KEF Q350 £500

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

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.

Class-lead­ing in­sight

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

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