The ultra-slim profile and interior-design-friendly aesthetic belies the power and authority of the performance. In the world of floor-standing speakers they’re tiny, but as we all know, it’s dangerous to underestimate the little guy in a fight.
In keeping with the diamond birthday theme, we kick off our listening with 1961 doo-wop sensation “Runaway,” by Del Shannon, and we’re immediately struck by the clarity and breadth of the soundstage, with Max Crook’s Musitron solo stabbing through the mix.
The speakers offer unbridled fun and bags of enthusiasm. That might make them sound like a Labrador puppy, but they’re more akin to that friend whose tireless pursuit of new and exciting music is unavoidably infectious.
Similarly, if the Tidal Master recording of Elvis Presley’s 1961 chart topper “Are You Lonesome Tonight” doesn’t leave you misty-eyed and wanting to give your nearest and dearest a cuddle, well, you’re simply not human. The LS60 Wireless’ flawless execution puts you at the heart of the recording, enveloping you beautifully, and despite the less-than-demo-room-perfect speaker positioning in this reviewer’s normal living space, the sweet spot was enormous, almost to the point of nonexistence.
John Coltrane’s 1961 recording of “My Favorite Things,” also a Tidal Master, again highlights the speaker’s ability to unbox a recording with utter precision. If you want to focus on Elvin Jones’ drumming or McCoy Tyner’s piano, you can, or just sit back, tap your feet, and bathe in the brilliance of it all.
Whatever we played through them, the LS60 Wireless delivered, and we’re in awe of how well the slender speakers can handle bass. Every thud, thwack, and wallop comes at you relentlessly, and despite the birthday-themed ’60s thread, we urge you to play hours of early ’90s drum & bass through them.
Are they really that good? Yes, but we caveat this statement with a couple of points.
Firstly, we experienced occasional dropouts in the signal between master and slave speaker. The secondary speaker would glitch and drop the signal for a few seconds, despite being no more than 3 meters away. We imagine this is an early software glitch, but it’s worthy of flagging.
And secondly, while the speakers are neighbor-botheringly loud and sound fantastic when pushed, we did find this quality rather diluted when used for casual, and much quieter, hear-yourself-think listening.
We also took issue with volume sensitivity using the app or Spotify/Tidal Connect. The touchscreen isn’t sensitive enough, and it’s too easy to go from hushed reverence to full-on rave. The volume adjustment is significantly more accurate if you use the remote control, but given our general propensity for laziness, it’s smartphone or nothing.
Is There Any Competition?
What’s the demand for active floor-standing speakers? There’s certainly not much in the way of competition, yet. Q Acoustics Q Active 400 (£2,299) is the main, albeit quirkier alternative, with Dali and ATC both offering impressively reviewed but aging alternatives.
There’s the hefty “bookshelf” Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo for £3,999, Linn’s excellent but overpriced single £3,000 Series 3, or you could revert to KEF’s own LS50 Wireless II, which at less than half the price are compact and stylish as hell, and offer almost everything most people could realistically ask for in an active speaker. No, they don’t sound as impressive as the LS60 Wireless, nor should they, but they remain a superb, difficult-to-fault alternative.
Getting to spend time away from a demo room with speakers as good as the LS60 Wireless is an absolute privilege. They stand a class apart from the rest, offering comprehensive connectivity and usability with a grin-inducing sound quality. They also look superb, with a modern, pared-back aesthetic that manages to appease both the interior designer and the audiophile.
Massive floor-standing speakers sound great, but to most, cumbersome cabinets, miles of cable, and countless black boxes just aren’t acceptable. This is a refreshing antidote to a niche problem that KEF has executed perfectly.
So, for now, the LS60 Wireless is easily the best active streaming speaker system available. Nothing else even comes close, but at $7,000 they should be brilliant, and with superb options from the same brand available at half the price, the question remains, do you really need more?
Source: Wired – Gear