KEF LS50 Meta

MJ17.12.2020

Stand mount monitors

It should have been limited series only, but the LS50 anniversary monitors have grown bigger than anyone anticipated. In fact, they are the best-selling KEF´s product range. How does it come that these diminutive speakers have made such a dent in the audio universe, comparable to legendary BBC LS3/5A (that also bear KEF´s signature), Wharfedale Diamond I, or Sonus Faber´s original Electa Amator?

100% reference

Funkce a forma

92%
Ergonomie
43%
Zvuk
98%
Zpracování

The LS50 Meta´s enclosure looks and feels like aluminum. The speaker´s miniature dimensions and two thick crossed partitions inside made the LS50 exceptionally stiff and inert and charcoal satin finish so successfully imitates metal, that no one would guess the cabinets are made of MDF and the convex front baffle is a pressed polymer. With the Meta KEF made the rear panel more tidy and upgraded its reflex port curvature. Like at the original LS50 the Meta´s port inlet continues inside with a rubber tube which is a clever way to remove resonances.

The KEF LS50 Meta shows the same specifications on paper - that is rather low sensitivity 85dB that is compensated by friendly 8-ohm impedance. At the time of this review the LS50 Meta is available in white, carbon black, grey and blue, all crowned with KEF´s proprietary Uni-Q concentric driver in ´copper´ finish.

The Uni-Q driver was revamped for the Meta, though it continues to use aluminum diaphragms for both its tweeter and the midrange driver. The new tweeter utilizes what KEF calls Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), hence “Meta” in speakers name. The MAT is a small labyrinth like disc that sits behind the tweeter´s motor. Its task is to absorb the energy of the tweeter inside the cabinet and KEF claims it is effective from 600H to 40kHz. Not only is the tweeter vented to the rear but there is also a gap around its perimeter where it meets the midrange cone, which allows the tweeter work without compression and positively projects into the Meta´s clarity and articulation. I can confirm these are not unimportant changes as the new LS50 Meta easily bests the original LS50 with better openness and ease of its sound and – wait for it – at almost identical price.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
29
Výbušnost
36
Artikulace
36

I have no idea what height the center of the Uni-Q driver should be in relation to the ears of a sitting person. When I placed the Metas on KEF´s stands the tweeter was about 10cm below my ears. My preconception says this is not right but when I started to listen to Arensky´s Piano Trio No. 1 in D-major the KEFs sounded amazing. This Supraphon recording of Smetana Trio was recorded at Martinek studio in Prague and features very exact spatial clues. In the lively and frolicsome Scherzo the KEF LS50 Meta completely disappeared from the room and left me alone with the performers. When I say ´disappear´ I mean disappear without any trace – with my eyes closed I was not able to identify where the KEFs were in the room. In the coming days I tried to adjust the vertical placement of the KEFs but I would not say the sound was improving by moving them (or myself) up and down. Their dispersion was quite stable, so was their imaging and tonality. The same happened in the lateral plane. Of course there was one single sweet spot which worked the best, but the great sound was not limited just to it and I could enjoy the music across quite a wide listening window, much wider than with conventional speakers. This is the power of the Uni-Q concentric driver that is symmetrical in both axes and thus approximates one point source.

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
62
Vzduch
62
Transparentnost
62

The soundstage accuracy comes with the imaging and thus the spatial interaction of the violin, cello and piano of Smetana Trio was flawless. The depth and width were phenomenal and I really loved how the LS50 Meta wonderfully portrayed diagonal relations between the instruments. In fact they were accomplishing more than my own TAD E1 which are 25 times more expensive. Well, definitely the KEFs were better in overall macro-imaging, in the way they were placing all the instruments within the soundstage. The TADs could resolve micro-events better, like the hand guiding the bow or movement of the cellist on his chair. Still, the very fact I am comparing the KEFs to TADs is very telling.

I also tested the LS50 Meta on my desktop. I placed the KEFs on Stillpoint Minis and listened in nearfield and I liked them very much. If you struggle with having a dedicated listening room the KEF LS50 Meta may be ideal solution.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
47
Dynamika
59
Časování
52

All the text so far relates to the KEF LS50 Meta auditioned in natura - that is without a subwoofer. The internal volume of the Meta is smaller than the size of its cabinet may suggest. You need to consider that the sizable motor assembly, the thick bracing and the crossover take substantial volume out of the equation. The laws of physic thus cannot guarantee low frequency extension and KEF specifies the LS50 Meta to roll off by -3dB at 79Hz. How does it work in reality? The room helps, of course, and so does the reflex port, so I could already hear the bass at around 42Hz (measured with Nordost System Tuning and Set-Up Disc), then the bass disappeared for a moment (my vertical room mode) and then it was back at around 58Hz in full force. This is not bad at all for from the 58Hz the frequency response was even up to the upper limit of the Nordost’s test track. When I played 20Hz–7kHz sweep I could hear ruler flat response with no compression. Similarly the LS50 Meta were performing fantastic on LEDR tests and delivered very smooth and regular paths of the travelling chuffing sounds. Just amazing, I am used to hear such a level of performance from many times more expensive speakers.

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
95
Šířka scény
94
Hloubka scény
95

As said, the KEF LS50 Meta’s sound is open and effortless, slightly on the drier side and slightly on the more understated side. The KEF let me hear everything on the recordings but it let me hear that in a ‘professional way’, without accenting typical audiophile candies. Let’s take, for example, Alan Parsons Project and Eye In The Sky (Arista 61004-222 is probably the best digital version of the album). The recording was conceived in the years of fascination with possibilities of digital and you can hear it, the sound is cleaned up and maybe too extended on the top, but this was typical for this period. Despite these inherit flaws the LS50 Meta were delight to listen to at low to moderate levels. With increasing loudness the speakers started to get stressed as the small cabinets could not support it, but this is the tax we pay.

In my review of the original LS50 I recommended to pair them with a subwoofer or two. The same holds true here – even the modest but excellent Sonus Faber Gravis I added the grunt and filled the bottom end to very complete sound. I recollected the evenings spent with the LS50s and my music. The feeling of being embraced by the music repeated with the Metas, now with more open and communicative sound.

To me the KEF LS50 Meta is the mini-monitor that have no ‘buts’.

Cena v době recenze:31 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

Perfect Sound Group, Praha, tel. +420 722 960 690

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: Accuphase DP-720, Topping BC-3
  • Amplifiers: TAD M-2500, Leak Stereo 130
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: AudioQuest Dragon Bass | Zero, Krautwire Numeric Digital, Krautwire MAX-S, Ansuz Signalz C2,  Accuphase RCA
  • Loudspeakers:  TAD Evolution One E1, Sonus Faber Gravis I
  • Power conditioning Block Audio Snakeblock, Shunyata Research Denali, Synergistic Research Atmosphere Level 2, Nordost Qv2, Stromtank S-1000, Shunyata Research Omega XC

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