KEF LS50 Meta review | What Hi-Fi?

KEF introduced the unique LS50 as an anniversary birthday party again in 2012. These standmounters proved an enormous luck, so much so that they have persisted in production just about untouched since then.

Nine years is a long term by any requirements, but it was made conceivable by means of a mixture of sound high quality, build and aesthetics that is still extremely appealing today. That hasn’t stopped the company’s engineers from having a recent look, alternatively, and the result is the LS50 Meta now we have on test right here.

Build

The LS50 Meta don’t glance any different from the LS50, and in some ways they aren’t. The corporate considered revising that fantastically made enclosure but concluded that little may well be progressed.

The cupboard form and measurement nonetheless works well, and the curved entrance panel – made of Dough Moulding Compound: a polyester resin mixed with glass fibre and calcium carbonate – continues to make for an impressively inflexible and well-controlled foundation for the Uni-Q pressure unit array.

KEF LS50 Meta tech specifications

Max power 106dB


Sensitivity 85dB  

Frequency response 79Hz - 28kHz

Impedance 8ohms

Dimensions (hwd) 30.2 x 20 x 27.8cm


Weight 7.2kg

The rest of the box is constructed from MDF, which is closely braced and moderately damped to minimise any resonances. The LS50 Meta are to be had in 4 finishes – Mineral White, Carbon Black, Titanium Grey and a Royal Blue Special Edition.

The only evident adjustments are to the again panel, which has been tidied up. The fixing holes for the front baffle retention bolts have disappeared, and there has additionally been some cosmetic detailing to make all of it look neater.

The one house ripe for improvement was once the LS50’s Uni-Q driving force array, the place the tweeter sits within the throat of the mid/bass unit. This has been thoroughly transformed, taking in all of the refinements that KEF has developed during the last 8 years and adding something new in the type of Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT).

MAT is KEF’s approach of dealing with the sound that comes off the back of the 25mm aluminium tweeter dome. In a standard design, this sound usually fires right into a chamber behind the dome where it is most commonly absorbed through damping material. But some sound power always bounces again through the dome so as to add distortion.

Here, the rearward sound feeds into something concerning the size of a hockey puck that looks like a plastic round maze. It is layered and made up of 30 tubes, each and every tuned to take in a distinct frequency. KEF claims that, once mixed, the tubes take in quite a lot of frequencies – from around 600Hz upwards – a lot more successfully than change strategies. The outcome must be cleaner, much less distorted highs.

Compatibility

There were tweaks to the crossover to take all the force unit adjustments into consideration. Aside from a slight shift in crossover frequency – from 2.2kHz to 2.1kHz – the specs glance similar.

These aren’t in particular sensitive speakers, at a rated 85dB/W/m, and the minimal impedance is simply 3.Five ohms, so it is smart to spouse them with an amplifier that has a bit of of grunt.

We counsel the Cambridge CXA81 built-in with a suitably succesful supply, even though such are the LS50 Meta’s functions that it's essential easily use the likes of the Naim SuperNait 3, and the speakers wouldn’t be proscribing.

At simply 30cm tall, those KEFs are beautiful compact, but don’t be tempted to stuff them in a bookshelf or proper up towards a wall. They received’t sulk if you do, however they are going to sound a lot better if placed around 50cm into a room and properly away from the sidewalls.

Sound

It doesn’t take long to grasp that the LS50 have advanced considerably. While the fundamental sonic personality is straight away familiar, the brand new ones have received a level of readability and finesse the originals only hinted at.

Listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, we’re quickly marvelling on the LS50 Meta’s delicacy and precision. They sound so a lot more clear than prior to and set up to render low-level main points, such as instrumental textures, a lot more convincingly.

It’s a shockingly full-bodied presentation with a excellent degree of authority for such compact audio system. Still, there’s simplest so deep a 13cm magnesium/aluminium mid/bass unit in a smallish, 30cm-tall cabinet can go. Stretch to the likes of the Award-winning and larger three-way KEF R3 (£1300, $2000, AU$3625) and you’ll get particularly extra in the way in which of low-frequency reach and punch. But you don’t get the LS50 Meta’s insight, delicacy or top-end refinement.

It looks like the Metamaterial technology truly works. These new KEFs sound so much cleaner and extra subtle than ahead of, particularly at higher frequencies. The Meta make the very good R3 sound congested and ham-fisted when compared, and that’s an actual surprise.

Large-scale dynamics are handled properly and there’s a just right amount of muscle for a speaker of this measurement. These are delicate and composed performers that infrequently sound stressed unless quantity ranges are high.

There’s little to bitch about in the case of tonality. The KEFs sound clean and balanced while nonetheless having enough in the way in which of high-frequency chunk. They will expose the shortcomings in poor recordings, however don’t go out of their strategy to be nasty.

KEF’s Uni-Q designs tend to image well via their very nature, and these speakers aren't any different. The LS50 Meta generate an expansive and tightly focused soundstage where the tools are layered convincingly. We’re also impressed by way of the picture’s steadiness when the track will get tough.

We transfer to Neneh Cherry’s Blank Project and those KEFs continue to shine. Their detailed and transparent midrange efficiency makes the most of Cherry’s passionate vocals, handing over dynamic nuances and delicate shifts in timing superbly. There’s a just right stage of punch to the bass and the KEFs render rhythms in a surefooted method. We’ve heard more enthusiastic rivals, however none that may match the KEF’s many and varied vary of strengths.

Verdict

We’ve all the time loved the LS50 and this new version takes their efficiency to a significantly upper point. We think KEF is on to one thing with the Metamaterial generation and can’t wait to peer the way it develops. As issues stand, that tech and all of the other work KEF’s engineers have put into the Uni-Q array has propelled the LS50 Meta to the head of the class at this point. Buy them with confidence.

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