KEF iQ10

KEF iQ10 loudspeaker review

From Hi-Fi World - January 2009 issue







KEF's new iQ10 truly is a shelf mounter; it is small at 301mm high, 175mm wide and 261mm deep. Dimensions like this put it on par with Q Acoustics 1020i and Mordaunt Short's Mezzo 1, although the three span a surprisingly wide price range. With the tiny iQ10 however, you get KEF's unique Uni-Q drive unit with a 19mm aluminium dome tweeter that fires out from the centre of a 130mm bass cone. via a Tangerine waveguide. This gives even dispersion from what is a hemispherical point source, the sonic benefit being a focused and consistent sound that doesn't vary with listener position. Like the iQ30, the iQ10 sounds a little bright on-axis, but is smoother and most accurate around 30 degrees off axis, so they are best pointed straight down a room, not at listeners. Bi-wire terminals are fitted and foam bungs for the ports provided to reduce bass, if required.  Sensitivity is quoted as 88dB but we measured 85dB - less than many rivals, so the iQ10 will be a little less loud in a direct A/B demo.


For a small loudspeaker the iQ10 has attractively propulsive bass that was fast, quite bouncy, nicely weighted and not slowed by subsonics. This gave Angelique Kidjo's 'The Sound of Drums' an enthusiastic bass line and clean percussion. Vocals hung in space above the line of the 'speakers and a little beyond them at either side, making for an impressive arc of sound possessed of solid, stable images that held perfectly, standing or seated.

In basic balance the iQ10s sound impressively even and a little less chrome plated than the iQ30s, although there were times when the characteristic sound of KEF's 'titanium coated' cones made itself known, especially with the Sugden A21a in the driving seat. At times the iQ10s were challenged by complex mixes, introducing a little muddle to Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street and giving sax, guitar and strings suspiciously similar tonality. All the same, the little iQ10s sounded balanced and were entertaining. Only occasionally did the port problem make itself heard as a boofy echo from within the box; generally this wasn't the sonic problem measurement suggested it might be. Sibilance occasionally made itself known, bringing a strong hiss to the 's' in Jackie Leven's 'Desolation Blues' for example. The iQ30s gave a good account of themselves, having better bass than most size rivals.

verdict four globes

Entertaining mini that offers a well balanced sound, under pinned by clean bass.

KEF iQ10 £250

+44 (0) 1622 672261


- even and accurate

- good bass for size

- lovely imaging


- occasional box woof

- pricey

- a little monotonic


The iQ10’s frequency response is dominated visually by a sharp suckout at 850Hz, induced by the port which also produces very strong output at this frequency our analysis shows, heard as colouration. This problem was visible on both short and long term spectral decay plots and put the iQ10 at a disadvantage to rivals. Otherwise, the iQ10 reaches down to a respectable 55Hz and is relatively flat up to 17kHz, third octave analysis shows. Some peaking around 1kHz and 300Hz are likely to add character to the sound.

Sensitivity measured 85dB, unexceptional for a small loudspeaker, partly due to a high measured impedance of 7.1ohms. The load is fairly easy over most of the audio band. An amplifier of at least 40 Watts will be needed. Distortion levels differed little from the norm. The iQ10 has a quite obvious problem that mars performance against rivals. This apart it measures well enough. NK


kef iq 10   fr

Green - driver output; Red - port output


kef iq 10   z



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