What is the KEF LS50 Wireless?
The LS50 Wireless is an energetic stereo speaker system, providing all of the plug-and-play comfort of a Bluetooth speaker alongside the high-end audio capabilities of correct hi-fi separates.
It’s primarily based on the KEF’s fashionable LS50 passive audio system, however builds an amplifier, streaming pre-amp, top-quality DAC and a complete suite of digital and analogue inputs right into a design that’s only some centimetres larger than its muse.
The Wireless moniker refers back to the audio system’ capabilities relatively than their bodily attributes. There are nonetheless three principal wires to take care of: an influence cable for every speaker and a cable that connects the 2 collectively.
Still, that’s far fewer than what a system of separates would require to do the identical job. In reality, for all this compact setup affords, you’ll actually begin to query the necessity for something extra.
Related: Best multiroom speakers
KEF LS50 Wireless – Design and construct
The KEF LS50 Wireless are a severely handsome, well-built pair of bookshelf audio system. They’re out there in a alternative of titanium, black gloss or white gloss, with KEF’s assertion Uni-Q driver at their coronary heart.
Not solely does the Uni-Q driver look engaging in both purple, blue or bronze respectively, it additionally holds the important thing to a substantial chunk of the LS50 Wireless’ expertise, by mounting the 25mm aluminium dome tweeter into the centre of the 13cm mid/bass unit.
This goals to enhance the directionality and timing between the drivers, in the end making for tighter stereo imaging throughout a wider listening space. Bye-bye, candy spot.
The two audio system work in a master-slave setup, with the right-hand speaker holding the selection of bodily inputs alongside its rear, plus a handful of light-up touch-sensitive management buttons on its prime panel for energy, quantity, supply and Bluetooth. There are additionally some positioning controls on the again, though these are higher tweaked within the audio system’ management app.
Inputs embrace aux, optical and USB (Type B), plus a subwoofer out and an Ethernet port for hardwiring when you’d relatively not use Wi-Fi.
The LS50 Wireless include a small distant for controlling all of those capabilities out of your listening place – however, unusually, don’t supply a option to decide which supply is chosen from the identical spot; it’s a single button that cycles by all of them.
This means to get to the supply you want, it’s typically a case of urgent play and scrolling by them till you hear your music – which for a product that’s so polished in nearly each different regard is one thing of an oversight.
Still, it’s a really small fly in an in any other case vastly efficient ointment, and I’d discovered the order of inputs following only some days of testing.
KEF LS50 Wireless – Features
As I’ve hinted at already, the LS50 Wireless is a vastly succesful pair of energetic audio system and a glance underneath the hood offers an perception into simply how a lot has been squeezed into them.
These are true energetic audio system, relatively than powered, which signifies that every drive unit in every speaker has its personal devoted energy amp. There’s a 30W Class A/B amp readily available for the tweeter, and a 200W Class D module in command of the mid/bass unit.
There’s additionally a devoted DAC (as much as 24-bit/192kHz for all channels besides optical, which is capped at 96kHz) and DSP for every channel too, plus a streaming preamplifier to permit the audio system to playback music wirelessly.
This helps aptX Bluetooth and streaming from related drives, plus has Tidal constructed into its app and assist for Spotify Connect too.
Considering the LS50 Wireless retains the core speaker design unchanged, it’s fairly a feat that the engineers have squeezed all the above right into a field solely 3cm deeper than the passive design.
KEF LS50 Wireless – Setup
Much of the fantastic thing about the KEF LS50 Wireless lies within the system’s simplicity. Once you’ve related each audio system to your mains, after which to one another, it’s a case of downloading the KEF LS50 Wireless app (iOS/Android) and following the directions to get all of it onto your community (or hardwiring through Ethernet, when you desire).
Once discoverable within the app, you possibly can then faucet into the audio system to tailor their sound to your room and tastes – however even that is stored accessible to make sure it’s good and straightforward to make use of.
That’s as a result of there are each primary and professional choices of the controls that supply largely the identical adjustments, however are simply worded otherwise for various audiences.
For instance, within the primary part of the menu, the app will ask you the dimensions of your room and what it’s like (damped, reasonable or full of life), which interprets within the professional menu into bass extension and treble trim. Tweak on both aspect of the menu and it’ll change the main points within the different.
There are additionally choices for whether or not your audio system are on a desk or stand (KEF’s Performance stands are an outstanding pairing, you probably have area in your funds) and their distance from a wall, which can tweak the DSP even additional.
There are a number of additional issues to mess around with within the professional aspect, nonetheless, together with a phase-correction swap and further controls for connecting an exterior subwoofer.
The phase-correction swap allows the LS50 Wireless to additional compensate for the inherent time delay brought on inside any crossover. It works with the Uni-Q driver, which helps to maintain this in verify elsewhere, theoretically providing excellent time-alignment throughout the audio vary.
Experimenting with it’s good enjoyable. Switch it on and also you’ll hear a subtle-but-noticeable widening of the soundstage, plus a sense that the sound has been ‘tightened up’ throughout the board.
You’ll hear extra snap within the mids and a contact extra chew within the treble, plus a extra authoritative, assured total sound. To an audiophile, it should make all of the distinction to the expertise, however even a much less essential ear will hear the profit from switching it on.
Once you could have your speaker settings simply so, and have related your bodily sources, you may also use the app to log in to Tidal, or click on by to manage Spotify instantly utilizing Spotify Connect. You can seek for related drives in your community or play again music saved domestically in your gadget too.
While these streamed sources can all be browsed and managed through the app, bodily sources would require you to make use of the distant or contact controls to change between them. Again, this seems like one thing of an oversight, and is one thing that I hope may be resolved in a future app replace for a extra harmonious expertise.
The app might do with somewhat bit of labor relating to efficiency too. While effectively laid out and easy to make use of, it isn’t all the time probably the most responsive, notably the sliding quantity management, which I discovered could possibly be relatively temperamental.
KEF LS50 Wireless – Performance
And so to how this method really sounds, which is the place the wonder lies. Take a little bit of time to tweak the sound to your room and style, and this method will shine.
Put merely, for the £2000 you’ll pay for this ‘all-in-one’ setup, you’ll solely get higher by spending the identical on hi-fi separates. The electronics and circuitry is so tailor-made to work completely with each other that the sound is spot-on – even pairing the LS50 passive audio system with a proficient amplifier as much as the identical value can’t prime it.
I performed round with positioning, and the excellent news is that you would be able to largely do what works in your style or room, due to the app’s means to tweak the DSP. However, I discovered that giving them somewhat extra space from the again wall than my preliminary placement added a contact extra readability than was doable by DSP changes.
I loaded up a playlist on Tidal to see how the LS50 Wireless would fare with probably the most handy type of music. The consequence was an absolute triumph. Even over my wi-fi community, the sound produced was assured, stuffed with element and laser-focused in its stereo imaging.
Feed it one thing upbeat and it gained’t miss a step, leaping right into a full of life and dynamic presentation with out second thought. Opt for one thing extra thought-about and it’s equally capable of change tack on the drop of a hat, and sluggish issues down with out sounding held again or bored.
Precision is great. Instruments sound as they’d do performed proper in entrance of you, and tie in completely with each other, layering themselves in a approach that lets you benefit from the concord of the efficiency in addition to select wonderful particulars of particular person parts do you have to want.
It’s a little bit of a cliché, however when you’re new to a setup of this calibre, you actually will uncover components of your favorite songs you’d by no means heard earlier than.
The expression that comes by within the vocals of a reside efficiency is sufficient to provide the goosebumps. That’s helped by the incredible timing the LS50 Wireless is able to, mixed with an outstanding sense of rhythmic drive that retains you listening and listening.
Stream a Hi-Res Audio monitor from a NAS drive, or swap to a bodily supply, and that sense of area, timing and element is simply made additional obvious. But the pure sense of musicality these audio system are able to stays unchanged, irrespective of the enter. It’s solely Bluetooth that exhibits even a glisten of fragility, nevertheless it isn’t offputting within the slightest (and is the enter I discovered I used the least anyway).
The soundstage is spectacular for what are comparatively compact bookshelf audio system, they usually handle to fill my medium-sized testing room with out challenge. You gained’t be left wanting within the scale and quantity division, do you have to wish to push both – I turned up the quantity greater than I can think about most individuals would hear at, and didn’t come throughout an oz. of distortion.
As far as stability is anxious these audio system are fairly impartial, with incredible readability and focus by the mid-range, a wealthy however managed bass, and a transparent and open treble with simply sufficient chew to maintain issues thrilling with out being shiny. It’s a very well-considered stability, and one which works effectively with all genres of music.
Bass lovers can get some additional oomph within the low-end from hooking up a separate sub, however I just like the stability as it’s – there’s nonetheless loads of rumble right here to make my floorboards vibrate with a play by of James Blake’s Limit to Your Love.
Why purchase the KEF LS50 Wireless?
If you could have a £2000 funds for a correct hi-fi setup, you may be assured you gained’t get higher relating to bundle or efficiency than the KEF LS50 Wireless.
When it involves inputs, the flexibleness on supply is second-to-none. Plus the harmonious sound of its elements all working collectively produce a efficiency so good that it must be heard to be appreciated.
The system can also be handy, and each easy to make use of and arrange, being accessible sufficient for hi-fi newbies to familiarize yourself with, with out alienating the extra skilled listeners within the course of.
Are there enhancements that could possibly be made? Very small ones, maybe, that are principally to do with app performance. But not solely are these niggles fixable, they’re additionally prone to fade into insignificance if you begin listening.
It’s truthful to say that spending £2000 on a hi-fi system is a reasonably sizeable funding, however that is one that can confidently stand the take a look at of time. If you’re on the lookout for one thing related in kind and comfort however for much much less cash and never the identical class of efficiency, perhaps have a look at one thing just like the Wharfedale Diamond A1 or the tiny Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2.
Considering the checklist of superlatives you possibly can simply apply to the LS50 Wireless, although, to say that it comes extremely really helpful nearly appears to be enjoying it cool.
An excellent energetic speaker system that brings hi-fi sound and plug-and-play comfort collectively for efficiency that may’t be topped.