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KEF Q900

PaulyT

Behind the Curtain
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Superstar


:text-link:

Got to audition some of these at Batman's place yesterday, he had them set up down in the 'cave. (They were the 900's, right Bats?) They're being evaluated as potential budget-minded alternatives to the more pricey Dynaudio line; these 900's go online for $1600/pair.

I spent maybe an hour or so going through my various reference tracks (a mix of everything from classical to jazz to Kansas), plus other stuff that I happened to have in the car (Joe B - of course! - and Sarah Jarosz, Mumford & Sons). The first thing I noticed is that these have very good imaging and detail, nice wide soundstage with good individual instrument resolution. I was very pleased with that aspect. They did very nicely on acoustic instruments. There was however a little "honkiness" in the vocal range (midrange) that was a bit fatiguing to my ears, especially when turned up. It was more noticeable with some vocals (Joe's voice seemed to fall in that range), some violin solo, and when turned up a bit louder with large orchestral stuff or other music with a thick mix. Personally, I thought they sounded a little better when not pushed too hard, though Batman said he liked them up a bit louder. May depend some on where you're sitting (I was front row in center for this audition). They were certainly capable of filling the batcave, though, no problem with that.

My guess is a little EQ would smooth out at least some of what I was hearing. I have no idea if there was any EQ settings still in the system from when we tuned up the Dyns at last year's GTG? (Batman?) We didn't actually get around to doing any RTA at the most recent GTG... Nor did I attempt to mess with this yesterday.

So overall I'd say these are pretty good music or HT speakers for the money. They lacked the liquid smoothness of the Dyns especially at higher SPL, but for 1/6 of the price... not really a fair comparison.

The look of the speakers is nice enough, maybe not quite as fancy a finish or solid a build as some, but again we're talking budget. And the three woofers is misleading - only one is active, the other two are "dedicated front-firing auxiliary bass radiators (ABRs)" (from KEF's description), whatever the hell that means... :angry-tappingfoot: I guess it's just a fancy euphemism for passive radiator. But, it does make the speaker look more impressive than if it only had a single woofer, and that's probably important for some folks who would have these up front in their HT.
 

Batman

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Famous
Yep, Q900s. I enjoyed the listening session yesterday. And thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts!
 

-B-

Well-Known Member
I didn't play as much and build enough to offer up a review but you hit it about right for me. One thing that really stood out is some very nice detail in the mid region, especially in bass. I agree with the "honkiness" which is sort of artist dependent to hear more of. Overall my impressions match yours.

Maybe the bigger boys are different, but the Q100's are here and I get fatigued after a short while driving them a little louder than normal....quicker than at Chris's with the 900's but I'm going to say that's due to size and the little guys running out of air a little early. In my opinion there arent many speakers in the price range that offer up this much, and a solid improvement over the previous Q. That I don't drive my speakers hard these are almost perfect here as they excel at lower volumes.
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
I have always been a huge fan of KEF conceptually. It is in implementation that I get disappointed. They are engineered maticulously and perform well, but they tend to fall short on the overall tonal balance and the much dreaded listening fatigue experience. They tend to be very good for the money, but I find others are a tad better for the same price. I won't get into what's better here.

I will say this, some of the best speakers I have ever heard came from KEF, so they know their stuff.
 

-B-

Well-Known Member
Flint said:
I have always been a huge fan of KEF conceptually. It is in implementation that I get disappointed. They are engineered maticulously and perform well, but they tend to fall short on the overall tonal balance and the much dreaded listening fatigue experience. They tend to be very good for the money, but I find others are a tad better for the same price. I won't get into what's better here.

I will say this, some of the best speakers I have ever heard came from KEF, so they know their stuff.

So a little x-over tweak and it's go time?
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
I think the problem is more than just a croossover tweak, though a tweak would help immensely with the obvious issues.

The problem with KEF's implementation of the coaxial drive is the use of a wide dispersion tweeter in the cone of the mid/woofer. Their implementation makes the mid/woofer cone act as a wave guide, which would be great if the cone wasn't also moving. With a moving wave guide there are acoustically derived distortions which cannot be remedied with a crossover. Most pro-audio high end coaxial designs use a horn for the tweeter thus vastly reducing or eliminating the moving mid/woofer cone issue (i.e. Altec, JBL, Tannoy, etc.).
 

-B-

Well-Known Member
Flint said:
I think the problem is more than just a croossover tweak, though a tweak would help immensely with the obvious issues.

The problem with KEF's implementation of the coaxial drive is the use of a wide dispersion tweeter in the cone of the mid/woofer. Their implementation makes the mid/woofer cone act as a wave guide, which would be great if the cone wasn't also moving. With a moving wave guide there are acoustically derived distortions which cannot be remedied with a crossover. Most pro-audio high end coaxial designs use a horn for the tweeter thus vastly reducing or eliminating the moving mid/woofer cone issue (i.e. Altec, JBL, Tannoy, etc.).

From this I'm assuming you actually prefer the older Q with the stationary center tweeter?
 

malsackj

Well-Known Member
One of those distortions would be the dopler shift similar to the car driving towards you as the volume and pitch changes.
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
malsackj said:
One of those distortions would be the dopler shift similar to the car driving towards you as the volume and pitch changes.
Absolutely! A moving waveguide can cause this, and other issues.
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
I've owned a set of Churchill speakers from Tannoy... that was one hell of an amazing speaker! My brother owns a set of their System-15 studio monitors... also amazing.
 

tiberius1023

New Member
I'm curios flint...what other KEF speakers have you audtioned? I'm in the market for a new set of surrounds and was considering the q900s...do you recommend any other KEFs
 

PaulyT

Behind the Curtain
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Superstar
+1

Welcome, Emperor Tiberius! :laughing: Tell us about yourself, here or a new thread. What is your current system?
 
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