The KEF LSX was already one of our favorite active speaker systems – we called them the “perfect all-in-one hi-fi speaker system” when we first reviewed them in 2018. It was basically a smaller, more affordable version of the KEFs. Super premium and super versatile LS50 wireless speakers. Well, it’s been a few years and KEF has now released a second generation version: the KEF LSXII.
The LSX II doesn’t look much different from the original LSX – in fact, aside from a few slightly changed color finishes, they’re virtually identical – but KEF has given these active “Gen 2” speakers a few upgrades. under the hood. The new models sound better, are more versatile and are even easier to use. The wrong side? Well they are also a to touch more expensive.
The KEF LSX II is available in five different finishes: Carbon Black (shown), Blue, Lava Red, Mineral White and Soft Gold (called “Sound Wave”).
What’s good about the KEF LSX II?
The LSX II makes listening to great sound easy.
The KEF LSX II is a wireless music system comprised of two bookshelf-sized powered speakers. Each speaker is individually amplified and powered, and they also talk to each other wirelessly; it means you don’t need a wire connecting the left and right channels. You simply place the speakers as close or as far apart from each other and they will just work; this makes them perfect for small or large rooms because you don’t have to worry about tripping or hiding a wire.
Listening to music on the LSX II is extremely easy. The system supports multiple wireless (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) and wired connections. You can easily stream music directly from your smartphone via Bluetooth or Spotify Connect. You can even integrate the LSX II into a multi-room audio system via AirPlay 2 or Chromecast. Or you can also connect the speakers directly to a music source like a CD player or computer. You have options.
A great alternative to the soundbar.
It seems more and more wireless speaker systems are adopting an HDMI-ARC connection – and the LSX II is no exception. Unlike its predecessor, the LSX II has an all-new HDMI-ARC port that lets you connect them directly to your TV and they’ll work like a modern plug-and-play soundbar. No AV receiver or other additional components are required. It works.
When connected to your TV via HDMI-ARC, the LSX II supports lossless CD-quality audio (up to 16-bit/48kHz). There are no lag issues with the dialogue. And the fact that there are dedicated right and left channel speakers helps the LSX II deliver a wider soundstage than even high-end soundbars can’t. Unfortunately, there is no support for Dolby Atmos, which is a bit disappointing for home cinema enthusiasts.
A better desktop audio situation.
KEF has given the LSX II a new USB-C port on the back, designed to make them work like even better computer speakers. You had to use the AUX port on the original LSX speakers (and you can still do that on the LSX II) to do the same thing and admittedly both solutions are still capable of playing lossless audio (up to 24bit/96kHz) . The difference is that the USB-C connection allows an easier path to the LSX’s built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which is probably much better than your computer’s built-in DAC, and so you’re going to get sound a bit cleaner. (Although you might have to be an audiophile to hear the difference.)
The other benefit is that, if you’re feeling cheeky, you can use that USB-C port as a charging port. All you have to do is go to the KEF Connect app and switch it to power mode – it’s called KW-1 power mode in the app. From there, you can use it to charge your various other devices like your smartphone or tablet. I’m not sure you need to do this in a desktop audio situation, as you’ll likely have other charging options besides those fancy speakers, but it’s an option nonetheless.
A superior wireless streaming machine
KEF did not completely rewrite the script with the LSX II. The speakers are the same size as the original LSX and use the same Uni-Q driver; it’s KEF’s signature driver that places the tweeter in the center of the midrange/woofer and which the company says helps deliver a more lucid, room-filling sound. (KEF uses this same driver in its larger speakers, including LS50 Wireless II, LS50 Meta and LS60 Wireless.) KEF says it’s tweaked the digital signal processing (DSP) of the new speakers so they’re better balanced and sound even better.
The other difference is that KEF has given the LSX II access to its new “W2” wireless streaming platform (just like its latest LS50 Wireless II). Indeed, it is very easy to play the music you want (streaming or analog) as well as to customize the sound of the speakers for you and your room. It’s all done via the KEF Connect app on your smartphone and that makes the speakers really easy to use.
What’s not ideal with the KEF LSX II?
You still need a wired connection to get the best possible sound
Just like KEF’s other wireless speaker systems, the LSX II can play lossless audio without each speaker being tied to each other – and the sound is great. When streaming over Wi-Fi, the LSX II can play back lossless audio up to 24-bit/48kHz. However, if you use the supplied cable that connects the two speakers together, they can play even higher resolution audio, up to 24-bit/96kHz. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it’s worth noting for lossless streamers looking for the best possible audio quality from the LSX II.
(The downside of having a cable isn’t as neat, and you can’t place the speakers as easily anywhere you want in a room.)
Do you really need all these options?
Too much versatility isn’t a bad thing, especially when the KEF LSX II excels at just about everything it does. The problem is that most people won’t take advantage of all that versatility – they’ll set up the LSX II speakers and probably use them one way. For me, I basically use them as badass Sonos speakers and just stream music from my smartphone and laptop. And so, at the end of the day, you’re paying for features and capabilities that you probably won’t use. KEF raised the price of the KEF LSX II, which was priced at $1,400 a pair while the LSX was priced at $1,100 a pair when they were released in 2018.
KEF LSX II: the verdict
The KEF LSX II is a wonderful little hi-fi speaker system that can do anything you want. You can stream music to them via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You can even integrate them into a multi-room system with non-KEF speakers via AirPlay 2 or Chromecast. Or you can hook them up to your current hi-fi system, office workstation or even your TV. And it all sounds supreme. The only real downside is that, well, it’s not cheap.
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