Active speakers have grown up, and there's a new kid on the block
To me, a major part of the affliction that is audiophilia involves sitting in dim rooms listening to music and looking at my gear. Depending on the time of year, the warm glow of tube electronics in the winter months or the soft green or blue lighting of solid state in summer, along with the lines and curves of the devices and boxes that make up my stereo system. This is something that my wife, my mother (and kids) just don’t understand. They’ll walk in to find me staring, seemingly stupefied (to them) with no apparent visual stimulus. They couldn’t be more wrong! Whether it is T+A, Naim, Conrad-Johnson or any number of other brands that grace my home system from time to time, aesthetics play a huge role in my personal enjoyment of a stereo system. Sure, I can listen to vanilla boxes and non-descript speakers and enjoy the music just as much, but a beautiful scene before me adds to the allure of great stereo.
I have always been somewhat resistant to the concept of active speakers. Whether it is the lack of accoutrement, i.e., amps, preamps and sources painstakingly selected and acquired, or the concept that an active system “is what it is;” we cannot fundamentally change the sound of a system by changing the amp or source device. Of course, you can utilize built-in DSP engines (DSP no longer a bad word among HiFi aficionados) to dial the speaker into the environment and get the best possible sound. An active system frees the listener from having to delve into the tech and the how’s and why’s of audio playback and allows them to just listen – shelves and cabinets intact and free from components.
I’ll admit - it has taken me some time and perspective to truly appreciate just what an active system can do, as the biases of old-school two-channel audio run deep in me. I want to mix and match my components, I like to have an upgrade path. I’m an audiophile, thats what we do, and how we are. But even old-school audiophiles can recognize that we are at a turning point in the industry. High-End audio is the right of all: It should not be limited to the wealthy, the tweakers or the techies - anyone can and should have access to great sound without needing to dedicate an entire wall to speakers and the devices it takes to play them. Thanks to streaming services, High Resolution Audio has never been easier to acquire and play, and Active Speaker systems can be the perfect answer to the casual enthusiast and audiophiles alike. Companies like Piega, KEF, Eikon and others have brought HiFi names and knowledge and therefore HiFi credibility to the Active market, and 2022 seems to be the year that Active speakers achieve mainstream appeal and market penetration.
Which leads us to today – the launch of the KEF LS60 Floorstanders. Building on the success of the LS50 Wireless and LSX line, and buoyed by the huge sound quality increases thanks to KEF’s Meta technology, the LS60 is a speaker system meant to drive a larger room than the LS50’s can accommodate, with more low frequency and an improved tweeter and midrange over the preceding active speakers. With more in common with the Reference Line and the Blades than the LS50’s, the new LS60’s are a speaker destined to blend in amongst traditionalist audiophiles and audio lovers alike.
I’d like to get into the technical of the speaker because the technicals are impressive, borrowing things like the ‘tweeter gap damper’ from Reference and midrange driver decoupling from Blade, etc., but that will probably mean nothing to the true target market of the LS60. Suffice it to say that this is a speaker system that ANYONE can integrate into their home and stream music or drive a television system with ease. The looks are minimalist, but classy. The side-firing woofers are a proven technology first implemented in the KC62 subwoofers. This is not an LS50 in a bigger box, this is a whole new speaker, and one worthy of your attention, whether you are a dyed in the wool audiophile or a music lover who wants to listen to music while relaxing.
The LS60’s are being officially released on June 20th, and House Of Stereo will have one of the first pairs in country to demonstrate. And no, we are not willing to sell the floor model!Darko Unboxing
The LS60 Wireless system is comprised of two floorstanding speakers measuring 43 inches tall, 5.1 inches wide and 12.6 inches deep*, weighing in at 70lbs per speaker. Inside each speaker cabinet houses a combined 1400 Watts of audiophile-worthy power with dedicated amplifiers for the high, middle and low frequencies. The central newly designed four-inch Uni-Q driver featuring a host of bespoke refinements delivers a super-wide, uncannily natural field of sound with impressively low distortion. Two pair of KEF Uni-Core drivers flank the sides of each cabinet to maximise bass response within the systems slim footprint. The combined driver placement within the speaker cabinet is adapted from KEF’s famed Blade Series ($27k-$35k / pair), and is the first streaming all-in-one audio system to be a true point source configuration. LS60 Wireless offers comprehensive intuitive connectivity including WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI eARC, optical, coaxial, and RCA connections. The system is perfect for use with televisions, gaming and any movie or music listening experience. Users can add up to two KEF subwoofers via sub output on each speaker, and have the choice of operating the speakers with either wired or wireless interspeaker connectivity. The product allows for complete positioning freedom within a room.
The KEF Connect app effortlessly connects the LS60 Wireless to a home network allowing the user to fine-tune its performance to best suit their listening tastes, while connecting them to today’s favorite streaming services. LS60 Wireless is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, and can also be connected to natively within the users favorite app to stream direct from Spotify Connect, Tidal and QPlay.