KEF Q900 Speaker System Page 3
The Q900s’ bass could also sound a bit lumpy with some program material. To repeat what I’ve said before (and will again), the bass you get from any loud- speaker depends as much on your room and setup as it does on the speaker itself. I added the pair of Q400b subwoofers, positioned side by side, centered between the Q900s and slightly behind them. In my room, subs generally work well in this position. I fed the subs the full load below 80 Hz. With this addition, the bass became significantly better defined and deeper than it was with the Q900s alone. It didn’t completely elimi- nate an occasional rude bass riff, but the audible improvement was substantial overall.
Lights, Camera, Movies
While a good speaker should be a good speaker with any program material, many speakers favor music over soundtracks, or vice versa. But the KEFs didn’t play favorites. They sounded polished and compelling on both.
On a wide range of films, from the dialogue-heavy The Social Network to the nail-biting action of Unstoppable, the KEF Qs never failed to deliver. Their detailed yet never over-the-top midrange and treble rarely demanded that I turn down the volume, except where the source itself intruded. A good example of the latter is the 25th Anniversary edition of Les Misérables on Blu-ray, recorded last year at London’s O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome). The levels on this disc were all over the map, particularly on the soloists (not to mention the absolutely deafening opening menu). I was tweaking the volume every few minutes. Even so, the sound of the orchestra and chorus on this DTS-HD Master Audio release was spectacular.
The Q600c center speaker’s off-axis performance was out- standing, thanks to the Uni-Q’s coaxial midrange/tweeter. It wasn’t a perfect spectral match to the left and right Q900s, but this difference was obvious mainly on the band-limited pink noise I used to perform the level calibration. The Q600c sounded slightly smoother and better integrated with the left and right channels when heard a bit off axis rather than straight on.
The Q100 surrounds blended perfectly into the sonic whole—except on one occasion. When I played a particularly powerful bass passage, I heard a distinct whack coming from the back of the room, which suggested that the surrounds had bottomed out. But after I changed the surround-channel crossover point from 80 Hz to 120 Hz (a flexibility not all A/V receivers and surround processors offer), they proceeded to function as well as before and never again complained.
The pair of Q400b subwoofers surprised me with their gutsy performance on soundtracks. No, they don’t provide the sort of room-shaking, down-to-20-Hz, smash-mouth bass that something like the HSU Research VTF-15H can generate. While I did miss some of the latter’s deep bass growl, the KEF subs com- pensated by rarely calling direct attention to themselves. Even with the extreme bass that Unstoppable’s runaway train generates, my reaction was always, “Wow, great action,” never, “Wow, listen to that bass.”
And so it continued. The Qs performed, whether the soundtrack demanded subtlety, crushing dynamics, or the cinematic sweep of a big, bold film score (perhaps the quality of the Qs I appreciated most). The KEFs never failed to support great images with terrific sound.
Yes, you can spend a lot more than this for speakers. And I’d never argue against it if a par- ticular system tickles your fancy and fits your budget. But if you argue that the cost of a good surround speaker package is money better spent on a good set of stereo speakers, you haven’t spent enough time listening to speakers like the KEF Q900, either alone or with their sur- round system siblings. I men- tioned up front that KEF’s Q Series has always been among the company’s most popular speakers. Based on what I’ve heard here, this new lineup should handily continue that winning streak.