It’s been eight years since the KEF LS50 speakers launched as anniversary commemorations to the fabled – and KEF-driver-incorporating – BBC LS3/5a monitors. They arrived to a What Hi-Fi? Award, as well as two Readers Awards on the trot, and have remained a fan favourite over the years – albeit one that has been surpassed by a new class of competition. Time, then, for a successor.
The new LS50 Meta ushers in a new technological feat for the company – and we say ‘feat’ because we’ve already heard its benefit in both the LS50 Meta and also new KEF LS50 Wireless II. The technology is called Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) and is an absorption technique KEF has developed with smart materials and acoustics company Acoustic Metamaterials Group. The creation of the two new LS50 models marks its first application in loudspeaker designs.
Essentially, MAT is a circular, plastic structure that sits behind the tweeter to absorb the distorting sound that radiates from the cone's rear into the cabinet. It does so by having maze-like ‘channels’ running through it, each a different size and shape and therefore specifically ‘tuned’ to absorb different frequencies.
KEF says MAT has the capacity to absorb 99 per cent of this unwanted sound, compared to the 60 per cent capability of “traditional” approaches.
This method contributes to KEF’s 12th-generation Uni-Q driver, as does a new cone neck decouple and an improved motor system. KEF has also created dedicated stands, the S2 Floor Stand (£400/AU$800 per pair), with dampening base plates and a hollow central column that can be loaded with inert filler for minimum sonic colouration.
In addition to the trademark Uni-Q driver array, the LS50 Metas also carry over the original design’s distinct curved front panel, which is attached to an “optimised” cabinet that features an off-set port. Finish options for the LS50 Metas, which cost £1000 (AU$2495), are Carbon Black, Titanium Grey, Mineral White and Royal Blue Special Edition.