KEF LS50 Wireless II review

The title of KEF’s latest all-in-one machine leaves no doubt as to their heritage. KEF is clearly pleased with the fact that its LS50 Wireless II are sequels to a product that we appeared extremely sufficient to be a What Hi-Fi? Hall of Fame entry – and it has every right to be.

The LS50 Wireless launched in 2016 as an active speaker gadget take on KEF’s mythical passive LS50 speakers – a couple of wireless stereo speakers filled with integrated amplification and streaming smarts – and their impressive execution of this appealing thought earned them a five-star review and a What Hi-Fi? Award.

They weren’t perfect: they got here with some regulate app hiccups, and the will for a cable to connect the two speakers was once a small blip in an another way neat bundle. But not best are the new LS50 Wireless II audio system untethered, they also come with a new and improved app.

The Wireless II don’t simply cope with their predecessor’s imperfections, regardless that. They have been designed to squeeze even more efficiency out of the acquainted chassis and Uni-Q driving force arrangement throughout the creation of a new KEF innovation referred to as Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT).

Essentially, MAT is a artful way of soaking up sound waves that radiate from the rear of the tweeter dome in order that they don’t distort the unit’s forward output. Physically, this system sees a round piece of plastic with a maze-like structure positioned at the back of the tweeter.

Each ‘path’ in the structure is a certain dimension and period and ‘tuned’ to absorb a selected vary of frequencies. KEF says that, together, the various paths effectively act as an ‘acoustic black hollow’, soaking up ninety nine in line with cent of the unwanted sound.

This absorption technique has been used in different fields prior to, but this joint initiative with sensible materials and acoustics corporate Acoustic Metamaterials Group marks its first utility in a loudspeaker. It has also been applied in the new KEF LS50 Meta passive speakers.

Features

The 12th technology of KEF’s patented Uni-Q is not just outlined by MAT but also a remodeled motor device, for which KEF has optimised its bespoke digital sign processing set of rules gadget. Mirroring the LS50 Wirelesses’ configuration, a new 100W class A/B amplifier powers the tweeter, while 280W of power is to be had to the mid/bass driver.

In 2018, when KEF presented its LSX speaker system – essentially a miniature version of the LS50 Wireless – it replaced the physical inter-speaker cable with a wireless connection that might play information (up to 24-bit/192kHz) throughout a maximum 24-bit/48kHz answer.

KEF LS50 Wireless II tech specifications

Hi-res 24-bit/384kHz

AirPlay 2 Yes

uPnP Yes

Bluetooth Yes

Google Chromecast Yes

Roon Ready Yes

Max energy 380W in step with channel

Finishes x4

Dimensions (hwd) 30.Five x 20 x 31.1cm

It’s no surprise to peer this extra convenient approach used within the LS50 Wireless II, although the wireless prohibit has been upped to 24-bit/96kHz, meaning they simply wish to downsample information above that solution – height report reinforce is 24-bit/384kHz. Physically connecting the appropriate (master) and left (slave) audio system by the use of the included ethernet cable increases local playback to 24-bit/192kHz.

Support for DSD256 may be onboard this time, too, as is MQA interpreting for the playback of suitable downloaded files and hi-res Tidal Masters.

Tidal is one of many streaming products and services at once obtainable from the new KEF Connect app – you might have Amazon Music, Qobuz, Deezer and Spotify, in addition to internet radio and UPnP servers, at your fingertips too. 

Our review pattern only has access to an early model of the app, so some functionality – including track server discovery – isn’t to be had. However, first impressions counsel it’s a good replacement for the often-glitchy Stream app at the LS50 Wireless. Loading dense carrier libraries, navigating its clean and logical interface and switching inputs proves a nice and reliable experience.

You may just personal those KEFs and feature no use for the dedicated app, considering the LS50 Wireless II enhance AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Bluetooth, and also are Roon Ready.

Despite ditching the USB Type-B computer connection, KEF has rarely shortchanged long term owners with regards to connectivity, replacing it with an HDMI eARC socket to make it more TV-friendly. Alongside it are coaxial (24-bit/192kHz), optical (24-bit/96kHz) and 3.5mm aux inputs and a subwoofer output – which spherical off the LS50 Wireless II's comprehensive spec sheet.

Build

The substantial advancements KEF has made for this sequel are belied a bit of through the familiar aesthetic. In fact, you would perhaps wish to have a look at the underside of the brand new LS50 to inform them except for their predecessor. They have threaded inserts in each and every nook, allowing them to lock onto the highest of the new KEF S2 Floor Stands (£400, $449, AU$800 in step with pair).

However, considering the design is in response to the passive LS50, one of the recognisable and placing loudspeakers around, that familiarity is no bad thing. Their Uni-Q motive force array, gorgeous Carbon Black, Titanium Grey, Mineral White and Crimson Red Special Edition finishes, and curved entrance panel all mix to create a thorough head turner. 

While conceptually an identical stereo speaker programs have come into the marketplace for the reason that LS50 Wireless’s arrival, none we’ve noticed are neater than this next-generation model.

Sound

In our review of the original LS50 Wireless, we famous their “blank and actual” way and “smartly layered and well outlined” soundstage. KEF has taken these attributes to another degree here.

The impact of MAT is obviously heard in the cleanliness of the treble, even though the variation in purity can be heard around the frequency range. Mids are cleaner-cut and bass extra defined, their extra refinement making the originals sound a marginally crude. The complete presentation has been opened out, that additional room now not best full of subtler, extra exact detail, but additionally bearing in mind greater software separation that makes its delivery sound much much less congested when put next.

We listen to Adrienne Lenker's Symbol and this is a more captivating affair throughout the Wireless IIs. The more space between her vocal and the strings is in relative contrast to the originals, where it sounds as even though they are combating against one some other for consideration. That further spaciousness isn’t on the expense of cohesiveness both – a trademark high quality of the Uni-Q driver’s tweeter-inside-the-mid/bass-cone design.

The new KEFs lay naked extra intricacies within the guitar work, while disclosing the distinctive fragilities in her vocal. Similar sharpness and a spotlight to element is evident as we switch to Peter Broderick's Moment, the piano collection aching with meticulously written melody because the LS50 Wireless II extra deftly outline the beginning and finish of notes.

We play Mac Miller's What's The Use? and the Wireless II are keen to blow their own horns their progressed punch and agility as well as their enhanced subtlety. Their readability and cleanliness enlivens the tuneful baseline and unequivocally chopping rap, complementing the observe’s medical production.

Verdict

These sonic advancements aren't just a credit score to KEF's engineering but additionally consultant of ways a ways such speaker machine concepts have come lately. Needless to say, we stay up for hearing more products using MAT generation at some point.

Upon their launch in 2016, KEF’s LS50 Wireless highlighted the attraction of an all-in-one stereo system over a gadget of separates on the modest end of the marketplace, and the LS50 Wireless II simply beef up on that concept.

As a product following within the footsteps of any such huge luck, the KEF LS50 Wireless II arrive with an international of expectation on their shoulders – however they well and truly meet the ones expectations. Make no mistake, this is a sequel of uncommon high quality.

SCORES

MORE:

Best hi-fi systems 2021

Read our KEF LS50 Wireless review

Read our KEF LS50 Meta review

Read our KEF LSX review

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