KEF LSX II

I got them in white.

KEF LEX II are a pair of bookshelf-sized speakers that I recently bought. Spendy! But nice.

I’ll get to them, but I’m long winded so I gotta do a bunch of blogwords first to set the scene.

I moved to the Mac Studio not long ago. I love it. It’s a great machine. Feels very weird to have gone to a desktop machine, after (counts fingers) all those years. Seems like it is all but assumed developers work from laptops these days. But I was ready. A desktop means to me that I can come to work, sit down, and have a machine 100% ready to go. No plugging anything in whatsoever. Everything is exactly as I left it. I already had a nice monitor that permanently sits on my work desk, after all.

Plus I can commute back and forth to work, usually on a bike, carrying nothing but what fits in my pockets: keys, wallet, and phone.

I still have my “main” Macbook Pro laptop, I still have it at home for computering and for travel. If I had to choose only one, I’d have to choose the laptop.

The Mac Studio has quite a few ports:

That’s a generous amount of ports, coming from a laptop.

So many that I no longer needed my (beloved) CalDigit TS3 Plus Dock. It was almost the perfect amount of ports.

  • USB-C 1: Pro Display XDR (which offers an additional 3 USB-C ports which I don’t even need at the moment)
  • USB-C 2: Elgato Wave XLR for my Ear Trumpet Labs Myrtle on an Elgato Wave Mic Arm.
  • USB-C 3: Opal Camera
  • USB-C 4: open
  • Ethernet: Hard-wired to my router
  • USB-[Old] 1: Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
  • USB-[Old] 2: Dongle for Logitech MX Master 3S (recent from the 3, it’s now quiet-click!). It’s Bluetooth compatible but screw that, dongle makes it flawlessly.
  • HDMI: open
  • Aux: open

That’s just the back too, there are two more USB-C’s and a SD card slot on the front. Jeez.

Notice no speakers.

I briefly mentioned recently that I was using Apple HomePod Mini’s for computer speakers. I liked the idea at first! You can “pair” two of them for proper stereo sound and connect them as a proper pair. My favorite part is that I could put them anywhere I pleased and there needn’t be any cable directly to the computer. And I could select them like any other speakers, even name them how I liked.

But alas it was just a dream. Two annoying problems:

  1. There was a big delay in selecting them. They never seemed to stay the default speakers. Extra weird on a desktop machine that never moves, right? Re-selecting them would take sometimes 30-seconds to several minutes to connect, and sometimes outright fail. Not tenable.
  2. Even when they are connected, pausing and re-starting sound had a 2-3 second delay. Just a bad feeling to that.

So I got back to desiring a regular set of plugged in speakers.

The Mac Studio does have a little speaker in it, but it is hilariously bad. I actually have a couple of sets of Audioengine A2’s that I very love and considered using here. I’ve used them for various things over the years, including stints as computer speakers. This would have been particularly easy here because of the Aux jack — no dongle or anything needed.

But, as a completely bougie bastard who often makes his desk is 17th hobby, I really didn’t wanna use Aux. If you plug anything into Aux, the sound menu in the main menu bar of macOS will say “External Headphones” instead of “Mac Studio Speakers”. I’m afraid, in my vanity, I could not allow my desktop speakers to be named “headphones”.

So that’s what lead me to the KEF LSX II‘s. Not only are the lovely looking and work well size-wise on my desk, but I watched some pretty glowing reviews. I believe one of the distinguishing features of the model II’s is that it offers USB-C connection, which is exactly what I was looking for. Not a ton of speakers have USB-C ports, in my searching around. By using USB-C…

  • I get to use a normal, exiting port on my Mac Studio, USB-C, which I’m of the opinion is going to last a long time.
  • The speakers announce themselves to the OS as “LSX II”, exactly what they are.
  • There is no delay in stopping-starting sound.
I think I might have a port fetish.

They also have a million other features I’ll probably never use. Bluetooth of course (ughk), but they’ll take Aux too in case it comes to that, HDMI, Optical, and even Ethernet (not sure how that works).

But the features sprawl from there, including having an iOS app through which you “stream” music to it from the likes of TIDAL, Spotify, and Amazon Music. That’s a big yawn from me. I very much do not want to open your weird little app in order to use my main music service. I’d better be able to connect to the speaker via from the main music service app (which of course you can).

I had a few hiccups worth documenting:

  • In order to use USB mode, the most practical way is to install the app, connect the speakers, and use the interface to set USB mode. The remote can toggle between the inputs, but there is no indication on which input it is using which is just too confusing.
  • The speakers go into a sleeping/standby mode by default when they aren’t getting sound input. That means you have to manually turn them back on when you start sending sound again. That was untenable for me, so I found the setting (again, in the app) to turn off standby mode entirely.
  • It’s a little annoying you can’t turn off the WiFi/AirPlay mod e. At least that I can discover so far. That means it shows up twice in my sound output menu (AirPlay reading like LSX II-039dfblahblah4). But I literally never want to use that (it suffers from a few seconds of latency, which I hate), so I wish I could just shut if off.

All in all, I’m pretty stoked to welcome them to Team Chris’ Work Desk:

One response to “KEF LSX II”

  1. Kenny Cournoyer says:

    Chris
    Thanks for posting this.
    I currently use my Mac Studio with an external MQA DAC going to a set of Kef Eggs aux port.
    This is done via Audioquest Sydney cable.
    My main music source is Audirvana Studio on my Mac.
    This provides MQA and DSD support with resolutions up to 32/384
    If I use the same setup with the LSX II, the DAC won’t be bypassed and the analog signal will be converted to digital and will be downsamlpled losing all of the quality I’m paying for.
    By using USB C, are you able see the resolution of the file being played? I’m curious if I would get the actual file.
    I too don’t care for using the Kef app as a gatekeeper as the Audirvana app on my Mac Studio is doing the heavy lifting up front.
    I’m also considering going to the Audio Engine A5+ using my current external DAC setup via aux port.
    Purchase difference is $1000, but I’ve been impressed with Kef so far
    Thanks for reading this.
    Appreciate any feedback
    Kenny

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