KEF LS50 Wireless II Speakers Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Recently I reviewed the KEF LS50 Meta and found it to be a remarkable loudspeaker. It offered a depth and clarity when it presented music that I had not heard from a speaker in its price range. When I decided to take a new job, it was fairly easy for me to decide that I wanted a pair of the KEF LS50 Metas to be able to listen to in my new place. But I also didn’t want to deal with all the complexities of an integrated amp or receiver if I didn’t have to anymore so I purchased a pair of the KEF LS50 Wireless II for myself. It offers the same wonderful sound as the passive version but with all the necessary electronics built-in. For this review I’m not going to focus as much on the sound, which is covered in the LS50 Meta review already, but more on how the LS50 Meta Wireless II performs on a daily basis and the benefits of active speakers.
Design and Setup
First things first, while the KEF is a wireless speaker, they do need to be connected to power. Unlike the previous version of the wireless, you do not need to connect a cable between the two speakers. You can connect a cable between the two, but it isn’t required unless you want to play 24/192 music without downsampling it to 24/96. The main speaker, which defaults to be the right channel but can be changed to be left, contains all the inputs for your external sources. There is HDMI eARC, Optical, Coaxial, and 3.5mm Analog inputs as well as Ethernet if you prefer that over WiFi. There are also subwoofer outputs on each speaker, letting you run a pair of subs for improved bass if you desire. Controls on top of the main speaker let you turn them on and off, switch inputs, and adjust volume without using the remote or app.
Of course, people are likely to stream music directly to the LS50 Wireless II instead of using a connected source, and it is easy to do. You can use Chromecast or AirPlay to stream audio from apps, along with native Spotify Connect, Tidal, and Bluetooth. The KEF Connect app lets you stream from your local music library, Amazon, Deezer, or Qobuz as well as play Internet Radio or Podcasts. This wide array of streaming sources makes it very easy to get music to the KEF LS50 Wireless II, which is why I bought them. As more of my listening moves from physical media to streaming, this is how I want to play back my music.
One downside to the LS50 Wireless II design is that the controls lack any way to skip tracks from the speakers themselves. Having some Sonos speakers around my house as well, being able to swipe left or right to skip forward or back tracks is very useful. Since the integration of the KEFs with apps is very different from Sonos, it’s understandable why this is the case, but I do wish I could do that. At the very least, being able to pause without having to reach for your phone or PC would be handy but all you can do at the speakers is mute the volume.
Using the eARC input with a TV has been great. I do have to turn on the speakers as I can’t find a way for HDMI to automatically turn them on, but it’s not a big deal. When you turn off the TV the speakers do automatically turn themselves off, though. Movies and TV sound great through the LS50 Wireless II, with better clarity and stereo separation than you can get through a sound bar. You are only going to get a stereo sound here, as there is no surround, but I prefer to have a very good stereo image to a lesser surround one.
I plan to do some more upgrades for the LS50 Wireless II in the future as well. I’ll likely integrate 1-2 of the KEF KC62 subwoofer with the wireless transmitter for a very clean 2.2 system. I’ve been using the SVS SB-3000 Micro with them but I think the KEF sub provides better bass extension than the SVS. Because the KEF’s are active speakers, the app lets you add a high-pass filter so that audio below a certain frequency doesn’t even go to the LS50 drivers. This reduces the amount of distortion the speakers produce, so a subwoofer doesn’t just improve bass but can improve the overall sound. Even if KEF made a larger wireless speaker, I’d prefer a bookshelf with subs because it’s easier to place.
I also might start using Roon to listen to music around the house. I’ve always considered Roon to be an extravagance, but it integrates so well with the KEFs and with Sonos and my local music library that I might use it. It also allows you to do some room correction, so I can make the KEFs sound even better no matter where they are.
The lack of room correction was my main concern with the LS50 Wireless II. I highly considered getting the LS50 Meta with a NAD M10 v2 as it includes Dirac and still has all the features of the LS50 Wireless. But it meant more cables, more things to deal with, and more problems that could come up. The other feature the NAD M10 v2 offers is the ability to use wireless Bluesound surrounds with it for a 4.1 channel setup. KEF doesn’t offer anything like this, but if a future version of the LS50 Wireless could support surrounds, like the KEF LSX, then I would certainly be interested in that. I don’t know if this is possible, or even something KEF would be interested in, but I’d love to see it.
KEF LS50 Wireless II Conclusions
Overall I had no complaints about the LS50 Wireless II. Yes, it’s expensive at nearly $3,000 for a pair of speakers. But when you consider you are getting the LS50 Meta, discrete amps for each driver, and all the integrated wireless features and wired connectivity, it isn’t that bad. It will be the last pair of music speakers I need for a long time, as they are good enough to not leave me wanting more. And the white finish with copper UniQ driver looks striking in a room compared to a traditional black box. I have no regrets about my purchase and highly recommend the LS50 Wireless II.
Superb sound, great connectivity for both wired and wireless sources, stylish design.
No room correction, a subwoofer is recommended.
The KEF LS50 Wireless II adds the updated Meta LS50 UniQ driver to a successful package and offers superb sound. For someone like myself that wants great sound quality without a bunch of boxes, and to integrate for both movies and music, it's a simple all-in-one solution that I highly recommend.