KEF Q100 Bookshelf Speaker Preview

Steve81

Steve81

Audioholics Five-0
The KEF Q100 is a bookshelf speaker sporting KEF's 5.25" UniQ driver in a relatively small ported enclosure, and claims a low frequency extension of 49Hz (-3dB). The bottom model in the Q series, the Q100 is priced at $550, a relatively competitive bracket in the world of loudspeakers. Does the diminutive Q100 have what it takes to hold its own, or is it just a me-too bookshelf speaker in a sea of choices? Read on to see what I think.



Executive Overview
Now some might ask why I'd preview the Q100; it's not exactly a new product, so what makes it special? Right off the bat, a visual inspection of the Q100 will reveal that it's not just another me-too product; the Q100 utilizes KEF's UniQ driver architecture, which in this instance mounts a 1" aluminum dome tweeter coaxially with a 5.25" aluminum cone woofer. This driver configuration constrains the dispersion of the tweeter, allowing it to match the dispersion pattern of the 5.25" mid-woofer where the two meet at the 2.5kHz crossover.

More to the point of why I'm interested in the Q100: one might note that while some members of the Q lineup have been reviewed by several sources, particularly the flagship Q900, the entry level Q100 has largely been overlooked, and I think that's a shame. The Q900 has been documented to have multiple notable strengths, particularly good on axis frequency response and very smooth off axis response; conversely, the Q900 also has a couple of big flaws, namely untamed breakup of its large 8" mid-woofer and significant amounts of cabinet resonance. The flaws exhibited by the Q900 should largely be mitigated by the much smaller driver and compact cabinet utilized by the Q100, albeit at the expense of dynamic capability.

Now obviously with a single 5.25" driver handling frequencies below 2,500Hz, the Q100 isn't going to compete with a speaker like the EMP Tek E55Ti in terms of dynamic capability; in fact the case is a bit worse than the nominal 5.25" woofer makes it sound given that a fair amount of real estate is taken up by the coaxial tweeter. In terms of actual available radiating area, the Q100 is probably a lot closer to a bookshelf speaker with a 4" woofer. While this makes the Q100's rated extension of 49Hz all that much more impressive, this presents a problem for those who like to push the volume a bit. Fortunately, it is possible to ameliorate this issue in two words: bass management. If you're willing to spend a few bucks on a subwoofer or two (say a pair of SVS SB-1000's), and cross a bit higher than the typically prescribed 80Hz, it's quite conceivable to end up with a high performance system that gives up next to nothing to a pair of Q900s.

Summary
If you just decided to skip to the end, suffice it to say I consider KEF's Q100 to be a worthy of a lot more attention than it gets from the press. We expect the bottom level bookshelf should share the bulk of its bigger brother's strengths without its glaring weaknesses. At the relatively modest price of $550, the Q100 has the potential to be a very strong value. So what do you guys think? Does anyone own a pair? Anybody considering buying a pair? Want to see a review?

Q100.jpg

Quick Specs:
Design: Two-way bass reflex
Drive units: 130mm (5.25in.) aluminum Uni-Q 25mm (1in.) vented aluminum dome HF
Frequency response ±3dB: 49Hz-40kHz
Crossover Frequency: 2.5kHz
Amplifier requirements: 10 - 100W
Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 86dB
Maximum output (SPL): 107dB
Impedance: 8Ω
Weight: 5.9kg (13.0lbs)
Dimensions (H x W x D): 300 x 180 x 272 mm (11.8 x 7.1 x 10.7 in.)
 
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sharkman

Full Audioholic
I recently heard these as I was trying to find a Nad integrated. They didn't have the C326BEE in stock, but demo'd these speakers and I was really impressed. I couldn't hear anything wrong with them at all for the price.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Yes, a full review with plenty of measurements as well as real-life comparisons would be welcomed. ;)
 
J

Jimz711

Full Audioholic
I have the 2 generation before these IQ 1's so I would also be interested in a review to see how things have progressed, and hopefully not regressed. I had a downstairs neighbor that complained about everything so never did pair them with a good sub, and I always felt I was missing something.
 
ErinH

ErinH

Audioholic General
Some folks *cough*Jared*cough* might find this interesting if they haven't seen it already.

http://medleysmusings.com/kef-q100-drive-unit-testing/
I was digging around for information on people using these as surrounds to see if they had any mounting bracket suggestions and came across this thread, and then saw the link above. Figured I'd add my $.02...

I'm the guy who tested them in the above link (my middle name is Medley ;)). I've had these bookshelves for almost a year now and must say that I'm still impressed every time I fire them up. I've used them as part of a mobile demo setup a few times, in conjunction with the R500 towers I own (which will anchor my HT system). As far as value and bang for buck goes, I'm still convinced there is nothing that can touch these Kefs. The soundstage they present is unprecedented in it's price range. Kef has nailed the coincident design (and these are true coincident; time of arrival from tweeter and mid are the exact same). Tonally, they have a bit of peakiness to them in the top octave; assumedly from the mid's cone breakup. This really is only noticeable at high output levels (ie; >100dB). I've received nothing but compliments on them even when demoing them in the garage off a simple denon receiver. I know three people who have since purchased them due to their demo sessions. ;)

As I said, value wise, IMHO, these can't be beat. And if you're a glutton for soundstage you'll love them even more.

- Erin
 
D

Dennis Murphy

Audioholic General
I worked with these recently and was also impressed. The Q drive units are first class and pretty much solve the usual response irregularities associated with coincident drivers. There are some limitations, which you would expect in this price range. The cabinet is lightweight and not up to the quality of the drivers. The simple cap and coil crossover achieves reasonably smooth response, but the woofer breakup isn't sufficiently suppressed, and the sound isn't as cohesive as can be achieved with a more sophisticated 4th order design. But this is more evident on direct comparison with other (usually more expensive) speakers than it is on a solo listen.
 
Steve81

Steve81

Audioholics Five-0
I was digging around for information on people using these as surrounds to see if they had any mounting bracket suggestions and came across this thread, and then saw the link above. Figured I'd add my $.02...
Good to see you in these parts Erin. Can't say I have any special insights re: a mounting bracket as the pair I did own I only used as mains. However, something like this ought to work: Pinpoint-Speaker_Mounts-AM40-Platform-Bookshelf-Speaker-Wall-Mount
 
theJman

theJman

Audioholic Chief
I worked with these recently and was also impressed. The Q drive units are first class and pretty much solve the usual response irregularities associated with coincident drivers. There are some limitations, which you would expect in this price range. The cabinet is lightweight and not up to the quality of the drivers. The simple cap and coil crossover achieves reasonably smooth response, but the woofer breakup isn't sufficiently suppressed, and the sound isn't as cohesive as can be achieved with a more sophisticated 4th order design. But this is more evident on direct comparison with other (usually more expensive) speakers than it is on a solo listen.
I know you've modified crossovers for other speakers in the past, so I have to ask; are the issues alluded to something you might be able to rectify? If so, these might turn out to be quite nice.
 
D

Dennis Murphy

Audioholic General
I have redone the crossover, but it was part of a complete overhaul--I added a 7" Seas woofer and turned it into a 3-way using a Parts Express .75 cu ft cabinet. The stock 2-way speaker is quite good, and probably not worth the trouble of an upgrade since KEF makes higher priced models that probably have more elaborate crossovers. Right now I'm up to my ears doing upgrades to the Pioneer BS22-52-Center series.
 
W

Whir1077

Audiophyte
Hey there, I have recently purchased the q100 and am still in the break in period. I heard them on demo at a local electronics shop and was impressed with the sound quality with the broken in speakers on demo.

I have them hooked up to a Yamaha RX-A1000 receiver as my mains. I am also running a klipsch sw110 subwoofer and what Steve81 said about pairing them up with a subwoofer is bang on. Very impressive full range sound. Can't wait until they are broken in
 
KenM10759

KenM10759

Audioholic Samurai
This is dragging up an old thread but...

I never noticed these modern KEF to need (or benefit from) a break-in period but if that's what you think I won't argue. There might be more difference in the sound you heard from the two different rooms than anything else.

The Q series is apparently discontinued and has been on reduced pricing since around the end of September 2016. Here in the US my dealer was telling me that they bought a good supply of all sizes in November and sold quickly. The Q100, Q300 and Q500 have been their big movers and they've turned over stock twice since the sale started. The replenishment previously came from Asia, now comes from the EU though certain finishes in particular models aren't available at all. He says I got the last pair of Q500 in European Walnut that they could get shipped from KEF (gifted to son.) There may be a couple pairs at other dealers.

From what I can gather from various sources, KEF may announce the new product to dealers at the Integrated Systems Show in Amsterdam February 7-10, 2017. We'll see. If so, I would expect shipments to start in late March or April...or whenever the outgoing series is completely gone from KEF distribution warehouses.
 

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