KEF LS50 Wireless II in the test

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Are you passionate about listening to music? Do you appreciate streaming providers like Spotify for convenient and extensive music selection? And do you like to reduce the technology park in the living room to a minimum? Then you are probably familiar with WLAN speakers. The best known come from the US brand Sonos, but there are also a number of interesting alternatives from Bose and Denon to Teufel and Yamaha on the market. And then there is the British manufacturer KEF. With the LS50 Wireless II, he offers fine stereo speakers that should be ahead of the competition in every respect: With outstanding sound quality, the best music variety and more connection options. And by the way, the KEF LS50 Wireless II look outrageously good. Yes, the KEF LS 50 Wireless II are not bargains. However, the test reveals why the investment is worthwhile for music lovers.

The best wireless speakers


LS50 Wireless II


KEF


Music 7


Dynaudio


Music 5


Dynaudio


Stereo M


devil


LE01


Braun Audio


NX-N500


Yamaha


LE02


Braun Audio


Yoyo L


Cambridge Audio


MusicCast 50


Yamaha


Five


Sonos

Complete list: the best WiFi speakers

KEF LS50 Wireless II: The technology

Loudspeaker boxes have changed radically in the past few years. For a long time, to put it simply, these were wooden boxes with a few built-in speakers. KEF also began with this in the 1960s and, for example, developed a good reputation among experts with developments for the BBC. The LS50 Wireless II no longer looks like wooden boxes: with a footprint of around a DIN A4 page, they are compact enough for any shelf, feet for free installation in the room are also available for an extra charge. The box body is lacquered with a high-gloss finish, the curved front has a matt contrast. If you knock your fingers on the side walls, you only hear your own “ouch”, not the otherwise widespread hollow “Tock” which, as a vibration in the case, also discolors the music playback.
Louder, quieter, next track, pause: the KEF LS50 Wireless II also obey at the touch of a finger.
Louder, quieter, next track, pause: the KEF LS50 Wireless II also obey at the touch of a finger.

A good 5 kilos each speak for a solid workmanship, since nothing booms or rattles. KEF colors the loudspeaker, which is placed in the center of the front, in a beautiful contrast to the speaker housing. What is typical for the manufacturer, however, is the nested construction with a small tweeter in the middle of the bass membrane instead of the loudspeaker drivers on the front of the speakers, which are otherwise distributed one above the other and side by side. The advantage of this so-called coaxial arrangement: the sound character remains the same regardless of the listening position and also depends less than usual on the room and the placement. The disadvantage: it is an expensive custom-made product. This explains exciting details about the entire construction KEF LS50 Wireless II white paper.
Typical for the manufacturer KEF is the coaxial driver, a bass loudspeaker with a centrally recessed tweeter.
Typical for the manufacturer KEF is the coaxial driver, a bass loudspeaker with a centrally recessed tweeter.

Huge music selection via WiFi

In modern boxes like the LS50 there is far more than one or the other loudspeaker. There is also a stereo system built in, so to speak, the speakers work without any connected equipment. And in a way, the music collection is also in there. Because the music comes via WiFi from Spotify and other streaming services, as well as from local storage in the home network. This is no different with the KEF LS50 Wireless II: In addition to Spotify, music can also be accessed from Amazon Music (not yet HD) and from the high-res providers Qobuz and Tidal, and there is also internet radio and podcasts – all clearly lined up in the KEF Connect app for iOS and Android. In addition, the KEF are capable of AirPlay II and Chromecast, so that music selection also works with the users’ preferred apps – simply tap the Chromecast icon or select AirPlay in the iOS control center. There is practically no digital music source with which the KEF cannot be used, especially since Bluetooth is still available in an emergency.
The KEF Connect app provides access to streaming services and all speaker settings.
The KEF Connect app provides access to streaming services and all speaker settings.

LS50 Wireless II with HDMI for TV

Conventional audio sources can also be connected to the KEF LS50 Wireless II: A jack socket is available as an analog stereo input for all cases. A television can be connected via HDMI, in this case the volume continues to obey the TV remote control. Alternatively, connection to an optical and to a coaxial digital input is also possible. The only thing not working is playing music directly from USB storage. The two KEF boxes each need their own socket for power supply, a connection between each other is not necessary. In this case, the loudspeakers reduce the resolution of the digital music to a maximum of 96 kHz sampling rate at 24 bits – that is beyond good and bad. Music files can be played at up to 384 kHz, but the boxes reduce the sampling rate for further processing. Perfectionists can connect the pair of speakers with one another with a special cable and thus increase the sampling rate to 192 kHz.
KEF LS50 Wireless II connectors.
The KEF LS50 Wireless II have an HDMI input for television, an optical and a digital coaxial input, network connection and WLAN as well as an analog stereo input.

This is what the KEF LS50 Wireless II sound like

Such numbers should not be overestimated. Much more important is how well the speakers transform the digital data into audible music. And the KEF LS50 Wireless II does this very well. Only very few speakers manage this balanced and in a positive sense inconspicuous. There the bass and treble are perfectly balanced, only the deepest basses are missing due to the size. And regardless of whether Norah Jones or Tom Jones sings, the KEF voices always reproduce unadulterated and natural. They sound much cleaner and more detailed than the Sonos Five, for example, making it much easier for listeners to immerse themselves in the music. In addition, there is an almost holographic three-dimensional image of the room. In terms of quality, the closest of all speakers tested are the significantly more expensive B&W Formation Duo and the Nubert nuPro X-4000RC. The latter, however, are significantly less versatile without network capabilities.
The massive aluminum feet for the KEF LS50 Wireless II cost 450 euros extra.
The massive aluminum feet for the KEF LS50 Wireless II cost 450 euros extra.

KEF Connect app with good sound adjustment

The KEF LS50 Wireless II is very easy to operate using the app. For the preferred music sources, most users will probably use the respective apps of the streaming providers anyway and select the KEF as loudspeakers there. The KEF Connect app not only guides you through the self-explanatory network installation, it also offers useful setting options: The sound can be sensitively adjusted to the placement on a sideboard or on a wall, as well as room size and acoustic properties – from sparsely furnished to thick cushioned with carpets and upholstery – can be pre-selected. Because all these factors influence the sound result from every loudspeaker. Hangs, crashes, irritations during the test? No. This is rather the exception, especially with smaller manufacturers.

COMPUTER PICTURE
The remote control of the KEF LS50 Wireless II fulfills its purpose, but cracks a little unpleasant.

For music collectors: Roon software

Since April 2021, the KEF LS50 Wireless II have also been fully compatible with the Roon server software. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and it can also be installed on high-performance network hard drives (NAS). The advantage over standard server programs such as iTunes and Windows Media Player or the standard tools on NAS systems: Roon works quickly, keeps the music collection tidy at all times, including cover images, and there are detailed descriptions of a large number of artists and albums. They are peppered with cross-references to the albums of participating artists – there is no better way to browse your own music collection. The streaming providers Tidal and Qobuz can also be seamlessly integrated. The disadvantages: Roon is only available in English and has to be paid for. After a 30-day trial, you will have to pay $ 10 per month, which is roughly EUR 8.25. But if you prefer to listen to your own music from the hard drive instead of Spotify & Co., you will hardly find anything better. Roon is the perfect feed for high-quality speakers like the KEF LS50 Wireless II.
The KEF LS50 Wireless II is available in black, gray, white and red.
The KEF LS50 Wireless II is available in black, gray, white and red.

Test result KEF LS50 Wireless II

This is how loudspeakers work: The KEF LS50 Wireless II can do pretty much everything you can expect from modern stereo boxes: Music streaming is possible via Spotify, Amazon Music, AirPlay II and Chromecast, TVs can be connected via HDMI and optical input , an analog stereo input for whatever is also available. The compact boxes also look really good on the outside in the living room. And the sound quality is almost perfect with natural timbres, fine resolution and precise spatial imaging.

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