Although primarily a hi-fi brand, KEF have strong links to some classic monitor designs — and in this new compact speaker, it shows...
I suspect I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Why are Sound On Sound reviewing what is clearly a consumer product”? And it’s a reasonable question because despite KEF’s close links to numerous BBC-designed studio monitors of old, the company always have been primarily a hi-fi brand, with little availability through pro audio retailers or distributors. And, well, hi-fi speakers and pro monitors require different characteristics... don’t they? Well, no. To my way of thinking, and echoing Duke Ellington’s famous thoughts on music, there are only two kinds of speaker: good ones, and “the other kind”. There’s also no escaping the fact that the most iconic nearfield monitor out there, the Yamaha NS10, began life as a hi-fi speaker, and one of the most iconic h-fi speakers, the BBC LS3/5A, began life as a nearfield monitor (although it would be a while after its arrival before the term ‘nearfield’ was coined).
But, if we’re going to review a ‘hi-fi speaker’ as a nearfield monitor, why the KEF LS50 Wireless? Why not a Bowers & Wilkins model or a Mission, or a Monitor Audio? Well, regular readers of my reviews will perhaps have picked up on the occasional mention that one of my favourite speakers for nearfield monitoring is the original, passive version of the KEF LS50. It’s the one I use when there are no review monitors either side of the workstation, and when there are review monitors in place, it’s the one I use as a benchmark reference. I think the LS50 is one of the best (if not the best) compact and reasonably affordable speakers ever made (I bought my pair, previously loved, for under £500). So, when KEF announced a wireless active version, that also happens to incorporate a raft of electroacoustic advances over its predecessor, it was of huge interest and, I think, impossible to ignore here on planet pro-audio.
To begin with, however, a bit of description and background. The LS50 Wireless (to be written henceforth as LS50W) is a compact and classy-looking speaker with connection panel, heatsink and reflex port on the back and a touch control...
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