KEF LS50 Wireless II Speakers Review

hcchighreccomendAt the top of KEF's LS50 collection, you'll find its 'meta-material' Wireless II active system. Ed Selley gives his soundbar a night off and enjoys some premium stereo

KEF's LS50 Wireless II is, as you'd probably guessed, an updated version of its original 2016-era LS50 Wireless. A self-contained active speaker system, it should be viewed more as an alternative to all-in-one devices like Naim's Mu-So 2nd Generation than something you attach to existing electronics. Which is probably for the best, as the £2,250 ticket might not leave you much spare for other kit.

The Wireless II features the same driver assembly as KEF's new LS50 Meta passive model. Each cabinet gets a 5.25in Uni-Q midbass with centrally mounted 1in waveguided tweeter. New for this 12th-generation Uni-Q is the tweeter's 'meta-material' backplate, a KEF innovation said to absorb unwanted sonic reflections back through the driver.

Each Wireless II cabinet is rear-ported and internally braced, with a 'lossy layer' between the bracing and cabinet walls to further limit vibration energy. Power is claimed at 380W for each.

The 'master' speaker has network audio, HDMI eARC, optical, coaxial and analogue inputs that are then available to the second speaker either via a wireless 24-bit/96kHz connection, or a Cat6 cable that allows a full resolution of 24-bit/384kHz. You can additionally stream via AirPlay2, Chromecast and Bluetooth to get material to the KEFs.

This active system is therefore very flexible (and a considerable update in functionality terms over the original model) but I've found it does its best work with a wired connection – I had some communication issues to the second speaker over wireless. KEF's own Connect app is stable but not the most comprehensive of its type. There's also an IR handset and some useful touch controls on the master cabinet.

These speakers look and feel fantastic. Once you've thought about how to handle the wiring, they'll slot elegantly into any space. Finish options are black, white, grey and crimson red, and the build quality is superb even judged at the asking price.

Where the LS50 Wireless II scores big over one-box music systems is the width of its soundstage, and the effect this has on the surrealistic surroundings of the Time Variance Authority in Loki (Disney+) is impressive. The system creates a deep, spacious stereo spread that melds the little sounds and nuances that pepper the mix into an enticing whole. Dynamics are excellent too. The speakers are as happy keeping the almost muttered asides of Agent Mobius intelligible as they are relaying the surprisingly deep bass of the time skip effect with a weight you feel as well as hear. Yes, you could attach a sub to each cabinet if you wanted, but there's a joyful amount of bass here anyway.

Musically, the LS50 Wireless II is a thriller. Voicing is not especially warm or cosseting, but give it a decent recording and it delivers a scintillatingly high-resolution presentation. The synth-pop of Marina's Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land, available as a 24bit/96kHz stream on Qobuz, absolutely flies out of the speakers with rhythmic precision and sparkling clarity. The vocals are perfectly integrated with supporting instruments but unfailingly easy to discern.

This is a revealing system, though, so much so that I'd caution against using it often with heavily compressed music. Its audio quality deserves a rich diet.

Music Mogul
Double the price of KEF's passive LS50 Meta, this active system benefits from prodigious power and comprehensive connectivity. You can use it for music sessions and as an alternative to a high-end soundbar – but note you'll likely get the best out of it if you eschew some of its wireless convenience.

HCC Verdict

KEF LS50 Wireless II

Price: £2,250

We say: A few rough edges in control terms but this system's excellent sonics and aesthetics go a long way to making up the difference.

Overall: 4.5/5


DRIVERS: 2 x 5.25in Uni-Q drivers with 1in aluminium tweeters ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): 760W total CONNECTIONS: HDMI eARC; optical digital audio input; coaxial digital audio input; 3.5mm analogue input; Ethernet (network/speaker connection); subwoofer output DIMENSIONS: 200(w) x 305(h) x 311(d)mm WEIGHT: N/A

FEATURES: Dual-band Wi-Fi; Apple AirPlay 2; Chromecast; Bluetooth 4.2; UPnP; Musical Integrity Engine EQ; Roon Ready; optional speaker stand; MP3, M4A, AAC, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, WMA, LPCM and Ogg Vorbis file support on all inputs; MQA and DSD via network; KEF Connect app