KEF LS50 Wireless II Review: So Tempted To Pay The US$3000!
The KEF LS50 Wireless II are some crazy speakers. I’ve been using them for about a month now and I have never been more tempted to just drop four grand on something.
We have the KEF LS50 Wireless II with us along with the KC62 subwoofer, which is a separate purchase and is another S$2,500 or around US$1,800. The speakers themselves though cost around S$4,000 or US$3,000.
So, let’s talk design. These look gorgeous. I have the Mineral white colourway and the mix of white, black and this bronze-copper colour is stunning. That being said, these are pretty hefty speakers. Each unit weighs around 10KG and together, the whole set weighs like 20KG, which can be pretty hard to handle if you’re trying to set these up alone. The subwoofer weighs 14KG, although I’d say the sub is already super compact compared to other subs I’ve seen before. I don’t mind dense subs, as long as they don’t take up too much space.
On the right primary speaker, you get a touch-controlled strip on the top with buttons for power, switching inputs, muting the speakers and volume control. It’s definitely responsive and while you can control the speakers with the app, it’s nice to have some built-in controls. There’s also a remote control if you’re using these as TV speakers, but I just left that in the box since I’m using them with my computer most of the time.
Set up was a breeze, once they were seated on my desk. All I needed to do was plug in the power cables, connect the sub to the right speaker and turn everything on. I pulled up the KEF app, connected everything to my Wi-Fi network and done.
On a side note, these speakers come with threaded inserts on the bottom so you can use them with KEF’s floor stands. Inside, though, is where the magic is. These are active speakers, and they draw 380W of power each, 100W to the class A/B amp powering the tweeter and 280W to the class D amp powering the mid/bass driver. KEF's Metamaterial Absorption Technology is cool. It’s a structure that looks like a maze and it removes unwanted sound from the drivers to reduce distortion and I can attest to that. No matter how loudly I was using the speakers, they sounded perfectly fine.
On the back of the right speaker, you get a bunch of ports. An AC port, of course, an RJ45 network port, a service USB-A port, an AUX port, a coaxial port, a TOSLINK optical port, an HDMI eARC port, a sub-out port and an interspeaker RJ45 port. Pretty much something for everyone. There are also three buttons there, one to reset the speakers, one to put the units into primary/secondary pairing mode and one for Bluetooth pairing.
Things get a bit more complicated when throwing the KC62 sub into the mix though. It’s easy enough to set the mode to LFE and connect the sub to the primary with a sub cable, then you can start adjusting the crossovers, phase control and such. In the app, when you connect a sub, you can let the app know which sub you’re using and the app will recommend you to set the sub according to KEF’s suggestion, with the volume/gain knob turned to 3 o’clock for the KC62. There’s also a slider in the app to tune the speaker/subwoofer balance and control the volume.
Something that I noticed with the sub is that if the music you’re listening to isn’t particularly bassy or if you’re listening at a lower volume, the sub remains in standby mode and only turns on when certain conditions are met. So if your sub isn’t turning on and the light is remaining orange, that’s a possible reason.
The subwoofer isn’t particularly necessary, but I’d say the difference is definitely noticeable. Even without the sub, I was getting plenty of thump, but with the KC62, it was crazy and definitely added depth and power.
Now, let’s get a little technical here before we get into how these sound. They’re able to operate completely wirelessly, as evidenced by the name, with a 24-bit/96kHz connection between the two speakers, or you can run a cable between them for a 24-bit/192kHz connection. Over all connections, you can stream all the standard formats like MP3, ALAC, FLAC, WAV and more, but the speakers are also capable of up to DSD256 and they can unpack MQA files, so Tidal subscribers, you’re covered here.
As for sound, it's insane. The first thing you notice is that the soundstage is incredibly wide, both in terms of depth and height. Instrument layering and imaging on point, you can pinpoint instruments and vocals with a lot of accuracy. There’s so much air and spaciousness with beautiful clarity and dynamics. It’s a very clean sound with no distortion at all, and the mids are crystal clear with plenty of definition in the bass. It’s an incredibly agile system and it handled everything with ease, from music to game audio to watching shows and such. The spatial reproduction is crazy.
Honestly, I must admit I’m quite biased towards these. I prefer active all-in-one speakers, and this delivers. There’s wireless support for Tidal, MQA decoding, it’s super easy to set up, it plays nice with everything and it sounds so fricking good. Honestly, if you guys are on the fence, these are definitely worth the money. The only quibble I have is that sometimes if I don’t notice the speakers have turned off and I turn them on when I have something already playing on my computer, the right speaker starts playing first before the left one kicks in. It’s an incredibly small issue because they equalise within three seconds, but it’s something to note if you’re planning on using these with your computer like me. Other than that, they’re golden.
At S$4,000, they’re not cheap, but they’re worth it.