KEF XQ Series and psw3500 Loudspeakers Reviewed

By |

Page 1 Page 2

KEF-QXSeries.gif

While small, unobtrusive speakers are the craze these days for most newbies putting together a home theater, that's only because they haven't had the experience of hearing what a full-sized package can deliver. And they also might not realize how good a full-sized system can look.

But KEF, based in Britain, has been making innovatively designed, technologically advanced speakers since 1961, and the company hasn't slowed down for the 21st century.
KEF's new XQ series endeavors to deliver high-end performance for a more modest cost than the company's Reference line. They're not cheap by any stretch of the imagination - the system as configured here lists for more than $7,000. But, the quality built into it was immediately evident when I opened the shipping cartons. After extracting the speakers, I had to admit that they were beautiful.

Additional Resources

The Maranello Red finish that KEF sent along matched absolutely nothing in my home theater, but it sure looked luxuriously beautiful - certainly not something you'd want to hide away. If red's not your thing, take a look at the natural maple, silver, graphite metallic or pearlescent finishes also available.

Unique Features
All of the satellites in the KEF system have a Uni-Q array consisting of a 6.5-inch midrange driver with a .75-inch aluminum dome tweeter mounted at its acoustic center. This isn't a conventional coaxial speaker, but what KEF calls a "co-incident" drive unit. The intent is to create a "point source" for smoother off-axis performance. Each speaker also features a bullet-shaped Hypertweeter on top of the cabinet that extends the upper frequency response to 55 kHz.

That's well beyond the audible range, but if DVD-Audio discs and Super Audio CDs are going to have output up there, you might as well be able to reproduce it!

The floor-standing XQ5 is a four-way speaker with two 6.5-inch bass drivers, the Hypertweeter and the Uni-Q midrange/tweeter array. With a height of more than 40 inches, the speakers are unquestionably large. They are, however, slim and elegantly rounded. The curves are not just about elegance - they're to reduce standing waves inside the cabinet that could color the sound. Black grilles are provided, of course, but I preferred leaving them off. What's the point of having an anodized aluminum baffle and covering it up with black cloth? Even the two ports on the XQ5 make a design statement. They're not round; they look something like a partially-eclipsed moon. Again, that's not just for looks. It's to cut harmonic distortion and turbulent noise.
They do look cool, though.

The XQ1 is the XQ5's little brother, sporting a Uni-Q midrange/tweeter array and Hypertweeter. The single port looks identical to that on the XQ5, and the curves on the cabinets are equally attractive. If I were putting together a system strictly for home theater use, I'd consider saving some bucks by using XQ1s for the front and surround left/right channels. They can't go as low as the XQ5s, but with a subwoofer to pick up the bottom octaves they don't need to. They're capable of filling all but the largest home theaters with expansive sound. (For stereo music listening, stick with the XQ5s.) The available XQ1 stands ($400/pair) are attractive, though they're shelf-mountable.

The XQ2C center channel speaker, like the XQ5, is a four-way design - two bass drivers, a Uni-Q array and a Hypertweeter. Unlike the XQ5, it's a sealed box. Despite its rounded cabinet, it perched comfortably on top of my rear projection television and blended amazingly well with the XQ5s and XQ1s.

Bringing up the bottom end in this system was the PSW3500 powered subwoofer. This large, oval sub doesn't match the XQ series, but it looks far better than most subwoofers I've seen. There's no need to hide it behind a couch. Its coffee-table height opens up a lot of possibilities. It has a 12-inch down-firing driver and an amplifier rated at 300 watts.
Click to Page 2 for Installation, Listening, and the Final Take.


  • Comment on this article

Post a Comment
comments powered by Disqus

HTR Product Rating for KEF XQ Series and psw3500 Loudspeakers

Criteria Rating

Performance

3

Value

3

Overall

3

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


Latest Bookshelf Speaker Reviews

Jan 06
MartinLogan Motion 20i, 15i, and 30i Speakers Reviewed MartinLogan is best known for its high-performance hybrid-electrostatic speakers, but those large panels generally command a premium price tag, to...
MartinLogan Motion 20i, 15i, and 30i Speakers Reviewed

Dec 09
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards As 2019 comes to a close, we at HomeTheaterReview.com look back at all the products we reviewed this year and pick the best of the bunch, from affordable favorites to flagship products that make us drool.
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards

Nov 13
Polk Audio S10 Satellite Speakers Reviewed Every audio junkie might need a pair of speakers like the Polk S10s. Small, dynamic, smooth, sleek, easy to power,...
Polk Audio S10 Satellite Speakers Reviewed

Oct 07
Polk Audio Legend Series L100 Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed On the surface, Polk Audio's little L100 bookshelf may seem like the least interesting offering in the company's new Legend...
Polk Audio Legend Series L100 Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed

Sep 18
Orb Audio Booster1 Micro Soundbar/Stereo Speaker System Reviewed Is it just me, or are TV and movie sound engineers actually getting worse at making dialogue easily discernable in...
Orb Audio Booster1 Micro Soundbar/Stereo Speaker System Reviewed