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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 ten years the company has delivered rock-solid bookshelf speakers, from the 2011 KEF Q300 to its successor, the KEF Q350.

KEF Q350 speakers review
Image: KEF

Final verdict on KEF Q350 4.5

Overall, the KEF Q350 delivers 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.

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.

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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 one-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 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.

Setup and 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 or the NAD AMP1 amplifiers: they’re incredibly versatile and don’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 speakers

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.

Pros and cons

  • Great value for money.
  • Versatile speakers, ideal for both audiophiles and home theater.
  • Pristine sound clarity.
  • They don’t come with grilles.
  • Not the best design out there (although that’s subjective).
  • I wouldn’t recommend them for rooms larger than 300 sqft.
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