The famous Kef LS50 was to mark the 50th Anniversary of Kef with something special and 10 years later they are still top of the tree.
So the new LS60s are obviously to mark 60 years of Kef and with a lot to live up to they need to be equally ground breaking, so what are they and how have they done this?
LS60 is a pair of floor standing speakers with all Kef's new tech included, and that's an amazing list.
Take the UNI-Q drive unit on the front, it's smaller than before and includes a longer throw, extra bracing like the Blade/Reference and the ground breaking Meta technology also from Blade/Reference and LS50s.
Meta technology is more than just a buzzword, it's really advanced technology creates a series of tiny tubes behind the treble and midrange that takes away unwanted back reflections resulting in the cleanest clearest high and mid frequencies possible.
The elegant cabinets are only 13cm wide by 109cm tall so how can you generate any bass from that ? Another Kef answer coming up, double opposing bass units tied together with rods to give a super rigid cabinet. Remind you of anything?
These are the pinnacle of the Kef range, the Blades, £22,500 to £30,000, using the same layout of opposing bass units.
In addition these 4 bass units use an origami-like roll surround system that pioneered on the KC62 mini subwoofer to give a longer throw than is usually possible and move more air.
As if that's not enough, the LS60s have active amplification on-board. To achieve the cleanest delivery to the drive units there is a separate power amplifier for bass, for midrange, and for treble. The incoming signal is split in the digital domain and there is a separate digital to analogue converter for each frequency band. so that's 6 DACs in 2 loudspeakers.
The built in streamer has a new app so it really is simple to access the highest resolution files from Qobuz, Tidal and all the rest along with your favourite radio stations. Bluetooth is also on board.
AND you have extra inputs too so you can easily connect a tv, turntable, cd player or pretty much anything else!
The 64,000$ question, how do they actually perform?
The clarity, dynamics, highs and lows are incredible. The boxes disappear with a big big room filling sound. Started with Autumn by Paolo Nutini. Wonderful open voice echoing in the air and a simple piano backing. Beautiful, but is there any bass? Move on to The Adults are talking by the Strokes and Sometimes we Cry by Van Morrison. The bass is deep and controlled and the dynamics exceptional, should be of course with 1400 watts of active power on tap!
Couldn't resist a bit of Bat for Lashes, the song Laura is dynamic, dramatic and just hangs in the air.
I have heard many more expensive systems that don't come close to the easy musicality of the LS60s, however-
I'm not changing to them myself
That's not because they aren't brilliant, at £ 5999 they are an absolute bargain and for many people not having all those black boxes and wires is a godsend
Hifi separates go higher still and I love my streamer/preamplifier/power amplifiers and speakers so I'll stick with that, it should be better it cost a lot more!
Just like many hifi systems LS60 can be both brilliant and not for everyone all at the same time.
I will say though that I have friends and clients who love their music and don't want boxes, wires and big speakers.
These, my friends, are just perfect for you
Call in for a listen, pick your colour, lend me your card and we'll deliver and install them
Optimisation is an interesting word often bandied about by hifi manufacturers. Often it means little or nothing, a buzzword in press releases, so it was interesting when it came up in engineering terms during a lovely morning spent talking to Roy Gandy of Rega fame recently. A Youtube video of that chat will follow soon-ish. Go to Youtube, search Lyric Hifi, open a video and hit subscribe. It costs nothing, you just get a message when a new video is loaded.
Back to optimisation. Every one of the Planar turntable range is optimised for the best possible sound at it's price level. As an example look at the famous Planar 3 compared to the Planar 6. The 6 has a metal subplatter for more rigidity and it produces a better sound.
A few small manufacturers make a similar metal sub platter for you to 'upgrade' your 3 to a 6 however they miss the point. The 6 has better tonearm bearings, a separate power supply that reduces motor vibration so the stylus can measure more detail, an advanced ultra lightweight plinth and a platter with more mass at the outside for better stability from the flywheel effect. Every part of the turntable is better than the 3. Changing one part does not a 6 make.
Compare a One to a Two and you have a much better arm, plinth and platter for a hugely better sound while conforming to the same layout. Rega are famous for their glass platters however putting a P2 platter on a P1 does not a 2 make either. It's the whole combination, optimised and engineered for the best result.
Every Rega is more than the sum of it's parts due to being engineering as a complete synergistic package.
This also applies to the new Rega System One, a turntable, amplifier and loudspeaker complete system. While each individual element is rightly lauded for performance the total package is even better.
Here are some comments from the first reviews:
“The Rega System One is one of the most joyous things I have tested in a very long time. In compact but decently specified form, it possesses everything that a great Hi-Fi system needs to have. It is about the most fun you can have with your clothes on and Rega deserves to sell a million of them”. - Ed Selley.
"A sublime listening experience"
"The System One is worthy of the highest praise"
"This is the real deal"
"This is a Hi-Fi experience like very little else anywhere near its price point"
“An indisputable Best Buy”
Now I'm not always a fan of reviews however they have called this one right.
If you are looking for the default choice to start your vinyl journey check this out. Happy to let you hear it, it is always hooked up in the shop.
While the Planar One turntable, Io amplifier and Kyte speakers are individually priced at £299/420/550 totalling £ 1269 it is supplied at £ 1199 complete including your speaker cable, all good to go.
Optimisation does actually mean something in the right hands!
Here are links to the full reviews if you want to check out the details:
REGA System One Review
Another System One great Review