Someone once said that before you achieve innovation, then first you need foresight. To produce great speakers, you need to believe you can do it better. But you also need to believe you know how you can.
The best speakers are made by the best companies. We know KEF is a manufacturer with a big reputation. But do the KEF Q150B speakers match that reputation? Are these speakers ones that are considered ‘high-end’? Or are they just another set of speakers with a slightly above average sound?
You are about to find out…
But, before we dive into our KEF Q150B Q150 Review, let’s learn a little bit more about KEF?
Who is KEF?
KEF was the brainchild of a British engineer, Raymond Cooke. It started on a piece of land that Robert Pearch owned near Chatham in Kent. Together they formed the company in 1961, named after the Kent Engineering Foundry. Hence the KEF.
While Pearch was an important member of the team, it was Cooke who was the genius. It was his ideas that were behind the speakers and other systems they designed.
Cooke had been a design engineer at the BBC. And he realized that much more could be achieved in sound production. After establishing the company, much of their early design work was for the BBC. And the quality was good, very good, and their reputation, like the products, expanded into other areas.
The making of a leader…
By the 70s, they established their reputation as manufacturers of high-end speakers and monitors. In 1979 Cooke was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth the second, and they were awarded the Queen’s Award to Industry.
The recession in the UK in the 90s hit them hard, as it did for so many others in other parts of the world. It caused financial hardships, and high-end luxuries were the first to suffer. They were finally sold to Hong Kong company GP Acoustics.
Now they are recognized as being at the forefront of innovation for speakers for all disciplines and applications. They produce a full range themselves as well as providing the mini speakers for Apple’s iPod.
Some of the speaker systems are now made overseas in China. The high-end systems are still produced at their site in Maidstone in Kent. The range is extensive, and the ‘Q’ series sits in the middle.
So how good are they?
There is an expression. “Good things come in small packages.” This set of bookshelf speakers from KEF may well prove the point. These speakers punch well above their weight. And believe us, these weigh quite a bit, as we shall see.
The Q150 series of speakers is one of the latest examples of the ‘Q’ series from KEF. There have been some improvements. A cabinet with plenty of style and a modern ‘chic’ look gives us the visual improvements. But KEF has not left it there. The Uni-Q driver array has become even more impressive, as we shall find out later.
A little powerhouse…
As we shall see, this new driver array is supported by a new bass port design. This creates a high-resolution and a huge sound. This big sound is particularly noticeable in smaller rooms or where your space is rather limited.
The ‘Q’ series has been revamped a little, and the Q150B is the smallest, and also, we might add the most cost-effective of the range.
Have you always wanted to own a pair of excellent bookshelf speakers but have always found them too expensive for your budget? Think again. They might just have arrived.
So, let’s have a closer look…
Everything about the design and the build is understated. A conscious design to let the sound do the talking rather than flashy graphics or colors. Even the KEF logo on the front is the same black as the rest of the cabinet. You have to look twice to see it.
We mentioned earlier about them punching above their weight. Indeed, they are quite heavy, weighing more than twelve pounds each. They measure 12 by 7 by 11 inches making them almost as deep as they are high.
The feel when you pick them up is of a speaker that is well-made and very robust. The ample vinyl covering on the exterior adds to the design pluses. These speakers are manufactured in China.
Design with a difference…
KEF normally create a talking point with their designs, and here’s the first, these speakers do not come with speaker grilles.
We are not sure you actually need them as the totally black finish creates a great look. But for those who prefer them, they are available at a small extra cost.
They have a two-way bass-reflex design. And a few interesting design features are going to make a big difference to the performance.
Better sound quality…
First, the rear of the tweeter dampens down any overspill or leakage. This is to avoid any sound spillage and give greater accuracy.
Second, the bass port has been moved to the rear of the cabinet. And it has been mounted centrally in the cabinet, which is also an interesting, although not wholly original, idea. The design of the internal structure has also helped to reduce unwanted resonance from the inside of the cabinet.
The removal of any leakage of sound from the tweeter and these internal design changes ensures sonic clarity. Below the bass port are gold-plated binding posts.
Quality throughout the construction…
All good with the design then. Quality construction with good materials and a stunning look. But more important to most will be the sound and how they perform. How will they do? Read on…
They certainly have enough power at 200 watts to make sure that the neighbors stay awake. But it is the quality of that sound that is the really important thing. So let’s take a look at the Uni-Q driver array.
This is a KEF innovation. They have designed it so that there is a one-inch, vented tweeter. Nothing surprising there. But this tweeter is at the center of the aluminum 5.25-inch mid-range driver.
So, what are the benefits?
First, it will smooth out any perceived rough edges to the higher frequencies. Working with the dampening effect on the tweeter design, it brings a cleaner top-end performance. The crossover between the tweeter and the driver is redesigned to operate at 2.5kHz.
This arrangement moves us closer to the optimum single point-source design for speaker arrays. This design gives a very detailed and accurate image to the sound. The sound is then dispersed on a much more even basis in the listening area.
The low frequencies, assisted by removing any tweeter overspill from inside the cabinet, are clear and accurate. Part of KEFs design architecture includes what they call CFD or Computational Fluid Dynamics.
What does that mean?
CFD is the study of airflow through and around objects. The application of these principles ensures that the flow of air through the cabinet delivers a better sound, rather than hindering it.
KEFs so-called ‘Tangerine’ waveguide further enhances the centrally positioned driver and tweeter and rear-facing port. All adding to the wider dispersion of sound.
This is very noticeable with the bass frequencies. Considering their relatively small size, they certainly knock out an impressive and tight bass sound.
Balanced, bright, and clear…
The frequency range is 51Hz – 28kHz, giving a bright top end and a prominent mid-range with that extra warm bass. An altogether sonically attractive mix of the frequencies and with great detail in the sound.
Even across a range of different genres, the varying sonic colors of the music are drawn out. This is high-level audiophile performance where you can hear every detail.
Some critics have pointed to their perceived lack of presence in the higher mid-range frequencies. This might be true, and they produce graphs and mathematical models to back up their observations.
If you really train your ears, you can hear their point to an extent. And maybe the presence is slightly lacking. But for those who are going to buy these speakers, we doubt there will be too many performing such analysis.
The final question is, do they sound good? And the answer to that is they sound superb.
What do we think?
These are an exceptional pair of Bookshelf speakers. They have a strong design and a very visual attraction. They tick all the boxes as far as we are concerned with regards to the build and design.
The internal architecture of the cabinet is innovative and forward-looking. Important elements in the design of anything. This is a good example of a company thinking, ‘we can do it better.’
KEF Q150B Q150 Review Pros and Cons
- Higher frequencies are clear and sharp without ever becoming overwhelming.
- Bass is rich and warm and very present, again without swallowing the other frequencies.
- Mids are clear and not over-projected.
- The rear bass port and its design add the luxury of great depth to the sound.
- Impressive dispersion of sound courtesy of the centrally placed tweeter and driver.
- A wide soundstage with great width and dimension.
- Some might prefer a higher level of presence in the upper mids.
- Does not include speaker screens.
Looking for more excellent speaker choices?
If so, then check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Sonos Speaker, the Best Computer Speakers Under $100, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, and the Best Tailgate Speakers currently on the market.
Or how about our comprehensive reviews of the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200, the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500, the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers, and the Best Floor Standing Speakers you can buy in 2021.
KEF Q150B Q150 Review Final Thoughts
It appears that good things can come in small packages. Do you remember that pair of speakers that produced stunning sounds that were always out of reach?
Not anymore. At this price point, these speakers have broken through the price barrier.
So, let us introduce you to the KEF Q150B. The time is for high-quality audio at an affordable price is now.