KEF “LS50 Meta” Bookshelf Loudspeakers
Ever since releasing back in 2012, the original KEF LS50s have been revered as some of the best bookshelf speakers around for a beginner audiophile’s buck. And then, a few months ago, KEF unveiled the LS50 Meta speakers, which brought some further enhancements to the table.
For one thing, the LS50 Metas now employ “Metamaterial Absorption Technology” (MAT), which is a fancy name for the maze-looking thing coupled onto the back of the (also-new) “Uni-Q” driver array, where it seemingly magically eliminates 99% of unwanted high-frequency distortion.
What does that even mean, you ask? Well, they explain the problem more here:
For every bit of sound energy a speaker produces from the front, it produces the same exact amount of energy from the rear. In some cases this rearward firing sound energy can be used for the listener’s benefit, such as with a rear-ported bass-reflex design, but for the most part this energy is a nuisance at best and a total destroyer of audio fidelity at worst, especially in the upper midrange and high frequencies.
[…] Basically, audio from a few milliseconds ago is now competing with the audio you want to hear NOW. Even though the current forward-firing audio energy ultimately wins out and is predominant, the unwanted rearward-firing energy still leaves a mark.
In essence, the benefit of MAT for you is a purer, more natural, more nuanced sound without any of the distortion that normally comes from all that rearward-firing sound energy bouncing around inside the loudspeaker enclosure.
Even songs you’ve heard a thousand times will sound brand new again because of all the little details you’ve been missing until now. It’s pretty cool.
Now, I’m not a ~certified audiophile~ myself, so if you want a full scientific breakdown of how the LS50 Metas sound, check out Napier Lopez’s review for The Next Web. All I know is that they sound incredible and clear, if not exactly room-shaking.
As of January 6th, 2021, you can get the Mineral White pair of speakers for $1,500 on Amazon. However, the Carbon Black, Titanium Grey, and Royal Blue Special Edition finishes are currently on backorder, so you’ll have to wait a bit for those.