KEF Q350 £500
KEF can’t be too upset about its Q350 standmounters being knocked off the Product of the Year perch they occupied last year. After all, their replacements are the company’s own stunning R3s.
The secret of KEFS success might well have something to do with its trademark Uni-q design, in which the tweeter sits inside the larger driver – in the case of the Q350s a 16.5cm mid/bass unit – to aid frequency integration and improve sound dispersion. That, and a generously sized rear-firing bass port.
The visual theme here is very much modern, clean, tidy and minimalist. The cabinets themselves are sturdy and nicely finished and come in two satin options: black or white, with black or silver Uni-q drivers to match.
All KEF’S development work has paid off: the Q350s display a level of clarity and subtlety unheard of at this price.
We are stunned by their ability to reveal the layers of detail in Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar soundtrack. The speakers dig deep to unearth nuances while maintaining an impressive sense of scale, composure and precision. It’s all well organised, and we can’t complain about the way these standmounters convey timing either.
The Q350s also sound wonderfully even across the frequency band, and the treble performance in particular is detailed and sweet – nicely crisp without ever becoming so bright you’re inclined to wince.
There’s also an ability to keep instruments cleanly separate, delivering insight enough into each melodic strand even as a piece comes hurtling towards you in a luscious wall of sound.
There is perhaps sometimes a tendency to favour refinement and articulacy over allowing the Q350s to let their hair down, but this is an innately musical performance nonetheless.
A cut above the rest
In terms of system matching, we suggest the superb Rega Brio (£600) stereo amplifier as a good starting point. It complements the KEF’S sound, and brings a degree of natural warmth and drive. If your budget extends to something even more capable, then the Q350s have the transparency and sonic stretch to make the most of any extra information made available.
KEF can hold its head up high: the Q350s are a cut above the rest. Yes, there may be rivals able to offer a little more energy, but they aren’t capable of getting near these two-time Award winners for insight or clarity.
The Q350s offer transparency that will keep up with upgrades in the rest of your system