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New Mini KEF LSX Wireless Speakers opinion

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KEF LSX

I have hunted high and low but couldn’t find any LSX reviews or opinions from actual customers so I thought this might encourage some others to contribute.

My reference speakers are hybrid 505 mini ESL panels driven by Hypex nCore OEM amps and KEF LS50’s driven by a Holton amp.

I paid under $1700 delivered for my LSX set.

 

Firstly, these gorgeous little speakers have their own sound, they are not neutral but they are very musical and have enormous mid bass detail. Whereas the LS50’s were super clean and the ESL’s can’t really be compared because they don't seem to have a 'sound'.

 

I didn't buy these for myself, but so the whole family could listen to their own selections without having to figure out how to use my gear.

Setup is simple. There are only a few lines of instructions in the single sheet user manual explaining how to 'Plug them in to a power point and switch them on'.

Once set up, I was able to use my Samsung phone with a pair of free KEF apps.an iPad and MacBook pro with AirPlay to control the speakers playing Spotify. Other sources can be selected such as my Aries Mini server where I could select all my audio files. Unfortunately, they just display as an alphabetically sorted list, but they do sound excellent.

 

With Airplay, I could choose Spotify Connect or Spotify via Airplay and Aries Mini streamer. Streaming via Airplay sounds much cleaner than Spotify Connect which sounds a bit doofy and ordinary. There is also a substantial delay between tracks with Spotify Connect so I assume the servers are different.

The speakers can connect to each other by Bluetooth which supports 48kHz/24bit or a supplied network cable connection that supports 96kHz/24bit transmission.

It also supports source files up to 192kHz/24bit according to specs. I assume via TOSLINK. 

 

SOURCES SUPPORTED

  • AirPlay 2
  • Spotify Connect 
  • Tidal Music (via KEF Stream app)
  • Bluetooth 4.2 with Qualcomm aptX codec
  • Optical input (TOSLINK) 
  • AUX input plus Subwoofer output

 

HOW DO THEY SOUND
To my ears, the sound is far removed from being audiophile quality but listening experience is exciting and enjoyable.

Bass and upper bass were the BIG surprise because of the weight and detail which seemed out of proportion to these tiny boxes. Victor Wooten on electric bass is incredibly detailed, weighty and dynamic. Piano and stringed instruments sound accurate. Treble and mids aren't as harsh as I sometimes heard on the LS50's. Voices are so pure that minute vocal inflections are conveyed with a human emotion that is often lost.

 

To summarise, KEF LSX speakers are exciting, musical, emotional and non fatiguing. 

Despite my bias towards my own system, and a disappointing start I really enjoy listening to them now.

 

DISAPPOINTMENT
When I listened in my main room, which is long, lively and has a tile floor, they sounded pretty grotty. Sounds seemed to just bounce around and the magic was gone. It was just a cacophony ! I think the room is just too large and too lively for such small speakers.

 

The control apps have some EQ controls so speaker stands/cabinet, room brightness, edge distance and rear wall distance can be set to suit your own conditions. Bass and treble can also be adjusted.

 

After customising the settings to suit my room, I could detect NO improvement whatsoever and I started to think I had made a big mistake.

 

REDEMPTION...phew!
We have a thickly  carpeted spare bedroom that isn't used, so I placed the LSXs on some stands and powered up. There was a big improvement, but the sound was still out of whack. It sounded boomy and voices were recessed.

 

More adjustments to the settings. Still no change. Now what?

 

Brainwave! Reset speakers to factory settings with the app.

 

I powered up and blast of glorious music hit me but it was too bass heavy, so I reduced the level until it was comfortable and got stuck into some of my test tracks. 

 

It seems to me, I may have fallen into the old trap of pushing the levels too high because these little miracles don't seem to distort at high levels.

 

Comfortable listening levels, in a quiet, average room really let these LSX speakers shine and allowed me to experience some of my favourite tracks with a whole new level of enjoyment. The music and performance became more important than the sound for a change.

 

SHOULD YOU BUY A SET?
Most of the forum users are serious about audio and these speakers can't really be called 'audiophile' quality but they could introduce many enthusiasts to a new enjoyment  listening to musical performances instead of listening to sound.

 

NOTE: I don't know if the EQ control even works on my speakers but the factory setting sounds great when stands are used.

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Thanks for sharing this review and providing some additional perspective Rob. I am in a similar position driven by a change of the main viewing room. It's a wider open area, lot of hard surfaces (wooden floors albeit with a large rug across the main sitting area) and I have been looking at these as a (cheaper than LS50W) option to remove the previous setup to a new room. I do plan to have a sub in the loop, but my main need is tv viewing and this is at a distance of about 3m, as opposed to being overly critical of music (other room in future for my old setup). These just went through a very nice sale that i missed out on, and reading this, I may be thankful while more opinions and experience comes to the forum(s). For s&g i just put a setup into the area (old smaller floorstanders, dac for the optical feed from tv, small warm amp) to prove the point about my current soundbar being simply underwhelming. Point proven that separate speakers (and these are not anywhere near high end, they are an old set of rears from HT) simply add everything back into the vocal frequencies that  no tweaking on the soundbar can match.

Again thanks, hoping to hear more from others!

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Unlike the LS50s it seems to me KEF designed the LSX to sound bigger than it's physical. I was impressed by the detailed bass and mids but I missed the LS50 unique feel.

 

Don't get me wrong, they are enjoyable, in the right room and at the right level. It is easy to push them a bit too far and then they don't sound like KEFs.

 

Cheers,

Rob

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I have a similar question - do the LS50 still sound significantly better than the LSX even in a room small enough for the LSX?

 

I was thinking that the LSX might be ok to serve double duty as desktop speakers at the computer as well as in a small room where I am forced to listen fairly quietly. But at the same price as a passive LS50 I'm not so sure.

 

Conversely, do the LS50 have to be played loudly to get the best out of them? Then the LSX might have an advantage again.

 

 

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I reckon the LSX would be a better option in your situation because they do have great bass/mids at lower levels than the LS50s.

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