KEF LSX Wireless Music System Review Page 2

Usage and listening

As someone who takes great enjoyment in playing music with guests and family in our home, I’m always secretly delighted when the people I share space with are using any of the high-fidelity gear on hand: So I always noticed when the KEFs were being run by my kids. Since both have Apple Music subscriptions, AirPlay seemed to be their connection of choice, but Bluetooth wasn’t far behind for Spotify playlists or the occasional tangential left turn into TIDAL (they hate TIDAL’s search function). The fact that they even bother to listen to the KEFs while in the front part of the house (where the gear resides) speaks volumes to me about the LSX’s ease of use and sound quality because if either were lacking, they just wouldn’t. Taking a cue from my children, I pushed the Bluetooth button on the LSX remote and said “Siri, play my music” Into my iPhone 7 and Marlena Shaw Live At the Montreux poured into the living room, with AAC sounding surprisingly listenable through the KEFs. If only I could run the high-res digital side of my main hi-fi rig with voice commands – I mean really, who wouldn’t? Say what you will about this hobby, to me the future is usability and voice control via Siri (or whatever) is going to be a major part of that usability.

Whether it was the goosebumps-inspiring spectral keyboard/piano noodling from the likes of Joep Beving on Henosis (TIDAL, MQA 24-bit/88.2kHz), or the haunting, spiritual wail of Maverick Sabre from When I wake Up (TIDAL, FLAC 16-bit/44.1kHz), on tracks like “Preach,” the KEFs delivered speed on transients and the leading edges of notes. Bass was guttural for the 40-ish Hz range it was capable of, with low-end texture and drive. Midrange was juicy, with color-infused timbral bloom on vocals and wood-bodied instruments – Bob Dylan’s voice had throat/nose and chest intonation and his guitar on “All Along The Watchtower” off John Wesley Harding had real weight to his strumming… uncommonly good to my ears for a metal/plastic hybrid composite chassis and enclosure (it sounded more like a wood box to me).

Talk Talk’s 1991 Laughing Stock (Qobuz, FLAC, 16-bit/44.1kHz) sounded close to cavernous in its sound stage portrayal of the recording space with real proximity to reality in its scale. This, again and again, was one of the most consistently surprising and impressive feats of the LSX Wireless Music System: The Size of the sound. Decay off cymbals and high hat in the upper registers blossomed with believable effortlessness on tracks like the percussive “Ascension Day.” Deep organ notes and pedal work nestled between the lowest octaves from “After The Flood” displacing more air than one would think such a demure speaker box was capable of, but leaving no doubt to the ability of the LSX to pressurize a room. I need to add that Laughing Stock is one of my favourite recordings because of its incredible resolution and realism captured to the original tape. Spatial, 3D cues were always present (if they were on the recording) and the KEFs onboard 200 watts of Class-D amplification kept a firm grip not only on the drivers, but also on the placement of instruments and vocals in the mix – no smearing of massed strings or dense electronic-instrumentation passages. Everything in its right place if you will.

Conclusion

With a presentation of startling realism, resolution, speed and dynamics coupled with timbral accuracy and an analog-like harmonic sound signature that never got tubby or velvety, the KEF LSX are an absolute no-brainer for anyone looking to drop less than $1,500 on a small system that will do it all without fuss or what I consider aesthetic compromise. The fact that they can be run with nothing more than your phone and completely wirelessly from one another and need only AC/Mains cabling to be able to play back up to 24-bit/48kHz files frees owners to place them without the visual or physical constraints which is inherent to tethering and unlike a soundbar-based setup, which is the usual for this price range, the KEFs give you a real, honest-to-God stereo image with lifelike height, depth and width. This could be the ultimate starter system for those looking to dip their toes into high-fidelity sound with a nod to digital streaming playback or an end-game budget setup for someone who has been around the hi-fi block and wants great sound with ultimate ease of use for cloud or LAN-based digital-audio playback: or many things in-between (using them with your 65-inch LED TV via optical anyone?). Whatever way you’re going, the KEF LSX will have you dancing without even thinking about it and how is that not a winning proposition? For all of these reasons and for their innate musicality, I named the KEF LSX my 2018 AudioStream Product of the Year.

Specifications

  • Model: LSX Wireless Music System
  • Drive Units: Uni-Q Driver Array: HF: 19mm (0.75in.) aluminium dome, MF/ LF: 115mm (4.5in.) magnesium/aluminium alloy cone
  • Frequency range (-6dB) Measured at 85dB/1m 49Hz - 47kHz Depending on speaker settings
  • Frequency response (±3dB) Measured at 85dB/1m 54Hz - 28kHz Depending on speaker settings
  • Power input: 100 – 240VAC 50/60Hz
  • Amplifier output power – LF: 70W HF: 30W
  • Max SPL: 102dB
  • Dimension (HWD) 240 x 155 x 180mm (9.5 x 6.1 x 7.1in.)
  • Input Resolution: Support up to 192kHz/24bit Depending on source resolution
  • Master and Slave speaker connection: Wireless: Propriety connection 2.4GHz (transmit 48kHz/24bit) Wired: RJ45 Ethernet (transmit 96kHz/24bit) Depending on connection settings
  • Inputs: 2.4GHz/5GHz Dual-band Wi-Fi network, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX codec, TOSLINK Optical, 3.5mm Auxiliary Input, RJ45 Ethernet (For network)
  • Output: Subwoofer output, 5V2A DC Output
  • Wi-Fi Network standard: IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Wi-Fi Network Frequency band, Dual-band 2.4GHz/ 5 GHz
  • Bluetooth range: 10m
  • Bluetooth memory: Eight devices
  • Weight: Master Speaker 3.6kg (7.9lbs), Slave Speaker 3.5kg (7.7lbs) (7.9lbs)
  • Included in box: LSX Wireless Music System (Master and Slave speaker), 2 x power cable (80in. / 2m), 1 x interconnect cable (120in. / 3m), 1 x LSX remote control
COMPANY INFO
KEF
10 Timber Lane Marlboro NJ, 07746
info.us@kef.com
877-271-9355
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
jeffhenning's picture

For my bedroom, I bought a pair of LSX's and some discounted Boston Acoustics ASX250 subs. I added some KEF 2ft. stands, Mogami cables, Sorbothane hemispheres, 20lbs. of steel shot & another 20 of sand for the stands as well as Auralex Baby GRAMMA platforms and SVS sub feet.

I have a much more expensive system in the basement that's centered around KEF LS50's and Rythmik servo subs, but the set up is very similar as is the way they radiate into the room.

I have 3 take-away's to offer:

• The LSX's are a pretty fantastic product and offer the promise of a great sound system if they would just add a couple bands of parametric EQ into the mix with their setup app so you can take it to the next level and do some real room/playback adjustment. That said, the controls available through the app are very impressive.

• The LSX cabinets are not built to nearly the same level as the LS50's (no surprise given the price point) and they do "sing" (vibrate) a great deal when you turn the volume up even with a 120Hz hi-pass filter working. These are not speakers meant to produce more than 98-100dB even with the hi-pass filter maxed.

• You can never have a truly great sounding system without a great sounding room... already knew that, but, given the commonality of the systems, that has been put into stark relief. My wood floored/drywalled bedroom has nothing, but a bed to absorb sound. The bass is uneven, the mids are a touch overpowering and the stereo image is vague. My main system is in the basement and I'm setting it up as a LEDE room (live end/dead end). It's sounds incredible. I'll forgo the description, but anyone would be and is impressed when they hear it.

One final thought: when you place a tubular speaker stand on top of a sub, even with SVS sub feet, you still need to fill them with steel shot and sand. The difference is not subtle and it's effective & cheap!

Cheers,
jeff

Everclear's picture

You may want to check out the more expensive KEF LS-50 Nocturnes ($2,500) for better build quality :-) .........

gnnett's picture

I have never used Roon, as I have never felt comfortable having a computer in the system. Well of course these speakers have a computer in them.

What would the minimum requirement to operate Roon with the LSX and say an iPhone or tablet to control it?

Cheers

Gn

Rafe Arnott's picture
It is one of the smoothest (if the not the best) computer-audio software playback and curation applications to use ever made. Here is their suggested minimum requirements:

FAQ: What are the minimum requirements?

Roon will run on just about any recent PC or Mac. Performance and quality of experience will depend on the size of your music collection and the performance of your hardware.

Read all the details HERE.

gnnett's picture

Hi
What were you using as Roon Core and Roon Control? Is there any way that the LSX can play Roon with just a phone, or tablet and if not how small could you go for Roon core to get it up and running?

Cheers

Grantn

Rafe Arnott's picture
I added this into the review, thanks. I used a dedicated MacBook Air 11-inch for my Roon Core connected via ethernet to my network and an iPad2 Mini for the Roon Remote. This is my default Roon setup until they send me a Nucleus to review.
Mike Rubin's picture

I own my music and store it on a NAS, so I don't have interest in streaming services and am content with JRiver rather than pay for Roon. Will these speakers work as DLNA players under JRiver or other UPnP/DLNA servers? Will its DAC play DSD files as DoP or do they just go silent when fed DSD?

Rafe Arnott's picture
They should work, but I can't say as I don't use JRiver... DAC plays DSD just fine, yes, it's DoP.
X