KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers, A Review

Late last year as I began looking into a pair of passive bookshelf speakers for my turntable setup, I asked around enthusiast forums and reading a lot of reviews for different brands and models. After feeling rather overwhelmed due to the great array of choices, narrowed down my choices to the following: Chane A1.4, Klipsch RP-600M, and the KEF Q150. Honestly, I thought either of them would fit my requirements well and I’m fairly certain I would be just as happy with either of the other two choices. Even though I wasn’t planning on forking the money at the time, a Black Friday deal for the Q150 came up and it was too good to pass up and thus the deal was closed. At the time of writing I’ve listened to them roughly 200 hours in the last 30 days. Below are my impressions.

KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers

Review disclaimer: I’ve received feedback from a reader insinuating I’m receiving compensation from vendors for writing these reviews in my blog. I want to make this super clear: I do not receive compensation of any kind for writing these reviews (other than these reviews being part of Medium’s paywall). There are no kick-backs or discounts, etc. All gear I review is bought from amazon or other e-commerce sites by me with my money. All links I provide in my reviews are referrer-program-free and most permalinks which can be found via google search. I do these reviews because I love writing and I love sharing my thoughts on gear I buy which hopefully are useful to others.

Audition stack: Emotiva TA-100 (receiver for digital, radio and phono), Tidal MQA, and FM radio from the Emotiva

Aesthetics: gorgeous. Super understated design, clean lines and visually-interesting Uni-Q Driver (both twitter and mid/bass cone are concentric). However, — and this might matter to you — they are not small. I would say they are on the large side of things for being ‘bookshelf’ size. To be clear, they’re not visually bothersome in any way or take large amounts of real estate, quite the opposite, they’re just a bit larger than what I had envisioned.

Sound:

Sub-bass and bass: given the driver size and the specs, I was expecting this would be the weaker aspect of these speakers. Much to my surprise, the bass is quite punchy and it dips rather deep. Very high fidelity rendition and without any discernible coloration. It hits hard, cleanly and no spill-overs into other frequency ranges. While it doesn’t dig into the single digit frequencies, they sound profound and full-bodied. The upper bass is a work of beauty, in my opinion, in a way outdoing the Elegia headphones which are three times as expensive.

Mids: in one word, superlative. Clean, smooth, bright (in an emphatically good way) and wonderful rendition. Of all genres jazz, blues and rock sounded the best, and I mean the type of sound that says “sit back and listen.” In a particular listening session I spent nearly two hours listening to blues and jazz and everything from the drums to the pianos to the vocals were just fantastic. Other genres like EDM and rap sound great as well, but I would wager those types of music were not top of mind when they were designing and voicing these speakers.

Highs: that inner tweeter is something else entirely. It climbs insanely high with zero sibilance. It’s very fast and punchy. And it just complements the bass/mid driver oh-so-well. In spite of being a treble sensitive person — and normally preferring recessed tops — this pair of speakers sort of make it a moot point. Hi-hats, cymbals, vocals, strings and pretty much any instrument or voice that climbs up high are handled gracefully and pleasantly.

Sound stage: you know when audio enthusiasts say “it’s like the band was there in front of me!”, that’s exactly the experience the Q150 provide. I would tell my wife jokingly, “if I was blindfolded, I would have to physically reach to where the stereo is to make sure there wasn’t a band in front of me”. The stage is not orchestra-wide, however, I would say it sets an imaginary 20' by 20' stage which starts about five to six feet in front of you. I believe this is why jazz, blues and rock sound so well: on top of voicing/tuning, the sound stage was also designed to bring that type of music alive.

Instrument separation: in spite of only being “two-way” speakers, they exhibit very clear instrument separation even during times in a song where all hell breaks loose; they keep their composure never giving into the chaos.

Conclusion: I’m decidedly impressed and smitten by these speakers. They punch far above their weight and deliver an excellent value. At this price, they are hard to beat.

Software, hi-fi audio, data, financial markets observer.

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