B&W 600 Series vs KEF Q Series


New member
Aug 10, 2019
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I've been researching furiously for a few months now on an AV Receiver and 5.1 Speaker Package. I finally decided to go for the Onkyo TX-NR808 which has wonderfully powerful and open sound, great features and ultimately at the time could be had for the same as newer inferior 2011 models.

Nonetheless I am yet to decide on the speaker package and thought I might gain some assistance in choosing one here and also offer my thoughts on the various extensive demonstrations I've done to others in similar positions.

In all cases I used this material:
Blu-Ray: The Dark Night in Dolby TrueHD either the first scene in the bank or scene 20, the chase. It’s a very demanding low frequency sound track.CD: Pink Floyd, The Wall, Side 2, Hey You. Bit of everything, great vocals, acoustic and bass guitar.iPod: Couple of bass heavy fast tracks from Daft Punk's Tron Legacy soundtrack, Derezzed, Rinzler etc. Mozart Requiem and a bit of Led Zep.[/list]

B&W 600 Series:

685, 684 Fronts, 686 Rears, HTM62 Centre, ASW608, ASW610, REL T5, MJ Acoustics Pro 50 MkII, Pro 55 MkI Subs

I was suitably impressed the B&W's were very detailed, clear and integrated seamlessly into a an open soundstage. The best thing though was the speed, timing and above all bass. They have a really rounded bottom end which feels very rich and full (a word of warning about this later on though!). Another point of note is just ignoring the technical aspects for a second the B&W's are just very engaging and exciting, they have a forward presentation and real drive.

Once again the B&W's overall warm characteristics gave a rich and textured sound, very immediate earnest vocals and plenty of organisation and clarity. You really didn't need a sub at all the sound was cleaner without one.

Here is where I had my only negative experience with the B&W's the bass heavy tracks were just too thick and slow, veiled would be the best description.

Overall/Within Ranges/Subs/Amp Combo:
Mainly all of my test were with 685's although to be honest when I switched to the floorstanders the improvement was not big enough just bass extension on an already bassy speaker.
The 608 sub was just not good enough frankly, too much cabinet resonance and wobbly bass. The 610 is marked improvement. It’s fast, clean and crucially knows when to stop, it’s tight and deep. The REL was ok but I didn't listen for long. The Pro 50 MkII is very impressive for its size and price; it’s basically only a fraction less impressive than the 610. The Pro 55 MkI was just awful, it was loud sure but no control, the bass frequency just rolled on knocking into the whole frequency range.

On the whole the 600 series is great I can see why they have had such a strong run in What-Hi-fi. Its strong suit is bass and smooth delivery but it’s by no means weak in any area. It is without doubt though a warm sound and it should be said that I found it least impressive with the Denon and Yamaha amps and best with Onkyo’s they sound too closed and congested otherwise and open up with more oomph.

The finish particularly the soft touch fronts I thought were quite good and generally there attractive especially their yellow drivers.

Questions for Forum:

1. Speaking to B&W, they were adamant that smaller HTM62 centre channel is the one to go for instead of the HTM61, which apparently is only matched for the floorstanders and even then only the 683’s? Is this right I thought the centre channel was critical and the better you can get go for it?

2. Is the Onkyo 808 a perfect match for the B&W’s?

3. I was thinking of getting the DS3 dipoles for the rear as my listening position sofa is backed up against the same wall that my rears would be mounted upon. But no one carries them so I can never try them out. What are they like would they be the same as the RXFX’s I mention below?

4. Is B&W build quality as good as their reputation suggests? I know there made in China now, but everything is and apparently B&W are more hands on and don’t simply outsource production.

KEF Q Series:

Q300, Q700, Q900 Fronts, Q100 rears, Q200C Centre, B&W ASW610 Sub


Again fantastic the main difference was that the soundstage was noticeably bigger, both taller and wider. Because I think because of the concentric driver design the sweet spot was more spread out. Don’t get me wrong you can’t wander off anywhere but the scale and distribution is more. They key thing here though is that the midrange is so sweet, it’s beautifully transparent and clear, there is real detail and resolution here.


The acoustic guitar and cymbals were just brilliant here, you just noticed it more and it was more prominent, you heard more in the higher frequencies. By contrast the bass although precise was not that exciting and in all honesty you needed the sub to work harder to fill out the sound. There not as comforting as the B&W’s the vocals were less engaging, more clinical but you can’t argue with the detail and separation.


Didn’t get a chance to try this.

Overall/Within Ranges/Subs/Amp Combo:

The difference between the floorstanders and the Q300’s was more pronounced here probably because of the additional bass. The Q900’s were personally the best speaker I listened to but are way too big for me and expensive. Nobody had the Q400B sub to try which is quite annoying really because its making it harder to choose between the ranges. Either way though get a good sub with the KEF’s, they need it.

The KEF’s seemed to be overall more neutral in tone than the B&W’s and less sensitive to differences in amps. They are not as warm as the B&W but are by no means harsh or clinical. They really are good if not the best looking speaker in the world. It seems KEF have sort of been languishing in this sector of late, however this new Q Series really has got the goods.

Questions for Forum:

1. Apparently with the KEF’s you can go for the larger Q600C centre channel without any concerns. If true is this worth it?

2. Has anybody tried the Q400B sub? Having tested a few I know how important they are especially in movies. It has to be good quality, clean and deep with no roll on.

3. I was thinking of getting the Q800 dipoles for the rear as my listening position sofa is backed up against the same wall that my rears would be mounted upon. But no one carries them so I can never try them out. What are they like would they be the same as the RXFX’s I mention below?

4. Being honest KEF haven’t been as successful as B&W of late is this a worthy consideration or just snobbery? Since the 20% discount really does put it toe-to-toe with the B&W 600 Series. Is it a case of initial overpricing or just a really competitive product?

General Impressions on Various Speakers and Prices:

I initially looked at Satellite speaker systems; the KEF 3005 and B&W MT-30 etc. I’ve got to say that if you have the space you must go for traditional speakers. They simply do everything better, although the PV-1 was the best sub I heard, hands down. In general only the expensive packages are any good and thus uncompetitive; and even then they sound thin, tinny and no good for stereo music.

They I looked at the Monitor Audio Bronze BX’s. Before I heard the B&W’s and KEF’s I thought they were brilliant, really detailed and clear and very well priced; afterwards though they sounded harsh, brittle and thin. The integration was poor and bass weak. I’ve got to say though at under a £1000 for a complete package there is not point looking elsewhere if that’s the budget. They will smash any satellite system and are beautifully built.

The other range I tried was the Monitor Audio Silver RX. This was very interesting and really hit home the point about personal preferences and musical tastes. They were the most expensive and high end range I looked at. They revealed and extracted the most detail of anything I tried; they were utterly transparent and crystal clear. The RXW12 sub is awesome, so deep and powerful, just such a well-balanced system overall and by far the best made and finished, especially in gloss lacquer. In fact Monitor Audio feels much better made and finished full stop. The problem is that whilst the quality was undoubtedly there; I felt no excitement; it felt like an analysis rather than an experience. Especially compared to the B&W’s the presentation seemed nowhere near as forward and engaging. I can imagine them being perfect for jazz and classical in a monitor environment. But they gave me no warmth, just clinical accuracy. Also of interest the RXFX’s were the only dipoles I was able to try and I don’t know if it’s just me but I just couldn’t locate any effects I know the point is to be diffuse and maybe I’m just not used to it; but right now I just find direct firing monopole much more effective?

You must be bored by now, I know I am! But I just can’t decide between the KEF’s and the B&W’s? The problem is that KEF reduced their price! Otherwise the B&W’s were a shoe in for me, whereas now there’s nothing in it and I’m looking for anything to split them?!

I imagine there are a lot of people in my position so I hope my thought/ramblings are of some interest and I would really appreciate some help in my own decision.



New member
Dec 11, 2008
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I previously had floorstanding KEFs and after giving them to my son I bought the B&W 685 Theatre with ASW610 sub. I use my B&Ws with my Onkyo 905 what a fabulous, detailed and immersive experience with bluerays or dvds. The 685s are great with music on my Arcam system. You will not regret buying the B&Ws. My daughter uses her ipod with the B&W Zeppelin I bought her and lossless tracks or 320kb mp3s sound fantastic through the Zeppelin.

Best wishes



Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
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I have returned from a listening session using bass heavy music and demo cds with the b&w vs the kef you speak of and I am now listening to my brand new kefs! I reckon the b&w speakers would have gone deeper in bass but didn't have the detail. The guy switched from b&w to kef and back and going to kef was like taking cotton wool out of my ears!


New member
May 27, 2009
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I use the Q600C with the Q700s, same driver size, you could use the 200C with the 500s

Also I now use the T301 as rears as I did not have the decor space for the Q800DS, they are a very good listen and the whole system integrates well

Get yourself a BK Electronics sub, KEF make speakers but don't major on good deep subs.

Overall the KEF set up we use is outstanding, you wont regret it!!!


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