The Kef Q100 and Q300 are the bookshelf components of Kef’s eight strong Q speaker range
The two speakers are visually very similar with the size of the main driver and cabinet being the only outward differences. Both speakers are based around Kef Uni-Q © driver technology: the tweeter is installed in the centre of the mid bass driver which gives a single point source for all frequencies. In front of the tweeter is Kef’s ‘tangarine’ wave-guide to control the path of sound waves widening their dispersion and increasing the size of the sweet spot, and also as a by-product it helps protect the tweeter from prying fingers. The tweeter is surrounded by the mid bass driver, which is made of aluminium, and is light and stiff allowing a very clean sound and a responsive driver. On the Q100 this a 130mm whilst the Q300 is a 165mm. The surround of the mid bass driver has an unusual ‘lumpy’ texture that is called a Z-flex surround; this allows the mid bass driver to move freely whilst presenting a smooth surface to dissipate the high frequencies.
Both speakers will reach 40khz but the Q300 will go down to 42hz due to its larger cabinet volume and larger main driver while the Q100 reaches 49hz. The speakers have a fairly high sensitivity figure and a fairly low minimum wattage figure. The good news is you’re not going to need a power station to achieve a good listening level!
The first I would say is that these are most definitely a pair of Kef speakers. They have a lovely clean, precise treble and mid range, vocals have a lovely airiness, and it is ridiculously accurate. The speakers seem to dig up a huge amount of detail from the recording and throw it out into the room. Using my test material the speakers seemed to handle this with composure. The high production value on Ximena Sarinana’s self-titled second album really comes through, instruments stop and start with uncanny precision and immediacy. The odd thing is that Thurston Moore’s Trees Outside the Academy also sounds okay. Thurston’s musical background as part of Sonic Youth means many of the songs have howling guitars and a wall of screaming feedback and are recorded in a distinct low fi style. Normally on such accurate speakers this would sound awful as they simply show up the recordings poor quality. The Kef’s give Thurston’s voice plenty of space to breath and are good at reproducing that screaming feedback. However to my ears I would say the Kef’s analytical nature do make the album feel a little thin and boring, It’s almost like the speakers feel uncomfortable with this type of recording. Finally feeding them some of The Quintet Live at Massey Hall, the Kef’s are clearly back in their comfort zone delivering the clean and precise beat of Max Roach playing his drums. The number of instruments on stage and the complexity with which they play reveals itself gloriously.
So the difference between the Q100 and Q300 is the bass as thee Q300‘s bigger driver and larger cabinet allow it to produce a noticeably deeper bass. However of the two I prefer the Q100‘s. To my ears I would say they have more control and when considering system matching I would recommend putting them with a fairly smooth sounding amplifier. I conducted my testing with the Arcam A19 and CD17.
With certain types of music I would give these speakers a solid 10/10. Feed them with good quality recordings and they sing, highlighting all the nuances of the music whilst not costing an arm and a leg. However with poor quality recordings, either by intent or not, these speakers are just too revealing. They simply highlight all that is missing from the tracks, but I would definitely audition them and make up your own mind if you’re in the market for a pair of speakers around the £400-£500.
Demo equipment: Arcam A19, Arcam Cd17, Custom Rs300 stands.
Demo music: Ximena Sarinana; Ximena Sarinana’s, Thurston Moore; Trees Outside the Academy, The Quintet; Jazz at Massey Hall.
Author – Jon P, Cardiff store