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KEF LS50 Meta review

I’ve been a fan of KEF for a while because they produce speakers that have excellent clarity and transparency without breaking the bank.

Their design is always spot-on and blends perfectly with most environments, making their bookshelf speakers the ideal choice for listening rooms and home theaters alike.

The KEF LS50 Meta is the evolution of the hugely successful LS50, released over a decade ago and still considered a milestone in terms of sound quality and design.

However, KEF felt they could further push the boundaries of audio reproduction, so they released the KEF LS50 Meta in 2020 to critical acclaim.

While aesthetically almost identical to its predecessor, the new LS50 Meta features innovations in acoustic technology that make it one of the best bookshelf speakers worldwide. Let’s find out why.

About the author

I am an audiophile and audio engineer with over 10 years of experience in the music industry. When testing passive speakers, I’m interested in clarity and neutrality, first and foremost, but I also want the sound to be enjoyable and engaging. When I use my hi-fi equipment for deep-listening sessions, I pay attention to the quality of frequency response across the spectrum, and when it comes to bookshelf speakers, I ensure they can perfectly reproduce whichever music I throw at them.

KEF LS50 Meta speakers review
Image: KEF

Final verdict on the KEF LS50 Meta 4.5

It’s really hard to find anything wrong with the audio quality offered by the LS50 Meta: the sound is rich, deep and immersive, recreated with sonic transparency that’ll please even the most demanding audiophiles.

The soundscape is detailed and engaging across the entire audio spectrum. The LS50 Meta is powerful enough to maintain a balanced tonality even at high volumes. The Metamaterial tech they developed might well be the future of high fidelity.

If one had to find a downside in these speakers, it’d probably be the lower frequencies: they’re there and sound pleasant overall, but at this price range, there are speakers that enhance lower frequencies better than the LS50 Meta.

If you’re looking for a pair of versatile speakers that can faithfully reproduce the quality of your record collection with elegance and clarity, look no further than the LS50 Meta.

What I like

  • Stunning clarity.
  • The Metamaterial Absorption Technology does wonders.
  • Excellent quality and design.

What I don’t like

  • Low frequencies lack clarity.
Buy KEF LS50 Meta at: AmazonCrutchfield

Design 4.5

Little has changed in terms of design when you compare the LS50 Meta with its predecessor and why should it change since the 2012 version already looked great?

The timeless, minimalist design of the LS50 Meta is ideal for any environment and enhances the subtle elegance of these speakers. The rear panel appears to be a bit tidier, but that’s all there is to it.

The big change is the one you can’t see but can hear very well. The Uni-Q driver features the innovative Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), an acoustic maze placed behind the aluminium tweeter dome to mitigate unwanted frequencies spreading from the driver’s rear.

By reducing the rear resonance even further, the sound coming out of the tweeter won’t affect the cabinet, making high frequencies (from 600 Hz upwards) sound pure and distortion-free even at high volume levels.

Build quality 4.5

The LS50 Meta feels robust and weighty. The curved front panel in bulk moulding composite (polyester resin, calcium carbonate and glass fibre) enhances the sturdiness of this bookshelf speaker.

You’ll find rubber feet for surface isolation, but you won’t find grilles: you don’t need them to protect the LS50 Meta, and the speakers look stunning as they are.

Sound 4.5

Let’s start with what makes the LS50 Meta stand out. The transparency and three-dimensional imaging of this bookshelf speaker are astounding.

Both high and midrange frequencies feel detailed and carefully balanced at all volumes, and the MAT seems to do a fantastic job of making soundscapes more crisp and more accurate.

Here, every subtlety is exposed with precision, so I used a couple of completely different tracks to test the transparency of the LS50 Meta.

To evaluate the quality of the imaging and tonal balance, I chose “Storm” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The intricacies and sonic texture are reproduced magnificently, with top-notch balance and elegance. The build-ups and quieter parts of the song are represented with clarity, giving justice to the expansive soundscape this song conveys.

“Orbiting” by Clubroot was my choice to find out how low this speaker can go, and while it does have enough punch to galvanise deep-bass lovers, I felt something was missing here. For the price, I think there are alternatives that can give you a better low-end representation.

Overall, I was impressed by the clarity and enveloping soundscape reproduced by the LS50 Meta: a considerable upgrade to its already-excellent predecessor.

Compared to other speakers

I love the LS50 Meta. These are some of the best bookshelf speakers available on the market, for both design and sound quality. They’re also perfect for anyone looking for good speakers for their record player. But, as always, here are some alternatives that are worth consideration.

LS50 Meta vs Polk L200

While the Polk L200 can go deeper than the LS50 Meta, the elegance and clarity of the KEF model are superior.

You might want to opt for the L200 if you’re into music with heavy bass or engaging beats, but for a realistic sonic experience, I’d go for the LS50 Meta.

LS50 Meta vs Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3

The 706 S3 is another great bookshelf speaker with a clear and elegant reproduction that works perfectly with classical music, jazz, and beatless electronica.

However, sometimes the highs feel more pronounced than they should be, as opposed to the LS50 Meta, where reproduction appears smooth throughout the spectrum. With that being said, I’d take the LS50 Meta every time.

LS50 Meta vs Wharfedale Linton

Although similar in price, these two speakers differ radically as the Linton has a three-way design, with a dedicated 8-inch driver for the lower frequencies, as opposed to the 5.25-inch driver used for both low and midrange frequencies by the LS50 Meta.

If you want to play music loud, or bass frequencies play a crucial role in your music taste, you should go for the Linton. On the other hand, if midrange transparency and definition are your things, the LS50 Meta is still the best option.

Read the full Wharfedale Linton Heritage review

Who are the KEF LS50 Meta speakers best suited for?

The LS50 Meta is for anyone who wants to experience high fidelity at a reasonable price. This speaker is an excellent choice for all music tastes and environments. It has enough energy to fill up a small/medium-sized space with a realistic soundscape and the transparency to create a detailed three-dimensional image across the room.

Buy KEF LS50 Meta at: AmazonCrutchfield
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