First, the LSXes sounded great hooked up to a TV through the optical input. I hate having a million different remotes, but found that the control app came in handy in this instance, since my phone was always nearby. The LSXes looked fantastic sitting on top of my pair of Original Large Advents that flank either side of my little entertainment center. All cables were easily routed, and the setup just worked. I could stream from Spotify while eating breakfast, or listen to podcasts over aptX Bluetooth. The KEFs brought music to a space that’s traditionally filled by my crappy tinny phone speakers, and they made my TV sound fantastic.
Next up was the desktop. Right away I listened to an Elvis Costello Tidal Master stream from my Android phone into the LSX’s AUX input, and the sound was very solid. Mids were a bit muted, and the bass could be woolly when I cranked it up, but overall the KEFs sounded pleasant and hefty for such small speakers. I used the control app’s DSP functions to tweak the sound a bit and got it dialed in to my preference. The DSP app has some really in-depth settings, like treble trim, phase correction, bass extension, sub-out low-pass frequency adjustments, and more. After playing music, I did some gaming with the LSXes, which was a blast. Overwatch never sounded so big and bold and vibrant as through these speakers; they were even resolving enough to pick up distant footsteps. During my time with the LSXes, I kept coming back to this desktop positioning, and liked it second to my typical hi-fi spot.
Finally, we get to the traditional placement, and my favorite of the three. I have to admit this sounded the best to me, I think because I have my room fairly well dialed-in for this kind of listening. I did tweak the output again with the control app, but didn’t go crazy with it. I wanted something as reasonably neutral as I could get, without jacking up the upper and lower ends to compensate for my room’s size.
First up was The Weeknd’s debut album, House of Balloons. I listened to the remastered version that was re-released as part of the Trilogy compilation. The first thing that struck me was just how shockingly forceful and deep the bass sounded on the opening track, “High for This.” It’s a song that gets its power from a fantastic drop, especially when the second chorus starts up, and that impact feels almost necessary to the bleak nihilism of everything that comes after. The LSXes resolved the bass in satisfying, almost visceral thumps. The kickdrum was solid and encompassing, way more powerful-sounding than bass from little tiny speakers has any right to be.
Impact and ambiance are two necessary features of any speaker that wants to do House of Balloons justice. It’s a never-ending sprawl of dark odes to money, drugs, and strippers, and the ambiance of the album is central to its success. I found that the LSXes were more than up to the task of conveying those jet-black depths, and Abel Tesfaye’s near-falsetto sounded crisp and sharp in contrast to the thumping lows. The grinding guitars and synths were full-bodied in “Wicked Games,” though I felt the midrange could sound a bit veiled compared to my Zu Audio Omen Dirty Weekends, which isn’t exactly surprising. In terms of impact, though, I actually preferred the LSXes to the Omen DWs.
Next up, I turned to Beirut’s brand-new album, Gallipoli. The piano on “I Giardini” was mellow and even, although sometimes at odds with the deepest notes of the kickdrum. I found that the horns on “Gauze fur Zah” were never shrill, but even-tempered and smooth. Zach Condor’s voice on that same track had a very nice reverb, subtle but well resolved. And honestly, if there was ever an aspect of the LSXes that sounded lacking, the control app’s DSP function could probably tweak it in the right direction. I held off from this for my close listening, but during my background listening, I would tweak to my heart’s content.