JBL L52 Classic vs. KEF LS50 Meta

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers KEF LS50 Meta Bookshelf Speakers
$1000 $1600
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.00” × 7.74” × 8.51”
330mm × 197mm × 216mm
11.90” × 7.90” × 11.00”
302mm × 201mm × 279mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
47-24,000 Hz 79-28,000 Hz
ASR Score
n/a 4.6
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
n/a 6.7

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of compact audio, the JBL L52 Classic and KEF LS50 Meta bookshelf speakers offer distinct sonic signatures. The L52 Classic, paying homage to JBL's vintage aesthetic, delivers a warm, punchy sound with rich bass, capturing the essence of rock and soul. Conversely, the LS50 Meta, a testament to KEF's innovation, features the Uni-Q driver array for a detailed and expansive soundstage, excelling in clarity and imaging, especially within classical and acoustic genres. Both speakers cater to different audiophile preferences – the L52 Classic for a visceral, retro experience, and the LS50 Meta for precision and refinement.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to high-fidelity sound, the JBL L52 Classic and KEF LS50 Meta bookshelf speakers stand out as two leading competitors in their class. Both speakers carry with them a legacy of audio excellence and a promise to deliver an immersive listening experience. The JBL L52 Classic, with its retro allure, harks back to the golden age of hi-fi, while the KEF LS50 Meta is a modern marvel of audio engineering, boasting the latest in acoustic innovation.

The Heritage of JBL L52 Classic

The JBL L52 Classic is a testament to the enduring quality of vintage audio design. Inspired by the iconic L100 Classic, these bookshelf speakers sport a classic wood veneer finish with Quadrex foam grilles available in a variety of colors to suit any decor. The L52 Classic is more than just a pretty face, though; it's equipped with a 5.25-inch pure pulp cone woofer and a 0.75-inch titanium dome tweeter, which together produce the rich and detailed sound that JBL has been known for since the 1970s.

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
JBL L52 Classic arrow (at Amazon.com)

KEF LS50 Meta - A Leap into the Future

In contrast, the KEF LS50 Meta is a speaker that represents the cutting edge of speaker technology. It's the first to employ KEF's innovative Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), which uses a complex maze-like structure to absorb 99% of the unwanted sound radiating from the rear of the tweeter. This results in a dramatic reduction in distortion and a purer, more natural sound. The LS50 Meta's Uni-Q driver array further enhances the listening experience by delivering exceptionally accurate audio dispersion.

Sound Signature and Performance

When it comes to the sound signature, the JBL L52 Classic offers a warm and inviting presentation, with an emphasis on a robust midrange and a delightfully punchy bass that doesn't overwhelm the sonic landscape. The high frequencies are crisp and clear, without being overly bright, lending a certain smoothness that's characteristic of JBL's sound profile. On the other hand, the KEF LS50 Meta shines with its extraordinary clarity and detail retrieval, exhibiting a more neutral sound that is both articulate and precise. The bass is tight and controlled, with an emphasis on accuracy over sheer impact.

KEF LS50 Meta Bookshelf Speakers
KEF LS50 Meta arrow (at Amazon.com)

Both speakers perform admirably in terms of soundstage and imaging, creating an expansive musical landscape within the confines of their bookshelf form factor. The L52 Classic offers a soundstage that is wide and enveloping, allowing individual instruments to occupy their own space with ease. The LS50 Meta, however, takes imaging a step further, achieving a level of three-dimensionality and pinpoint accuracy that is truly remarkable, making it feel as if the musicians are right there in the room with you.

Aesthetic and Build Quality

The aesthetic appeal of a speaker can often be as important as the sound it produces, and both the JBL L52 Classic and KEF LS50 Meta have distinct visual identities that reflect their respective sonic characteristics. The L52 Classic's vintage design, available in walnut, black, or blue, exudes a timeless charm that will resonate with those who appreciate classic audio gear. Meanwhile, the LS50 Meta, with its sleek and modern construction, offers a more contemporary look suitable for minimalist or avant-garde interiors. Both are built with quality materials and an attention to detail that speak to their premium nature.

In conclusion, choosing between the JBL L52 Classic and KEF LS50 Meta bookshelf speakers comes down to personal preference in sound signature and aesthetic taste. The L52 Classic is ideal for those who long for the warmth and nostalgia of vintage speakers, while the LS50 Meta will appeal to listeners who demand the utmost in modern audio clarity and detail. Both are exceptional in their own right, and either would be an outstanding addition to any audiophile's collection.

Check Current Prices:

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
KEF LS50 Meta Bookshelf Speakers
KEF LS50 Meta Bookshelf Speakers

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Disclaimer: the speaker data listed on this website are correct to the best of our knowledge, but we do not guarantee the accuracy of the data. Please double-check any measurements with the manufacturer before making a final purchasing decision.