Take a successful product, trim a little of the functionality, shave a bit off the price and bingo, a new ‘lite’ version of the product appears. It’s classic marketing aimed at extending the reach of a product; more sales with very little extra R&D costs. Some might see it as cynical. Me, I’m all for more choice; if you need the extra functionality then buy the standard model.
Hence my ears pricking up on hearing about the KEF LSX II LT, a new version of KEF’s entry-level streaming speaker. How much and what do you lose were the immediate questions. £899 / US$999 / €999 is the first answer, a saving of around 25% off the standard LSX II. Which sounds worthwhile, so what gives?
Well it turns out not very much, and certainly not the important stuff as far as we’re concerned here. Firstly you now have to sling a cable between the speakers, they no longer communicate wirelessly. The supplied 3m USB-C cable carries power as well as signal, negating the need for a power cable to the second speaker. An 8m cable is available for an extra £50. Overall that’s no big deal.
Also on connectivity, the analogue input of the standard LSX II has gone. A shame as it’s a useful catch-all, not least for connecting in a turntable. The LSX II LT is avowedly digital though, again if you need analogue then big brother is the answer.
The attractive cloth wrap of the standard speaker is replaced by a hard ‘plastic’ body, which looks to be the same as that on the much dearer LS 50 Wireless. The LSX II LT is yours in a choice of Sage Green, Graphite Grey or Stone White (the LSX II ups that to six options).
And finally on software, the LSX II LT lacks MQA and Roon capability. The latter is no great shakes, Roonies like yours truly can use Chromecast or Airplay, both of which are supported. And MQA is down and out at the moment, Lenbrook Group trying to resurrect it but with no guarantee of success. Few will lament its exclusion here.
What doesn’t give, apparently, is sound quality, with the LSX II LT the equal of its sibling according to KEF. That’s thanks to the key ingredients – drivers, amplifiers and streaming platform – being shared by both models. So you get the same Uni-Q driver array, the same amplifiers feeding 70wpc to the bass driver and 30wpc to the tweeter. And the same W2 streaming platform that has wide functionality and good ease of use.
Our view? In getting the price comfortably below the four-figure mark KEF has chosen to omit features that many will find of arguable use anyway. We’d probably plump for the LT version and pocket the difference; all in all the LSX II LT looks to be a welcome addition to the KEF canon.