I'd choose KEF's new speakers with HDMI over a TV soundbar any day

KEF LSX II speakers either side of a large TV
(Image credit: KEF)

You don't need us to tell you that music, movies and TV shows can be vastly improved by upgrading the speakers built into the increasingly tiny bezels of even the best TVs, or that the best stereo speakers can open out the soundscape and improve vocal detail considerably – if you can hook them up. 

Here, compatibility is cake. And when such a proposition comes from a brand as revered as this, there's every chance you might want overlook even the best soundbars and go for KEF's new TV-friendly wireless speaker setup instead. 

Built-in HDMI eARC means the LSX II speakers can take lossless audio directly from your TV – and they include HDMI CEC control, which means as soon as they're plugged in, you can just use your TV remote to control their volume, and they'll come on automatically when your TV turns on.

When you combine this with their other features… well, we've talked before about the temptation of buying great wireless speakers instead of a soundbar, but I think the LSX II are the hardest-to-resist option yet.

Analysis: KEF's wireless music and home theater combo is a soundbar-beater

KEF LSX II in blue on a desk, beside a smartphone

KEF LSX II is available in five colorways, including this striking blue. (Image credit: KEF)

KEF's LSX II is much more than a simple update on the splendid KEF LSX, because it adds the even better KEF LS50 Wireless II's truly sublime W2 wireless platform, plus the addition of both HDMI eARC and USB-C connections to make it an ideal companion for TV, laptop and desktop computer set-ups as well as traditional hi-fi listening. 

Each LSX II speaker uses a version of KEF’s 11th generation, tried and tested Uni-Q driver array. KEF explains that this signature tech acts as a point source, where the tweeter is placed at the precise acoustic center of the woofer, thus eliminating the traditional (and relatively tiny) 'sweet spot' some speakers can fall foul of, instead opening the sound out to all.

Elsewhere, LSX II boasts a combined 200W of system power, with the tweeter and woofer powered by their own dedicated amps to deliver room-filling sound in purposely compact cabinets.

And using the latest KEF Connect app, an exhaustive suite of options opens out. Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast are onboard to seamlessly stream audio from compatible devices, and Bluetooth expands the connectivity even further. You can use native apps to stream directly from Spotify Connect and Tidal, and it is Roon Ready. Plus, when using AirPlay 2, Chromecast or Roon, you can stream to multiple wireless speakers to synchronize music around your home.

Want to play music collection from a compatible NAS drive or music server? You can! And there's extensive file support of up to 24bit/384kHz (PCM, although you should note that anything above 24-bit/96kHz will be downsampled due to that pesky transmission limit between left and right wireless speakers), DSD, and full MQA rendering.

KEF LSX II in all five colorways: black, white, blue, red and silver

KEF LSX II is available in black, white, blue, red and silver to match your home decor (Image credit: KEF)

And now, the wired connections. Alongside Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, LSX II also boasts a huge collection of wired connections. Aside from HDMI eARC and USB-C inputs, there are also connections for your turntable, CD player or games console. And, if you like your movies and music with extra bass, there’s a dedicated sub output so you can connect a KEF subwoofer.

One other interesting bit of tech is the new Room EQ DSP, to actually fine-tune the sound to your room and personal taste. 'Normal' mode is designed to talk you through the process (by way of some simple questions) in the KEF Connect app, and to integrate a KEF subwoofer with LSX II, Room EQ includes subwoofer presets for the best possible system performance. 

The KEF LSX II will start shipping on June 23 in your choice of five colorways, priced £1,199 (which is around $1,500 or AU$2,089). Yes, it's quite a bit pricier than even the likes of the Sonos Arc (which is available now for $899 / £799 / AU$1499) but having listened to KEF's skill in this area, I am willing to wager the KEF LSX II will become the only music and TV system you'll need. 

Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.