KEF Q150 vs Polk RTiA1

BjornB17BjornB17 Posts: 753
edited January 24 in Speakers
So lately I've noticed my ears ringing a bit after listening to RTiA1's for extended periods of time. I've owned and have been listening to some variant of RTi/RTiA speakers since the early 2000's when I sold them at Circuit City. I've had RTi12's, RTi4's, RTi6's, and now the A1's. My primary music listening environment is my home office where I have a 2.1 system, with a Rythmik F12 subwoofer and a Yamaha Aventage RX-A780 receiver. The 12's were used in a home theater environment.

I figured I've been listening to basically the same basically Polk speakers, which have been mostly unchanged, for many years. Maybe with my ringing ears it would be time to try something a bit less aggressive on the top end, and also to satisfy my curiosity.

I was originally looking at LSiM703's, but they are a bit big for a desktop speaker application and don't look quite modern enough, although very nice. They are also a 10 year old design. Okay - maybe Polk L100 - they are a new and modern speaker although have a pretty standard driver arrangement. They are also extremely inefficient and $1200 a pair? Yikes, don't know if I want to spend that much for a pair of small bookshelves. But I'm sure they are really nice.

Okay, so I stumble across a few pictures of KEF Q150's...wow, they sure look cool, and cost about $550 on the street and sometimes can be found for a bit cheaper. They sure look modern and monolithic - a concentric tweeter/woofer array, a rear port that can be plugged with the included plugs (good for my near-wall application). The reviews are astounding. And they sure fit the aesthetic I'm going for. Maybe I should give them a shot?

I order them on Amazon Prime with free shipping. They show up the next day at 10 am at my doorstep. Wow, that was fast! Let's hook them up and get the room correction dialed back in and listen. Pulling them out of the box, they look wayyy more beautiful and cooler than they did in the pictures, even though they look good in the pics. I was originally reluctant to order speakers with a vinyl finish - after all, one of my favorite things about the RTiA1's was the wonderful oak veneer finish. But the subtle textured wrap of the Q150 is actually really cool. It is a contemporary matte raised texture finish, that suit the speakers perfectly. I'm glad they didn't go with a simulated wood grain since that almost always looks terrible. I think they got the perfect finish for these speakers.

Okay, now to listen to them!!

I crank them up to moderate volume level and play through some of my more demanding FLACs. Porcupine Tree, Tesseract, Charli XCX, Sia, Marina, Kendrick Lamar, and Soften the Glare. A pretty good variety of genres.

And how do the sound?? Wow... they sure sound a lot like the RTiA1's :D

I always did like the RTiA1's so that is not a bad thing. I guess it is a testament to how good the RTiA1's are for their price point. I bought them new for $150 and the Q150's cost $550. Are the Q150's 4 times better than the RTiA1's, surely not.

But, the Q150's definitely are better. While they sound very similar, they lack that certain shoutiness in the upper frequency and my ears are pleased. I guess they are smoother and easier on the ears without sounding significantly different. I feel like I have to crank them a bit louder to have the same apparent volume as the RTiA1's, despite being a little more efficient. They don't seem to have that same trebble shelf but they don't sound laid back either.

So, I would say mission accomplished that I was able to get a similar sound signature that I liked, but without the ear fatigue the RTi's caused. But, I am still very surprised by how well the very inexpensive Polk's stacked up. I will keep the KEF's and sell the Polks, but those Polks will always be held in high esteem to me.
KEF Q150 | Rythmik F12 | Yamaha Aventage RX-A780

Comments

  • Mikey081057Mikey081057 Posts: 7,255
    Give the Kef ls50's a listen and save up for them. Very versatile and refined. I have seen them used in the $700 range.
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  • BjornB17BjornB17 Posts: 753
    Give the Kef ls50's a listen and save up for them. Very versatile and refined. I have seen them used in the $700 range.

    I am considering it. When I move into my new house in a few months, the Q150's may become surrounds in my home theater and then would get LS50's for my home office. I've heard it said that they sound nearly identical to the Q150's, perhaps slightly more detailed.
    KEF Q150 | Rythmik F12 | Yamaha Aventage RX-A780
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 4,054
    you said they are being used on a desktop, so how does the room correction make a difference if you are sitting in front of the speakers at a desk?
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  • BjornB17BjornB17 Posts: 753
    edited January 24
    marvda1 wrote: »
    you said they are being used on a desktop, so how does the room correction make a difference if you are sitting in front of the speakers at a desk?

    A couple things: My room is a small square and of course my desk is right in the middle of one wall, and therefore there are a couple peaks and nulls that the room correction helps dial out a bit. Also, since I'm in the process of moving and my room is pretty empty, the room itself is a bit on the bright side and you can tell the reduction in treble on the room correction to compensate for that.

    I expect the speakers to mellow out a bit in my new house since that room will be a lot more ideal for acoustics.
    KEF Q150 | Rythmik F12 | Yamaha Aventage RX-A780
  • halohalo Posts: 5,570
    I'm comparing the KEF Q150's to the L200's, and the S15's. Easy for me to say that the KEF's are better than the S15's in the top end and midrange while the S15's dig deeper (thanks to the power port). Up high, the S15's are more "shouty" compared to the KEFs. Now, the L200's? Worth it. Save up and go for them as they are far superior to the KEFs in every aspect. However, you are comparing the entry-level KEF Q150 to the TOTL bookshelf offering from Polk. A better comparison may be the Polk L200 vs the KEF R series bookshelf speaker (3-way design). Try comparing or getting your ears on other speakers in the same price range as the Q150's like the Triangle Borea BR03, or for your application, the Triangle Borea BR02. There are a lot of different speakers out there, have some fun and get your ears on as many as you can!
  • BjornB17BjornB17 Posts: 753
    edited January 24
    halo wrote: »
    I'm comparing the KEF Q150's to the L200's, and the S15's. Easy for me to say that the KEF's are better than the S15's in the top end and midrange while the S15's dig deeper (thanks to the power port). Up high, the S15's are more "shouty" compared to the KEFs. Now, the L200's? Worth it. Save up and go for them as they are far superior to the KEFs in every aspect. However, you are comparing the entry-level KEF Q150 to the TOTL bookshelf offering from Polk. A better comparison may be the Polk L200 vs the KEF R series bookshelf speaker (3-way design). Try comparing or getting your ears on other speakers in the same price range as the Q150's like the Triangle Borea BR03, or for your application, the Triangle Borea BR02. There are a lot of different speakers out there, have some fun and get your ears on as many as you can!

    The beauty of the situation is that in my new house, we will basically have 4 systems to play with. Two offices (wife and I) with 2.0 or 2.1 setups, living room with a 2.1 setup, and a 7.2.4 home theater. Each room will be acoustically treated with rooms more ideally shaped for optimal sound. I am really excited.

    So I can get a bunch of new things and cycle stuff down to the other systems. I am considering the R series for the home theater, for less than $6,000/pair I like the look of the R11's a lot more than the L800 as long as they sound the part which, based on reviews, they certainly do.
    KEF Q150 | Rythmik F12 | Yamaha Aventage RX-A780
  • halohalo Posts: 5,570
    edited January 24
    BjornB17 wrote: »

    The beauty of the situation is that in my new house, we will basically have 4 systems to play with. Two offices (wife and I) with 2.0 or 2.1 setups, living room with a 2.1 setup, and a 7.2.4 home theater. Each room will be acoustically treated with rooms more ideally shaped for optimal sound. I am really excited.

    So I can get a bunch of new things and cycle stuff down to the other systems. I am considering the R series for the home theater, for less than $6,000/pair I like the look of the R11's a lot more than the L800 as long as they sound the part which, based on reviews, they certainly do.

    If you are considering the KEF floorstanding speakers, I would encourage you to check out the ProAc Response line of speakers (especially with the RAAL tweeter).

    Uncle Jesse has also recommended the Egglestonworks Nico Evo and from what I've read about them, they look like they're very nice.
  • BjornB17BjornB17 Posts: 753
    halo wrote: »
    BjornB17 wrote: »

    The beauty of the situation is that in my new house, we will basically have 4 systems to play with. Two offices (wife and I) with 2.0 or 2.1 setups, living room with a 2.1 setup, and a 7.2.4 home theater. Each room will be acoustically treated with rooms more ideally shaped for optimal sound. I am really excited.

    So I can get a bunch of new things and cycle stuff down to the other systems. I am considering the R series for the home theater, for less than $6,000/pair I like the look of the R11's a lot more than the L800 as long as they sound the part which, based on reviews, they certainly do.

    If you are considering the KEF floorstanding speakers, I would encourage you to check out the ProAc Response line of speakers (especially with the RAAL tweeter).

    Uncle Jesse has also recommended the Egglestonworks Nico Evo and from what I've read about them, they look like they're very nice.

    Thanks for the recommendations!
    KEF Q150 | Rythmik F12 | Yamaha Aventage RX-A780
  • I'm looking to move on from my old RTi10's & try some KEF Q950's & am hoping for a similar experience as yours.

    I like the Polks & I like some sparkle in the high end (maybe I'm just losing my hearing up there), even for music, but yeah, at high volumes the RTi/RTiA's kind of just spray treble at you. I'm glad to hear the KEF's arent laid back or rolled off either, I'm buying blind & have crossed a few pairs off the list from reports of such.
  • halohalo Posts: 5,570
    edited July 10
    The KEF Q150 speakers are very good. I would not hesitate to recommend them at their sale price. However, at their retail price, I believe that you can do better.
  • gp4jesusgp4jesus Posts: 1,512
    Both the RTi & RTi A series use the same “squeaky” tweeter and XO filtering
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