If you're looking for a pair of Hi-fidelity speakers with quintessential minimal aesthetics that gives you high-quality listening pleasure, do consider having a look at the KEF LSX and the KEF LS50. Just so you know, both are above the $1000 mark.
Additionally, even though possibly usable as studio monitors, they aimed for pleasure from consumer-level listening rather than critical listening.
For a high-end audiophile experience in your study or bedroom (ideally at a desk or table), these are absolutely great.
In summary, both the KEF LS50 and KEF LSX are lightweight wireless speakers that offer great sound and a broad bandwidth offering high performance for those with a budget of above $1000. The KEF LS50 is the bigger, heavier, and pricier of the two. Both offer good overall sound transparency, but the KEF LSX can get a little muddy in the sub-bass frequencies.
Now let’s get to the bolts and nuts.
While the general aesthetic of both caters to minimalistic, elegant tastes, that’s where the commonalities end. The KEF LS50 comes with a coat of textured fabric that gives it that cozy look just right for your bookshelf. It comes in a broad palette of colors, including Grey, Black, Red, and Blue. The KEF LSX, on the other hand, has a more regular plastic exterior which isn’t as elegant but also offers five colors (White, Olive Green, Black, Blue, and Red) and doesn’t look tacky despite being made of plastic. The advantage this gives you, though, is it’s very lightweight.
That being said, both qualify as lightweight gear, making them easy and portable to place anywhere in your home without much of a fuss.
- KEF LS50: 302 x 200 x 27 8mm (11.9 x 7.9 x 10.9in) // Weight: 3.6 Kgs (7.9lbs)
- KEF LSX: 240 x 155 x 180 mm (9.5 x 6.1 x 7.1in.) // Weight: 10 Kgs (22lbs)
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
The sound quality performance you'll end up getting from a speaker will always depend on your room acoustics - particularly room dimensions and speaker positions.
The impact of the combination of these two is actually so strong that in most cases, it doesn't even make sense to utter a single word on sound quality without speaking of them.
This is also why it's not unusual to see completely different reviews of the same speaker.
In one case the speaker might be placed in a sweet spot inside the room and hence the user might be satisfied. In other cases the same speaker might be ill placed and hence user might even have returned it.
The point most people miss here is that it mostly isn't even about the engineering behind the speaker itself. It's about where you place the speaker inside which room.
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So, in order to solve this problem, I've partnered with an Acoustics and Audio Engineering PhD and created Soundton - a simple, 2D, browser accessible online speaker placement calculator.
With Soundton, now there's a way to figure the sound quality of most speakers before you buy them.
Read more about its working principles at soundton.com.
The end colormap provides you the locations with the best (green) and worst (red) acoustics.
ASAP Science also made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (play time adjusted video below).
Other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, the furniture & carpets in place, etc can and will, of course, have an effect on room acoustics, too. But it's much less compared to other parameters mentioned above.
Also, while you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test the speakers:
Both speakers shine in this department and give the audiophile that satisfying feeling of money well invested. They come with KEF's Uni-Q driver specially built for these models that result in not just clear frequency response but also enhanced stereo reproduction. The latter is due to the central tweeter placement across mid and bass cones. As aforementioned, these are definitely audiophile-worthy speakers! The overall clarity in all frequency ranges is clear and smooth. Both come with high-end drivers made of aluminum.
That being said, there are naturally some differences between the two, especially due to differences in size. The KEF LSX doesn’t give you the same league of bass response its bigger brother does. This is to be expected, though, and the tradeoff between that response and its portability is a fair one.
Another thing that makes a big difference is the surface on which they are kept, especially in the case of the KEF LS50, which weighs less than half of the KEF LSX. Wooden furniture or a library/study would be great environments for these. But if you’re in a sparser room with (sound) reflective material like steel or stone, consider using absorbent material to keep these on. Speaker stands are one option. But just placing books underneath can also be a surprisingly effective DIY method.
40Hz – 47kHz
43Hz – 47kHz
46Hz – 47kHz
Maximum Output: 106 dB
49Hz - 47kHz
52Hz - 47kHz
55Hz - 47kHz
Maximum Output: 102 dB
Both speakers shine in this department, giving you a range of connectivity options. You can see this Connectivity Guide in kef.com, too.
(Note: The wireless options come with only the newer generations of KEF LS50’s!)
- Bluetooth extends up to 10m and integrates up to 10 devices. Wireless connectivity with Tidal and Spotify.
And a range of inputs that include:
- TOSLINK Optical
- 3.5mm Auxiliary Input
- RJ45 Ethernet
- Dual-band Wi-Fi
- USB Type B
- RCA line input
In conclusion, this is how the KEF LS50 and the KEF LSX stack up against each other:
- Design: Tie. The KEF LS50 is classier, but the KEF LSX is lighter.
- Sound: The KEF LS50 wins by a tiny margin.
- Connectivity: A clear tie.
- Price: The KEF LSX wins.