KEF Q350 loudspeaker

During the hour preceding my removal of the KEF LS50 loudspeakers from their spiked, rough-iron stands, I was lost in the recurring still moments, reverberating tones, and contemplative spirit of Sir John Tavener's Eis Thanaton and Theophany, in the recording by soprano Patricia Rozario, bass Stephen Richardson, and Richard Hickox conducting the City of London Sinfonia (CD, Chandos CHAN 9440).

After replacing the LS50s with the not-yet-broken-in KEF Q350s, I restarted Eis Thanaton. Three minutes in I was staring blankly, eyes closed, swaying slowly in my seat, astounded by how much larger and more serious every note had become. Voices, instruments, and recorded atmosphere not only felt more expansive; everything seemed more exposed, more sacred, more directly communicative, possibly even more darkly transparent. These differences in degrees of directness and exposure made me excited to be reviewing a British loudspeaker that could accomplish such things while costing only $649.99/pair.

I was first drawn to KEF's Q350 because I wondered how a larger version of their signature Uni-Q driver than the one used in the LS50 would sound in a less expensive, vinyl-wrapped enclosure of larger volume and thinner walls. I'd logged a lot of hours with KEF's reference-quality LS50, and I wondered if comparing it to its lower-priced, Q-series sibling might disclose not only another high-value stand-mounted bookshelf speaker, but also show me some things about the effects of cabinet mass and crossover slope on loudspeaker performance.

The LS50 has a 5.25" Uni-Q coincident array with an aluminum-magnesium alloy midrange-bass cone, a 1" aluminum dome tweeter, and a cast-aluminum basket, in a 7.5-liter, 15.8-lb cabinet made of MDF and a sculpted structural foam solid molding. The Q350 has a similar, 6.5" Uni-Q array with an aluminum midrange-bass cone, a 1" aluminum dome tweeter, and a stamped-steel basket, in a 14.5-liter, 16.75-lb, generic-looking MDF box.

According to Dipin Sehdev of KEF America, the stamped basket "is equal in rigidity to the cast one" because "We designed the chassis using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to increase its strength. The Q350's box material is 0.59" MDF, with a 1.34" thick front baffle. There is a single horizontal brace in the middle of the cabinet. The Q350 doesn't have the same constrained layer damping as the LS50."

While the motor systems of the LS50's and Q350's drivers are the same, the Q350's specified sensitivity is slightly higher: 87dB/2.83V vs the LS50's 85dB/2.83V. The Q350's Uni-Q driver includes a damped loading tube for its tweeter, which, Sehdev says, "gives a gentler termination at the back of the tweeter—improving response at the bottom and reducing harshness."

The LS50 crossover has a third-order low-pass filter and a second-order high-pass filter; the Q350 has first-order filters for the high and low passes. According to Sehdev, "The lower component count for 1st order network allows us to use better quality components for the price." (footnote 1)

The Q350's cloth grille is optional at $39.98/pair, but KEF does include concentric, two-piece foam plugs to partially or fully block the rear-firing ports when the pair are positioned near room boundaries.


Reviewing loudspeakers is plagued with uncertainty. Everywhere I place them and every amp I connect them to makes a pair of speakers sound different.

Throughout the five weeks of my listening, I never stopped adjusting the Q350s' positions, but not because they never sounded right—they sounded fundamentally good everywhere. I kept moving them to determine which combination of wall-to-speaker distance and port plugging worked best. In the end, I slightly preferred the Q350s 6' apart, toed in just a little, 33" from the wall behind them to their front baffles, and with their ports partially plugged.

I prefer loudspeakers with well-controlled directivity, which is the main reason I admire KEF's Uni-Q concentric drivers. Optimizing a loudspeaker's radiation pattern is the Uni-Q's raison d'àtre. The Q350s generated a proper soundstage and good timbres throughout my small listening room.

The last speaker I reviewed, the Totem Signature One, had a rear port that whistled at about 560Hz, so the very first thing I listened for with the Q350s was noise from their ports and cabinets. The port seemed quiet, but not as quiet as when it was partially or fully blocked. I also noticed a bit of "talk" from the cabinet, but only rarely did I detect any cabinet resonances in the fundamental range of human speech—approximately 200–750Hz—while listening to music.

To roughly assess the maximum amplitude of the noise produced by the Q350's enclosure, I drove the KEFs with Bel Canto Design's e.One REF600M monoblocks ($4990/pair) to play François Couperin's complete works for organ, with Michel Chapuis performing on the Jean-Esprit Isnard "large organ" of the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene, in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, France (LP, RCA Victrola VICS 6018). I used the powerful Bel Cantos to hear how well these little speakers could reproduce the sound of a big organ recorded in a giant cathedral. The Q350s replicated Couperin's "Parish" and "Convent" organ masses with greater scale and finer, more intricate detail, but less forcefulness, than did the LS50s with the same amps.

Imagine how I felt as I lay on the couch in my night-dark, candlelit apartment, feeling like I was surrounded by the stone walls of a Gothic cathedral begun in 1295. Imagine expansive pipe-organ notes energizing the air and echoing throughout my little room. These modest stand-mounted speakers let me feel that.

At one point in my critical listening, I got up and put my hands on the sides of the Q350s' cabinets. I could tell where the internal brace was. The vibration I felt, especially toward the bottom front of each side, was not subtle. But maybe this isn't a bad thing? It certainly did no harm to the reproduction of this glorious organ recording.

I replaced the Bel Cantos with the Pass Laboratories XA25 stereo amplifier ($4900) and listened to Robert Palmer's Quintet for A-Clarinet, String Trio, and Piano, composed in 1952 and performed by clarinetist Arthur Bloom, violinist Kees Kooper, violist Paul Doktor, cellist Warren Lash, and pianist Mary Louise Boehm, and produced by Marc Aubort and Joanna Nickrenz (LP, Vox Turnabout TV-S 34508, now available on CD as Albany 153). The Pass Labs amp and KEF Q350s reproduced the sound of each instrument with almost pitch-perfect tone and above-average force and texture. I could sense the thicknesses of the wood of the stringed instruments. I could feel the pull and push of the players' bows. On other selections on this LP, the flute made breathy, lifelike notes. The attacks of piano notes felt surprisingly natural. Note decays were blurry, and slightly too long. But overall, the Q350s allowed the piano to sound full-bodied and musically satisfying.

Driven by Rogue Audio's Sphinx hybrid integrated amplifier (tubes, class-D, $1299), the Q350's sound had stout bones, especially through the bottom octaves. The midrange was clear as water. Unfortunately, there was a leanness that turned dry and flat through the uppermost octaves. The big drum in Guo YaZhi's Sorrow of the River (CD, M•A Recordings M074A) was taut and surprisingly powerful, but YaZhi's various Chinese wind instruments sounded annoyingly hard and two-dimensional.

I'm proud of my Stereophile reviews of Schiit Audio's Yggdrasil DAC ($2299) and Ragnarok integrated amplifier ($1699). Now, one and two years later, respectively, I'm enjoying both Schiits more than ever. Therefore, the natural-feeling energy, hip-shaking momentums, saturated colors, high-relief textures, and relaxed coherence they brought to the Q350s did not surprise me. The Ragnarok showcased the Q350's reproduction of instrumental tones. The sound was thicker than it should be, but instruments and voices appeared more tangibly in the room than with the Rogue Sphinx.

Footnote 1: See John Atkinson's video interview with Jack Oclee-Brown, KEF's Head of Acoustics.—Ed.
KEF, GP Acoustics (UK) Ltd.
US distributor: GP Acoustics (US) Inc.
10 Timber Lane
Marlboro, NJ 07746
(732) 683-2356

Ortofan's picture

... HR found that the "Q350s really liked tubes", specifically the PrimaLuna Prologue Premium stereo amplifier. The test report for that amp showed that it had a very high output impedance. It would be useful if JA could make a set of measurements for the Q350 while driven by the PrimaLuna Prologue Premium to show what would be the effect of that amp's output impedance on the speaker's frequency response.

Anton's picture

I think it would be amazing to compare!

Great idea, kudos to you!

Eddie R's picture

Your comparison of the Stirling Broadcast to the Falcon Acoustics was extremely helpful. There are so many LS3/5a choices in the market, including Graham Audio, which makes both an LS3/5 and an LS3/5a, and reviews such as this are very informative. You and Art Dudley are terrific reviewers!

spacehound's picture

Never, never, attempt to equate speaker quality with price.

This is a perfect example. On the strength of this review, if I was not already satisfied by my vastly more expensive and bigger speakers I would be going to my local KEF dealer this morning.

Our 'British' boxes are always wonderful. They are usually made by equally wonderful girls. In China.

tonykaz's picture

... that these lovely Qs are made of Chinesium, RRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrr you ?

I'm thinking that this reviewer is say'n the Qs are competent competitors against ( and along side of ) the often touted Chinese Pioneers and Elac B5 & B6 & F6 of Andrew Jones, even among the "Loved" by Queen & Country, British Loudspeakers with their beautiful "real wood textures". ( for gods sake ) "Real Wood" & pride of ownership !

Noticeably missing from this ( beautiful turning of phrases ) AB comparison is the Magnapan MG.7 for a US $ price of "Affordable" and a Decades long Audiophile reputation for A+ performance level.

So what is this entry level "Audiophile" price concept being frequently touted ? I think I'm reading that it's around $1,000 for DAC,Amplification & Loudspeakers ( made in chine ). It's the stuff you'll find at places like Best Buy and Amazon.

How much would an non-Chinesium Audio Entry Level system cost ?

I'll figure around $5,000 US ! Chinesium prics X 5 .

In Summary ( from my perspective ), Chinesium Loudspeaker can be made to sound dam good if you play them with Outstanding-Superb-Carefully Selected-Well Made front ends ! ( just like Ivor of LINN always said )

Ok, I applaud KEF, I've been applauding since KEF & Raymond Cooke introduced the original Reference series : R101, R103.2 & R105.4 which I never Imported or sold because Cooke wouldn't do business with us. Oh well.

KEF is darn good at making loudspeakers and drivers both.

It's too dam bad that we have to have our Cherished Local Brands plastered all over cheaper asian products !, KEF is doing exactly what Cooke avoided: diluting the Brand, our Brand if we own KEF stuff and our children's Brand if they hope to work in the Audio marketplace.

I'll join Raymond Cooke by turning over in my grave ( when it comes to that sort of thing -- three decades from now, fingers crossed )

Tony in Michigan

Ortofan's picture

... where the KEF Q350 is manufactured:

tonykaz's picture

I Came, I See, I feel conquered !

They charge extra for speaker grills.

Is there an address for sending the driver back for service ? or is Waste Management the only option. Maybe the reviewer took a Subway Train to NJ and had a nice look-round the KEF USA Parts & Service Centre. Is there a wonderful story to tell?

Why do I get the feeling that ownership of these Qs is a "period of time" specific experience, not to be confused with Ownership of a Pair of LS3/5a Rogers being a "Lifetime" experience with Grandchildren lining up to inherit the darn things ?

We can now look at eBay's Audiophile "Sold" listings to realize that quality Audio Gear maintains close to it's original purchase price and often the Gear appreciates to near current gear price points. All the while it's been singing it's heart out and giving pride of ownership a steady polish.

Is there anything coming out of China that has "Lasting" Value, is there anything Chinese that our Grandchildren will be taking to their Antique Road Show ? Walmart & Best Buy specialize in products with very short half-lives.

I'd rather the Rogers, Halbeth, Magnapan.7, the ProAc Tabletts ( my long term favorite )

I have old-school loyalties.

Tony in Michigan

Sfdoddsy's picture

I'm sorry. You are not 'old school'. You are racist.

If you have empirical evidence for Chinese manufactured equipment being of worse quality please present it.

The tenor of your posts ill behooves the audiophile community or Stereophile.

tonykaz's picture

Chinese quality is very darn good.

But they dump product and destroy native industries like my little Nesco Products in Two Rivers Wisc.., they copied the product ( mistakes and all ) then way undersold our Nesco at all the Walmart Stores.

Chinese are product dumpers, it's war for them, it isn't racist.

It might be racist to dismiss the problem as racist.

Behoove is the Duty or Responsibility to do something, I'm cautioning people about the concealed affects & effects from handing your/our cherished designs to Nation/States working to destroy our Foundational Industries.

Of course I'm delighted to be noticed for doing this kind of work!

Tony in Michigan

ps. We need Solid Asian Trade Agreements & Asian respect for Intellectual Property, not more fake ROLEX watches or sonic equivalents of our excellent loudspeaker designs. KEF going Asian is KEF racing to the bottom.

blackwash's picture

Your argument is odd (and perhaps a little personal). Theft of intellectual property should indeed be stamped out, but has nothing to do with a company like KEF (or any of the other high end audio outfits) choosing to have their designs built in China.

It is the logical thing to do in the free enterprise system of which the US is purportedly a shining light. It is capitalism in action. The solutions you propose are basically the government intervening to support uncompetitive industries. This is usually known as socialism.

You should also ask yourself why these companies have shifted manufacuring to China, or Indonesia, or Mexico?

There is no doubt even the most rapacious would prefer not to.

But the vast majority of people like yourself aren't willing to put their money where their mouths are and pay more for products built in the USA by people who get the (tiny) US minimum wage.

Why have they gone overseas? Because people like you won't pay the premium and instead expect the Government to.

Your praise for Magnepan misses the point. They aren't great speakers because they are designed and built in the US, they are a great speaker that happens to be designed and built in the US and has fans willing to pay the premium for that.

tonykaz's picture

You make valid points.

I am becoming Socialist. Agreed !

However I lived my entire working Career as a General Motors Corporate Citizen ( except for a brief adventure as a Audio Manufacturer, Importer and Retailer ).

I do buy valuable products made by skilled artisans and workmen, products like PS Audio, Sennheiser, Festool, Brisson Interfaces, Electrocompaniet, Thiel Audio, Meridian, Linn Products. I don't deny the qualities of various Chinese Mainland Artisan Companies like Cayin who manufacturer and engineer superb products.

KEF always seemed to have some sort of "entry" level loudspeaker, a price driven speaker like the beautiful CODA of the early 1980s. It was made in the UK.

But, we're here at Stereophile, an established Audiophile's reference Journal, absorbing the findings of inspired writers who take the time to carefully and fully evaluate various things of interest to our "tiny" group.

Is Stereophile writing to their readership ?


Is Stereophile writing to the emerging iPhone ( smart phone ) Audiophile Marketplace where Billions of potential Loudspeaker buyers are lurking at every Apple Store, spending their discretionary incomes on evolving technologies? Will these Audiophile smart phone people connect the dots, discover Stereophile and end up buying Q series KEF loudspeakers ? Or, is the Q series mostly aimed at those Big Screen 4K TV Buyers at Costco?

However, if I'm KEF and need some dam good "Print" reviewing, where on earth do I go? answer: My old pals at Stereophile and hope to have the Industry's leading Poetically respected Philosopher crawl into bed with ( and spend some quality time with ) our lovely little Q loudspeaker, thank you ! Of course, I suspect that HR sold most of us on our long established love affair with those LS3/5a darlings instead of the resonating paneled Qs.

HR acquits himself by hinting of the up-coming Harbeth reporting, so... we hafta forgive and forget. There's much more good than bad in Stereophile annnnnnnnnd I've loved JA since the early 1980s and will follow him most anywhere, Phew.

Tony in Michigan

volvic's picture

I have not read all the comments fully, but Tony's statement has a grain of truth. Years ago I read B&W's first foray into manufacturing speakers in China resulted in a surprising find; after production for B&W's entry speakers stopped for the day at the factory, night shift workers had copied the original B&W speaker and were producing exact copies without B&W's permission, for the Chinese market, and in some cases badging them with the B&W logo for sale. When they realized this B&W quickly put a stop to it, but I remember the manager saying that it was a constant battle working with the Chinese in protecting intellectual property, and manufacturing techniques. The problem is real and the challenges still exist in other industries.

volvic's picture

Tandberg made some of the finest hi-fi gear in the 60's, 70's and 80's but were very expensive, but beautifully built, with astounding FM tuners in their receivers. In 1981 they produced the 3030 receiver which was the first model made in Taiwan, this particular model wasn't very successful, doesn't attract the cash in the used market because it does not have the build quality the Norwegian manufactured ones do. I should know I own and owned several Tandberg products including the 3030 which was nowhere near the build quality of their older products, I quickly sold it.

JRT's picture

Seas (makes some very nice tweeters, midrange, woofers) was founded in 1950 as a spin-off of the Norwegian radio manufacturers Radionette and Tandberg.

It was operating as an employee owned business when in 2014 there was a management led buyout by Sonovox Group (China).

AnIntelligentHome's picture

For those that think the Chinese make crap, if you own an iPhone of any variety, then I suggest you turn it in for a some other brand made in the UK, Germany, or the USA. Oh, that's right, no smartphones are made in any of those countries. Seriously. It's the engineering and the pursuit of quality by the parent company that makes the product and KEF shows they are NOT diluting their brand, but instead, making room for a larger market of people to enjoy excellent audio. Well done KEF!

sylinnian's picture

The point is......
A stronger eastern dragon makes Big Sam feeling inferior !

volvic's picture

You apparently do not read the newspapers to notice the hollowing out of Chinese manufacturing is beginning. With AI, rising wages, communist gov't interference there have been companies including Oracle and Seagate that have packed up some of their production and left. Even Foxconn has stated it could move some production overseas.

There is nothing wrong with open and polite discussion, but not backing up any claims with insults and nationalist self-titillation gets you nowhere here. Nuff said, done here.

tonykaz's picture

hmmmmm, not inferior.

I don't feel inferior, I don't feel you are inferior, I don't feel the Asians are Superior, we all are brilliantly capable.

I'm not yielding to marketplace pressures.

Having said all the above I do have to admit that the United States has had Post WW11 lack of competition because everyone else had to rebuild. Now, the World is Competitive again and I'm wanting to return to the Good old Days of the 1970s. Ouch, I'm feeling like I'm getting my ass kicked, Manufacturing wise.

Poor, poor, pitiful me !

Tony in Michigan

Herb Reichert's picture

Someone please define Chinesium: aside from the fact that many of the best built best sounding audio products I know are both designed and manufactured in China, I must tell you: Throughout the 1980s I lived in a giant factory-loft builting in Brooklyn. Affectionately, we called our obese landlord "Jaba The Hut" -- he had a huge factory (just below me) that employed illeagle alien workers for $2.50/hr making FAKE Disney and Mattel toys. These items were sold in major retail stores across America. At least they were Made in America - right?

tonykaz's picture

is an intellectual rant about using poor ( but skilled ) Chinese labor force ( usually young female Farm Girls ) kept in Labor Dormitories ( like Foxcom ( who make our Apple Products ) for ultra competitive Costs resulting in the collapse of a Country's Position in Supplying any such Product.
Intel refuses to participate in these Manufacturing doings and thusly maintains their "Local" Manufacturing.
General Motors ( our Previous CEO Rick Wagoner ) was planning on moving about 35% of GM's Content to China until the Financial Crisis finally killed us, Obama came the the rescue with a critical loan and the demand of keeping GM "Local". We stayed "live", now earning JDPower Awards for the first time for any US manufacturer of Transportation Products.
Chineseium is a continuing warning that I'll issue to vulnerable Industries so that they will be aware that they are selling off their children's futures for a fast buck.

I appreciate and value the beautiful things that Chinese Artisans produce and export to the USA.

It seems that we Americans, on the whole, are demanding traditional levels of quality in our product selections and turning a blind eye to the circumstances of the people involved in supplying them. Kathy Gifford having her beautiful Designer clothes made by near slave labor was a rather public scandal that started the Chinesium kinds of Rants.

Europeans seem to be less accepting of Chinese product dumpers.

Raymond Cooke of KEF got his "K" from his success in Exporting British technologically advanced Products, not from importing cheap labor Chinese loudspeakers.

As a Manufacturer, how can I approve the concept of moving our labor supply "offshore", strictly to improve my Corporation's P/E ratio ( momentarily ).

As a Corporation I have to move my Labor Supply "OffShore" to take advantage of lower labor costs, my personal Contract and Bonuses are contingent on it.

For us consumers, Chinesium is coming down to a personal choice unless our national trade leaders work out a Trade Agreement over all things Manufacturing wise. It's a complex thing that our next generations will be working, struggling, anguishing with.

For now, I simply can't endorse Name Brand's policy of "Outsourcing".

I'm probably choosing peanut butter over steak because of this Spiritual Position.

Tony in Michigan

ps. is a knock-off Rolex a good thing ? ( even though it's probably better at keeping time )

JRT's picture
TonyKaz wrote:

"I appreciate and value the beautiful things that Chinese Artisans produce and export to the USA."

Opinions on that seem to vary quite widely. If that is your interest, you can buy some very good components directly out of China from sellers like and others should you choose to do so. Some of the products have been objectively measured at the Audio Science Forum, some very good, and some not.

I have no profit motives in posting this, have no business associations with those parties.

tonykaz's picture

China has been our Global Industrial leader since the time of Christ, ( with the exception of the last 150 years ), they are no strangers to super high quality.

It's the Walmart thinkers that have China making the unserviceable Land Fill Filler for us. ( at the cost of crushing our local suppliers of quality ) dam em.

Tony in Venice

tonykaz's picture

I just did a bit of a Search on the LS50 to discover that KEF originally intended the Design to be a more modern replacement for the LS3/5a.

It needs saying that every Reviewer of Loudspeakers should own and use the LS3/5a as a Reference, I certainly did at my Esoteric Audio Salon. We felt that any Loudspeaker we would offer would first need prove itself capable of outperforming it, not many could ! We sold scads of LS3/5a pairs !!! The Linn Kann could, the ProAc Tablette certainly could, the Thiel CS3 could because it had deep bass, the Quad 63s might ( depending on Amplifier type ). The 3/5a was our balance scale.

The Point is that the LS50 is a modern LS3/5a and the Q350 is a price point LS50.

Another significant design factor of the LS50 is that it's intended to be used with heavy Sand filled Stands so that the added mass would further dampen it's Cabinet resonances. The Q350's resonance radiating chassis panels is a old trick from the cheap reciever speaker days. ( I'm pleased that you found a way of revealing this in some sort of painless way, I think that JA keeps a stethoscope handy for revealing these types of issues ).

The LS50 is now a balance scale transducer system that the Pro-Audio World ( including Genelec ) are carefully evaluating and comparing , pretty much like you and Steve G. do within most of your workings.

Tony in Michigan


Might someone translate "Tony in Michigan"'s comments into plain ol' English for me?

Once I find out what they actually said, I am willing to give them a chance.

blackwash's picture

Fairly obviously Stereophile's audience is those who already know Stereophile.

To those who don't they have the same truthiness as Gizmodo.

Their task is surely not to act as an entry drug to the (IMHO) aurally bizzare cult of the LS 35a, but rather to find good products and tell us about them.

I'd prefer it if they were more open about the closeness of components such as the Q350 to much more expensive 'references' but such is life.

It is your task as a reader to accept their expertise or not, and to apply your own filters such as country of manufacture.

I found the actual review rather florid, but as a current or prior owner of all the speakers referenced including KS50sabd Q300 it's about what I would expect.

I'm also a Maggie owner and open baffle fan and would have liked to see the obvious comparison with MMGs rather than just with the same old tiny boxes.

I will of course note that most of the companies you praise are foreign, and some manufacturer their products in China.



tonykaz's picture

or We who take our Music Hobby seriously ?

This has been my Life-Long hobby and part time Career Path. I take these matters seriously. Buying a piece of Gear is like a Marriage Commitment, a Love Affair, a Relationship.

I still miss all the Superb Gear that I once owned : Pro-Ac Tablets, Magnapan MG2s, Conrad-Johnson MV45a, Audible Illusions Modulus 2a, Bruce Brisson Cabling MH750s, Meridian M2s & M3s ( both in Rosewood ), both of my original Linn LP12s and a few other pieces of wonderful gear I had to part with as I left the Audio Industry for the Travel Work of a Major Corporation.

I own superb gear now but I still miss my Vintage lovelies.

Some Gear should've never been Sold. My various LS3/5a collection is a good example.

My personal gear went up for adoption and are long gone, I should've put them into "proper" storage. A painful mistake.

Tony in Michigan

Jay Cook's picture

Tony- You do remember that Gold Peak Industries of Hong Kong owns KEF, right.

That being said, it is true that some Chinese manufacturing facilities have produced counterfeit goods. When M&K transferred production of their basic products to China, it was reported that the facility was turning out counterfeits of their S150s and other higher end M&K models, contributing to the ultimate failure of M&K.

tonykaz's picture

What, get outa here, a chinese outfit owns KEF.

I did not know that.

In fact, it seems a rather well kept semi-secret that never gets talked about. It explains why none of the Car Groups have KEF sound systems in their Cars.

and..... it explains an entry level $500 LS50 re-branded as Q series.

Well, ok, KEF is a Chinese Company, now we need to see a Video Tour ( YouTube ) of the KEF China manufacturing Facilities to see if they are striving to maintain the KEF mystique or if they are just cashing in on the KEF Brand recognition. A facility tour will reveal all.

Tony in Michigan

ps. I would never have known KEF was For-Sale or how much it Sold for. I hope someone asks Andrew Jones. This probably explains Jones's roaming around from Pioneer to TAD to Elac.

John Atkinson's picture
tonykaz wrote:
What, get outa here, a chinese outfit owns KEF...In fact, it seems a rather well kept semi-secret that never gets talked about.

Probably because it happened such a long time ago. Hong Kong-based Gold Peak bought KEF (and Celestion) in 1992, IIRC.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for mentioning.

Apparently my outfit is buying wiring harnesses from these people and they are said to mostly keep their noses out of the Loudspeaker operations.

Thanks for Naim , I'll be looking for one of the Uniti pieces. Finally, my first Naim.

Tony in Michigan

alucas's picture

thanks for another great article! i always look for your reviews. you explain everything to me and not above me.not meant in a bad off the dog, this has changed my outlook on bookshelf speakers. thanks!

Trevor_Bartram's picture

I've lusted after the LS50s even though I've never heard them! Now KEF brings out a similar less expensive model with its own set of qualities. I'm wondering how they compare with my Paradigms, listened to and bought based upon Stereophile's glowing review of 20 years ago?
All the talk of the Q350's cabinet vibration is a little disconcerting, you'll get none of that from the Paradigms, as they use the more expensive matrix cabinet construction.
Just wonderin'.

AlexFeren's picture

I’ve got two SVS SB2000 subwoofers, Yamaha receiver pre-outs to Rotel power amplifiers.
The speakers need to be 3/4 to 1 metre from side and back walls.
With YPAO processing, should I be leaving Q350 ports plugged or unplugged?

TG04's picture

Thank you for the comparison of various LS3/5 offerings, very valuable indeed.
Now, just to point out the obvious, the LS50 + KEF Performance Speaker Stand come to about $1700 (bring your own sand) while the Q350 + Tontrager stands add up to over $2000. Does seem to level the playing field a bit … maybe even reverse the “budget” argument, why is that not commented on?
Actually, it is very surprising to me that the evaluations have not been made using KEF's own dedicated stand as a starting point. Not sure if I understand this right, but are you saying the Q350's really need the Tontrager stands to shine? And that the LS50 works best with a heavy, inert stand? Also, please comment on how stand and speaker are to be joined (the speakers have no fasteners of any kind, and the fine LS50 lacquer can easily be damaged if using Blutac, for instance).
Personally, I would be very happy if KEF would offer a stand that's specific to the LS50 including wire connections on the stand -- at the floor level instead of at waist-level on the speaker which is seriously ugly regardless of cable used.

dworkman's picture

I own the LS50s with Sound Anchor stands. I originally ran the LS50s not on stands, just sitting on the same cabinet as my electronics. Adding the stands made a huge improvement. In terms of the speaker/stand interface, KEF does provide some stick-on black rubber pads. I stuck those to the bottom of the LS50s.

JRT's picture

KEF Q150 has a current market retail price of $299/pair.

I have not heard them, but suggest that these might be good choice of subject for a future review, to find out if these are worthwhile entry level.

There is still no such thing as a free lunch. Perhaps the product cost reductions that enabled the low pricing might also be excessivley degrading the resulting performance, or maybe not.

The cost reductions might be hidden internally in an oversimplified crossover using excessively cheap components and maybe a thin unbraced cabinet, or maybe not.