KEF iQ90 Anyone?

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Hi, all,

I am trying to buy a new stereo but I cannot audition many of the top rated brands. I ordered a receiver, a Denon 3312 which has been well reviewed everywhere but it was not available for listening, and now I need speakers.

I found a good deal on KEF iQ90 's (actually, the entire iQ series) here in Germany (€490 each) but local dealers say the line is being phased out and are pushing, at least as far as KEF is concerned, the Q's. I do not like the way the new Q's look (which is a factor). The XQ's look great, sound good but are a lot more money...and only the XQ30 (I like the sound of the XQ40 better) is in my price range. The iQ's at least look better but I cannot compare the sound. My living room is not particularly big, and, I am in an apartment so I will not be playing at loud volumes. My musical tastes are very eclectic, but no metal, acid or rap

If I go this route, I can also order two iQ30's (rear, for the occasional 5.1 moment) and an iQ60 (center) and still stay on budget, but a subwoofer would have to wait until next year.

On the KEF website they show the iQ's as a current model...the "classic" Q- but don't give me an idea if they are marketed below or above the "regular" Q's. Are the iQ's not as technologically advanced as the "new" Q's? Can anyone advise me on what to expect should I order the iQ90's?

Thanks in advance...
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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I gave some insight here: http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/hi-fi-advice

I can only comment on the match with Arcam which is good.

Back in '06, they were Hi-Fi Choice's "Top Buy" speaker at the £800 mark....matched with an amp that's not too forward and bright (I don't think the Denon is), they give a clear, detailed and exciting sound for AV....I also had the IQ6c and the dipoles. Back then, I didn't rate the Kef sub, so went with a Velodyne.

I never got on with the XQ range, unless matched with a smooth SS or Valve amp.

If I can help further, just shout!
 
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Anonymous

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In terms of product lines, the iQ and Q series are Kef's entry-level speakers while the XQ and R series are at a higher price-point. In terms of generations, the iQ and XQ single-digit lines (e.g. iQ9) were followed by the double-digits (e.g. iQ90), and the Q/R series are the newest. The latter does have newer technology, but I agree that the iQ lines were beautifully designed, and I'm a bit sad the newer Q's are so boxy looking.

Like cno, I never got on with the sound character of the XQ series (luckily, they were out of my budget too). I'm still a very happy owner of two iQ7's, driven by an Arcam AVR250. The combination gives me a very clean, open sound. The Q series sounded slightly warmer and muddier than my iQ's, but that was with a different amplifier so no direct comparison there. I haven't had a chance to give the R series a good listen, but the chatter about them sounds very promising.
 

CnoEvil

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tremon said:
Like cno, I never got on with the sound character of the XQ series (luckily, they were out of my budget too). I'm still a very happy owner of two iQ7's, driven by an Arcam AVR250. The combination gives me a very clean, open sound.

Mine were matched with the AVR350 where the front L & R were bi-amped....so very similar. CDs through a DV79 also sounded "clean" and detailed, without being bright.

Wrongly matched in a "live" room would not be good though.
 

leadears

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I hope I'm not stating the obvious but I'd suggest an audition - I suspect hifi profis in Frankfurt AM or Darmsdtadt would let you audition all of the named speakers, if that's within striking distance?

For what it's worth I run iq9 fronts with iq7s as rears with a denon 4310 reciever. For the price bracket I liked the iqs, very clear and detailed sounding, the 9s have a touch more bass so I grabbed a pair to replace my 7s when they were discounted. I haven't heard the newer Kefs - all I've heard is that they're warmer sounding.

I agree with the observation that they (iq9) might sound a little too much in a bright room, I found them too bright for some choral pieces when running with the Denon's DACs, a change to a dacmagic sorted that out, my listening room is well furnished and carpeted. On the other side I think they're great for low level listening and really suit acoustic and classical recordings.

Go for an audition and let us know how you get on :)
 
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Anonymous

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Hi, All,

@ Leadears: I am live in Frankfurt (not far from Darmstadt) - no one near here has the iQ's just the new Q's, and, in my opinion, "muddy" was a very good description. I could compare all with both the KEF XQ30 and the R Series…the R blew me away, but was out of budget. I can order the iQ's from Berlin (far) and return them (aggravating) should I not like them. The had the full line of iQ's cheap and I was contemplating the iQ10 or iQ30 for rear speakers & maybe add some 5.1 music to my collection

@Cno, By "live" or "bright" room, I am not familiar with the term, is that a room with an absence of soft surfaces, like rugs or sofas? The room has sofas and a tapestry on the wall but a tile, soon to be bamboo, floor. And bi-amping? I will have the extra channels on the AV receiver…is that worthwhile? My room is maybe 20 by 30 feet…not huge.

@Tremon, I was able to hear the R's and- wow- should I win the lottery. Should I be bothered that there is newer technology in the KEF Q's not in the iQ's? The iQ's are over six years old. They really push them in all the stores but I was not impressed. They also push the German brands (Elac-Canton-Heco-Jamo) here, but being an American living in Germany I tend to read the UK magazines more often…so I know a little less about the German brands (except that in the €2000 range they are made in China like everyone else).

I would love to hear Monitor Audio Bronze or Tannoy Mercury/DC4T but I would have to order them and hope for the best. I can hear Dali but not in the same store or the same electronics as the KEF or B&W stores. I tend to trust the British brands because I grew up with them in the 'States, but intellectually I know that should not color my decision.

Just to add to @Leadears…you hit the nail on the head…acoustic and classical recordings are really heavily in my library. The rock I listen to tends to be more Steely Dan/Joe Jackson/Fleetwood Mac type--not Alice Cooper.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond.
 
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Anonymous

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fluglotse1 said:
Should I be bothered that there is newer technology in the KEF Q's not in the iQ's? The iQ's are over six years old.
Not really. You have already heard the Q's and they didn't captivate you, so I wouldn't worry about it. Also, my father owns a pair of '70s Kef Cresta's and they still sound great.

Dali happens to tick a lot of my boxes too. I find it hard to really explain the difference between them, as the overall presentation and tonal balance is very similar. If anything, I'd say that Dali produces a somewhat gentler, sweeter sound while Kef gives the music a stronger presence (if that makes sense?).

It's been many years since I've heard any Denon amplifier, they wouldn't be my first choice for Kef speakers on the music side. They have made great progress in that area from what I've read, so the only way is to try for yourself. Luckily the amp has pre-outs, so in the worst case you can always hook up a stereo amplifier in between (the Marantz PM700x and Musical Fidelity M3i have a HT mode for this kind of setup).

I don't mean to discourage you, the iQ's are wonderful speakers. I'm just trying to give you more options than "send the speakers back across the country". :)
 

CnoEvil

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A "live" room is one that is reflective...if you clap your hands, you can hear it echoing round the room.

As you say, the opposite of this is a "dead" room, which absorbs frequencies. The secret is getting the balance right, as an overly dead room, can suck the life out of the music.

Rugs, curtains, soft furnishings, tapestries, bookcases and potted plants, all help to make a room less reflective.

A sparsely furnished completely square room, with laminate floors and large areas of glass and tiles, is a nightmare.

The other problem area, is where there is a suspended wooden floor.

Edit. IMO Biamping is worth doing, if you have two unused rear channels (especially if 2 channel is important).
 

leadears

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Mar 8, 2010
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fluglotse1 said:
@ Leadears: I am live in Frankfurt (not far from Darmstadt) - no one near here has the iQ's just the new Q's, and, in my opinion, "muddy" was a very good description. I could compare all with both the KEF XQ30 and the R Series…the R blew me away, but was out of budget. I can order the iQ's from Berlin (far) and return them (aggravating) should I not like them. The had the full line of iQ's cheap and I was contemplating the iQ10 or iQ30 for rear speakers & maybe add some 5.1 music to my collection

Ah OK, so it seems that hifi-profis are now out of IQs. Did you also try Raum Ton Kunst in Frankfurt? If the outfit in Berlin are effectively offering a home audition that doesn't sound so bad. For what its worth I thought the XQ40s sounded quite similar to the IQ9s - I auditioned the XQs and wasn't gripped by immediate upgrade-itis. I didn't A-B both speakers but I felt whilst the XQs were appreciably better sounding (warmer, broader soundstage) they didn't justify their price tag except perhaps for their presentation of orchestral pieces which struck me as really very good.

From your experience of the R series it sounds like I should audition them if I can ever justify the budget for an upgrade. One additional point is you'd probably get Kefs and other 'UK' speakers cheaper in the UK but of course you have to ship them somehow and any warranty issues would be complicated. You could also consider Nubert but you'd have to travel to the black forrest to audition. They're a German designer and manufacturer only sold by themselves - good products and worth a listen.
 
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Anonymous

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@Leadears...100% correct...Hifi Profis is out of iQ's and pushing the Q500 They have the XQ 30's on sale but they admit they are trying to get rid of them, and the XQ40's were so over-budget I didn't want to hear them. Raum-Ton-Kunst has no iQ's and only very high end Tannoys.

The Hifi im Hinterhof in Berlin has a complete line of the iQ's and is offering either a set if five iQ30's to use as a surround or a set of two front iQ90's, two rear iQ30's, an iQ60c (although I might go for the older/cheaper iQ2C) with no subwoofer (I can wait & add one for next Xmas) for €1700, or about the same price as I would pay for the Dali Fazon's 5.1 or the Tannoy Revolution DC4T 5.1 (all well reviewed here in the forums and in WHF). The plus about the Tannoy or KEF set up is that if I am not listening to my re-issued Pink Floyd 5.1 mix (Xmas present, driving the entire stereo purchase, I think), the front two channels will do just nicely. A compact/style set up might not satisfy me when I am listening in the normal 2-channel mode. Of course, WHF made it more complicated by picking the cheaper Tannoy Mercury V4 as the speaker of the year (let me know if you have any idea how Mercury compares to Revolution (not the signature..again over budget unless I mix the lines).

Thanks!
 

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