These small but mighty wireless speakers deliver sound quality way above their size class. The LSX supports digital audio streams with resolutions up to 192kHz/24-bit. Ethernet connections, however, max out at 96/24, and wireless connections are limited to 48/24, so anything higher is downsampled as needed.
Our love for the LSX does not come just from the fact that the audio quality is open and lively. It’s also that each instrument in the mix feels perfectly placed in space.
For the most part, we really got a sense of being inside the mix, with the different sound elements happening all around us. For music that has been well recorded, this is an absolute dream.
One of KEF’s biggest competitors is Dynaudio. Their flagship wireless speakers, the Xeo 10, are a superlative pair the cost around $1,600. And yet, we think the LSX have better sound quality.
What is the KEF LSX?
The KEF LSX is a two-way active speaker with decoding onboard. Until comparatively recently, KEF was, barring a subwoofer amp here and there, content to solely focus on the business of making speakers – no great limitation given that they make plenty of them and do so very well.
Even though speakers have not seen the upheaval that electronics have, KEF has still decided to be proactive about the changes going on in the industry at the moment.
As well as the ‘normal’ areas that speaker brands have taken a look at like Bluetooth speakers and headphones, KEF has taken the plunge and started to make active speakers.
What is notable about their first effort, the LS50 Active and now the LSX is that KEF’s take is that the best course of action is that their active speakers should be a self-contained system rather than something that you attach to a preamp.
Features and Performance of the KEF LSX?
In short, these speakers sound absolutely stunning, with four Class-D amplifiers (one for each of the driver units), which provide a high end digital signal of up to 96kHz/24-bit.
To achieve this high resolution signal, you will need to run an ethernet cable between the two speakers.
Connecting them wirelessly gives you a sample rate of 48kHz/24-bit – using the ethernet cable does make an audible difference, but the audio quality is still very high when using a wireless connection.
If you prefer, you can also use AUX and optical connections.
When we tested the speakers, we were blown away by how beautifully pianos and vocals came across, with a warm analogue sound that makes it feel as if you are in the room with the musician as they perform.
This is partly due to phase correction and distortion reduction, which makes audio sound crystal clear.
KEF LSX Set up / Connectivity
Set up is intuitively designed, but I initially had issues re-connecting after turning off my router- it’s next to a bed so I turn it off at night because of its bright light.
Nothing to do with being paranoid about having my brain turned to mush in 20 years’ time by leaving WiFi on. The issue did resolve itself after a while weirdly…
We all know PC peripherals and routers are often fickle so no extrapolations can be made to the connectivity of other users’ networks here.
First, you install the KEF Control App to set the speakers up, then the KEF Stream app where you can set up Spotify and/or Tidal streaming services. KEF Control also allows changing the different input selections too.
Be sure to change the volume sensitivity of the remote because the default settings takes ages to appreciably change volume. If using UPnP, KEF Stream conventionally reflects the same album-artist tree structure as the media server on those drives.
KEF LSX Design:
The sound of the KEF LSX speakers is close to perfect. The setup and operation, however, is not.
This is due to KEF’s slightly staggering decision to require two separate app downloads for the setup. First, you need to download the KEF Control app, which you’ll use to set up the speaker and get connected to a Wi-Fi network.
And then you can start playing music, yes? Nope. To do that, you need to download the KEF Stream app, which will let you access your audio, both on streaming services and from any files you have stored on your phone.
This is stupid. Deeply stupid. It makes setting up a largely flawless set of speakers a pain in the backside. As we so frequently do on the site, we’ll highlight Sonos as the gold standard here.
Buy one of their PLAY:5 speakers – their largest, and arguably their main competitor for the LSX – and you’ll find that the app setup process is smooth, simple, and above all, requires only a single app.
KEF LSX Inputs, Outputs, and Controls
Although they are wireless in terms of music, both speakers need to be connected to mains power. Like most stereo pairs, one of the speakers is the master, and the other one is the slave. It’s on the rear of the master where you’ll find all the inputs and outputs.
You get a 3.5mm analog input, an Ethernet connection, and an optical input for TVs, along with the aforementioned Wi-Fi and aptX 4.2 Bluetooth (read more about Bluetooth here).
here’s also a subwoofer output and a couple of discrete buttons for speaker pairing and Bluetooth pairing.
The connections on the LSX are straightforward and simple to use. Though there are no controls on the front, input information is communicated with a simple colored ring below the drivers, which reminded us of the design of the Chord Hugo 2 DAC.
We will talk about the included remote in more detail below, but we do want to say here that we found controlling the sound a bit frustrating
Once you’ve actually got things set up, you’ll gain access to a number of different streaming services. The LSX not only offers Spotify Connect, Tidal, and Bluetooth audio but also gives you access to Apple AirPlay 2.
That means that, for the most part, listening to music is a breeze, and can be done within moments of activating the speakers. We also love the fact that they worked directly from the Spotify app, bypassing KEF’s apps entirely.
However, we did have some issues streaming from Tidal; despite selecting gapless playback, we found that there were huge gaps between songs and that our play/pause commands were laggy as hell.
We had the same issue across multiple Wi-Fi networks, and it was pretty frustrating.
There’s no denying that the LSX Wireless System sounds absolutely incredible. Separation among the different frequencies is brilliant, and the overall sound is extremely well balanced, with no one frequency overtly dominating the others.
For their size, the speakers perform very well when it comes to sub-bass, although you can connect them to an external subwoofer if you find they don’t quite hit the spot.
Where these speakers shine is in analogue sound; vocals, pianos, and acoustic guitar are given a timbral warmth without taking away any of the clarity provided by the brilliant phase correction and distortion reduction.
Frequently Asked Question
Is KEF LSX worth it?
Let’s get this out of the way right now: the KEF LSX sound good. Really freaking good. … It makes even low-resolution MP3s sound much better than they should. It’s the kind of performance you would expect from high-end floorstanding speakers, and yet it’s coming from two speakers, each no larger than a basketball
Which is better KEF or Bose?
KEF is far better than Bose and if your ears don’t care, consider yourself lucky and buy the cheapest pair that sound good to you, and use the rest of the money to buy more albums. Enjoy the music! … You are right that Bose’s speakers are better used for background music as they do not sound good as the main speaker!
Do well to hit the share button, recommend to a friend and you can also bookmark this page to stay updated with our latest articles too.