Owning a pair of LS50’s, I was excited - in the “Oh boy, my gear is now obsolete”, kind of way - to see the new LS50 Wireless come out. Then I dug into the details of how they worked, and I find myself shocked that they call them “wireless”. Now, I understand that KEF gets to call them that because they use wifi, but it sure sounds like they are speakers without wires. When in fact, there is a very large number of wires sprouting out of the back of them.
My two LS50’s have a total of two wires. But the Wireless? Can be as many as 9 or 10 for the pair. Take a look at this pic from CES. Too bad KEF does not incorporate cable management into their new, custom stands.
Granted, the new LS50’s will allow a reduction of boxes and wires overall vs. a traditional audio system. By my calculations, were I trade up from my regular LS50s, I could lose my amp, preamp, and Roon SOSE. Assuming a switch to WiFi to deliver digital content, and I keep my single sub and turntable, the total “boxes” in my system (including speakers) changes from 8 to 4. And my total wires (power, audio, network) drops from 15 to 9. That’s a good thing.
Maybe they should be calling it the “LS50 Less-Wires”.
But for all the glowing reviews I’ve read, I’ve not seen one person say, “Hey look! The emperor has no clothes. This is anything but wireless.” Is anyone else scratching their head over this misleading name for an apparently ground breaking product?
Lower box count has a long history in audio as a goal. I remember (fondly) the “three in one” units of my youth where a cassette tape, turntable and receiver would be incorporated in one unit. Who could want for more ?
I have tended to go in the other direction, however. Multiple boxes with clearly demarcated roles, meaning they can be tweaked or upgraded conveniently as required and budget permits.
Speakers with active bass I can understand (well I’ve got a pair). But dedicated DAC and preamp ? Not my cup of tea. Of course, as a result, my apartment doesn’t look quite as natty as the interiors depicted on the KEF website either.
Well, I suppose you’d be expecting to at least have to plug them into the mains.
And then assuming one source, it would be a network cable, at the most. I’m assuming they actually have the ability to receive music wirelessly - wifi or bluetooth? If not, that would be pretty strange for a ‘wireless’ speaker.
That was included in my count. Both the Ethernet and the power cables.
It’s still less wires overall than classic “separates” systems. I just can’t get past the fact that the vast majority of system wires are sprouting out the back of a “wireless” speakers.
In many KEF promotional pics they show the speakers sitting at the opposite sides of a low cabinet. PERFECT way to hide those wires. Too bad it’s almost a perfect way to destroy any good sound they might make.
I guess that’s why at CES they put them on stands, even if it exposed all the wires.
Just to be clear, because they are called wireless you were expecting no wires at all? My wireless router has a power cord and an ethernet wire going to it. It’s wireless. My laptop is sometimes wireless but sometimes it has a power cord attached. For the KEF wireless means that you can connect to it wirelessly if you so desire. You can also connect it via wired. In all cases a power cable is required unless you were thinking batteries? I have the KEF X300A. It’s a wireless speaker that I have wires connected to. Never really gave it any thought.
John, please take a look at the quote below. That’s the third sentence of my OP.
Yes. Or something close, as opposed to the extreme exact opposite. Sure, people use the word wireless when something connects by wifi. But to my experience, wireless is generally used to mean “no wires”. Headphones come to mind. Your laptop is indeed a great example, as it can operate totally wireless.
What I really suspect is that this is a case of marketing gone wrong. That KEF used the “wifi” excuse to give the product a very enticing name, implying that it is something that it is not. I presume to generate interest. That is conjecture on my part. But that is how it appears to me. And for evidence, I’ll site the fact that those little speakers have quite a few things going to for them that are noteworthy, and could have been in corporates into their name; wifi, blue tooth, app controlled, dedicated amps, DSP, and even DACs. Short of input, it’s a whole system in a box. But they chose the name “Wireless”. You be the judge.
You can operate them wirelessly. Just add a power cable. Your laptop is only wireless until the battery runs out. If you don’t want to run any other wires to them you don’t have to. You are getting really hung up on one word.
Hey John, I have followed your comments on the Kef ls50w/ MCR/ Roon combo. I am receiving my Kef’s today. Hopefully, all goes well on the connections to my network running iMac as the roon core with Tidal. Any suggestions you may offer on this combo to improve performance will be greatly appreciated.
They are active loudspeaker so they need a power source, And they have a cable which connects them, but they are ‘wireless’ in as much as you can ‘Bluetooth’ signal to them, or connect them to your local network.
They are superb little speakers,I have been very impressed with them in the short time we have had ours.
Lee there is an app that KEF has that you can use to “tune” the speakers. You can do this via the back panel too but there are more tuning options via the app. It’s how you get the last tweak out of them. Great speakers. Good luck.