I have a soft spot in my heart for KEF Audio. Shortly after graduating from college, I'd rewarded myself with a pair of
C40s loudspeakers. Easily driven, rated at 100wpc and 8 ohms, they offered
what I thought was a great sound, especially for the price.
The C40s are
modest by any standard, but the appeal to me was a warm natural sound and
just enough detail without getting overly bright. We used those speakers
faithfully on a daily basis when I was running everything we watched from
television and VHS movies and two-channel CD and vinyl to boot.
I hadn't replaced the C40s since purchasing them in
1985, but I did frequent my favorite high-end shop from time to time just to
see what KEF was doing. Although I still own them, I rarely have a chance to
use them; I just can't part with them.
KEF (Kent Engineering & Foundry) is hardly new to
the audio world, an English company originally founded in the early 60s. KEF
successfully developed three-way designs with modestly sized cabinet units.
In the late 80s, KEF developed the Uni-Q concept and it showed up in the
reference loudspeaker, the 105. So Uni-Q is only new to the Q Series
I'm not sure what generation of Uni-Q is employed
in the Q Series, there have been a few. But it represents a technology
developed over the years, leading to what KEF refers to as "Acoustic
Intelligence" in the new line.
Uni-Q technology, simply stated, is a 19mm (3/4") tweeter
placed in the center of the midrange driver. KEF refers to this design as "co-incidental", technically not a driver, but an array. Typical driver
arrays which have drivers separated or asymmetrical cannot pinpoint the accuracy of sound
arriving at the same time especially at that sweet spot. Secondly, any
listening outside the optimum range will invariably receive a muddy image.
KEF engineers feel this arrangement improves time
alignment between drivers, paramount to the concept. Further, off-axis
dispersion is said to be cleaner.
For the new Q series, KEF plates the cone of their
Uni-Q driver with titanium metal in lieu of fabric or paper, which is said to
maintain "mechanical integrity" to 20 kHz. With two magnetic circuits, Uni-Q
employs a vented weight-saving die-cast aluminum chassis for both drivers.
The Q Series is a fully stocked speaker line
capable of satisfying anyone's particular slant. It includes three
loudspeaker, the iQ5, iQ7, and the reference iQ9. All are three-way bass
reflex designs with the iQ9 adding a second 6-½" LF woofer. If you prefer
monitor-size, Q offers two models, the iQ1 and the iQ3, both two-way bass
reflex. Likewise you have a choice from two center channel units, the iQ2c
and the iQ6c. Lastly, if your preference is the wall-mounted dipole, KEF
provides the iQ8ds.
The subwoofers that match this series are the
PSW2500 and PSW3500. Besides the size, the difference between the two is a
bit more power from 250 watts to 300 watts, and also a larger driver from 10"
The Q line is offered with four finishes: Black of
course, Maple, and Apple (Cherry as far as I'm concerned) have been the
popular choices of many speaker manufacturers lately. What was sent to me was the
new finish Walnut, which I truly love. Not to get hung up on color, but this
is truly a contemporary color and finish. I think KEF was right on with this
finish in the current furniture market. Think IKEA or Crate and Barrel.
KEF North America kindly sent for my 5.1 review the
iQ7s for fronts, the iQ6c for the center-channel, the iQ8ds for surrounds,
and the PSW2500 powered subwoofer.
Click Here to Go to Part II.