KEF Q350 loudspeaker Page 2

The Q350s really liked tubes, especially push-pull EL34s. With the PrimaLuna Prologue Premium stereo amplifier ($2199) and preamplifier ($2199), the modest KEFs' bass was less taut, but they delivered a fleshy, organic-feeling midrange and elegant, delectable highs. The PrimaLuna amplification had a satisfying way of filling out the Q350's tendency toward thinness. The combo made male and female voices—such as those of Furia Zanasi and Ximena Biondo of La Chimera, in their Buenos Aires Madrigal: Argentine Tangos & Italian Madrigals (CD, M•A M063A)—feel more embodied and tonally complex, more engaging. The PrimaLuna was my favorite amp with the Q350s; more than the others, it made music feel deeper, fuller, more probing, more whole. Tavener's Eis Thanaton was most comprehensible with this amp.

Erudition—Enter the KEF LS50
After a week of listening only to the Q350s, I switched back to KEF's LS50s, driven by the PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium amplifier. The first difference I noticed was how pure, solid, and properly damped the LS50s sounded. Bass was more forceful and detailed, but not as expansive or reaching as low as with the Q350s.

The firm quiet of the LS50s made the Q350s sound slightly noisy and wispy. Conversely, my weeklong familiarity with the Q350s caused me to perceive the LS50s as sounding ever so slightly thick, over-damped, and restrained. In contrast, the Q350s seemed quicker and more mercurial than the LS50s. The Q350s didn't appear to suppress music's inner currents as much as the LS50s did.

Still, each time I reinstall the LS50s, I appreciate them more. Today, as I compared them with their lower-cost sibling, they seemed one of the most impressive bits of speaker engineering of the 21st century.

After a few agreeable LP sides, I put on a CD of Tavener's Eternity's Sunrise, performed by the choir and orchestra of the Academy of Ancient Music, Paul Goodwin directing (CD, Harmonia Mundi 907231). This recording is dominated by two sopranos, a baritone, and, a violin. The LS50's balanced purity directed my attention to the precision of this recording. It served up those cavernous spaces that Tavener uses to frame his meditations. High soprano notes were attractively supple and tangible, demanding scrutiny and admiration.

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I switched back to the Q350s and found myself admiring something different.

I was using the AMG Giro G9 turntable ($9900) with a Koetsu Rosewood Standard cartridge ($3495, review in the works) driving the Tavish Design Adagio phono stage ($1690), a Rogue RH-5 preamplifier ($2495), and Pass Labs' ridiculously solid and transparent XA25 amplifier. I swear I could almost count the separate voices in the choir. What the Q350s did with Grayston Burgess and the Purcell Consort's Now Make We Merthe: Medieval Carols (LP, Argo ZRG 526) was even more impressive: They put living medieval persons in front of the microphones, and made these Christmas carols from the 12th through 15th centuries seem right-here-and-now present and contemporary—not quaint, canned, or antique.

I felt a little bad that I didn't have my Linn Sondek LP12 in the system, or at least a British-made amplifier—that was how British Benjamin Britten's anti-war opera, Owen Wingrave, based on a short story by Henry James, felt through the KEF Q350s. This spectacular 1971 recording, in which Britten himself conducts the English Chamber Orchestra (2 LPs, London OS 26224), was made near the height of the Vietnam War, and features the same cast as in the first live performance, with Dame Janet Baker and Peter Pears, and Benjamin Luxon in the title role. I enjoy this opera because it is English, and because I identify with Owen as he defies his family's traditions and refuses to enlist in the military. "War should be a crime!" he laments. I completely agree. His refusal to fight costs him first his inheritance, then his life.

The performances and recording quality of Owen Wingrave showed me the full measure of the Q350s' ability to open a window on the recording venue, London's Kingsway Hall. When I switched from the LS50s to the Q350s, the dimensions of the soundstage didn't significantly change, but the sense of air became less dense. Unfortunately, that less dense air also seemed a bit dusty, and the performers less dense and defined. Instrumental and vocal tones became less saturated. But to its credit, the Q350s' sound felt more direct, open, and fundamentally truthful than the LS50s.

A Revelation
This is when, as an experiment, I replaced the massive, 24"-high Sound Anchor Signature stands I'd been using to support the Q350s with the elegant TonTräger Reference hardwood stands ($1395/pair). Skinny as sticks, the 24"-high TonTrägers weigh only 6 lbs and can be lifted with a finger (footnote 2).

Guess what?

The Q350s' less-than-perfectly-clean air got a whole lot cleaner. Less dusty-foggy. Those cabinet vibrations I'd felt under my hands were reduced. Bass became purer, more effectively detailed. Music felt more relaxed, focused, and three-dimensional—even at high volumes.

Opera recordings make excellent tools for assessing amps and speakers. Britten's Owen Wingrave made easy work of showing what the Q350s could and could not do. In addition to the lower-distortion fresh-air effect, the new stands let the Q350s show just how precisely they could pinpoint the positions of singers on the stage.

This improvement in the Q350s' sound was so conspicuous that I never returned to my iron anchors. (KEF recommends using their own 24"-high, 10.3-lb Performance Speaker Stands, which sell for $399.99/pair; these were not submitted with the Q350 review samples.)

LS3/5a Comparisons
The three versions I have of the BBC's classic LS3/5a minimonitor are all of the same size, weight, and construction quality, and measure as identically as any three speakers could. But they sound surprisingly different. Each in turn sat on the TonTräger stands in the same positions in my room.

The Falcon LS3/5a ($2995/pair) is the most uncolored, most precise loudspeaker in my bunker collection. I own the pair of them, they're my primary reference, and I'll never let them go. But I hadn't used the Falcons in a while, and had forgotten how refined, descriptive, and naturally toned they are.

When I switched from the KEF Q350s to the Falcons, still using the TonTräger stands, it was as if someone had vacuumed the last vestiges of fog from the space surrounding Janet Baker's voice. With Elvis Presley's first-ever recording, "My Happiness," from A Boy from Tupelo: The Complete 1953–1955 Recordings (3 CDs, RCA/Legacy 8985-41773-2), Elvis seemed even more three-dimensional. When audiophiles speak of resolution, they usually mean seeing and hearing into the performing space and down into the recording's noise floor. This type of resolution is the Falcons' specialty. When I compared them with the Q350s, I realized that it was also one of the KEFs' best traits.

My infatuation with the Stirling Broadcast LS3/5a V2 ($1990/pair) is based entirely on its greater fullness at the bottom and the liquid flow of its sound. It makes the Falcon LS3/5a sound slightly dry and tipped up in comparison. Compared to both the Stirling and Falcon LS3/5a's, my original "white badge," 15-ohm Rogers LS3/5a seemed a little sluggish and fuzzy.

But the Stirling is the most different-sounding of the three BBCs—and the one that sounded most like the KEF Q350. The Stirling LS3/5a V2 and the Q350 each produced a more relaxed warmth than the Rogers or Falcon, and, for reasons I don't quite understand, a larger soundstage.

I am a student and admirer of British boxes, but if I could keep only one, I would keep the LS50—but only when I'm an audio reviewer. The LS50 is a benchmark for accurate octave-to-octave energy balance and tonal neutrality—a reference-quality speaker if ever there was one. If I were just Herb, listening alone in my bunker, I'd keep the Stirling LS3/5a V2s because they make me forget audiophilia. If I were Herb the amp builder, I'd keep the Falcons because they're the most revealing of whatever drives them. If I wanted only to impress other audiophiles, I'd keep my collectible 1984 Rogers. But if I lived with my romantic partner, I'd keep the KEF Q350s, because they reproduced the widest range of music—including techno, bluegrass, reggae, and pop—in a musically satisfying way.

Conclusions
Early in this review process I realized that KEF's Q350 is not the poor person's LS50, but has a unique goodness of its own. Comparing the two KEFs became a case study in the fundamental ways speaker enclosures and crossover slopes can affect the sound character of the drivers they support. To my ears, dense, highly damped boxes and/or steep-sloped crossovers can sound subliminally thick and restrained. In contrast, lightly damped boxes with first-order crossovers add some loose, not-so-subliminal noise to the midrange—but they can also jump, sound expansive, and dance like Fred and Ginger.

The KEF Q350 is a lively and open-sounding loudspeaker. It delivers appealing tone, taut and satisfying bass, excellent boogie factor, and a feeling of sophistication—all at a very low price. Highly recommended.



Footnote 2: The TonTräger Audio Reference stands were designed to support Harbeth's Monitor 30.2 Anniversary Edition speakers, to be reviewed next month.
COMPANY INFO
KEF, GP Acoustics (UK) Ltd.
US distributor: GP Acoustics (US) Inc.
10 Timber Lane
Marlboro, NJ 07746
(732) 683-2356
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

... HR found that the "Q350s really liked tubes", specifically the PrimaLuna Prologue Premium stereo amplifier. The test report for that amp showed that it had a very high output impedance. It would be useful if JA could make a set of measurements for the Q350 while driven by the PrimaLuna Prologue Premium to show what would be the effect of that amp's output impedance on the speaker's frequency response.

Anton's picture

I think it would be amazing to compare!

Great idea, kudos to you!

Eddie R's picture

Your comparison of the Stirling Broadcast to the Falcon Acoustics was extremely helpful. There are so many LS3/5a choices in the market, including Graham Audio, which makes both an LS3/5 and an LS3/5a, and reviews such as this are very informative. You and Art Dudley are terrific reviewers!

spacehound's picture

Never, never, attempt to equate speaker quality with price.

This is a perfect example. On the strength of this review, if I was not already satisfied by my vastly more expensive and bigger speakers I would be going to my local KEF dealer this morning.

Our 'British' boxes are always wonderful. They are usually made by equally wonderful girls. In China.

tonykaz's picture

... that these lovely Qs are made of Chinesium, RRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrr you ?

I'm thinking that this reviewer is say'n the Qs are competent competitors against ( and along side of ) the often touted Chinese Pioneers and Elac B5 & B6 & F6 of Andrew Jones, even among the "Loved" by Queen & Country, British Loudspeakers with their beautiful "real wood textures". ( for gods sake ) "Real Wood" & pride of ownership !

Noticeably missing from this ( beautiful turning of phrases ) AB comparison is the Magnapan MG.7 for a US $ price of "Affordable" and a Decades long Audiophile reputation for A+ performance level.

So what is this entry level "Audiophile" price concept being frequently touted ? I think I'm reading that it's around $1,000 for DAC,Amplification & Loudspeakers ( made in chine ). It's the stuff you'll find at places like Best Buy and Amazon.

How much would an non-Chinesium Audio Entry Level system cost ?

I'll figure around $5,000 US ! Chinesium prics X 5 .

In Summary ( from my perspective ), Chinesium Loudspeaker can be made to sound dam good if you play them with Outstanding-Superb-Carefully Selected-Well Made front ends ! ( just like Ivor of LINN always said )

Ok, I applaud KEF, I've been applauding since KEF & Raymond Cooke introduced the original Reference series : R101, R103.2 & R105.4 which I never Imported or sold because Cooke wouldn't do business with us. Oh well.

KEF is darn good at making loudspeakers and drivers both.

It's too dam bad that we have to have our Cherished Local Brands plastered all over cheaper asian products !, KEF is doing exactly what Cooke avoided: diluting the Brand, our Brand if we own KEF stuff and our children's Brand if they hope to work in the Audio marketplace.

I'll join Raymond Cooke by turning over in my grave ( when it comes to that sort of thing -- three decades from now, fingers crossed )

Tony in Michigan

Ortofan's picture

... where the KEF Q350 is manufactured:
https://www.av-online.hu/pictures/gallery/kef-q350_2017-09-18/big/KEF-Q350-hangfal-csatlakoz%C3%B3_big.jpg

tonykaz's picture

I Came, I See, I feel conquered !

They charge extra for speaker grills.

Is there an address for sending the driver back for service ? or is Waste Management the only option. Maybe the reviewer took a Subway Train to NJ and had a nice look-round the KEF USA Parts & Service Centre. Is there a wonderful story to tell?

Why do I get the feeling that ownership of these Qs is a "period of time" specific experience, not to be confused with Ownership of a Pair of LS3/5a Rogers being a "Lifetime" experience with Grandchildren lining up to inherit the darn things ?

We can now look at eBay's Audiophile "Sold" listings to realize that quality Audio Gear maintains close to it's original purchase price and often the Gear appreciates to near current gear price points. All the while it's been singing it's heart out and giving pride of ownership a steady polish.

Is there anything coming out of China that has "Lasting" Value, is there anything Chinese that our Grandchildren will be taking to their Antique Road Show ? Walmart & Best Buy specialize in products with very short half-lives.

I'd rather the Rogers, Halbeth, Magnapan.7, the ProAc Tabletts ( my long term favorite )

I have old-school loyalties.

Tony in Michigan

Sfdoddsy's picture

I'm sorry. You are not 'old school'. You are racist.

If you have empirical evidence for Chinese manufactured equipment being of worse quality please present it.

The tenor of your posts ill behooves the audiophile community or Stereophile.

tonykaz's picture

Chinese quality is very darn good.

But they dump product and destroy native industries like my little Nesco Products in Two Rivers Wisc.., they copied the product ( mistakes and all ) then way undersold our Nesco at all the Walmart Stores.

Chinese are product dumpers, it's war for them, it isn't racist.

It might be racist to dismiss the problem as racist.

Behoove is the Duty or Responsibility to do something, I'm cautioning people about the concealed affects & effects from handing your/our cherished designs to Nation/States working to destroy our Foundational Industries.

Of course I'm delighted to be noticed for doing this kind of work!

Tony in Michigan

ps. We need Solid Asian Trade Agreements & Asian respect for Intellectual Property, not more fake ROLEX watches or sonic equivalents of our excellent loudspeaker designs. KEF going Asian is KEF racing to the bottom.

blackwash's picture

Your argument is odd (and perhaps a little personal). Theft of intellectual property should indeed be stamped out, but has nothing to do with a company like KEF (or any of the other high end audio outfits) choosing to have their designs built in China.

It is the logical thing to do in the free enterprise system of which the US is purportedly a shining light. It is capitalism in action. The solutions you propose are basically the government intervening to support uncompetitive industries. This is usually known as socialism.

You should also ask yourself why these companies have shifted manufacuring to China, or Indonesia, or Mexico?

There is no doubt even the most rapacious would prefer not to.

But the vast majority of people like yourself aren't willing to put their money where their mouths are and pay more for products built in the USA by people who get the (tiny) US minimum wage.

Why have they gone overseas? Because people like you won't pay the premium and instead expect the Government to.

Your praise for Magnepan misses the point. They aren't great speakers because they are designed and built in the US, they are a great speaker that happens to be designed and built in the US and has fans willing to pay the premium for that.

tonykaz's picture

You make valid points.

I am becoming Socialist. Agreed !

However I lived my entire working Career as a General Motors Corporate Citizen ( except for a brief adventure as a Audio Manufacturer, Importer and Retailer ).

I do buy valuable products made by skilled artisans and workmen, products like PS Audio, Sennheiser, Festool, Brisson Interfaces, Electrocompaniet, Thiel Audio, Meridian, Linn Products. I don't deny the qualities of various Chinese Mainland Artisan Companies like Cayin who manufacturer and engineer superb products.

KEF always seemed to have some sort of "entry" level loudspeaker, a price driven speaker like the beautiful CODA of the early 1980s. It was made in the UK.

But, we're here at Stereophile, an established Audiophile's reference Journal, absorbing the findings of inspired writers who take the time to carefully and fully evaluate various things of interest to our "tiny" group.

Is Stereophile writing to their readership ?

or

Is Stereophile writing to the emerging iPhone ( smart phone ) Audiophile Marketplace where Billions of potential Loudspeaker buyers are lurking at every Apple Store, spending their discretionary incomes on evolving technologies? Will these Audiophile smart phone people connect the dots, discover Stereophile and end up buying Q series KEF loudspeakers ? Or, is the Q series mostly aimed at those Big Screen 4K TV Buyers at Costco?

However, if I'm KEF and need some dam good "Print" reviewing, where on earth do I go? answer: My old pals at Stereophile and hope to have the Industry's leading Poetically respected Philosopher crawl into bed with ( and spend some quality time with ) our lovely little Q loudspeaker, thank you ! Of course, I suspect that HR sold most of us on our long established love affair with those LS3/5a darlings instead of the resonating paneled Qs.

HR acquits himself by hinting of the up-coming Harbeth reporting, so... we hafta forgive and forget. There's much more good than bad in Stereophile annnnnnnnnd I've loved JA since the early 1980s and will follow him most anywhere, Phew.

Tony in Michigan

volvic's picture

I have not read all the comments fully, but Tony's statement has a grain of truth. Years ago I read B&W's first foray into manufacturing speakers in China resulted in a surprising find; after production for B&W's entry speakers stopped for the day at the factory, night shift workers had copied the original B&W speaker and were producing exact copies without B&W's permission, for the Chinese market, and in some cases badging them with the B&W logo for sale. When they realized this B&W quickly put a stop to it, but I remember the manager saying that it was a constant battle working with the Chinese in protecting intellectual property, and manufacturing techniques. The problem is real and the challenges still exist in other industries.

volvic's picture

Tandberg made some of the finest hi-fi gear in the 60's, 70's and 80's but were very expensive, but beautifully built, with astounding FM tuners in their receivers. In 1981 they produced the 3030 receiver which was the first model made in Taiwan, this particular model wasn't very successful, doesn't attract the cash in the used market because it does not have the build quality the Norwegian manufactured ones do. I should know I own and owned several Tandberg products including the 3030 which was nowhere near the build quality of their older products, I quickly sold it.

AnIntelligentHome's picture

For those that think the Chinese make crap, if you own an iPhone of any variety, then I suggest you turn it in for a some other brand made in the UK, Germany, or the USA. Oh, that's right, no smartphones are made in any of those countries. Seriously. It's the engineering and the pursuit of quality by the parent company that makes the product and KEF shows they are NOT diluting their brand, but instead, making room for a larger market of people to enjoy excellent audio. Well done KEF!

sylinnian's picture

The point is......
A stronger eastern dragon makes Big Sam feeling inferior !

volvic's picture

You apparently do not read the newspapers to notice the hollowing out of Chinese manufacturing is beginning. With AI, rising wages, communist gov't interference there have been companies including Oracle and Seagate that have packed up some of their production and left. Even Foxconn has stated it could move some production overseas.

There is nothing wrong with open and polite discussion, but not backing up any claims with insults and nationalist self-titillation gets you nowhere here. Nuff said, done here.

tonykaz's picture

hmmmmm, not inferior.

I don't feel inferior, I don't feel you are inferior, I don't feel the Asians are Superior, we all are brilliantly capable.

I'm not yielding to marketplace pressures.

Having said all the above I do have to admit that the United States has had Post WW11 lack of competition because everyone else had to rebuild. Now, the World is Competitive again and I'm wanting to return to the Good old Days of the 1970s. Ouch, I'm feeling like I'm getting my ass kicked, Manufacturing wise.

Poor, poor, pitiful me !

Tony in Michigan

Herb Reichert's picture

Someone please define Chinesium: aside from the fact that many of the best built best sounding audio products I know are both designed and manufactured in China, I must tell you: Throughout the 1980s I lived in a giant factory-loft builting in Brooklyn. Affectionately, we called our obese landlord "Jaba The Hut" -- he had a huge factory (just below me) that employed illeagle alien workers for $2.50/hr making FAKE Disney and Mattel toys. These items were sold in major retail stores across America. At least they were Made in America - right?

tonykaz's picture

is an intellectual rant about using poor ( but skilled ) Chinese labor force ( usually young female Farm Girls ) kept in Labor Dormitories ( like Foxcom ( who make our Apple Products ) for ultra competitive Costs resulting in the collapse of a Country's Position in Supplying any such Product.
Intel refuses to participate in these Manufacturing doings and thusly maintains their "Local" Manufacturing.
General Motors ( our Previous CEO Rick Wagoner ) was planning on moving about 35% of GM's Content to China until the Financial Crisis finally killed us, Obama came the the rescue with a critical loan and the demand of keeping GM "Local". We stayed "live", now earning JDPower Awards for the first time for any US manufacturer of Transportation Products.
Chineseium is a continuing warning that I'll issue to vulnerable Industries so that they will be aware that they are selling off their children's futures for a fast buck.

I appreciate and value the beautiful things that Chinese Artisans produce and export to the USA.

It seems that we Americans, on the whole, are demanding traditional levels of quality in our product selections and turning a blind eye to the circumstances of the people involved in supplying them. Kathy Gifford having her beautiful Designer clothes made by near slave labor was a rather public scandal that started the Chinesium kinds of Rants.

Europeans seem to be less accepting of Chinese product dumpers.

Raymond Cooke of KEF got his "K" from his success in Exporting British technologically advanced Products, not from importing cheap labor Chinese loudspeakers.

As a Manufacturer, how can I approve the concept of moving our labor supply "offshore", strictly to improve my Corporation's P/E ratio ( momentarily ).

As a Corporation I have to move my Labor Supply "OffShore" to take advantage of lower labor costs, my personal Contract and Bonuses are contingent on it.

For us consumers, Chinesium is coming down to a personal choice unless our national trade leaders work out a Trade Agreement over all things Manufacturing wise. It's a complex thing that our next generations will be working, struggling, anguishing with.

For now, I simply can't endorse Name Brand's policy of "Outsourcing".

I'm probably choosing peanut butter over steak because of this Spiritual Position.

Tony in Michigan

ps. is a knock-off Rolex a good thing ? ( even though it's probably better at keeping time )

tonykaz's picture

I just did a bit of a Search on the LS50 to discover that KEF originally intended the Design to be a more modern replacement for the LS3/5a.

It needs saying that every Reviewer of Loudspeakers should own and use the LS3/5a as a Reference, I certainly did at my Esoteric Audio Salon. We felt that any Loudspeaker we would offer would first need prove itself capable of outperforming it, not many could ! We sold scads of LS3/5a pairs !!! The Linn Kann could, the ProAc Tablette certainly could, the Thiel CS3 could because it had deep bass, the Quad 63s might ( depending on Amplifier type ). The 3/5a was our balance scale.

The Point is that the LS50 is a modern LS3/5a and the Q350 is a price point LS50.

Another significant design factor of the LS50 is that it's intended to be used with heavy Sand filled Stands so that the added mass would further dampen it's Cabinet resonances. The Q350's resonance radiating chassis panels is a old trick from the cheap reciever speaker days. ( I'm pleased that you found a way of revealing this in some sort of painless way, I think that JA keeps a stethoscope handy for revealing these types of issues ).

The LS50 is now a balance scale transducer system that the Pro-Audio World ( including Genelec ) are carefully evaluating and comparing , pretty much like you and Steve G. do within most of your workings.

Tony in Michigan

GLADYS ZYBYSKO's picture

Might someone translate "Tony in Michigan"'s comments into plain ol' English for me?

Once I find out what they actually said, I am willing to give them a chance.

blackwash's picture

Fairly obviously Stereophile's audience is those who already know Stereophile.

To those who don't they have the same truthiness as Gizmodo.

Their task is surely not to act as an entry drug to the (IMHO) aurally bizzare cult of the LS 35a, but rather to find good products and tell us about them.

I'd prefer it if they were more open about the closeness of components such as the Q350 to much more expensive 'references' but such is life.

It is your task as a reader to accept their expertise or not, and to apply your own filters such as country of manufacture.

I found the actual review rather florid, but as a current or prior owner of all the speakers referenced including KS50sabd Q300 it's about what I would expect.

I'm also a Maggie owner and open baffle fan and would have liked to see the obvious comparison with MMGs rather than just with the same old tiny boxes.

I will of course note that most of the companies you praise are foreign, and some manufacturer their products in China.

GLADYS ZYBYSKO's picture

closeness?

tonykaz's picture

or We who take our Music Hobby seriously ?

This has been my Life-Long hobby and part time Career Path. I take these matters seriously. Buying a piece of Gear is like a Marriage Commitment, a Love Affair, a Relationship.

I still miss all the Superb Gear that I once owned : Pro-Ac Tablets, Magnapan MG2s, Conrad-Johnson MV45a, Audible Illusions Modulus 2a, Bruce Brisson Cabling MH750s, Meridian M2s & M3s ( both in Rosewood ), both of my original Linn LP12s and a few other pieces of wonderful gear I had to part with as I left the Audio Industry for the Travel Work of a Major Corporation.

I own superb gear now but I still miss my Vintage lovelies.

Some Gear should've never been Sold. My various LS3/5a collection is a good example.

My personal gear went up for adoption and are long gone, I should've put them into "proper" storage. A painful mistake.

Tony in Michigan

Jay Cook's picture

Tony- You do remember that Gold Peak Industries of Hong Kong owns KEF, right.

That being said, it is true that some Chinese manufacturing facilities have produced counterfeit goods. When M&K transferred production of their basic products to China, it was reported that the facility was turning out counterfeits of their S150s and other higher end M&K models, contributing to the ultimate failure of M&K.

tonykaz's picture

What, get outa here, a chinese outfit owns KEF.

I did not know that.

In fact, it seems a rather well kept semi-secret that never gets talked about. It explains why none of the Car Groups have KEF sound systems in their Cars.

and..... it explains an entry level $500 LS50 re-branded as Q series.

Well, ok, KEF is a Chinese Company, now we need to see a Video Tour ( YouTube ) of the KEF China manufacturing Facilities to see if they are striving to maintain the KEF mystique or if they are just cashing in on the KEF Brand recognition. A facility tour will reveal all.

Tony in Michigan

ps. I would never have known KEF was For-Sale or how much it Sold for. I hope someone asks Andrew Jones. This probably explains Jones's roaming around from Pioneer to TAD to Elac.

John Atkinson's picture
tonykaz wrote:
What, get outa here, a chinese outfit owns KEF...In fact, it seems a rather well kept semi-secret that never gets talked about.

Probably because it happened such a long time ago. Hong Kong-based Gold Peak bought KEF (and Celestion) in 1992, IIRC.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for mentioning.

Apparently my outfit is buying wiring harnesses from these people and they are said to mostly keep their noses out of the Loudspeaker operations.

Thanks for Naim , I'll be looking for one of the Uniti pieces. Finally, my first Naim.

Tony in Michigan

alucas's picture

thanks for another great article! i always look for your reviews. you explain everything to me and not above me.not meant in a bad way...call off the dog, this has changed my outlook on bookshelf speakers. thanks!

Trevor_Bartram's picture

I've lusted after the LS50s even though I've never heard them! Now KEF brings out a similar less expensive model with its own set of qualities. I'm wondering how they compare with my Paradigms, listened to and bought based upon Stereophile's glowing review of 20 years ago?
All the talk of the Q350's cabinet vibration is a little disconcerting, you'll get none of that from the Paradigms, as they use the more expensive matrix cabinet construction.
Just wonderin'.

AlexFeren's picture

I’ve got two SVS SB2000 subwoofers, Yamaha receiver pre-outs to Rotel power amplifiers.
The speakers need to be 3/4 to 1 metre from side and back walls.
With YPAO processing, should I be leaving Q350 ports plugged or unplugged?

TG04's picture

Thank you for the comparison of various LS3/5 offerings, very valuable indeed.
Now, just to point out the obvious, the LS50 + KEF Performance Speaker Stand come to about $1700 (bring your own sand) while the Q350 + Tontrager stands add up to over $2000. Does seem to level the playing field a bit … maybe even reverse the “budget” argument, why is that not commented on?
Actually, it is very surprising to me that the evaluations have not been made using KEF's own dedicated stand as a starting point. Not sure if I understand this right, but are you saying the Q350's really need the Tontrager stands to shine? And that the LS50 works best with a heavy, inert stand? Also, please comment on how stand and speaker are to be joined (the speakers have no fasteners of any kind, and the fine LS50 lacquer can easily be damaged if using Blutac, for instance).
Personally, I would be very happy if KEF would offer a stand that's specific to the LS50 including wire connections on the stand -- at the floor level instead of at waist-level on the speaker which is seriously ugly regardless of cable used.

dworkman's picture

I own the LS50s with Sound Anchor stands. I originally ran the LS50s not on stands, just sitting on the same cabinet as my electronics. Adding the stands made a huge improvement. In terms of the speaker/stand interface, KEF does provide some stick-on black rubber pads. I stuck those to the bottom of the LS50s.

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