The KEF LS50 Wireless are tremendous active powered bookshelf speakers. Earlier this year, I reviewed them and called “the perfect hi-fi all-in-one speaker system.” Each speaker has its own power amplifier, two amplifiers, built-in DAC and DSP, and they combine the best of audiophile and easy-streaming experiences, able to play up to 24-bit/192kHz audio files and be used as a simply Bluetooth (aptX) speaker. The problem with the KEF LS50 Wireless is simply price. Such high-quality and powerful speakers – pumping 230-watts per channel and able to produce audio with virtually zero distortion — cost $2,200.
Since such expensive speakers are a tough sell, especially for younger crowds, KEF is releasing a smaller version of its LS50 Wireless named the LSX ($1,100). Available today, the stereo speaker system is virtually identical to the LS50 Wireless in almost every way – it’s just about 1/3 the size. They’re built around KEF’s signature Uni-Q driver (comprised of a tweeter and woofer) and have numerous other wired connection options, including optical, USB-A and analog RCA inputs. You can stream audio directly from the Tidal and Spotify apps, or over Bluetooth. Something new is that KEF will roll out an AirPlay 2 update in January 2019 so you’ll be able to effortlessly stream to the LSX speakers from your iPhone or Apple computer. You’ll also be able to integrate the system with other AirPlay 2-compatible speakers in a multiroom system.
The LSX speakers are available in five different colors: white, black, olive, blue and maroon. Photo by KEF.
The LSX are designed as active powered bookshelf speakers, but you can easily hook them up to your TV, too. Most new TVs have optical TOSLINK optical port, and so you can just hook them up directly to your TV. Setting them up should be as simple as navigating a few settings on your TV.
Besides size, there are three other obvious differences. First, is power. While each LS50 Wireless speaker demands 230-watts per channel, each LSX demands 100-watts per channel. And second, is the way they connect to each other. The right and left speakers of the LS50 Wireless need to be tethered together via an ethernet cable, that way it ensures they’re playing the highest resolution possible (24-bit/192kHz). The LSX speakers can do that as well, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a little resolution (down to 48kHz/24-bit) to place the two speakers further away from each other, you can do that as well (thanks to KEF’s new proprietary technology).
The last difference has to do with the way they look. The LSX speakers are available in five different colors: white, black, olive, blue and maroon. Every speaker color besides white has a luxury fabric covering its cabinet. The white speaker have a gloss finish instead, simply because KEF didn’t want to risk getting the white fabric dirty, which makes sense.
The LSX speaker system is available today at Magnolia Design Center retailers (Best Buy), Amazon and KEF Direct.
Drivers: 4-inch Uni-Q driver
Frequency Range: 49Hz – 47kHz
Power: 100-watts per channel
Max Volume: 102dB
Resolution: up to 24-bit/192kHz (wired); up to 48kHz/24-bit (wireless)
Connectivity: wi-fi, Bluetooth
Inputs: 3.5mm jack, Toslink Optical, ethernet
Colors: white, black, olive, blue, maroon
Weight: 7.7 pounds (slave) and 7.9 pounds (master)