KEF has had audiophile ears perking up with their high-quality speakers for a while now. And if you’re on the lookout for a pair that comes with pleasing aesthetics and high-fidelity sound that are under the $1000 mark, both of these are worth investigating.
Before you read further, though, you should know that both speakers are passive, meaning you'd need an additional amp to use with them. They don’t have a subwoofer either. If this isn't the kind of system you’re looking for, then stop reading this post have a look at the Logitech z623 or z625 instead.
In summary, although KEF Q100 also delivers pretty good sound, the KEF Q150 is still noticeably better. It provides more bass response and a more balanced sound at higher volumes. It does lack the brilliance in mids and trebles the KEF Q100 gives out - but still, it sounds better.
The options available to today’s consumers for speakers are broad, to say the least. When trying to choose the right pair though, it’s important that you take a list of factors into consideration. The size of your room, the primary purpose you intend to use them for, and frequency responses. Let’s look at these two pairs and see how they compare.
Design and Build
The 50-year-old British company certainly has taste when it comes to design. Both pairs of speakers are elegant with the kind of understated, retro-futuristic look that would be at home in both the living room or workspace. The KEF Q150 is available in Satin Black, Satin White, and Walnut finishes.
The cones of the speakers come with their signature KEF design which will be an acquired taste for some. But do deserve admiration for the attention to detail. For an additional price of about $40, you can buy a magnetic grille. These offer more protection for the speakers. But they also change the appearance quite a bit, robbing them of their signature styling for a more generic look.
The newer of the two models check in with a little more muscle than its predecessor.
- KEF Q100 (H X W X D) - 300 x 180 x 272 mm
- KEF Q150 (H X W X D) - 303mm x 180mm x 278mm
With the optional rubber feet: 307mm x 180mm x 278mm
Does this actually make a difference to the sound? Let’s find out!
Both speakers feature the KEF patented Uni-Q driver. This uses a cone made of an aluminium+magnesium alloy which gives the speakers a very distinct 'dimensional' sound. At loud volumes, it feels like you're at a live venue. Home theater experiences, while not comparable to a complete surround system, are equally enjoyable as well.
Both speakers come with a frequency range that offers a degree of clarity, depth, and transparency that is rare in bookshelf speakers in this range. That being said, the results of the upgrade are obvious in the bass response the KEF Q150 offers. While the KEF Q100 without a subwoofer is not an option for most modern audio needs, the KEF Q150 could get away without one.
However, one might argue that there is a higher degree of detail in the KEF Q100. Especially around the mids and trebles. On the flip side, when played at loud volumes, it can be somewhat harsh and fatiguing. So this particular strength is a potential weakness.
The KEF Q150, on the other hand, sounds a little more balanced and 'relaxed.’ The added power it brings with it is palpable, especially at louder volumes. Even when cranked up, it still sounds stable and grounded, as opposed to shrill and jarring, like a lot of other systems tend to do. The trade-off, however, is lesser detail when played at lower volumes.
Long Story Short:
- KEF Q100 :
- More transparent at lower volumes
- Shrill and fatiguing at higher volumes
- Would need a sub-woofer for serious bass
- KEF Q150:
- Overall more powerful and pleasant at high volumes.
- Less detailed, slightly muffled at lower volumes.
- Way better bass response. Functional even without a subwoofer
As mentioned before, these speakers are both passive. What that means is that in order to transmit audio from your source (LP player, CD player, or phone/gadgets), you’ll need an amplifier between the output of the same and the speakers.
These speakers cannot playback audio on their own.
While some neo audiophiles will be bummed by the lack of this feature, it’s not necessarily a reflection of the quality of these products. That being said, the amplifier you use will have an influence on the sound. And in this case, you’ll need one with minimum power of 10W and a maximum of 100W.
The KEF official site lists a great article on choosing the right one here.
In conclusion, it is apparent that KEF has made an effort to instill significant improvements in the Q150. While audiophile forums might tell you that a pair of its predecessor KEF Q100 is possibly a better bang for the buck, they’re not easy to find. So for those who can afford it, the former is definitely worth the investment.
- Design and Comfort: Tie.
- Sound: The KEF Q150 wins. It has more bass response and a more balanced sound at higher volumes. But it lacks the brilliance in mids and trebles the KEF Q100 gives out.
- Connectivity: Tie.
- Price: The KEF Q100 wins. But finding one online is tricky since production is discontinued.