Best KEF speakers 2024: budget, premium, bookshelf and wireless systems

KEF is one of the finest purveyors of British hi-fi, with an illustrious heritage that stretches back more than 50 years. The company has had a few ups and downs in that time, but it hasn't lost its talent for engineering classy, superb-sounding speakers, as you'll see from the list below.

We've been reviewing KEF speakers since our earliest days of publication, so we know what's good and what's not. All of the below have been through our usual rigorous testing process and come out as highly acclaimed, earning either four or the full five stars, so you can be sure they'll do you proud.

They're all great, then, but that doesn't mean they're all the same. Read on and you'll discover which are the right ones for you.

How to choose the best KEF speakers for you

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Most of KEF's speakers feature the firm's clever and now-iconic Uni-Q driver. Rather than having a separately mounted tweeter and midrange driver, the tweeter is set into the centre of the mid. A simple idea – but it's what sets the company apart from the pack.

More importantly, KEF has kept pace with the times and diversified into wireless speakers alongside passive speakers, including modern wireless all-in-one streaming systems that offer a full system without the need for multiple boxes.

With more choice than ever, you might be wondering where to start. The good news is that we've done the legwork and rounded up the very best that KEF has to offer at the moment.

Passive stereo speakers

KEF LS50 Meta in royal blue

A reworked driver array makes the LS50 Meta a compelling proposition. (Image credit: KEF)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. Brilliant entertainers, and quite possibly the only speakers you'll ever need.

Specifications

Type : Standmounters
Drive units: Uni-Q driver array (25mm tweeter, 13cm mid/bass)
Ported : Yes (rear)
Bi-wire : No
Impedance : 8 ohms
Sensitivity : 85dB
Dimensions (hwd): 30.2 x 20 x 28cm
Weight : 7.8kg
Finishes : 4 (carbon black, titanium grey, mineral white, royal blue)

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional sonic transparency
+
Subtle and precise presentation
+
Innovative technology

Reasons to avoid

-
Don't place on a bookshelf or against a wall

The original LS50 speakers had little wrong with them but after eight years, KEF figured they deserved a fresh look. With the LS50 Meta, the British audio brand has delivered a truly worthy upgrade.

The LS50’s Uni-Q driver array, where the tweeter sits in the throat of the mid/bass unit, has been thoroughly reworked, taking in all the refinements that KEF has developed over the past eight years and adding its much-heralded Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT). MAT is KEF’s way of coping with the sound that comes off the back of the tweeter dome; a plastic circular maze of tubes on the back promising greater absorption for cleaner, less distorted highs.

While the basic sonic character is instantly familiar, the Meta speakers have gained a level of clarity and finesse the originals only hinted at, sounding clean while still offering muscle and dynamics. Sonically, they're everything you want KEF speakers to be, offering that balance and substance that only the finest performers can achieve.

We loved the originals, but the LS50 Meta takes the performance to a notably higher - and Award-winning - level. The best of the best. 

Read the full KEF LS50 Meta review

KEF R3 Meta in indigo gloss special edition

The R3 Metas are wonderfully transparent, refined speakers that are hugely entertaining performers, too. (Image credit: KEF)
Arguably the best premium standmounters that KEF has ever produced.

Specifications

Type : Standmounters
Drive units : Uni-Q driver array (25mm tweeter, 12.5cm midrange), 16.5cm bass
Ported : Yes (rear)
Bi-wire : Yes
Impedance : 4 ohms
Sensitivity : 87dB
Dimensions (hwd): 42.2 x 20 x 33.6cm
Weight : 12.4kg
Finishes : 4 (black gloss, white gloss, walnut, indigo gloss special edition)

Reasons to buy

+
Transparent, refined, expressive sound
+
Even tonal balance with plenty of fun
+
Innovative technology
+
Excellent build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Sounds best when positioned away from a wall and paired with equally talented kit

KEF's innovative MAT took the performance of many of its speakers to the next level. It was only a matter of time before the tech was integrated into its 2023 R Series of speakers, and when it was incorporated into the premium R3 Meta standmounter (combined with the Uni-Q driver array), the resulting success felt inevitable. 

The three-way R3 Meta are gorgeous-looking speakers with impeccable finish and build quality. KEF's 12th-generation Uni-Q driver array has been tweaked to accommodate the puck-sized MAT contraption (which absorbs 99 per cent of unwanted back radiation from the tweeter), and the resulting sound is astonishingly clear and insightful. 

The KEFs have a graceful nature to them that hides just how accomplished they are, so much so that you'll find them a pleasure to listen to no matter the genre. They’re wonderfully transparent, at ease with the full gamut of musical diversity: heavy metal, ’90s pop and classical works are all played over our testing period and the KEFs take it all in stride, simply relaying the music as faithfully as possible.

If you want bigger, bolder sound than the LS50 Meta (and can afford the next step up), this R3 Meta comes with a hearty recommendation.

Read the full KEF R3 Meta review

KEF Reference 1 Meta in black lifestyle

KEF’s Reference 1 Meta is a superb all-round package that combines excellent sound with clever engineering and impressive build quality. (Image credit: KEF)
Superb high-end standmounters that deliver excellent sound with impressive build quality.

Specifications

Type : Standmounters
Drive units : Uni-Q drive array (25mm tweeter, 12.5cm midrange), 16.5cm bass)
Ported : Yes (rear)
Bi-wire : Yes
Impedance : 4 ohms
Sensitivity : 85dB
Dimensions (hwd): 44 x 20.5 x 42cm
Weight : 18.2kg
Finishes : 5 (black copper, black grey, white champagne, white blue, walnut silver)

Reasons to buy

+
Balanced, refined yet musical performance
+
Fine stereo imaging
+
Impressive bass power and authority
+
Excellent build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Demands an amplifier with plenty of grunt
-
Dedicated stands are expensive

Much like the new KEF R3 Meta speakers in this list, KEF has updated its higher-end Reference 1 speaker with its innovative Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), which absorbs around 99 per cent of the unwanted, distorting sound waves from the back of the tweeter. And once again, it's done with great success. 

Adding MAT to KEF’s trademark Uni-Q driver array – where the 25mm aluminium tweeter sits in the throat of the midrange unit – is a lot more involved than just plonking the tech on the back of the driver. In the Reference 1 Meta, it involves significant re-engineering. The company has taken the opportunity to add a whole host of refinements to the array’s structure, motor system and geometry to eke out a better performance. The Uni-Q array is even decoupled from the Reference 1 Meta’s beautifully built cabinet to reduce the amount of vibration transmitted into the enclosure.

And KEF’s engineers have done a stellar job with these speakers. The original Reference 1 were great, but the sonic refinements brought about by the Meta upgrade are significant. The soundstage is expansive and layered, they deliver the music’s dynamic shifts with conviction, they're beautifully transparent and tonally balanced and rhythmically agile all at once.

At the time of writing, it is hard to think of a more rounded alternative for anything at this high-end level. Take care with the partnering system and these KEF speakers are sure to entertain.

Read the full review: KEF Reference 1 Meta

Wireless stereo speaker systems

KEF LSX II Lifestyle

A fantastic, multi-talented streaming system perfect for smaller rooms. (Image credit: KEF)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. A superb, impressively talented streaming system built to the highest standards.

Specifications

Type : Standmounters
Drive units : Uni-Q driver (19mm aluminium dome tweeter; 11.5cm mid/bass aluminium cone)
Ported : Yes (rear)
Bi-wire : No
Dimensions (hwd): 97.5 x 18 x 34.8cm
Weight : 19.6kg
Finishes : 3 (light oak, black oak, walnut pearl)

Reasons to buy

+
Superbly balanced presentation
+
Expressive and revealing midrange
+
Pleasing build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Perform best if given a little room to breathe

Aesthetically, not much has changed between the LSX II and their predecessors, the wonderfully expressive original LSX model. The all-in-one speakers, with amplification, streaming and connectivity all built in, look identical to their predecessors and feature the same 11th Generation Uni-Q driver, too, but there are some big changes elsewhere that take things to a new level.

Namely, more connection options. The first is HDMI ARC and the second is a USB-C connection for connecting to a TV and laptop respectively. Like other KEF wireless speaker systems, they also have an Ethernet port for connecting the speakers directly to your router, or a switch and a second port which you use to connect the supplied ethernet cable between the speakers. This is required if you want native playback of 24-bit/96kHz digital music files (anything higher than this is downsampled to 24-bit/96kHz).

The LSX II turn in a confident musical performance, with a real sense of refinement. They retain a nice sense of rhythm, with bags of warmth. KEF's winning formula just got that little bit better, and it's no surprise to see them bagging a 2022 What Hi-Fi? Award as a result of their efforts.

Read the full KEF LSX II review

KEF wireless speaker systems compared, from LSX II to LS60 – which one should you buy?

KEF LS50 Wireless II lifestyle

(Image credit: KEF)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. High performance all-in-one speakers that are worth every penny.

Specifications

Type : Standmounters
Drive units : Uni-Q driver array (25mm tweeter, 13cm mid/bass)
Ported : Yes (rear)
Bi-wire : No
Dimensions (hwd): 30.5 x 20 x 31.1cm
Weight : 10kg
Finishes : 4 (mineral white, titanium grey, carbon black, crimson red special edition)

Reasons to buy

+
Focused, hugely entertaining sound
+
Superb driver integration
+
Streaming and amplification built-in

Reasons to avoid

-
App can be a touch buggy
-
Some might miss the USB type B input

The follow-up to the outstanding first-gen KEF LS50 Wireless speakers improves on greatness – no easy feat, even for an audio brand as surefooted as KEF. 

Like their illustrious predecessors, the new LS50 Wireless II serve as a superb all-in-one system (streaming and amplification are built in) by dint of their advanced connectivity. Improvements include upgraded components and a new KEF Connect app where you can access the likes of Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon Music and Deezer. Not that you'll need to reach for any of the aforementioned apps; these speakers are capable of streaming via AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Bluetooth, and are also Roon Ready. You’ve also got an array of digital audio inputs – HDMI eARC, optical and coaxial – plus a 3.5mm aux input. Hi-res support extends to 24-bit/384kHz, MQA and DSD256 files, too.

KEF's striking design is matched by stunning sonics, enhanced by refreshed Uni-Q drivers and KEF's all-new MAT absorption technology. The presentation is spacious and the addition of the new MAT technology can be heard in the refined treble and clean mids. The whole presentation has been opened out, that extra room not only filled with subtler, more precise detail, but also allowing for greater instrument separation that makes its delivery sound much less congested in comparison.

Quite simply, if you're in the market for a high-fidelity all-in-one system packed with streaming smarts (and want a bigger sound than the smaller LSX II can deliver) this sophisticated sequel should be top of your list. 

Looking for a similar concept in a floorstander instead? See the KEF LS60 Wireless system below.

Read the full KEF LS50 Wireless II review

KEF LS60 Wireless floorstanders

The KEF LS60 Wireless all-in-one hi-fi system combines eye-catching looks with a suite of useful features and outstanding sound quality. (Image credit: KEF)
KEF takes all-in-one hi-fi to a whole new level with this stunning floorstander system.

Specifications

Type : Floorstanders
Drive units : Uni-Q driver array (19mm tweeter, 10cm mid/bass); 4x Uni-Q 13.5cm (force-cancelling bass drivers)
Ported : N/A
Bi-wire : No
Dimensions (hwd): 109 x 21.2 x 39.4cm
Weight : 62.4kg
Finishes : 3 (titanium grey, royal blue, mineral white)

Reasons to buy

+
Focused, hugely entertaining sound
+
Superb driver integration
+
Streaming and amplification built-in

Reasons to avoid

-
Wired connection needed for native 24-bit/192kHz playback
-
Not a budget option 

For KEF's 60th anniversary, the British company pulled out all the stops – it launched one of its most challenging products to date, the LS60 Wireless, a floorstanding sibling to its fantastic LS50 Wireless II all-in-one hi-fi system.

They're considerably slimmer than the standmount LS50 Wireless II, and house a new (12th) generation of KEF's Uni-Q driver – the smallest it's ever produced, in fact. There's also a tweeter gap damper and a new Z-Flex surround to aid dispersion and reduce distortion.

It all adds up to a phenomenal sonic package – producing possibly the finest audio we’ve heard from such a product so far. The LS60 Wireless kick out an immersive and focused stereo image with plenty of width and height, but that never sounds stretched. You'll struggle to believe such a weighty sound is coming from such slim towers.

Add to that a considerable feature set, including multiple streaming services, 24-bit/384kHz peak file support, DSD256 support and native app access, and you've got some of the best all-in-one speakers ever made in floorstander form.

Read the full KEF LS60 Wireless review

How we test speakers

Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, including no small amount of speakers of all shapes, sizes and types. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?

The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Reading and London, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with the speakers, trying them with different electronics, in different positions and with different music. 

All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity.

From all of our reviews, we choose the top products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any of our other Best Buy pages, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.

MORE:

Check out how to choose the right speakers, part one: research

Then how to choose the right speakers, part two: buying

Finally how to choose the right speakers, part three: set-up

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.