Country of Origin


LS50 Wireless 2

Reviewer: Frederic Beudot
Digital Source: Aurender A10 streamer + Denafrips Pontus DAC, LHY SW6 ethernet switch, Jay's Audio CDT2 Mk2
Analog Source: VPI Scout 1.1,  Zu-DL103 MkII, Genesis Phono Gold
Amplifier: Triode Labs 2A3i
Speakers: Ocellia Calliope .21 Twin Signature, Rogers LS 3/5a, Zu Essence
Cables: Zu Varial, Ocellia RCA cables, Zu Event mkII speaker cables
Power Cords: Zu Mother, Ocellia power cables, Absolute Fidelity power cables
Powerline conditioning: Isotek Nova
Sundry accessories: Isolpads under electronics, GIK Audio room treatment
Room size: 18'x14'x10' 
Review component retail: $2'500/pair

Publisher's intro: When Frederic suggested to write up this speaker which he bought for his household as Joe Consumer, I thought it an excellent angle. Regular readers know him as a fan of separates, vinyl, tube amps and classic widebanders. They could have a contrary expectation bias about how he ought to respond to a fully active DSP-streaming lifestyle product. Here's how that tale spun out. Ed.

What's in a name? As it turns out, quite a lot when it comes to KEF's LS50 Wireless II stand-mount. Over the last 30 years KEF were focused on refining and improving their Uni-Q driver at the heart of their resurgence. One of the most important speakers  launched in the second half of that period was the LS50 monitor. It really showcased how good the Uni-Q technology had become. The LS50 was universally praised for its clarity and refined sonics in a beautifully simple package that got the nod aesthetically and musically. The speaker under review today continues that proud lineage with two major differences. The wireless moniker indicates that these are active and can stream wirelessly. At its simplest, it means that each LS50 plugs into an AC outlet and requires no more than a phone or tablet on the same WLAN to stream high-res. The II signifies the second version of the LS 50 Wireless launched in 2023 sporting the same 12th gen Uni-Q as seen in all 'Meta' upgrades KEF rolled out in recent months. Why isn't this speaker called the LS50 Wireless Meta like all its siblings? Your guess is as good as mine.

This 12th gen Uni-Q differs from the earlier versions with Meta-material Absorption Technology and new features to reduce colouration and distortion like additional strengthening ribs behind the Tangerine Waveguide, a redesigned tweeter gap damper, a new cone neck control and an improved mid-frequency motor system. KEF claim reduced colouration and distortion for more life-like sound. I don't have access to the previous version so can't confirm whether these elements improved but a lifelike midrange is absolutely associated with the LS50Wii as we'll discuss shortly. At 44lbs for the pair sans stands, the L50Wii is surprisingly hefty. If you are brave enough to attempt a knuckle rap, you'll get a low-frequency well-damped thump and a bruised hand. Build quality is excellent and no corners seem cut in developing an inert cabinet despite the inclusion of a very complete suite of electronics. Their weight shouldn't come as a surprise as they include not one but two separate amplifiers, 280 watts class D for the woofer and 100 watts class AB for the tweeter plus all the electronics needed for connectivity, streaming, digital conversion and DSP. The back of the speaker is actually a substantial radiator that dissipates the heat created by the electronics but also serves as a bass port to extend LF output from the 5.25" or 130mm mid/woofer. As far as the internal DAC goes, it checks all required boxes with support for 24/384 PCM and DSD128 both from networked sources. It is also MQA compatible for those owning MQA-encoded files or streaming remaining titles on Tidal.

The painted cabinet in mineral white, carbon black, titanium grey or crimson red coupled with the curved front baffle and copper-tone driver make for a quite stunning design statement especially when the speakers bolt to the matching stands which also hide the AC cables. I wish the LS50 Wii were available in Royal Blue like most other KEF speakers as it is by far my favourite colour but we—as in the royal 'we' of my wife—chose white to blend seamlessly with our living room. You'd be forgiven for not noticing them when first walking in as they rest against the white frames of our massive bay window between indoor plants. Despite that obvious attention to aesthetics, don't be fooled. These are bona-fide audiophile speakers if we take care of giving them a little breathing room. Turning to the backside of the primary speaker, although the LS50 Wii is really meant to be used wirelessly, wired connections are quite thorough. Starting on the top row we first find e-Arc HDMI for easy integration and synchronization with a TV followed by optical and coax digital inputs and finally an auxiliary analog input on RCA. Unfortunately the LS50 Wii doesn't offer a direct phono input for a killer/hipster turntable + active speakers system so vinyl needs an extra phono stage.

For more connectivity we do see an RJ45 connector for a wired connection between left/right speaker. In normal operation the two communicate via 24/96 WiFi which is more than enough for superior quality. The wired connection enables 24/192. Since the onboard DAC supports higher sampling frequencies and DSD, all incoming signals convert to PCM 24/96 or 24/192 as appropriate for the type connection in place. I tested the wired option in different configurations and think that I detected subtle differences in my treated listening room with a bit more air and separation for wired mode. Those differences were small enough that they could have been confirmation bias and certainly didn't justify switching to the wired connection outside of 'reviewer scrutiny mode'. It's also important to remember that the wired connection carries no power to the secondary speaker, requiring it to be plugged in regardless. The only situation where in my view the wired connection makes sense is when the speakers are in a fairly polluted WiFi environment with obvious interference distracting from musical enjoyment.