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KEF Q350 review

With a history spanning over six decades, the British producer KEF has become a household name in the production of reliable and affordable hi-fi.

Despite the fact that quality hasn’t always been their calling card, in the last 10 years the company has delivered rock-solid bookshelf speakers, from the 2011 KEF Q300 to its successor, the KEF Q350.

About the author

I am an audiophile and audio engineer with over 10 years of experience in the music industry. When testing speakers, I’m interested in clarity and neutrality, first and foremost, but I also want the sound to be enjoyable and engaging. When I use my hi-fi equipment for deep-listening sessions, I pay attention to the quality of frequency response across the spectrum, and when it comes to bookshelf speakers, it’s crucial they can perfectly reproduce whichever music I throw at them.

KEF Q350 speakers review
Image: KEF
  • 1″ tweeter
  • 6.5″ woofer
  • 63 Hz – 28 kHz frequency response
  • 30 – 120 W power range
  • 8 ohms impedance
  • 87 dB sensitivity

Final verdict on the KEF Q350 4.5

Overall, the KEF Q350 speakers deliver fantastic results for the price, providing the pristine clarity you might find in loudspeakers two or three times more expensive, like the Q350’s big brother, the LS50 Meta.

Furthermore, the soundscape reproduced feels immersive and deep, despite the size of these relatively-small speakers and the two-way design without a separate woofer. If you push them hard, these little speakers can bite!

My only concerns are about the missing grilles (available at an extra cost) and the undistinguished design, which might work well with most environments but takes away some of the uniqueness of these excellent speakers.

What I like

  • Pristine sound clarity.
  • Versatile. Ideal for both audiophile setups and home theaters.
  • Great value for money.

What I don’t like

  • They don’t come with grilles.
  • I wouldn’t recommend them for rooms larger than 300 sqft.
Buy KEF Q350 at: AmazonCrutchfield

Design 4.0

The minimal design follows the path paved by KEF’s most recent releases, with the 6.5-inch Uni-Q driver with an aluminum midrange/bass cone and the 1-inch aluminum tweeter dominating the front of the speakers and giving it a modern, even futuristic look.

The KEF Q350 speakers come in black with a black driver or white with a white driver, and while both options look great, I feel the black version would fit most rooms. The white version of the Q350, being devoid of any kind of ornamentation, might feel a bit austere when placed in a non-minimalist environment.

Build quality 4.0

Like its predecessor, the Q350 is solidly built and sturdy. One thing to notice is that it’s shipped without grilles unless you’re based in the UK (for reasons beyond my comprehension).

KEF does offer the option to buy a pair of magnetic grilles for approximately $40, although the impressive tweeter cage seems perfectly capable of sustaining most incidents.

Despite the size, the cabinets feel solid and weighty. As stated by KEF, the speaker’s chassis was built using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to improve their strength.

Sound 5.0

The transparency and depth of the soundscape coming out of the Q350 are excellent when compared to any other bookshelf speakers within a similar price range.

Regardless of the music genre reproduced, the complexity and texture of sound are represented with pristine clarity, making the Q350 the ideal option for audiophiles looking for versatile loudspeakers.

I used Peter Gabriel’s “My Body is a Cage” to test the speaker’s dynamic response. The track starts as a soft piano song while the string elements subtly build up in the background in a crescendo that slowly evolves into a sonic climax with strings, percussions, and Gabriel’s poignant scream.

The intricacy of the sonic texture is represented in detail, with every nuance of this complex composition exposed and enhanced without feeling overwhelming or unnecessarily dilated.

The stereo imaging is broad and immersive, making the Q350 a fantastic option for home theater without the need for a subwoofer.

Low-end frequencies are defined and balanced, while the midrange’s reproduction feels transparent and precise. For the price, you can’t expect more from these exceptional speakers.

Compatibility 4.0

Even though the bass port is in the front, I’d recommend not placing the Q350 against the wall or in a corner to avoid fracturing the audio spectrum. Instead, place them at least one foot from the wall: in this way, lower frequencies will sound more solid and coherent.

In terms of compatibility, being the Q350 not particularly energy-draining, they work perfectly with most receivers and amplifiers. Personally, I’d recommend the NAD C 316BEE V2, an incredibly versatile stereo amplifier that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Bear in mind that the Q350s are passive speakers, meaning they’ll require an integrated system or amplifier and preamp to work. Whether you can connect Bluetooth devices to it will depend on your hi-fi system’s characteristics.

Compared to other bookshelf speakers

The KEF Q350 is a fantastic bookshelf speaker. But alternatives at this price range abound, so let’s take a look at what I believe are the three main competitors of the Q350.

KEF Q350 vs Dynaudio Emit M20

Despite being more expensive, the Emit M20 doesn’t deliver a higher level of definition or transparency than the Q350. However, it does look nicer and feel sturdier. You have to consider what you’d rather pay for: audio quality or something that looks nice on the shelf.

KEF Q350 vs Audioengine HD6

With a similar price and features, the Audioengine HD6 is aesthetically stunning and delivers a sound quality as pristine as the Q350’s. Here it all comes down to personal taste.

KEF Q350 vs Kanto YU6

More affordable than all the options above and even the Q350, the Kanto YU6 is an excellent loudspeaker that can deliver deep, precise soundscapes and performs well especially at higher volumes. However, there’s a clearly audible white noise coming from the tweeter when the music is quiet.

Who is the KEF Q350 best suited for?

The KEF Q350 is for audiophiles who are looking for pristine audio quality without breaking the bank. These loudspeakers are versatile enough to satisfy the needs of everyone looking for immersive sound, be it for music or home theater. They’re versatile, detailed, and powerful enough to be in a small/medium-sized room and reproduce the entire audio spectrum faithfully.

For the most demanding audiophiles, given the size and power of these loudspeakers, I wouldn’t recommend placing them in rooms bigger than 300 sqft, or else the audio spectrum will get muddier and low-end frequencies less defined.

Buy KEF Q350 at: AmazonCrutchfield
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Discussions

3 comments
  • Hi
    I have bought those KEF Q350 to play mainly background music in my not too large dayroom (26 m2), to replace way too large Lowther Fidelio. I use them with Naim Unity 2 combo and all I can say is – they do play pretty obscure, muddy sound. Bass in not impressive, highs are not good, there is no mids….Prior to buying them I looked at Stereophile’s review and they have been ranked quite OK. I frankly, personally rank them POOR/AVOID/LOOK ELSEWHERE….

    • As an owner of a pair of KEF Q550’s and someone who has listened extensively to a pair of Q150’s I find your evaluation to be flawed. Actually, worthless would be a better term.

      “Bass is not impressive.” As compared to what? It is a 6.5 inch driver doing mid range duties as well. What kind of bass were you expecting? Most bass lovers with bookshelf speakers run a sub in any case.

      “There is no mids” There is no mids?? What kind of statement is that? You mean you can’t hear voices coming from the speaker? Difficult to take that one seriously for any speaker, least of all KEF’s.

      Finally we have “highs are not good”. Again no description of how and why the highs are “not good”.

      Based on all of this and having listened extensively to more or less the same speaker, I can honestly say that either: a) You have terrible ears. or b) There is a problem with the speakers themselves or another piece of equipment. or c) They have been connected improperly.
      Conclusion: Your review does not in any way reflect the sound of the Q 350 and your advice is to be ignored.

      • Thank you, I had 150’s for a year prior to my 350’s have had the 350’s for over a year, many many others prior to these, Paradigms, 3 sets, polk RT1A’s that got me back into bookshelves, I live in a small apartment and Paradigm 11semk 3’s were way to much. The 350’s are amazing, they are on 28 inch stands, 7 ft apart 30 inches from the wall to front baffle with a slight toe in and I listen to classical all the time, they afre also fantastic for TV.