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KEF LS50 Wireless Active Speaker System Preview

KEFs new LS50 WIreless Active Speaker System

KEF's new LS50 WIreless Active Speaker System


  • Product Name: LS50 Wireless Speaker System
  • Manufacturer: KEF
  • Review Date: October 18, 2016 16:00
  • MSRP: $2,199.99
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!

Drive units: Uni-Q driver array:

  • HF: 25mm (1in.) vented aluminium dome
  • LF/MF: 130mm (5.25in.) magnesium/aluminium alloy

Frequency Response: (±3dB) Measured at 85dB/1m

  • 45Hz – 28kHz (More bass extension)
  • 50Hz – 28kHz (Standard)
  • 61Hz – 28kHz (Less bass extension)
  • Depending on speaker settings

Dimensions: (H x W x D) 300 x 200 x 308mm(11.8 x 7.9 x 12.1in.)

Bluetooth memory: 8 devices

DAC sampling rate: Up to 192kHz (USB Type B); Up to 96kHz (TOSLINK Optical) and depending on source resolution

The modern audiophile doesn't necessarily have tower speakers flanking a turntable, which in turn sits on top of a preamp and dedicated amplifiers in an imposing rack. Today's audiophile tends towards high performance, with hi-res, wireless streaming, and uncompromising sound quality in a compact package.  That's exactly what KEF hopes to deliver.

To mark its 55th anniversary, KEF is celebrating in style with the launch of the LS50 Active Wireless Speaker System. The LS50 Wireless’ design can be seen as a synthesis of audiophile demands and modern convenience.  But don't be fooled. It’s much more than just a wireless version of the company’s acclaimed, passive LS50 speakers.

The LS50 Wireless is a completely contained, all-in-one, active speaker system. Fans of the original will like the fact that the new model retains some hallmarks of the original LS50s that reduced cabinet vibrations and reduced resonances and coloration.

KEF LS50 Wireless Lifestyle Pic

KEF's LS50 Wireless is a perfect solution to the modern audiophile who wants a sleek, high performance system with hi-res music support all in a small footprint.

The Uni-Q driver array is comprised of a 1-inch vented aluminum dome with a 5.25-inch magnesium/aluminum alloy. The system's frequency response (±3dB) and measured at 85dB/1m will depend on one of three user's settings as follows:

  • 45Hz – 28kHz (More bass extension)
  • 50Hz – 28kHz (Standard)
  • 61Hz – 28kHz (Less bass extension)

The FEA-designed cabinet has constrained layer damping bracing, precision-made curved baffle, and an elliptical flexible sound port. KEF says that the LS50 Wireless can achieve a maximum SPL of 106dB.


Kef LS50 Wireless Speaker Overview

The active components in the new speaker system have been selected to make this a compact powerhouse that will feel right at home in a wireless and hi-res music environment without any compromise to audiophile demands. The preamplifier section has dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. and 10/100 Ethernet. The Ethernet port doubles as a service port should you need it. Bluetooth 4.0 with the aptX codec are also standard. You can pair up to 8 Bluetooth devices with the LS50 Wireless. For input options, you have USB Type B, Toslink, and RCA line-level analog.  There is also an unbalanced subwoofer output if you want to expand the system’s low end frequency response.

To decode any digital source with the utmost fidelity and precision, KEF has included an astounding two DACs per channel (for a total of four). The DACs are capable of decoding 192kHz/24-bit music files. In the materials we received, KEF did not specify which DAC they have chosen for the LS50 Wireless but given the caliber of this product, we are confident they employed top notch components.  Note that the Toslink port is limited to 96kHz.

Detail view of the KEF LS50 Wireless heat sinks and inputs.

Detail view of the KEF LS50 Wireless heat sink, port, and inputs.

DSP, Wireless and Streaming Features

There is a dedicated DSP crossover for each channel. KEF says that on-board active amplification has been factory-optimized in a bi-amp, dual mono configuration that is 200 watts for the midrange/woofer and 30 watts for the high frequency tweeter. That's a total of 230 watts per speaker.

The additional amplification, DACs, and preamp components add some depth to the speakers.  The LS50 wireless models measure in at 11.8 x 7.9 x 12.1in.  While still small, these are high-fidelity speakers and certainly won't be confused with computer speakers.

You can control the entire system with the companion LS50 Wireless app for iOS and Andriod.  Through the app, you can fine-tune the system’s network setup, stream music, and manage playback and control. KEF says that there are three levels of customizable EQ settings in the app so that you can configure the LS50 Wireless to your personal musical tastes.

There are three color combinations available: Titanium Grey/Red; Gloss Black/Blue; Gloss White/Copper. The new LS50 Wireless System will retail for just one penny short of $2,199. Before you do a double-take on the price, you’ll be hard-pressed to assemble a complete system that has the streaming, DAC and  amplification features of the LS50 and do it in a footprint this small.  Not only that, when you consider that the passive LS50 speakers alone cost $1,499.99, the price-point of the LS50 Wireless takes on a whole new level of value for Kef fans.

KEF expects that the LS50 Wireless system will be available in December. Time to add this baby to your Christmas wish list.  We know what we will be asking Santa for this year.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Theo Nicolakis has been reviewing high end audio, video, home theater, headphone, and portable music products for the past 14 years. His reviews have appeared here on Audioholics as well as Techhive.com, PCWorld.com, MacWorld.com, and more. His reviews span high end two-channel and home theater systems, AVRs and immersive audio processors, headphones, DACs, DAPs, music servers, sound bars, and display technologies.

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