KEF Q550 Review

KEF Q550 Review

The KEF Q550 represents the perfect symbiosis of well-dimensioned floor standing speakers, lavish equipment, and finely defined sound, achievable in this price league. Here, too, the KEF-typical Uni-Q chassis ensures detailed highs and mids. In addition, a 130-millimeter woofer driver, supported by two passive membranes of the same diameter, provides plenty of bass pressure. But, of course, the quality is also at the usual high level of the British.

KEF supplies the Q550 either in black with a black chassis or white, then light silver-colored membranes. The foiled surface does not quite correspond to the class of the high-gloss models of the R or Reference series, but it still looks very high-quality and is reserved despite the massive technology.

The KEF logo is emblazoned in the upper area. Directly below are the Uni-Q driver, the 130mm bass driver, and the two supporting ABRs. All screws are covered, so the Q550 offers a very tidy impression. KEF has included generously dimensioned trusses to ensure that the slim speaker stands securely. The spikes embedded here can be adjusted from above. In this way, the housing can be easily balanced. I like that KEF also includes end caps, which are spun onto the spikes to counter them. For hard floors, you should get underlays so that the pointed spikes do not cause any damage.

PROS:

  • Open, lively sound
  • Excellent spatial imaging
  • Amazingly deep & rich bass

CONS:

  • It sounds a bit nasal at higher levels

Neat appearance

The back is also no mystery. The recessed connection terminal is located in the rear panel, set back slightly inwards. This is equipped with two gold-plated connection terminals angled upwards. They take either bananas or stranded wire with a cross-section of ten square millimeters. Of course, you have to do without bi-wiring in this price range. But that’s not a point of criticism for me.

The type plate with the most important performance data and the model designation is somewhat hidden above the two screw terminals. The front panels or grills, as KEF calls them, are not included. The KEF Q550 finds a secure footing on the base traverses already mentioned. They come in the respective housing color and are made of plastic. Front and back, the Q550 makes a very tidy impression overall.

Bass control

When developing the Q550, KEF opted for a closed version. At least almost, although there is no bass reflex port, the system is not completely rigid. Instead, the reflex port is replaced by passive membranes that are easier to control. In this way, KEF saves, among other things, annoying wind noise in the bass reflex channel.

In addition, unwanted housing reflections are effectively reduced to a minimum. Since the bass chassis drives the two passive membranes, it has more air to breathe and can play deeper. The entire sound behavior in the low and medium frequency range can also be specifically adjusted by carefully selecting the passive driver. So the Q550 plays deep and remains controlled. The high and mid-range reproduction meanwhile adopts the KEF trademark, the legendary Uni-Q chassis. With this structure, the high-frequency driver is in the center of the mid-range driver, which comes very close to the ideal of a point sound source.

Data salad

I don’t want to owe a few technical data on the Q550. Anyone buying these copies will receive two 873 millimeter columns just 18 centimeters wide. The feet expand the base to 299 by 310 millimeters and increase the overall structure from 14.5 kilograms to 926 millimeters. The housing houses the aforementioned Uni-Q driver with a diameter of 130 millimeters and the centrally placed 25-millimeter tweeter.

This is joined by a woofer driver and two passive membranes, also with a diameter of 130 millimeters. They promise a frequency range of 45 hertz to 28 kilohertz. Amplifiers with 15 to 130 watts of power at 8 ohms can be used for the drive to then press a maximum of 110 decibels of sound pressure out of the housing (manufacturer information). The signals are separated into two and a half paths. The frequency ranges of the individual drivers overlap, and a harmonious transition can be expected.

Lineup and player

I had a little more trouble with the setup this time, as my room shows a trend that the speaker prefers to emphasize. However, I got a grip on this by positioning the Q550 a little further away from the back wall than usual. The slim, closed column then rewards me with a powerful bass, which also cuts an impressive figure in the really deep ranges.

Thanks to the very good all-around radiation behavior, a very slight alignment to the listening position are sufficient to create a nice spatial image. My Magnat RV 4, which the KEFs felt very comfortable, procured the drive. The Q550 also harmonized very well with the comparatively inexpensive Pioneer A-40AE.

The KEF-typical Uni-Q chassis is also used in the Q550. Here is a 25 mm tweeter in the 130 mm midrange unit that surrounds it.

Sound

Both amps smile with satisfaction when the Q550s play for the first time. Once the perfect positioning is found, a flattering bass front rolls towards the couch, supported by the accurately separating Uni-Qs. Voices are perfectly released from the sound converters; the wide range of sounds wash over me from all directions. All of this is currently still happening at the much-hyped room volume.

To start, I put my test guests “No Sanctuary Here feat. Chris Jones” in a version by Marian Herzog. The original is already a groovy piece; the highly dynamic background with its rich kick bass and crisp high-hat sounds gives this song an additional touch of the power plant. Of course, you have to like that, but the point here is challenging the speakers.

A practical solution that also looks stylish: The trusses included in the scope of delivery give the Q550 more stability and look good.

Uni-Q is always a pleasure.

As expected, the distribution of the guitars, synthesizers, and the typical “Oooom” in the room is excellent for the Uni-Q chassis. Typical for KEF is the clean drawing of the highs, which I personally really like. In Yello’s “30000 Days”, the chassis armada can then very nicely demonstrate how finely they can distribute the synth sounds in space. Far beyond the base, the two Q550s span the entire width of the stage. The high-midrange combo shines with finely placed instruments. Diversity of sound is also popular in the low range cowbells, snare, and synthesizer sucks the listener into the action and makes you forget that a comparatively inexpensive system from KEF is at work here.

Full of juice and power

Listening to the KEF Q550 make music is a real pleasure. Although only 45 Hertz is specified as the lower limit on paper, the bass is partly deep, partly lively, and lively. You never notice on the Q550 that “only” a single, small 130-millimeter driver is active here. The midrange is connected very homogeneously, and the voices always sound crystal clear and finely nuanced. This also suits fine guitar and piano sounds very well.

“Corazon Espinado” by Santana naturally comes up with Santana’s typical guitar, which doesn’t disappoint either in the higher or, the lower register. The percussion pulls me right away with their crisp response, and it’s hard for me not to get up and dance along. In a nutshell, thanks to the Uni-Q chassis, the Q550 has to be slightly aligned to the listening position to create a realistic room image.

Hard tones or soft sounds

Brian Bloomberg’s “Elephants On Ice Skates” gives me a nice overview of the interaction of the four drivers. The exciting interplay of bassist, wind instruments, guitars, and drums is acoustically perfectly implemented by the Q550. They deliver plenty of pressure in the bass. However, the loudspeakers withstand all loads, especially in the intro – in which the bass player shows what you can do with slap bass. The wind ensemble behind him blows the stage wide and deep, and each instrument can be located.

Those who don’t yet trust the narrow KEFs can be convinced by Jennifer Warnes’ “Way Down Deep” that a deep drum achieves the necessary impact here. At the same time, the Uni-Q driver ensures that the instruments are spread out nicely on the stage.

At first glance, the wavy bead may seem a bit unusual. However, the many small elevations help transmit the tweeter’s sound components without discoloration.

Conclusion on the KEF Q550

With the Q550, KEF has created a nice floor-standing speaker. Thanks to the decent membrane surface, one can play well in the bass but visually makes a slim foot. In addition, the Uni-Q chassis is sharp analytical and adapts perfectly to the powerful bass foundation. As a result, the Q550 plays very lively, reproduces voices very convincingly, and is still fun even after listening for a long time.

While I’m already a KEF fan, I wasn’t expecting to have so much fun with speakers at this price point. But since I’m also a friend of closed systems, I feel perfectly served here if you are on the lookout for pretty speakers which visually enhance the living room and, at the same time, sound good.

KEF Q550 Review
KEF Q550 Review

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