KEF LS50 Meta Loudspeakers $1499 Review

December 21, 2020 § Leave a comment

After I’d listened to more music through the LS50 Metas and found nothing that contradicted what I’ve said above, I brought in my original LS50s for some comparisons. “I’ve Got to See You Again,” streamed from Norah Jones’s Come Away with Me (24/192 FLAC, Blue Note/Qobuz), let me suss out the differences pretty well. Through the Metas, Jones’s piano, which begins this track, sounded a little farther back on the stage, and her keystrokes were a tiny bit cleaner — not a big difference, but it became obvious after repeated comparisons. Then there was the violin — Jenny Scheinman plays it throughout this track, but it’s most audible just after 2:20, when it was more prominent through the LS50s. But that prominence came with a hint of stridency the Metas didn’t have; overall, this track sounded better through the Metas.

I heard the biggest differences in the reproduction of Jones’s voice, which is front and center on every track of Come Away with Me. It sounded almost the same through the two speaker pairs, but Jones’s sibilants — they’re how her voice was recorded — were more emphasized through the LS50s. This got me thinking that the original LS50 has a bit more lift in certain parts of the treble. Through the Metas, her voice also sounded cleaner, less fuzzy, and its image was placed more solidly in the center of the stage. This tighter vocal image appeared on a soundstage that floated completely free of the Metas’ cabinets — the original LS50s’ cabinets don’t “disappear” quite as completely. I never heard sounds coming directly from the LS50s’ cabinets, but when I listened intently, I could occasionally sense the cabinets’ precise positions. But things like bass and high-frequency extension, as well as scale and output, were exactly the same through both sets of speakers — though I did think that the kick drum in “I’ve Got to See You Again,” even if it had the same weight and the same low-end extension, sounded slightly cleaner through the Metas.

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