The KEF Q-Series features an attractive maple finish. When watching DVDs , our reviewer "noticed right away how compatible the five speakers were" and noted that "the tonality of this system is very well matched and makes for a terrific movie-watching experience."
KEF, they think about their excellent reputation as one of the pioneers of high-quality sound from the British Invasion (of speakers, that is) as well as the notoriety and adulation they have received regarding their approach to high-quality music reproduction. However, with the advent of home theater, different challenges ensued. Since KEF has produced excellent quality home audio loudspeakers for over 40 years, it was time to listen a little more closely to one of their latest offerings--the Q-Series speaker system.
Unique Features - The system that KEF sent out was a very exciting setup indeed. This included their new Q7 tower loudspeakers for the L/R mains, a pair of Q5 tower speakers for the rear, and a Q9c center speaker. At the time this review was written, the KEF PSW3000
was not yet available, so I opted to mix the bass signals into the 5-channel presentation. With the advent of 5.1 digital surround sound came added demands from speakers. All 5 channels, now full-range, means that all five channels will have deep bass, depending on how the sound was originally mixed for a given movie or audio disc. In many cases, the bass in the rear channels can be extremely deep, placing extra importance on the speakers' ability to reproduce these low frequencies. In the case of the Q-Series system , the rear bass capabilities were excellent. This due effectively to the 6 1/2-inch midrange and 6 1/2-inch bass drivers found in each Q5 rear speaker. The bass from the L/R Q7 towers was also very well defined. All in all, this 5-channel system stood up to the challenge, delivering solid bass on a number of test tracks that I played. The Q9c center channel embodies the same midrange driver as the Q7s and Q5s, providing a well-timbered system altogether. What this means is that listening to a jet fly overhead, say from the left speaker to the center speaker to the right speaker, and then circle around to the rear speakers, it will not sound any different as it traverses the room. Additionally, KEF's patented UNI-Q technology, which you see as the tweeter mounted in the center of the midrange driver, allows for a larger "sweet spot" through the unique interaction between the tweeter and the midrange. Whereas the midrange effectively couples the tweeter and increases high-frequency sound dispersion.
Read more about the Q-Series system on Page 2.
Stylistically, the KEF Q-Series speaker system is an attractive set. The maple finish is elegant. The speakers are crafted in a high-quality simulated wood finish over high-density MDF. From even a short distance you would believe that you were looking at real wood. With so many speaker finishes in today's market looking like the "faux ski lodge" walls inside a double-wide trailer, the KEF Q-Series is truly a beautiful sight.
Installation/Setup Setting up the system was a breeze. I placed the center Q9c speaker above the TV for optimum sound staging and the front L/R Q7 towers on either side of the TV, about eight feet apart from each other. I lined up the rear Q5
speakers behind and beside the listening position and faced them diagonally across from the front speakers. The Q-Series speakers are direct-radiating meaning that they fire the sound right at you versus bipolar or dipolar which radiate sound in opposing directions. I quickly connected the speakers to my reference Sunfire Theater Grand preamp and Cinema Grand amplifier, and I was ready to go.
Watching Jurassic Park III was especially exciting with the KEF Q-Series speaker system. I could have sworn that the giant birdcage that the Pterodactyls were flying around in was right there in my living room. I noticed right away just how compatible the five speakers were. The tonality of this system is very well matched, which makes for a terrific movie-watching experience. The audio experience of the flying dinosaur birds (as I like to call them) was truly dynamic. On more sedate material, such as Sting's 5.1 concert DVD All This Time, bass response remained solid but gave way to a smoother side as well. On tough material, such as the upright bass played through much of this concert, the KEF speaker ensemble offered both a tight midrange and bass.
Final Take The great looks and excellent, solid performance of the KEF speaker ensemble makes viewing a movie or listening to music at home very enjoyable. And the aforementioned PSW3000 subwoofer will be available by the time this issue is in your hands. If you're in the market for a mid-priced 5.1 speaker system, find a dealer and audition these speakers...chances are you'll want to take them home.
Suggested Retail Price
KEF Q-Series Speaker System $2,450
Q7 $1,200 per pair
Q5 $900 per pair, Q9c $350 each