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We always found pleasure when it came to test a pair of KEF speakers and having tested one of their floorstanding speakers recently, the Q500, we have only good words to say about them. Going into the 8th iteration of one of their most popular lineup, the Q series, has a lot going for it. KEF has included 2 bookshelfs, the Q150 and Q350, 3 floorstanders, the Q550, Q750 and Q950, a center speaker, the Q650c and a Dolby Atmos module, the Q50a and thus filling the series with all the necessary type of speakers in order to support any kind of home theater setup. The Q series doesn’t offer a specific subwoofer but fear not as KEF has a nice range of subwoofers that could pair with the rest of the Q speakers.
For this new release KEF created an enhanced Uni-Q driver array, redesigned the cabinet and added sleek new finishes in their try to improve upon an already great design both acoustically but also artistically.
Today we will be reviewing one of their floorstanders, specifically the Q550 which is the smallest floorstander in the series. Having reviewed the previous version of this model, the Q500 to be more precise, we were curious to see if the changes that KEF made overall to the Q series has affected the quality and performance in any meaningful way. So let’s proceed with our KEF Q550 review to see what these lovely little floorstanders have to offer.
Design, Inputs and Features
The first thing that catches your attention if you were to compare these with the previous model in the series is that the Q550 is almost the same in size and weight making them compact enough, something that can be a very deciding factor if the space you want to place them is somewhat limiting. Measuring 926mm (36.45 inches) x 299mm (11.77 inches) x 310mm (12.20 inches) with the rubber feet included and a weight of 14.5kg (32 lbs) the Q550 has a very bare and monotonous box-shaped design especially if you have the grills on as they cover the full front face of the speakers. The KEF logo at the top is the only element that brakes this monochrome monotony in the front.
The Q550 comes with a redesigned cabinet and KEF has opted to place the Uni-Q driver in a sealed box. This way the load on the Uni-Q midrange cone is reduced due to the closed midrange cabinet further improving clarity and bass quality. Also the removal of the DC blocking capacitor from the mid-bass driver resulted in further improving midrange clarity and bass roll-off between the drivers.
Removing the full frontal grill we are presented with what is the highlight of the Q550. A 130mm (5.25in.) aluminum Uni-Q driver featuring the 25mm tweeter in the acoustic center of the midrange cone in addition to the ‘tangerine’ waveguide over the tweeter dome create a wider, more even sound dispersion and a more accurate three-dimensional sound image. Further additions to the design include a damped tweeter loading tube that improves the treble performance and a low-distortion inductor on the crossover which according to KEF promises to offer a more clear bass response.
Under the Uni-Q driver we find a 130mm (5.25in.) aluminium low-frequency driver which features a better cone structure for improved mid-range performance, a new spider suspension system in order to produce cleaner bass at high volumes and a larger roll surround in order to lower the distortion at high sound pressure levels. The accompanying dual 130mm (5.25in.) aluminium ABRs have also been enhanced with a larger roll surround and a rubber suspension that KEF claims to be better than fabric and can result in deeper and louder performance.
The Q series speakers are coated with a fine satin finish in black or white while the drivers come in the same color as the cabinet. The full frontal grills can be magnetically attached on the speakers should you wish to hide or protect the drivers while the feet (plinths) use height-adjustable spikes for easy balancing on uneven floors. The high quality gold-plated terminals on the back can accept bare wires or any kind of banana plugs.
The Q550 driver array has a frequency response of 58Hz – 28kHz, a maximum output of 110dB with 87dB sensitivity and 8 Ohms impedance.
Design-wise KEF has been through a lot of effort in order to try and improve upon an already magnificent design. Naturally making better an already excellent design is not an easy task but it seems that somehow KEF has found ways to make small changes that would create an even better acoustic result.
As with all speakers testing we went through our usual calibration after connecting the Q550s to our Onkyo AV receiver and positioning them accordingly in our area. Leaving some breathing space around the speakers is always preferable if your area allows for that with KEF suggesting to leave at least 20cm from the back and around 1m from the sides of the speakers for better performance.
First in our list for testing couldn’t be other than the 4K UHD disc of Saving Private Ryan with it’s amazing Dolby Atmos track and of course we checked the opening scene with the Allied Forces landing on the beaches of Normandy. The first thing that we immediately noticed was the amount of clarity and response we got from the speakers. This scene has many small acoustic details with the Q550 being able to reproduce them faithfully creating a really amazingly soundstage that you have to experience for yourself.
Splashes of water, the marine engines roaring and the military equipment on the soldiers were spot on in the foreground while artillery shells exploding on the background created an ominous atmosphere. When they reach the beach and the doors open all hell breaks loose on the screen but the Q550s keep a straight face by reproducing all sounds with an amazing control and focus. Explosions and machine gun fire take center stage and while they are the most impressive elements acoustically the never overshadow the dialogue or the rest of the effects.
For our second test we went for the Blu-ray disc of the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with it’s amazing orchestrated DTS-HD Master Audio track. We skipped forward to the siege of Minas Tirith from the moment the Rohirim destroy Sauron’s army. The speakers once again managed to left us nothing short of amazed. Clarity and dynamics were top notch, frequency response was excellent and sound texturing very convincing.
Everything from the trolls crashing the humans, the Fell beasts screaming as they fly above the city or the metal shields and weapons clashing during the battle every single sound element is reproduced masterfully creating a really immersive environment.
Closing our movie testing we wanted to say that having tested the previous iteration of this model recently, the Q500, we were very impressed with it’s performance but KEF managed to make enough improvements with the new Q550 to make them even better. The changes in the acoustic result may not be dramatic but they are there even if subtle.
The Q550 are amazing speakers and will elevate the quality of any home theater but depending on the size of your area they may lack a bit. In that case the Q750 will definitely improve this but if your area where you will use them is relatively small then you have nothing to worry about. KEF once again proved us why they are considered such a high quality brand.
Finishing our movie testing we anxiously picked up our trusted selection of FLAC music tracks as the time to test some music has come. If the speakers are new it may take some running time until they can reach peak performance and during this time you may feel the speakers underperform but giving them the necessary time to flex their muscles will for sure reward you in the end.
We were very impressed with the musicality of their predecessors and oh boy did we experience once again an amazing performance from the Q550s. First of all what KEF claims about the omnidirectional capabilities of the speakers seems to be true as we tried various positions and we didn’t feel like we were loosing anything in depth or frequency response making the speakers ideal if sitting on the sweet spot is not a given in your situation.
Bass was adequate and never interfered with the rest of the musical instruments although we would like it to have a bit more punch. We believe that going for the bigger Q750 would improve upon this but if you cannot afford that then the Q550s will suffice. The speakers will give you a very good sense of instruments placement as they managed to reproduce each sound separately with clean textures and incredible resolution even if you push the volume at higher levels something impressive for such relatively small floorstanders.
Overall if music is your thing rest assured that the KEF Q550 will satisfy all your needs and then some with their convincing performance no matter the kind of music you prefer.
The Q550 is part of KEF’s newest Q series and these small floorstanders don’t stop to amaze with their performance. Their size may not make them suitable for large home theater rooms but for more compact spaces like living rooms or small to medium media rooms they will really shine and deliver the kind of performance that will truly immerse you in either you are a movie or music lover.
Small improvements on the design compared to it’s predecessor may not result in huge acoustic differences but for those seeking the best in this size and price range then the KEF Q550 is a very good speaker to consider. Great mid-range, dynamic highs and tight lows make the Q550 a great overall floorstanding speaker that will offer you countless hours of acoustic pleasure. Highly recommended.
For more reviews you can check our dedicated Floorstanding Speaker reviews list or even look at our Product Reviews Table where you can find the brand and specific product you are looking for.
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- Design : Two and a half-way bass reflex
- Drive Units :
- 130mm (5.25in.) aluminium Uni-Q
- 25mm (1in.) vented aluminium dome HF
- 130mm (5.25in.) aluminium LF
- 2 x 130mm (5.25in.) aluminium ABR
- Frequency Response : 58Hz – 28kHz (±3dB)
- Crossover Frequencies : 2.5kHz
- Maximum Output : 110dB
- Amplifier requirements : 15 – 130W
- Sensitivity : 87dB (2.83V/1m)
- Impedance : 8 Ohms
- Dimensions :
- 873mm (34.37 inches) x 180mm (7.08 inches) x 278mm (10.94 inches)
- 926mm (36.45 inches) x 299mm (11.77 inches) x 310mm (12.20 inches) with rubber feet
- Weight : 14.5kg (32 lbs)
30 thoughts on “KEF Q550 Review (Floorstanding Loudspeaker)”
I am in the market to upgrade my Polk system as it is a number of years old. Does the KEF only come in white and black as a cherry wood or dark wood would be better suited to what I have at home?
What cable cross-sectional dimension would you recommend for the Q550 so that I can check compatibility?
Hey Richard. Unfortunately the KEF Q550 come only in white or black. No other variations.
As for the cables we use 2mm with 520 strands of pure copper. But cable dimensions should be calculated depending on the cable length you need. Our cables are pretty short so we don’t need higher cross-sectional dimensions. For anything more than 3 meters we would suggest to go minimum for 2,5mm cables.
Thanks for writing this review on KEF Q550 flooring loudspeakers. This type of loudspeakers I always want to have at home no matter what, even at a costly price as long as they are of high quality. I have seen the KEF Q550 multiple times, the last time I can remember is when a friend was using them for a pool birthday party and the experience was like wow from me
They are indeed great and of high quality. And they can perform exceptionally in any kind of situation.
I am looking for a bluetooth speaker for my phone, but I guess we are talking about speakers for home theaters here and not phones.
That’s on a lighter note. But, on a more serious note, my brother, who is furnishing his new home, will see this as heavenly! I would make sure to refer him to your review.
I must complement the thoroughness you applied in reviewing the KEF Q550 (Floorstanding Loudspeaker). Thumbs up.
Thank you for your kind words. These are home theater speakers so they don’t offer any kind of wireless or Bluetooth functionality. You can chaeck our speakers section as we have reviewed a wide variety of speakers.
Hello, I would like to appreciate your efforts on this post because reading this review about the KEF Q550 floorstanding speakers just put my mind at ease that I can get a great set of speakers that will enhance my ability to correctly score songs. I am a musician and I do a lot of listening to music due to my work. You said in your review that the speaker is also best for music amidst other things. I’m gonna give the KEF Q550 a trial. Thanks.
I am sure you will find them very useful and will help you a lot during working.
I personally prefer speakers that offer high quality sound and not an over abundance of bass. I like the surround sound experience especially when watching television. I’m a music lover and contemporary jazz and crystal clear, crisp and high quality speakers are right up my alley.
Hello Craig. Then I am sure the KEF Q550 will satisfy all your needs 😉
Hi, you did great with this product review. You vividly described the features and design of the KEF Q550 for a potential buyer to understand what makes the product a must have.
I particularly love the fact that you tested the product using both movies and music to ascertain the level of soundness of the speakers, which came out great. This will encourage a potential buyer to go for the product knowing that the product truly does what its producers promises it will do.
The specifications are great especially the frequency response.
Hello Gracen. We always test our speakers in order to give our readers an idea of their performance. But since sound is perceived differently by each person it should never be taken as a fact that what we hear and perceive as good sound would mean that others would agree. But there are certain qualities and information that we can provide so we can give you the chance to make the best judgement.
I absolutely love what I read in this insightful article because it is full of great information. This is fascinating and interesting to me. I really love the features of KEF Q550. The size and price are really amazing, this will beautify my living room. After reading the pros and cons, I would love to add this to my budget and plan to order them soon.
Thanks for the review, regards.
I am glad that you found our review useful. You will definitely enjoy them.
Thanks for sharing this article on KEF 550 speakers. The article really explained their features and I liked that you compared them with their predecessors before this new KEF Q550 came out. I think this will suit my small living room for me to enjoy my movies as it is not so big. Thanks for sharing this article. I will be making my order this week.
I am sure you will have a great time with them.
My younger cousin has the Q550. When he bought it new, I was thinking that the speakers won’t be really good but little did I know that KEF really did a nice work on the Q550. The apartment isn’t too small and yet the speakers were really giving the boom sounds which I initially felt they couldn’t give. They are also compact and I like the size of the speaker. I may have to buy my own soon.
They offer more that what they look for sure. For anyone serious about their acoustic pleasure should consider them.
Do these speakers really do a good job when the song is Hip-Hop or Drum ‘N Bass?
They are really good overall but I strongly suggest you to hear them yourself if you have the chance. There is no better judge than your ears and only you will know for sure if their musicality can satisfy you. In our opinion we were very impressed when we had the chance to test them.
Would you recommend the Q550 or Dali Oberon 5s?
Would be part of home cinema/gaming setup but also expected to do music (typically rock).
Room is around 14ft wide, 12ft deep, with 9ft ceilings. Open at one end, glass windows on the other side.
Hey Luke. For me personally the KEFs are better. They are a step above the Oberons in almost every way. I would strongly suggest you hear them both before deciding because your ears are the best judge but this is what I would choose between the two.
acoustic music and vocals are the only things important to me. will the q550 be better or the q350?
Hello Miggy. Although I haven’t made a direct comparison between the two the Q550 have more pronounced low end. If you plan on a pure 2.0 channels setup then the extra bass of the Q550 will certainly benefit you.
Hello Stratos. I have a tremendous dilemma.
I have some old KEF Q300 speakers in my Onkyo receiver. I bought the KEF Q550s and have them unpacked at home. The idea was to have the Q550s in the front and the Q300s in the surround. I recently read very good reviews of the Q Acoustic 3550i speakers and I saw them on sale. I saw that they have a wider dynamic range than the KEF. I bought them but they will arrive in one month and I am going to return the KEF. It is just the moment to decide: do I stick with the KEF Q550 or wait for the Q Acoustic 3550i?
Hello Mario. First of all just to be clear you are talking about the Q Acoustics 3050i, right? There is no 3550i.
Now, what I can tell you is that the comparison between the two speakers is not so much fare. The 3050i are bigger speakers and with bigger cones and they should be compared to the Q750 better as these are in the same size as the 3050i. But the KEF Q750 is a category above the Q Acoustics certainly. If you want to specifically compare the 3050i to the Q550 then yes, I would say that the 3050i have the edge. Obviously it’s not only the size that matters. It’s also the type of audio quality you get out of them and the two speakers do things slightly different so it’s impossible for me to know what you like more as this is entirely a personal preference.
Also one last thing to keep in mind is this. Since you want to keep the Q300 as surrounds, my belief is always use speakers of the same brand and also of the same lineup if possible. This way all speakers have the same timber matching which is desirable in surround speaker setups.
Now since you have the Q550 at home right now I suggest you try them out first. If you like them then stick with them. They will fit better with the Q300 you already have. If you are not entirely satisfied then go for the Q3050i. This is as good an answer as I can give you. When it comes to speakers it’s impossible to give recommendations that will satisfy the other as each person understands sounds differently so what I like may not apply to you entirely.
Thanks for your time. Your answer and advice is very helpful to me.
You are welcome Mario. If I can do anything else for you let me know.
Hello, great review of q550. I have an Onkyo a-9110 (2 x50w 4 ohm) amp and I’m considering Kef Q550, Q acoustics 3050i or Elac debut f6.2 for 25 m2 living room. After reading a lot of reviews I cannot decide. I really like a lot the KEF’s aesthetics but I’m worried ABT the lack of bass and only 87 dB comparing to Q acoustics 91 dB. All three of them are in the same price range…any advice what else should I take into account ? Thank you.
Hello Tomi. Honestly only your ears can tell you which one you will like the most. Reviews are to give you a small idea. Your ears are the best judge because what I like may not be the same as what you like. The Elac I haven’t heard so I have no opinion on them but between the KEFs and the Q Acoustics, I would go for the KEF. I like their sound slightly a bit more. But for you it may very well be the other way around.