KEF LSX active stand-mount loudspeaker

Music servers and computer audio
KEF LSX active stand-mount loudspeaker

Reviewers both love and hate in equal measure reviews that basically write themselves. We love them because they are so easy to write – words fall onto the page without a care. We hate them for pretty much the same reason, as we barely get a chance to place our own fingerprints on the review itself. The KEF LSX is one such review; about 20 seconds after I had plugged it in, the review was practically fully constructed in my head, nothing in the extended process of listening swayed that early impression, and only one out-of-the-blue event was worth adding. None of which should detract from the LSX… quite the reverse in fact.

The simple way of thinking about the LSX is that it’s a smaller, cheaper version of the LS50 Wireless wrapped in a range of natty cloth finishes, and is designed to fit almost anywhere (hence the ‘bookshelf’ description – they stand as high as a paperback and can be legitimately used in a bookshelf as long as you have provision for a couple of power cables and ideally a signal cable or two). The downside to that pithy description is it dismisses the substantial amount of R&D work that has gone into the LSX in an attempt to try and squeeze a quart into a pint pot, and do it without it sounding like someone throwing a sack of spoons down a fire escape in the process. 

You can’t break from the whole LS50 Wireless aspect of the LSX though, and I don’t think that’s something KEF would necessarily want you to do either. If KEF was keen on breaking that link, it probably wouldn’t have made the LSX look like a scale model of the LS50/LS50 Wireless. It has the same proportions, just smaller. The smaller size means the top-plate control panel of the LS50 Wireless goes away and everything is driven by the app. This is no bad thing, as it’s very ‘Spotidal’ friendly and both quick and easy to set-up. Parameters on the app include whether the speakers are on stands (expected mid-year) or sitting on a shelf, distance from wall (and lip of said shelf), master/slave orientation (no need for gimp masks, just whether the master loudspeaker drives the left or right channel), and increasingly connections. Alongside the more conventional analogue aux minijack, Toslink and increasingly ubiquitous Ethernet connection (one is used to connect master to slave, as well as master to outside world), it can connect to the world through Bluetooth and wireless Ethernet, although Class 2 USB audio and a pair of conventional RCA analogue sockets are lost in the shrinking process. Although the on-board DAC can support up to 24-bit, 192kHz file sizes, the LSX downsamples to 24/96 as that is the limit of the master-to-slave Ethernet connection (run wireless, this drops to 24/48). It has a subwoofer output RCA connector and can even charge your smartphone via USB while you are playing tracks through Bluetooth. In other words, it taps the zeitgeist!

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