New York, NY (November 1, 2018)—Building on the framework of its LS50W active speakers, KEF released its new LSX compact speakers today.
Related: KEF LSX Review, by What Hi-Fi, Nov. 1, 2018
KEF hosted a launch event for the LSX at an intimate venue in Manhattan on Tuesday, October 30. KEF brand ambassador Johan Coorg gave an overview of the LSX’s features, then demoed them with two songs from City on Fire, the upcoming album by Tyler Hilton available on January 18. Hilton followed that up with a short acoustic set, playing the album’s title track and “How Long ’Til I Lose You.”
LSX shares much of the acoustic engineering found in the LS50W, which were first released six years ago with an aim of bringing some of KEF's professional studio monitor features to consumers. Both sets of speakers also include KEF’s Uni-Q driver array, which provides stereo imaging across a sizable listening area. Uni-Q combines with KEF’s Music Integrity Engine, a collection of custom digital signal processing algorithms intended to provide time alignment and phase coherence.
One concession to the lower price point (the LS50Ws run $2,220 a pair, while the LSXs are half as much) is that the LSX has lower amplifier output power, with two 30 W and two 70 W Class D amplifiers, compared to the LS50W’s 30 W Class A/B circuits feeding the tweeters and 200 W Class D modules on the mid/bass units.
Acknowledging changes in consumer expectations since the LS50s were first released, the LSX units are wireless, both from the source and between the loudspeaker pairs. The LS50Ws were linked by an umbilical, which was required at the time to retain synchronization. KEF engineers have in developed a wireless link for cable-less synchronization, though at the expense of some audio resolution. Wireless operation is available over a proprietary 2.4 GHz connection that transmits 48 kHz/24-bit signals. Audiophiles and pros may choose to operate the LSX speakers tethered, which returns resolution to 96 kHz/24-bit performance.
The LSX functions as a wireless music system, able to integrate with streaming music services including Spotify Connect and Tidal, and able to access music stored on a networked hard drive or computer via DLNA. For other mobile music sources, LSX features Bluetooth 4.2 with the aptX codec from Qualcomm.
Starting January 19, LSX will gain AirPlay 2 functionality, which will allow it to wireless operate with macOS/iPhone/Apple TV products. AirPlay 2 also enables the use of multiple LSX speakers in different rooms and integrates with Siri.
LSX’s Wi-Fi and EQ settings may be adjusted via KEF Control App (versions for iOS and Android). The app also allows LSX to receive over-the-air firmware and features updates. KEF’s optional Stream app enables use of Tidal and DLNA streaming.
The design is the result of a partnership between KEF and industrial designer Michael Young. LSX is available in a choice of five colors. Four—black, blue, maroon and Michael Young-signature olive—are clad in fabric from Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat, while gloss white is fabric-free.
Coorg noted that the demographic of a KEF speaker owner has changed since the introduction of the LS50W. Describing this trend as very positive for the company, he said, “Traditionally the KEF purchaser is, dare I say it, probably a middle-aged guy, audiophile geek kind of guy. But since we created the LS50 wireless, it’s brought down the average consumer purchase age by something like 14 years, which is a great thing.”
He described his daughter—a 26-year-old professional living in London—as part of KEF’s target demographic: “It’s still a ton of money for her to try and buy an LS50 wireless. But this [the KSX] is within her reach because it’s basically half the retail.”
LSX will be available next week through Magnolia Design Center retailers, Amazon, KEF Direct and other participating KEF authorized dealers. MSRP is $1,100 for the pair.
KEF • www.kef.com