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KEF LSX II LT Wireless Review: Price, Specs, Availability

KEF LSX II LT Wireless Review: Price, Specs, Availability

For such a diminutive, discreet system of unremarkable power and modest driver dimensions, it summons unlikely low-frequency drive and presence. Bass sounds are deep enough to make the idea of an external subwoofer seem a bit much, and they’re controlled at the attacking edge with proper authority.

Detail levels are high (as they are across the board, to be fair), so there’s plenty of information available regarding texture and tone. The LSX II LT is able to make even minor low-end dynamic variations apparent, and where straightforward punch is concerned they outperform their physical dimensions to a remarkable degree.

The opposite end of the frequency range is equally well served when it comes to detail retrieval, dynamic impetus, and simple fidelity. Treble sounds are bright and ringing, but even if you decide to test the upper limits of the system’s volume they never cross the line into hardness or glassiness. There’s ample bite and crunch should the music demand it, but none of the edginess that less capable loudspeakers can threaten to introduce.

And in between, the KEF creates more than enough space in the midrange for a vocalist to express themselves fully. If there’s information regarding character, technique, or attitude in a recording, there seems little doubt the LSX II LT is ignoring it.

Tonality from the top of the frequency range to the bottom is even and consistent, and there’s sufficient dynamic headroom available to let the quieter moments of a recording contrast nicely with the moments of all-out attack.

The soundstage the system can generate is appreciably wider and taller than the speakers from which it emanates, and it’s organized and controlled with confidence. The relatively complicated driver arrangement demonstrates its worth (again) with a presentation that’s neatly unified and of an appreciable whole.

The LSX II LT proves remarkably tolerant when it comes to lower-resolution content, too. A bog-standard 320-kbps Spotify stream of The Record by Boygenius sounds compressed and compromised, sure, but not to a fatal degree. Some systems can be overtly sniffy about poverty-spec audio files like this, but the KEF is not so judgmental. It does what it can with the information it’s given, attempting to open it up and find the light and shade within it rather than throwing its hands up in despair.

Sizing Up

KEF LSX II LT Wireless Active Speaker System on a desk

Photograph: KEF

In performance terms, there’s really only one significant caveat to KEF LSX II LT ownership, and that concerns out-and-out scale. For all the dynamism of its sound and the expansive, organized nature of its soundstage, the KEF can’t muster the sort of outright scale that can fill a larger room with sound.

For the majority of customers, that’s unlikely to be an issue. The LSX II LT is no shrinking violet, after all, and in a typical room-sized room it has no problem with spreading sound all around. Those prospective owners who are hoping to fill a big space with sound from little speakers, though, are advised to think again.

Otherwise, there’s not an awful lot to take issue with. An analog input or two wouldn’t go amiss—after all, if you want to involve your TV in your system, why wouldn’t you want to include, say, a turntable, too? But given what KEF has managed to provide both in terms of sound quality and flexibility with the LSX II LT, I feel a little mean-spirited even bringing it up.

For KEF, the elevator continues to move upwards, even when it’s heading down to what it considers to be the bargain basement.

22 Best Bluetooth Speakers (2023): Portable, Waterproof, and More

22 Best Bluetooth Speakers (2023): Portable, Waterproof, and More

The best Bluetooth speakers still have a place near and dear to our hearts, even as we’ve seen better (and more portable) smart speakers creeping into the universe. It’s fun and easy to ask an Amazon Echo or Google Nest speaker to play your favorite track or tell you the weather, but smart speakers require stable Wi-Fi and updates to work. By (mostly) forgoing voice assistants and Wi-Fi radios, Bluetooth speakers are more portable, with the ability to venture outside of your house and withstand rugged conditions like the sandy beach or the steamy Airbnb jacuzzi. They’ll also work with any smartphone, and they sound as good as their smart-speaker equivalents.

We’ve tested hundreds of Bluetooth speakers since 2017 (and many before that), and we can happily say they are still some of the best small devices you can listen to. Here are our favorites right now. Be sure to check out all our buying guides, including the Best Soundbars, Best Wirefree Earbuds, and Best Smart Speakers.

Updated December 2023: We’ve added the JBL Authentics 200, Urbanista Malibu, Sonos Move 2, Sennheiser Ambeo Mini, and Ultimate Ears Epicboom.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

The 11 Best Turntables for Your Vinyl Collection (2023)

The 11 Best Turntables for Your Vinyl Collection (2023)

Vinyl’s biggest selling point isn’t the sound. It’s the physical experience: shiny, delicate records; liner notes writ large; covers you want to frame and hang on your wall; and the way the stylus spins across the jagged surface, reproducing your favorite artists’ music as if by magic.

Maybe you’ve always been interested in building a setup for listening to LPs and 45s, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you’re like WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu, who owned a record but no turntable to play it on. Maybe you’re just looking for an upgrade. No problem: There are tons of great record players to choose from, and most of them will easily connect to whatever audio system you already own. I’ve tested quite a few options, and these are my current favorites—from utilitarian, budget-friendly classics to more luxe options for those seeking audiophile-grade sound.

Be sure to check out our other audio guides, including the Best Gear for Learning Music and the Best Podcasting Gear.

Updated September 2023: We’ve added the Fluance RT81+ and Rega Planar 8.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

KEF R3 Meta Review: Solid Bass, Premium Sound

KEF R3 Meta Review: Solid Bass, Premium Sound

Pulling the hefty speakers from their packaging, you’ll find a pair of port bungs, microfiber speaker grilles, and rubber feet. At the back of each speaker is a pair of rugged terminals allowing for discretely bi-amping the bass and upper drivers. I asked KEF about the need for bi-amping, as I only planned to connect to the lower terminals, and was told there’s no real company “voice” on the subject but the implication is that there’s minimal sonic benefit in doing so.

The speakers’ 4-ohm nominal impedance means they’ll likely be harder to drive than 6-ohm or 8-ohm speakers, but impedance is a complex subject and it varies by frequency. KEF claims the speakers can be powered by as little as 15 watts per side, but for best results, I still suggest a relatively brawny amp with good clarity, like the Naim Uniti Atom I employed.

Let It Glow

As gleeful as these speakers are to play, it’s no easy task to tell a story as rich and expressive as what the R3 Meta tell your ears minute by minute, beat by beat. You’ve just gotta hear these things. They’re incredibly nuanced, dynamic, and transparent, offering power and lyrical musicality on a level that few speakers their size can accomplish. Every song you play is a new chapter, as their chameleonic sound signature sets the stage for each new mix.

That’s not to say the speakers don’t offer their own distinctive sonic flavor; they certainly do. But what the R3 bring to the table is so clean, so sweet, and so effortlessly expressive—especially when powered by a transparent amplifier like the Uniti Atom—they lend themselves to every subject with sympathetic delivery. This means they’ll find all the flaws in your music, of course, but more often than not, it’s presented more as a stylistic choice. That lets your ears separate the production wheat from the chaff in everything you play, while still enjoying lo-fi recordings.

Older Beach Boys songs can sound a little thin and even tinny on many speakers, but songs like “In My Room” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” soar with the R3 Meta, with well-struck percussion that pops out from the immersive soundstage, satiny harmonies, and smooth guitar tones that seem to pull you to the warm Pacific beaches. Flipping to topflight modern production like The Weeknd’s “Starboy” resets the stage completely. The R3’s magnified clarity provided the best performance of the song I’ve heard yet, with laser synths, columns of bass, and swelling effects echoing out the sides and skimming past my face for an almost surreal experience.

The word “luminous” kept coming up again and again as I moved through dozens of compressed and hi-res tracks over several days. Every string and horn player, every synth effect, vocal, or guitar tone seems to bloom with its own intrinsic light when passed through the R3, for chill-inducing performances. When cymbals sparkle, the speakers light that sparkle with an extra shot of vivid shimmer. When reverb trails hang, the speakers extend and draw them out, letting them fade only just in time for the next musical entrance. And when bass bumps, it hits with marble-hard authority and musical energy.

12 Best Amazon Echo and Alexa Speakers (2023): Earbuds, Soundbars, Displays

12 Best Amazon Echo and Alexa Speakers (2023): Earbuds, Soundbars, Displays

Amazon’s family of Alexa-enabled devices is vast. From the spherical Echo to the swiveling Echo Show 10, you can get Alexa into your home in many ways. These devices can answer your questions, help you order essentials, set timers, play all sorts of audio content, and even function as the control hub for your growing smart home. These are our favorite Echo- and Alexa-compatible speakers for every home and budget.

The best time to buy any Amazon speaker is during a major sale event like Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day, as there usually are steep discounts. If you’re trying to decide which smart devices might be best for you, be sure to check out WIRED’s picks in our roundups: Best Smart Speakers, Best Smart Displays, and Best Bluetooth Speakers. We also have guides on setting up your Echo speaker, creating Alexa routines, and Alexa skills that are actually fun and useful to help you get started.

Updated June 2023: We’ve updated pricing throughout this buying guide.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.