Price (RRP): $1,399
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
KEF has for the past few years been employing what it calls its Uni-Q speaker arrangement. Basically, you have a regular two way design – with a tweeter and bass/midrange driver – but with one difference. Instead of the tweeter being located above the larger driver on the front of the loudspeaker, it is located within a hole in bass/midrange’s centre.
Why? Because it makes the sound a genuine ‘point source’. That is, the treble and the midrange and the bass are coming from exactly the same place, not one a number of centimetres above the other.
The KEF iQ7SE features a Uni-Q driver that operates as a 19mm aluminium dome tweeter within a 165mm bass/midrange driver, but in this model it enhances the deeper bass by including an additional bass/midrange driver. The specifications were a little confusing on the point, but it seems that the additional large driver handles only frequencies below 250 hertz, so it has minimal directional effects to detract from the point source nature of the other speakers.
Quite aside from the theory, I find that in practice KEF has done an excellent job in this driver arrangement. I pulled out a bunch of CDs which I know to test stereo imaging, and with this speaker pair the image was delivered very nearly as well as the very best I have experienced. It had real depth, real sharpness and, nicely, real height.
KEF has also made these speakers pleasant sounding, with balanced a well controlled sound. They tended just a little towards that famous English mellowness, but without sacrificing punch and dynamism. And, like the Krix speakers, they deliver a lot of sound (90dB) for a watt of input. Combined with their 8 ohm impedance, they are easy to drive and could well be used to lift the performance of relatively modest electronics.