One thing that I found never really needed tweaking was the LSXes’ soundstaging and imaging. It just threw up this big wall of sound, way bigger than such tiny speakers look capable of. On the track “Corfu,” my backwall felt like it was vibrating with sound. I could pinpoint where the woodblock snap in the latter half of the track was happening, both in depth and width. This was probably my favorite aspect of the LSXes’ sound, just the sheer physical size of the stage they created. I never felt like they were “small” speakers, even on tracks that beg for absolute monster sound.
Which brings me to my last bit of listening. I decided to end with The 1975’s new album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. It’s packed with pop-rock anthems, each song bigger, wilder, and more life-affirming than the next. If there was ever an album that begged for high volume and huge, room-wide soundstages, this was it. “Love It if We Made It” is an absolute banger of an anthem toward the beginning of the album. The LSX presented the huge drums and the even bigger, near-yelled lyrics in crushing strokes, while managing not to lose the almost delicate, shimmering synth that grounds the whole track. The drop in the latter half of the song was exuberant and exciting, and I honestly forgot I was listening to tiny speakers on rickety, inexpensive speaker stands. In contrast, the closing track, “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes),” features an almost gentle acoustic guitar in the beginning that sparkled with clarity and simplicity. And that’s the beauty of the KEF LSX. They have the sheer brute force necessary to get a dance party moving, but also the subtlety to resolve more typical “audiophile” recordings. I felt as at home listening to The 1975 or The Weeknd as I did listening to the beautifully recorded and produced Beirut tracks.
In the end, the KEF LSX is not going to replace traditional hi-fi rigs. It’s not going to make hardened, seasoned veterans of the hi-fi show circuit suddenly give up their ten-watt tube amps and worship at the altar of Spotify streaming. But it might convince some of them that good sound can come in new shapes and forms, that hi-fi doesn’t have to be limited to vast component systems and artisanal hand-crafted phono cartridges. I know I was convinced that bigger isn’t always better, that stacking more and more shiny metal boxes won’t necessarily get me closer to what I want.
What I want is fun and good music. That’s what the LSXes provide. Sure, the apps aren’t great, but that’s far from a deal-breaker. The LSXes sound fantastic; they’re simple and easy to set up; they’re surprisingly versatile and portable; and they’re genuinely affordable. They aren’t the future of hi-fi, but they’re definitely one of the futures. From now on, if a normal person in real life asks me how to get into this hobby, I’m going to recommend the LSXes or something like them. I think that more or less says it all.
Specs & Pricing
Drive units: Uni-Q Drive array, 0.75" aluminum dome tweeter and 4.5" magnesium/aluminum-alloy cone mid/bass
Frequency response: 54Hz–28kHz (variable through control app)
Maximum output: 102dB
Inputs: Dual-band Wi-Fi, aptX Bluetooth, TosLink optical, 3.5mm auxiliary, Ethernet
Input resolution: 24-bit/48kHz without Ethernet; 24-bit/192kHz with Ethernet
Dimensions: 9.5" x 6.1" x 7.1"
Weight: 7.9 lbs.
Price: $1099 per pair
GP ACOUSTICS (U.S.), INC.
10 Timber Lane
Marlboro, NJ 07746