kef ls50 wireless ii

REVIEW: KEF LS50 Wireless ii

MONDAY AUGUST 2, 2021

Without stands, this pair of speakers come in a box weighing over 20 kilograms so it is best to have another person’s help with lifting. Not heavy in the grand scheme of things in the world of audio, nonetheless it is not a good time to end up with a chiropractor. The grey colour on these version two is accompanied by red accents on its rear vent ports and they look brilliant to my eyes. The excuse as to why I took a white a pair home even though I like the grey ones more? Wait times on them go longer than two months and in some places they are charged a premium.

Setting up is as easy as taking the bookshelf speakers out, have them powered and have the KEF Connect app installed on your phone or tablet. Once that’s done, a software update that takes up to 15 minutes is required although it took longer for me. As with anything wireless, from printer to smart lights, they can be fussy. If this angers you, have them directly connected to your audio source.

PRO

Quick wake/start-up

Amazing sounds

User-friendly

CON

Power cable colour should match

SPECIFICATION

760 watt

Bluetooth 4.2

Airplay 2, Chromecast, roon, etc.

45 - 47,000 Hz

RM 12,500

A$ 4,300

kef ls50 wireless ii review

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Now at version ii, gloss has been substituted with a matte finishing which makes the LS50 Wireless 2 looking more upscale, if that matters. Cleaning can now be done sloppily as scratching is less likely on this surface and not really required as they are not prone to smudge. That aside, all streaming service and streaming support known to man have been thrown in. Build as a whole is solid with a tiny defect that’s above the secondary speaker’s gasket is a bummer. Features are that this KEF comes with a remote control which is delightful although more things can be done on its device app. Also, a touch display panel above the primary speaker with similar functions to the remote is another handy form of input.

 

Having the tweeter and woofer put together does make this a clean, modern looking thing but being unlike traditional speakers does make you doubt it’ll be able to deliver clear separation of the lows and the highs. As seen on my favourite audio manufacturer, the tweeter on their speakers live on top and away driver for superior treble imaging. Back to the LS50, they look small in comparison to bulky bookshelves of its kind which does make this come to mind, size must matter right?

2021 kef ls50 wireless review

A few minutes into the first three tracks I played on the ii, I tried to keep my face straight so that the man wouldn’t open the champagne just yet. For only possessing a frequency response of 40 Hz to 47 kHz on paper, I was rather worried for its bass department because the KEF KC62 subwoofer can be added to this system to dig deeper down the lows. Sure it is nice to know you are not stuck with what you have in a system for the rest of time but that is a A$ 2500 optional extra. Yes, nobody has the hearing ability of picking up 11 Hz but your other senses might be able to. Furthermore, on this application some of the work will be taken off the speakers so it’ll get to focus more on the midrange and high frequency which is a win in my books.

kef ls50 meta

Even without the sub, the stereo speakers themselves are superbly tuned. Norah Jones doesn't sound overtly bright on the top end, Johnny Marr can be clearly heard in Hans Zimmer’s Time and it passes the low end test with Massive Attack’s Angel. Most of those little things in a song are projected in a cordial manner, not thrown in your face saying this is clarity. Hours went by and there was no noticeable listening fatigue however I did have wall and desk mode checked in its settings which reduces the bass. A 0.5 db treble trimming was also done while listening to U2’s Magnificent at higher volumes.

"HEAR MORE OF EVERYTHING WITH

A ROUNDER TOP END"

2021 kef ls50 wireless ii review

How something sounds like you remember is not a good reference point because anyone’s memory is not reliable but there are systems here well north of 100 thousand and these KEFs don’t sound bad when being alternated. Have a listen and do not take anyone’s word for it when it comes to hifi as sound preferences are subjective and up to taste furthermore it changes with time. That being said, something that sounds good today will still be considered as good sounding despite better products that will be made in time to come. So the best way on how one speaker compared to another is to have been in the same environment and tested back to back.

 

Whatever metamaterial is and that has been put into these speakers and they worked wonders in absorbing undesirable sounds. I find most active speakers in the market to be having a pronounced low end due to the use of Class D amplifiers which is often used even in luxury vehicles. They are able to produce a staggering amount of output but that doesn’t tell anything when it comes to the sound we are looking for. As for the LS50W ii, 280 watt Class D amplification on the low frequencies, 100 watt Class AB on the high side of things on a single speaker which totals to a healthy 760 watts of firepower.

kef ls50 wireless ii stands

This is a well thought out all-in-one system and it has been way too long since I last came across such an excellent product. Then there is the price, at A$ 4300 it is no pocket change especially during times like these. Then again, we are spending more time indoors and music does wonders in calming us down. Without taking the global dilemma into account, the KEF LS50 Wireless ii is the ultimate active speaker for the money. Without the wireless bits, it is basically the LS50 Meta which costs A$ 2500. Throw in a DAC, a stream and say that amounts to A$ 1000, we are already at A$ 3500. Another thousand for a decent amplifier, we are already spending more than the powered version and that’s before factoring cables into the equation.

kef ls50 wireless ii

So there really is no Achilles heel to the KEF LS50 Wireless 2? As compact as it is, they are not a small pair of speakers. To have them alongside your desktop computer wouldn’t be a good fit for most work desks. An LS50 stands at 30 cm tall and about as much in length which makes the LSX sister a better fit as computer speakers. Moving on, a magnetic grill would be nice to prevent itchy fingered guests from destroying your tweeter. Lastly, the manufacturing defect that lives on the secondary speaker which I already mentioned. 

kef ls50 wireless ii white

It is true that these all-in-one systems aren’t as reliable and have extremely limited future expansion. However, some of us may be over the days of mixing and matching, and this is especially for those who have always been wanting to dip their toes into the audiophile world with as little stress as possible. Conversely, if you do not like what’s been bundled for you, there is the Meta alternative where I’m sure sounds just as brilliant or even more when using your existing gear. At the end of the day, there’s something to keep everyone happy.

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