rific job here. It has taken the Award-win­ning LS50S and made them an even bet­ter propo­si­tion.

And de­spite all KEF’S clever think­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion, it’s the per­for­mance that keeps the LS50 Wire­less our Prod­uct of the Year for a sec­ond year run­ning.

KEF has taken a whole sys­tem and loaded it into a pair of su­perbly tal­ented speak­ers

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