Bookshelf speakers are a particularly hard piece of sound equipment to get right. With the neverending surge of new technology, but a still high demand for speakers in a domestic setting that are powerful but don’t take up much space, it’s hard to find a medium between the demand and the technology.
You certainly don’t want to pay through the roof for speakers, but scrimping on your purchase won’t be raising the roof any time soon.
At KEF they have been making stellar sound equipment for a long time and these Q150 bookshelf speakers are no different.
Improving on their previous Q100 series, these speakers are potentially your best choice when it comes to small, unassuming bookshelf speakers that pack a punch while not taking up a lot of space in your study or living room.
Could KEF have hit the sweet spot between saving space but not losing sound quality? Let’s explore the speaker together in our review of the KEF Q150 Bookshelf speaker. Read on to find out our verdict.
Table of Contents
Bookshelf speakers are generally supposed to be unassuming enough to fit on a bookshelf and not stand out too much, without losing out on the necessary components for quality sound.
At around 12 pounds each, the speakers are lighter than you may think, which can help ease the mind of those worried about toppling the bookshelf with heavy speakers – this makes them one of the lighter bookshelf speakers on the market.
The speakers are 12×11 inches which makes them slimmer than most other bookshelf speakers but still small enough to fit on a bookshelf and blend into the surroundings of a domestic home.
For those worried about design and aesthetics, the speakers come in three color choices: Black, White, and a hardwood finish. Specifically, the hardwood finish choice could help these blend into your abode more seamlessly, the white certainly stands out, but the black can be pretty incognito as well.
The large 5.25 inch driver and 1 inch tweeter are the only blemish on the relatively sleek frontal face of the speaker, with only KEF’s branding to contend with, these should blend well into any domestic environment.
The Uni-Q driver really does a lot for the speakers high frequencies and also the sound staging, this is one of KEF’s stand out features that sets them apart from their opposition.
This sort of clever physical engineering means that even in this small format of a bookshelf speaker a lot of quality sound can still be heard.
Not mentioning the clever use of the bass woofer on the back means that the highs and lows can work perfectly in tandem with each other when placed apart to designer specifications.
The woofer is actually on the back of the speaker, which does a lot for decluttering the front, but some may think that this could affect the sound.
There isn’t any large cause for concern, though, as low frequencies (bass) can travel in any direction and even through walls. This is unlike high frequencies emitted from the tweeter which are directional and must face you in order to hear a full range of frequency.
While low frequencies are certainly more mobile than high frequencies, this can have a mildly negative effect on how you place them.
The set up guide recommends at least a minimum of 9 inches between the wall behind the woofer and the woofer itself. This allows the bass to truly travel freely, and is certainly recommended for the best listening experience.
9 inches may be a little further than you think, which means you may need to reconsider your placement of the speakers, but this is a problem you could run into with any bookshelf speaker whose engineers tussle with this same space problem.
Moreover, the same set up guide recommends at least six feet between the speakers in order to achieve the full soundstage the speakers have to offer.
This is much easier than placing them away from the wall, most similar speakers require the left and right to be separated to provide a proper surround sound rather than one tiny channel where the speaker's full sound can be heard.
For the sound engineers among us, the speakers nominal impedance is 8 ohms which means the Q150 can be powered pretty efficiently even by a relatively low power amplifier.
As they remain passive speakers there isn't too much tech you need to worry about.
In general, the Q150 performs a lot better than one might expect. With the right amplifier these speakers can really pack a punch sonically, and even if you're not seeking to raise the roof with these speakers but instead use them for a cinematic audio experience, you won’t be disappointed either.
Even after mentioning that the woofer is behind the speaker this makes for a genius move, as the bookshelf speaker communicates with the hollow wall behind it more than other speaker designs, this creates some pretty stellar low frequency response.
For the domestic uses KEF are preparing the speaker for it certainly performs well, especially for the respectable price of these speakers.
Moreover, the Q150’s can also provide some sharp high frequencies, vocals, and instrumental lines that can cut through the warm and rich bass. Expect guitar solos and high frequency synths to particularly stand out.
When spaced out to designers recommendations, you can really hear the audio separation on the left and right speakers as well as the decent sound stage the speakers offer for their price and size.
The midrange frequencies can sometimes feel left out of this equation, though. We were left wanting a little more presence in the upper midrange in order to smooth the whole sound over nicely, it gets lost a little against the sharp highs and full low frequencies.
Other speaker’s by KEF don’t seem to have this problem, but this won’t stand out too greatly to those without a trained ear and still remains respectable for the price.
The speakers sound great with most genres, particularly bassy electronic music can make use of the great bass sound with synthy highs, or comparatively rock music often sounds good on these speakers as they operate within the mid and high range that allows guitars to shine in particular.
Nonetheless, instrumental music does sound great too, deep and rich tones from the instruments work perfectly with the speaker's frequency response.
One thing about bookshelf speakers is that customers often want a speaker that can walk the line between audio quality for light music listening and also the ability to produce TV/film quality audio for a cinematic experience.
Luckily, the clever woofer placement and decent high frequency response does make the D150 pretty great for cinematic audio.
Watching TV or film withthe Q150s means clear voices, spine tingling high frequency response to noises like ice in a glass or keys in a door, the bass helps provide the haunting ambience of a horror movie or booming explosion of bombs in the distance with a war movie.
We were happily surprised by how these speakers operated when watching TV or movies.
We think the KEF Q150s are a great pair of speakers. Within the bookshelf speaker market this model remains respectably priced but can still compete with the more expensive speakers within the market and even my KEF themselves.
Clever design means that these small and unassuming speakers can pack a punch when it comes to audio.
With rich tonal bass response thanks to the woofer design, and some really sharp and glistening high frequency response, the speaker should easily satisfy the requirements you have of a bookshelf speaker.
The midrange frequency response could be a little more present to help bridge the highs and lows, but this still performs well among others in the market.
Even when not listening to music, the speakers are surprisingly good at cinematic playback, likely due to the clever woofer design once more, which results in some totally satisfactory cinematic audio.
KEF certainly exceeds the expectations of a bookshelf speaker as well as the expectations of speakers at this price point.
Nuanced build design means not only will the speakers last for a decent period of time, but they are also nimble enough to fit easily onto a bookshelf without pulling the whole thing down.
Moreover, the design means they remain fairly incognito in your study or living room, with other styles available you can choose which fits your surroundings best.
Overall, we found the KEF Q150 bookshelf speakers to be a great addition to any domestic setting. Whether you want clear audio playback or just some clearer audio for your cinematic indulgences, KEF has provided a speaker that will go beyond what most expect.
KEF demonstrates how clever engineering can result in a small but mighty speaker that delivers in most areas and beyond what you may expect for the price point.