A colorful little classic of the monitoring speaker, the LS50 from British manufacturer Kef is one of the most popular models of its kind. Available as a wireless version in 2017, the LS50 Wireless was also followed by a little sister, the LSX. A small technical revolution, the new LS50 Wireless II benefits from a new absorption technology, called MAT; its technical capacities are also in-depth reviews. Kef also thought of a target more fond of traditional Hifi, with the LS50 META, a passive and wired equivalent of the LS50 Wireless II.
The same, in (much) better
Aesthetically very close to the LS50 Wireless of 2017, the new Kef LS50 Wireless II is nonetheless an example of a real evolution.
To achieve this, Kef did not modify their already excellent Uni-Q coaxial transducer, since the LS50 Wireless II uses the same speaker generation (namely the 12th). We will not detail here the design of the Uni-Q compared to another coaxial speaker, but it has some peculiarities such as the shape of its dome, or the particular approach of its Tangerine waveguide (the small slats around the tweeter).
The great novelty lies above all in the appearance of the MAT absorption system at the back of the tweeter. MAT (Metamaterial Absorption Technology) is essentially based on a new generation synthetic material, developed in collaboration with the Acoustic Metamaterial Group. The figures are quite telling, since it would absorb 99% of the rear wave of the tweeter, against 60% previously, a difference to say the least.
The Kef LS50 Wireless II are active wireless speakers, which is why a good part of the quality also comes from the integrated electronics. The brand uses here a Music Integrity Engine sound processing engine, a processing algorithm largely optimized for operation with a Uni-Q transducer.
As for the amplifying part, the manufacturer gives itself even more margin than on the previous generation. The tweeter is powered by a dedicated class AB amplifier with 100 W power. The mid / bass transducer relies on a 280 W class D amplifier. In total (including the two speakers), the system can expect 760 W of amplifying power, against 460 W for the first LS50 Wireless of the name. A power which does not tranhooly-news.com into a much higher sound level (108 dB max against 106 dB), but which should ensure a much better flexibility of the whole. The THD goes for example from 0.1% to 0.07% (measured in the mid frequencies, under 90 dB).
On the digital side, Kef has not rested on its laurels. Indeed, the limitations of the first version are largely exceeded. Still Roon Ready and DLNA, the LS50 Wireless II are now compatible with AirPlay 2 and Chromecast protocols, in addition to multiroom compatibility. All this is managed by the Kef Connect application (smartphone). Not to spoil anything, compatibility with streaming services now extends to Amazon Music, Deezer and Qobuz, in addition to Spotify and Tidal (already integrated).
The speakers now support DSD (up to DSD256) as well as MQA and PCM management is switched to 24 bits / 384 kHz.
The interconnection between the two speakers can be done via a dedicated cable, as for the V1, but also wireless, which is an additional convenience.
Connectivity is not left out and KEF here makes the somewhat damaging choice to separate from the USB-B socket, while integrating an HDMI eARC connector, as well as a coaxial input. We also find an optical socket, as well as a 3.5 mm jack input and a subwoofer output. For the network, a Bluetooth module coexists with an Ethernet socket and a WiFi module. The speaker can be controlled just as easily from the dedicated application as via its control panel, discreetly placed on the upper face.
Available by October in four colors for a price of 2,500 euros, the Kef LS50 Wireless II is even more ambitious than its big sister. A model still as desirable.
LS50 META: everything, without electronics
The second model presented, the LS50 META, is quite simple to describe: it is an LS50 Wireless II but wired and passive, without any electronics or integrated processing and without network capability – a living room speaker equipped with a simple pair of terminal blocks, but still featuring the 12th generation Uni-Q transducer with MAT treatment. In short, a model that is already quite high-end, but more suited to users for whom network capacities are not essential, and already equipped with a living room amplifier.
Equally successful aesthetically, this LS50 META, also available in four colors (but not all the same as for the wireless version), will be displayed at 1,200 euros.