KEF have launched a complete redesign of their iQ series. Nothing is the same - cabinet, drivers, driver layout, even the sound - it's a whole new speaker. I attended the UK dealer launch down in Kent at the Chilston Park hotel. I took along my camera, but unfortunately no photos were allowed
So here's the new line up and their prices:Q100
standmount loudspeaker £ 380/pairQ300
standmount loudspeaker £ 450/pairQ500
floorstanding loudspeaker £ 700/pairQ700
floorstanding loudspeaker £1000/pairQ900
floorstanding loudspeaker £1200/pairQ200c
centre speaker £350/eachQ600c
centre speaker £500/eachQ800ds
dipole surrounds £600/pairQ400b
active subwoofer £480/each
This completely new KEF Q Series has undergone some major changes.
The treble unit is now larger, being a 25mm dome (1") rather than a 19mm dome. The goes for the whole range except the Q900 which uses a 38mm dome (1.5"). The smaller models use a 130mm (5.25") UniQ driver, the larger ones a 160mm (6.25") UniQ, and the top model gets preferential treatment again - it uses the first 8" (200mm) UniQ driver to be made since the original Q60 back in the 90's.
The UniQ's mid driver is now a metal cone, which is used for higher rigidity, and being more lightweight, has a cleaner, faster response than previous iQ series.
The roll surround on the UniQ and bass drivers is a totally new design. The Z Flex roll surround is designed in such a way to add a longer excursion, and aids HF dispersion from the new tweeter.
The new range uses protruding feet, with a very easy to set up spike system which can be adjusted while the speaker is standing up and in situ.
The cabinet no longer uses wood veneer - in a bid to save more trees and be eco friendly, KEF are cleverly using 'recycled wood fibre'.
The new Q series no longer uses shorting pins/cables in order to use them single wired. KEF have come up with a uniquely clever design that involves the user tightening two knobs, which takes care of the shorting out.
The Q100 is a compact standmount, using the new 25mm 'tangerine' waveguide HF unit, along with the new aluminium coned 130mm mid/bass driver. The cabinet is a front ported design. The bass is surprisingly fullsome from such a small speaker.
The Q300 is a larger standmount using a 160mm UniQ driver, adding bigger scale to music. Both the Q100 and Q300 were heard on a Marantz CD6003 CD player and PM6003 amplifier, and it was nice to hear how good they were sounding on real world electronics.
The Q500 is the first floorstander in the range. Essentially a floorstanding Q100 as far as dimensions are concerned, it adds 3 more drivers in a 2.5 way system. Of the three drivers at the bottom, the middle 130mm driver is active, and the two either side are ABR's - a driver that isn't connected and moves in sympathy with the active driver. KEF have chosen to use ABR's rather than ports to improve bass, which means they're a sealed box design, allowing for closer placement to boundary walls.
The Q700 is the floorstanding version of the Q300, using 160mm drivers throughout with a larger cabinet volume for a deeper bass and more convincing weight. Both the Q500 and Q700 were auditioned with the Marantz SA8003 CD player and PM8003 amplifier, again, real world electronics for the price of the speakers.
The Q900 is quite different. Again, cabinet volume is increased, and it uses an 8" version of the new UniQ array. Also, the tweeter is upped from 1" to 1.5", allowing better power handling. It is also crossed over lower at 1.8kHz instead of 2.5kHz as in the other models.
The Q200c has been designed to compliment the Q100 and Q500 models.
The Q600c has been designed to compliment the Q300 and Q700 models, and can be used for the Q900 too.
The Q800ds dipole surround speaker uses the smaller UniQ drivers as found in the Q100 and Q300, but can be used to compliment any system configuration.
The Q400 sub uses a 10" bass driver driven by a 200 watt Class D amplifier. Again, it's sealed box design allows easier placement, and allows a flatter respose to be achieved.
From the demos I heard, these sound quite different to the current iQ series, probably because of the amount of changes that have been made to the range. The treble is very open and dynamic, clean and clear midrange, a very full but controlled bass, large transparent soundstage, and sounding more like a more expensive speaker. There really is nothing about the sound that links them to the iQ's, they're a totally different proposition. Also, their finish is far better than can be seen in the photos, and they don't look as bulky as the photos make them out to be. Unique and genuinely useful features with top notch build quality, right down to the aluminium strip running across the front of the cabinet.
KEF needed to update the iQ series, and they needed to make a very significant step forward as far as quality is concerned. On hearing this range, KEF have more than achieved this - they're onto a winner. If you're in the market for speakers between £380 and £1200, make sure you listen to these.
All models are available in Black Oak, English Cherry, European Walnut.
More press photos are available to view at our Flickr page