When KEF released its original LS50 back in 2012, they quickly became regarded as some of the best-sounding passive desktop monitors you could buy. Their secret was KEF's proprietary Uni-Q driver technology, which housed a 1-inch tweeter inside a 5.25-inch woofer resulting in excellent and accurate sound.
Because of the popularity, KEF went on to release the LS50 Wireless in 2018, which were active powered versions of the LS50. Each speaker had two built-in amplifiers, one for its tweeter and one for its woofer, and a dedicated DAC (up to 24-bit/192kHz) and DSP. When we reviewed the LS50 Wireless, we called them the "perfect hi-fi all-in-one speaker system."
Now, in 2020, KEF has announced updated versions of both those speakers. The KEF LS50 Meta are updated versions of the LS50. They start at $1,500 and are available in four finishes: carbon black, titanium gray, mineral white and a special edition royal blue. And the KEF LS50 Wireless II are updated versions of the LS50 Wireless; they start at $2,500 and are available in four colors: carbon black, titanium gray, mineral white and a special edition crimson red.
The big update with both new speaker models is that they're the first loudspeakers to use KEF's new proprietary Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), which KEF claims has the ability to "absorb 99% of the unwanted sound radiating from the rear of the driver." This greatly reduces unwanted vibrations and distortion, and improves the overall sound quality. Basically, if you though KEF's previous speakers sounded good — the new LS50 Collection takes that sound to the next level.
KEF updated the speakers in other ways, too. It's given them a new cone neck decoupler and motor system, which against helps eliminate distortion and disperse sound evenly around the room. KEF claims to have also optimized the cabinet size of both speakers and given them a new rear recessed port, which should help produce more accurate bass.
Like their predecessor, the KEF LS50 Wireless II are active powered speakers that come with a plethora of wired and wireless playback options, so you easily hook them up to a computer, turntable or CD player, or stream music directly to them via Chromecast, AirPlay 2 or Bluetooth.
The LS50 Wireless II have adopted a feature from their smaller brethren, the KEF LSX, in that the two speakers don't have to be tethered together. This allows you to place the speakers further apart, but there is a sacrifice in max audio quality. When tethered together, the LS50 Wireless II can play ultra high resolution audio (up to 24bit/192kHz); when not tethered, there's a bit of a drop-off in resolution (up to 24bit/96kHz).