New Gear: The KEF LS50 Mini Monitor

British loudspeaker firm KEF's been putting out quality designs for 50 years now, and they're showing no signs of slowing down. They've observed the occasion by introducing a slew of new designs, many of them drawing on the Uni-Q concentric driver array developed for the Blade tower speaker (which itself went from a concept to a very impressive actual product this year).

The latest KEF speaker to hit the streets is the all-new LS50 mini monitor ($1,499.99/pair), which follows in the footsteps of the BBC's signature and ever-popular LS3 and LS5a line of bookshelf speakers, loaded with KEF drivers designed by Raymond Cooke. The LS50, however, has updated the design significantly, employing the Uni-Q driver, set in a curved baffle designed to minimize edge reflections, and a new elliptical port design, with flexible interior walls intended to minimize midrange resonance, and flared walls that should cut down on turbulence. The cabinet itself uses a constrained layer damping scheme to eliminate vibration (the curved baffle is also meant to contribute to overall cabinet rigidity).

The miniscule speaker (11.9 x 7.9 x 10.9 in) looks to be intended for near to midfield applications; the 8 Ohm units (they'll handle down to a 3.2 Ohm load) can take up to 100 watts/channel, which given a sensitivity of 85 dB should produce in the neighborhood of 106 dB maximum output. Frequency response is given as +/- 3 dB from 79Hz - 28kHz; though usable response is a bit broader, at a claimed 6 dB down at 47Hz.


The LS50 will be available for pre-order beginning today, exclusively through