KEF launched the unique LS50 as an anniversary celebration again in 2012. These standmounters proved an enormous success, a lot in order that they’ve continued in manufacturing just about untouched since then.
9 years is a long term by any requirements, nevertheless it was made attainable by a mixture of sound high quality, construct and aesthetics that continues to be extremely interesting as we speak. That hasn’t stopped the corporate’s engineers from having a contemporary look, nonetheless, and the result’s the LS50 Meta we’ve got on check right here.
The LS50 Meta don’t look any totally different from the LS50, and in some ways they aren’t. The corporate thought of revising that fantastically made enclosure however concluded that little might be improved.
The cupboard form and measurement nonetheless works effectively, and the curved entrance panel – made from Dough Moulding Compound: a polyester resin mixed with glass fibre and calcium carbonate – continues to make for an impressively inflexible and well-controlled basis for the Uni-Q drive unit array.
KEF LS50 Meta tech specs
Max energy 106dB
Frequency response 79Hz – 28kHz
Dimensions (hwd) 30.2 x 20 x 27.8cm
The remainder of the field is made out of MDF, which is closely braced and punctiliously damped to minimise any resonances. The LS50 Meta can be found in 4 finishes – Mineral White, Carbon Black, Titanium Gray and a Royal Blue Particular Version.
The one apparent adjustments are to the again panel, which has been tidied up. The fixing holes for the entrance baffle retention bolts have disappeared, and there has additionally been some beauty detailing to make all of it look neater.
The one space ripe for enchancment was the LS50’s Uni-Q driver array, the place the tweeter sits within the throat of the mid/bass unit. This has been completely reworked, taking in all of the refinements that KEF has developed over the previous eight years and including one thing new within the type of Metamaterial Absorption Know-how (MAT).
MAT is KEF’s method of dealing with the sound that comes off the again of the 25mm aluminium tweeter dome. In a standard design, this sound normally fires right into a chamber behind the dome the place it’s principally absorbed by damping materials. However some sound vitality at all times bounces again by way of the dome so as to add distortion.
Right here, the rearward sound feeds into one thing concerning the measurement of a hockey puck that appears like a plastic round maze. It’s layered and made up of 30 tubes, every tuned to soak up a unique frequency. KEF claims that, as soon as mixed, the tubes take in a variety of frequencies – from round 600Hz upwards – way more successfully than alternate strategies. The end result must be cleaner, much less distorted highs.
There have been tweaks to the crossover to take all of the drive unit adjustments into consideration. Other than a slight shift in crossover frequency – from 2.2kHz to 2.1kHz – the specs look similar.
These aren’t notably delicate audio system, at a rated 85dB/W/m, and the minimal impedance is simply 3.5 ohms, so it is sensible to companion them with an amplifier that has a little bit of grunt.
We recommend the Cambridge CXA81 built-in with a suitably succesful supply, although such are the LS50 Meta’s capabilities that you can simply use the likes of the Naim SuperNait 3, and the audio system wouldn’t be limiting.
At simply 30cm tall, these KEFs are fairly compact, however don’t be tempted to stuff them in a bookshelf or proper up in opposition to a wall. They gained’t sulk when you do, however they are going to sound quite a bit higher if positioned round 50cm right into a room and effectively away from the sidewalls.
It doesn’t take lengthy to grasp that the LS50 have improved considerably. Whereas the fundamental sonic character is immediately acquainted, the brand new ones have gained a degree of readability and finesse the originals solely hinted at.
Listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, we’re quickly marvelling on the LS50 Meta’s delicacy and precision. They sound a lot extra clear than earlier than and handle to render low-level particulars, equivalent to instrumental textures, way more convincingly.
It’s a surprisingly full-bodied presentation with a very good diploma of authority for such compact audio system. Nonetheless, there’s solely so deep a 13cm magnesium/aluminium mid/bass unit in a smallish, 30cm-tall cupboard can go. Stretch to the likes of the Award-winning and bigger three-way KEF R3 (£1300, $2000, AU$3625) and also you’ll get notably extra in the way in which of low-frequency attain and punch. However you don’t get the LS50 Meta’s perception, delicacy or top-end refinement.
It seems just like the Metamaterial expertise actually works. These new KEFs sound a lot cleaner and extra refined than earlier than, notably at increased frequencies. The Meta make the wonderful R3 sound congested and ham-fisted as compared, and that’s an actual shock.
Massive-scale dynamics are dealt with effectively and there’s a very good quantity of muscle for a speaker of this measurement. These are refined and composed performers that hardly ever sound pressured except quantity ranges are excessive.
There’s little to complain about in the case of tonality. The KEFs sound easy and balanced whereas nonetheless having sufficient in the way in which of high-frequency chunk. They’ll reveal the shortcomings in poor recordings, however don’t exit of their technique to be nasty.
KEF’s Uni-Q designs are likely to picture effectively by their very nature, and these audio system are not any totally different. The LS50 Meta generate an expansive and tightly centered soundstage the place the devices are layered convincingly. We’re additionally impressed by the picture’s stability when the music will get demanding.
We change to Neneh Cherry’s Clean Mission and these KEFs proceed to shine. Their detailed and clear midrange efficiency makes probably the most of Cherry’s passionate vocals, delivering dynamic nuances and refined shifts in timing beautifully. There’s a very good diploma of punch to the bass and the KEFs render rhythms in a surefooted method. We’ve heard extra enthusiastic rivals, however none that may match the KEF’s many and assorted vary of strengths.
We’ve at all times cherished the LS50 and this new model takes their efficiency to a notably increased degree. We expect KEF is on to one thing with the Metamaterial expertise and might’t wait to see the way it develops. As issues stand, that tech and all the opposite work KEF’s engineers have put into the Uni-Q array has propelled the LS50 Meta to the pinnacle of the category at this degree. Purchase them with confidence.
- Sound 5
- Compatibility 5
- Construct 5
Learn our KEF LS50 review
Learn our KEF LS50 Wireless II review
Learn our KEF R3 review