KEF has debuted two new pairs of high-end bookshelf speakers, including a powered, wireless set with high-resolution streaming capabilities. Both the LS50 Meta and LS50 Wireless II have us rather intrigued here at Digital Trends, especially considering our reverence for past KEF speakers like the KEF Q150 and the original LS50 Wireless.
The audio company has launched the LS50 Meta and the LS50 Wireless II with retail prices of $1,500 and $2,500, respectively. According to KEF, the pairs of speakers will be the world’s first loudspeakers to use Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), the company’s own tech, which it says reduces the vibration sound causes to the actual casing of the speaker and prevents any of that vibration from interfering with the audio quality coming out of it.
Think of it this way: A speaker cabinet is a lot like a single room home with no furniture in it. If you were to stomp around or clap your hands, you would hear a ton of reverberation. But add in a few couches, tables, and carpets, and that suddenly disappears, right? The same can be said of the inside of a speaker casing, and companies use different techniques to add dampening material in the casing to prevent that reverberation.
In that same vein, KEF says the MAT implementation in both the LS50 Meta and the LS50 Wireless II can absorb a very impressive 99 percent of that aforementioned unwanted sound.
In short, these speakers are supposed to sound really, really good.
KEF says the LS50 Meta have a new cone neck decoupler and motor system that reduces high-frequency distortion. The company also boasts about its new patented offset flexible port. What does that mean to you? Well, when a speaker produces a lot of bass, a lot of air moves around. The port lets the air out of the speaker and reinforces the bass response. If you don’t get that port located in just the right place, at the right size, you can actually get a lot of what is called “shuffing” noise, which is the sound you hear when air comes flying out of that port. That noise can be annoying to hear. KEF says its new cone is better than what is out there, and improves the overall sound of the speaker.
The goal here seems to be unrivaled balance, with KEF incorporating several new technologies focused on doing just that.
The LS50 Meta (and the LS50 Wireless II) come with KEF’s S2 Floor Stand, and the corners of each speaker have a threaded insert to lock them into place on the stands. The S2 themselves have integrated cable management, as well as a mass-loadable column. The columns for speaker stands have taditionally been loaded with sand or lead shot — something heavy. The idea of a mass-loaded column is that it increases the mass and density of the speaker stand to prevent sound from traveling down the column and transferring vibrations from the speaker stand and into the floor.
The LS50 Meta will be available in four colors — carbon black, titanium gray, mineral white, and a royal blue special edition — and will come with a recommended power rating of between 40 watts and 100 watts.
The LS50 Wireless II takes the design details and technologies that KEF built into its LS50 Meta counterpart and adds a powered, wireless setup into the mix.
That wireless configuration brings several different streaming opportunities to the LS50 Wireless II, with music services like Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, and Deezer all supported. The KEF Connect app allows you to tune into internet radio stations as well, and the speakers have both AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built in to help you connect from either your Apple or Android device. If that wasn’t enough, the LS50 Wireless II also support Bluetooth, plus wired connections that include HDMI, analog, optical, and coaxial inputs to connect to TVs, turntables, CD players, or game consoles.
The LS50 Wireless II can be tethered with a supplied cable (24bit/192kHz resolution), or wirelessly (24bit/96kHz), and are set up by using the KEF Connect app. Hardware-wise, the LS50 Wireless II has a 100-watt class A/B amplifier driving each tweeter, and dedicated 280-watt class D amplifiers to push the mid/bass drivers. If you’re looking for even more room-filling sound, the Wireless II has two subwoofer outputs for adding extra low end with a woofer like KEF’s KUBE range or KF92 subs.
Imagine a Sonos, but with more connections and the promise of hi-fi sound.
The LS50 Wireless II come in the same carbon black, titanium gray, and mineral white trims as the LS50 Meta, but also have the option for a crimson red special-edition option.
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