KEF has officially launched its colourful family of LSX wireless stereo speakers at a Christmassy Melbourne launch in the trendy Smart Artz Gallery.
The LSX design roughly halves both the size and price of the company’s successful LS50W model. It’s a little more than half in volumetric terms, indeed — the LSX is 24cm high rather than 30cm, and its width is more than halved, making it slightly slimmer from the front, while reducing its final volume to around a third that of the LS50W.
But it is “not simply a baby LS50W”, insisted Ben Hagens, KEF Product Specialist (below), who spoke at the Melbourne launch. This is about KEF changing what hi-fi can be — a product for the 95%, not the 5%, he said, noting wisely that “You shouldn’t have to spend more time learning about a product than using it.” In a similar vein the coaxial driver configuration and the LSX's ability to tailor its sound using DSP means these are "speakers you can put where you want them, not where you’re told to put them."
Ease of use is one thing; performance is another. KEF’s specs indicate little loss of low-end extension from the shrinkage — a quoted -6dB figure of 49Hz for the LSX, compared with 43Hz for the LS50W. In addition to shrinking the enclosure, the LSX uses a smaller version of KEF’s coaxial Uni-Q driver, combining a 19mm aluminium-dome tweeter within a 115mm magnesium/aluminium-alloy mid/bass cone, compared with the 25mm/130mm combo in the LS50W. KEF’s Uni-Q array brings the advantages of coaxially aligned drivers in improving stereo imaging and tonal uniformity across a wider listening area by improving the uniformity of tonal balance across the listening area rather than a central 'sweet-spot' as with conventional speakers.
One useful change is the banishing of the connecting cable, the LSX speakers able to pair wirelessly and share music up to 24-bit/48kHz, while adding an Ethernet link between them raises this to 24-bit/96kHz. Their internal amplifiers deliver a quoted 30W to the tweeter and 70W to the woofer; this compares with 30W and 200W in the LS50W.
Once the master speaker is networked (dual-band Wi-Fi or Ethernet), two integrated KEF apps allow the LSX speakers to stream Spotify Connect and Tidal directly and files via DLNA from home shares; they are due to gain Apple’s AirPlay 2 in the new year (which will allow a degree of multiroom use and voice control from Siri), in addition to their Bluetooth streaming which includes the aptX codec if your Android phone supports it (no AAC codec for Apple users, perhaps because AirPlay is on the way).
And there are physical inputs — optical digital (very handy for TV audio), and an analogue minijack. There’s a wired subwoofer output so you can connect a powered subwoofer, and a small remote control is also provided.
The flared port to the rear extends to an internal folded port chamber built in three sections. It's busy in there, as this cutaway image shows!
While the LS50W has been appearing in various bespoke finishes, KEF has gone all out from the off with the LSW, releasing the five colours shown in the group picture below.
The white is a full gloss finish. The Black, Blue, Red and Green (this last a Signature edition of designer Michael Young, who oversaw design for the LSX) have their contoured front baffle in a matte finish like the LS50W, while the sides are wrapped with fabric from Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat (the same source harman/kardon has chosen for its upmarket Citation range).
We applaud the idea of bringing better sound to the masses through such an easy and neat piece of design.
The new KEF LSX Wireless Music System is priced in Australia at $1895 the pair.
More info: au.kef.com