'Of all art, music is the most indefinable and the most expressive, the most insubstantial and the most immediate, the most transitory and the most imperishable. Transformed to a dance of electrons along a wire, its ghost lives on. When KEF returns music to its rightful habituation, your ears and mind, they aim to do so in the most natural way they can ... without drama, without exaggeration, without artifice'.
Raymond Cooke, KEF founder
The company was founded in 1961 by Raymond Cooke and was initially headquartered in a Nissen Hut on the premises of Kent Engineering & Foundry (from where the name KEF is derived) - a metal-working company on the banks of the River Medway, near Maidstone in Kent.
Cooke, an ex-BBC Electrical Engineer, was keen to experiment with new materials and technologies in order to create products with superior acoustic quality that could reproduce recordings as natural as the original performance.
From the very beginning, the pioneering inventiveness of KEF loudspeakers was undeniable and now for several decades, audiophiles around the world have revered KEF for its innovative, high-performance loudspeakers.
Which brings us to present day, where KEF is still, after 60 years, a driving force in the audio industry. Their product mix is innovative and attractive. They have been able to manufacture cutting edge technology into beautiful enclosures. The balance of style and performance is what has always attracted me to KEF and their offerings.
The KEF LS50 META is no exception to the rule. The stand mount speaker is the updated and upgraded version of its predecessor the LS50. Does the sound provide value for its price tier? Does it live up to its expectations?
In terms of appearance, the KEF LS50 META’s do not disappoint. From the cool to the touch matte finish-- to the curved baffle which serves two purposes with the aesthetic design and for the functionality of the driver array.
Inside the cabinet, cross bracing and Constrained Layer Damping (CLD) combine to deaden internal vibrations. Which is impressive, when you merely knock on the enclosure, normally you hear some type of hollow echo, not with this enclosure. Between the baffle’s injection moulded Dough Moulding Compound as well as the high quality material used ensures the enclosure will provide as little coloration or resonance as possible.
The driver array is unique, perhaps where the name Uni-Q was derived? Not many companies put in as much time and effort as KEF has to engineer a truly enchanting driver. Integrating the tweeter inside of the throat of the 5 ¼ inch driver was something other companies have tried but I believe KEF has truly mastered.
The tweeter comes with, what KEF refers to as a Tangerine Waveguide which improves dispersion because of how they have shaped the fins and channels of the waveguide specifically to control the expansion of the soundwave into the waveguide. The waveguide also does something that its absolutely essential with any speaker, it helps prevent your kids little peanut buttery fingers from pushing in the dust cap. That’s my biggest pet peeve when checking out audio gear at the store, when I see the tweeters pushed in, cringe!
Let us address the port and how incredibly cool it is. The bass port uses Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which is another big series of words they have used to make something simple sound very fancy. The port flare and profile of LS50 Meta’s patented off-set port is calculated to delay the onset of turbulence, and the flexible port walls prevent resonances from coloring the midrange.
Since I am so easily amused, the feature that really caught my eye was the smoke colored 5-Way binding post. It honestly just looks super cool.
The LS50 META’s were tested on my main system. The source was the Bluesound Node 2i, along with an FX Audio Tube 03 Preamplifier and powered by Starke Sound’s AD4.320 amplifier providing more than enough juice to make them sing. Everything was connected using Audience AV's high quality cables. The equalization was set to a flat setting to prevent any type of interference with the natural sound of the speaker.
I decided to go with Landing in London by Three Doors Down to test the clarity of the mids and highs. In this ballad, lead singer Brad Arnold duets with the legendary Bob Seger, who happened to be recording at the same studio as 3 Doors Down in 2004. The vocals came in very clear and pronounced. Right off the bat I knew these speakers were incredible for it’s reproduction of mids and highs.
The following song was Algorithm by Muse which has quickly become one of my favorite songs to audition speakers because of its retro-futuristic and industrial sounding tones. It has the ability to test the low end with a variety of beats as well as give the mids and highs an exercise with the distinct and high pitched vocals that Matthew Bellamy is known for. The LS50 META’s I feel under performed with this song because of their hesitation in the low end spectrum. However paired with the right subwoofer this song would have been flawless because of their ability to capture the detail of the vocals and character of the song itself.
Finally I wanted to try out a full orchestra so I went with Molossus from the Batman Begins Soundtrack. I was very impressed with the detail that the LS50 META’s provided and the expansive soundstage and off axis response was beautiful as well. Overall, they played the song quite nicely and was a very pleasant experience.
The REW measurement was linear and very pronounced with the high end. The low end falls off at about 60hz which is lower than what was rated on the spec sheet. Overall, it was a very nice measurement without any anomalies and represented the overall sound of the speaker quite well.
Rating & Final Thoughts:
I really enjoyed my time with the LS50 META’s by KEF. I believe they are great speakers, if you’re looking for amazing clarity and detail in your music. As I mentioned before I think they struggled a bit in the low end, however I don’t think these speakers were engineered to be bassy, but have exponential amounts of detail and to reproduce the music the way the artist had intended. With the price tag of $1,499 I feel like they are priced slightly higher than they should be, however they ARE new on the market so I suspect the price will begin to fall closer to the 2021 holiday season.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
If you're interested in purchasing the KEF LS50 META you can find them HERE!