KEF Q950: Pure perfection

KEF Q9509.5Solid, more than a meter in height systems with four drivers, one of which is proprietary Uni-Q. Such an impressive flagship of the eighth-generation budget Q line, and this is in our...

KEF Q950 Review
KEF Q950 Review
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KEF Q950 Review
KEF Q950

Solid, more than a meter in height systems with four drivers, one of which is proprietary Uni-Q. Such an impressive flagship of the eighth-generation budget Q line, and this is in our time! The authority of KEF can certainly be trusted, but we prefer to check everything from our own experience. It is believed that high-quality sound for a large room requires a substantial financial investment, but the Q series, which appeared in the early 90s and has now become KEF’s calling card, can prove that there are exceptions to any rule. Today we are already dealing with the eighth generation of these models, and each of them has been improved with the sole purpose of obtaining maximum sound quality at low cost. At the same time, it took developers more than two years to improve each next generation.

KEF Q950
KEF Q950

Floor-standing Q950 is the eldest in the modern line. The impressive towers, 112 cm high, have a strict rectangular shape and a very significant weight – more than 20 kg each. By the way, the external laconicism is due not so much to savings as to the desire to get a larger internal volume and, as a result, lower bass. Let me remind you that the Q models of earlier generations, to increase rigidity, had bodies rounded at the back, which, with the same occupied area, had almost a third less internal volume. The fight against wall vibrations in modern models is carried out using internal partitions and ties, and all these elements were calculated using computer modeling and then tested on prototypes.


Despite the large number of speakers on the front panel, the Q950 has a modest 2.5-way configuration. The fact is that the bass section here consists of an 8-inch active driver and a pair of ABR passive radiators of the same caliber. Compared to a bass reflex, such acoustic design, although more expensive, is much more advantageous in terms of depth and quality of bass: passive diffusers contribute to a more reliable reproduction of sharp hits. And at the same time, the depth of the bass is not lost – according to the description, the Q950 begins to reproduce it from 44 Hz, and at a level of -6 dB – subwoofer 26 Hz. In addition, even at high volumes, there are no “airy” overtones characteristic of bass reflex ports.


Great importance is also paid to reducing distortion in the lower range. The structure of aluminum diffusers and centering washers in active drivers has been improved, and in passive ABRs the moving system has been completely changed, which now has two elastic suspensions, external and internal. Thanks to this, the tuning frequency of the entire speaker system was reduced. The hemispherical shape of the diffusers results in increased rigidity, i.e. minimal distortion at high volume levels.


The proprietary Uni-Q module, consisting of an 8-inch midrange driver and a one-and-a-half-inch aluminum dome responsible for high frequencies, was also not ignored. The tweeter now has an improved rear chamber that dampens rear radiation and thereby flattens the frequency response at HF, eliminating local dome resonances. Pay attention to the suspension of the midrange driver – transverse ribs made it possible to reduce the height of the rubber ring and thereby eliminate the obstacle to the tweeter radiation. To ensure that the bass drivers do not interfere with the operation of the Uni-Q assembly, it is installed in a completely isolated compartment of the case.


Finally, to improve the matching of the low-frequency and mid-frequency bands, the crossover filters were upgraded. The manufacturer especially emphasizes that removing the coupling capacitor from the midrange section minimized the phase shift at the crossover frequency (400 Hz). Like all models in the series, the Q950 is available in a matte white or black finish. The speakers are supplied without grills, but they can be ordered for an additional fee if desired. At the base of the body there are protruding “paws” with threaded bushings for spikes.


In the very first minutes after pressing the PLAY button on the player, the thought comes: this is the true happiness of a rocker. And in general, anyone who loves tight, low and driving bass. I put on a very revealing Dream Theater CD and hear everything that happens in the lower register, right down to the tectonic effects on especially killer fragments. The frantic rhythm in which the drummer works is adequately supported by bass diffusers, the series of hits are not blurred and do not merge into a monotonous roar. Bass guitar separately – kick drum separately, separated by tone, but completely synchronized rhythmically. Thanks to the decent sensitivity of the speakers (91 dB), the amplifier does not succumb to this sound artillery. The lower register is clearly divided into a tonal scale; there are no drawn-out notes or monotonous components. This is, in fact, the first impression, which is the most correct.

KEF Q950
KEF Q950

The second interesting point is the complete understanding between the assertive bass section and the aristocracy of Uni-Q. This assembly features the highest resolution and provides a wealth of musical information in the most important area for our hearing. No matter how dense the spectrum is present in the recording, the Q950 will not miss anything or mix it into mush. Thanks to their high intelligibility and attention to detail, the speakers also perform well in more intellectual genres – jazz, small classical compositions, ethnic music, etc. They are also very effective in symphonic music – the contrast between thunderous tutti and violin solos, for example, will not leave even the most picky esthete indifferent.
The tweeter in the Uni-Q assembly is extremely neat. He presents a lot of details, creates an atmosphere, adding “air”, and there is not the slightest hint of aggression in his character. Even when playing recordings with a hard spectrum, I did not notice any dryness or metallic “taste”. You can feel real metal in the sound of the cymbals; after hitting, a cloud of after-sounds literally hangs in the room. Sibilant consonants are not emphasized on vocals. In general, the delivery of the upper range is light and comfortable. You can listen to this sound for a long time.

And every time I listen to KEF acoustics, I never cease to be amazed at the three-dimensional spatial picture that it builds. Of course, this ability depends on the nature of the recording, but if you listen to high-resolution files or quality CDs, you will really enjoy it. Uni-Q represent a real coherent source, operating from 400 Hz. All the abundance of information contained in the Q950 recordings is presented as a real performance with very material sounding objects. To get a real holographic picture, just turn the speakers slightly towards the center.


The general impressions can be formulated as follows: the sound character of the Q950 combines the highest energy and vital naturalness of timbres in the middle and upper registers. The tonal balance is fairly even, but in a small room there may be a bias towards the low-frequency region – these towers need freedom. Give them at least 25 meters of area, and they will delight you with bass that is almost subwoofer in depth, without hum or loss of intelligibility at high volumes. And the top and middle will be a very nice addition. Well, the main thing is that you will have to look for a similar sound at such a price

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