What amplifier for KEF Q100

amplifiers, receivers and loudspeakers
kapsopod
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What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by kapsopod » 04 Sep 2019 11:27

So for some reason I decided that I want to have a turntable. No friend of mine has one and I was never involved with people that had one.

So just to begin I got a cheap Technics SL-D303 (which has an issue that needs to be repaired but does not affect how it plays) and a set of Roth VA4 speakers which have a built in pre-amp and amp. So I just plug in the turntable to the speakers and I am set.

However I want to build a decent hifi system. When I say decent I mean for a beginner who does not have any clue or friends with this hobby. What I am trying to do is keep looking for certain components and when i find a good deal to go for it. And when I say deal I always mean second hand.

So I decided to get a pair of KEF Q100 speakers because
1. it seemed the best value for money option for a decent bookshelf speaker up to the money I wanted to spend.
2. because I don't have space for bigger speakers, I had to go for bookshelf speakers
3. I read many good reviews by many privates and magazines etc (I know that it all comes down to the individual taste but since I don't have a reference, it feels I will be ok to begin with those).

My question now is what amp to pair them with. The specs of the speakers are these:

System type 2-way
Enclosure type Reflex
Frequency response ± 3dB 49 - 40000 Hz
Nominal impedance 8 Ohm
Amplifier Requirements 10 - 100 W
Sensitivity (2.83V/1m) 86 dB
Maximum output (SPL) 107 dB
Tweeter 25mm (1 in.) aluminum dome
Woofer 130mm (5.25 in.) aluminum Uni-Q

The matter is a bit confusing by everything I read online because many people pair them with 40-50 Watt amplifiers and they say they are very happy with that. But I have seen a few people saying the amp needs to be of more Watts compared to the continuous Watts power a speaker is designed for.

So the first question is what amp to look for as far as the tech specs go. Around 40-70 W? Or 100+? I've read some people saying that these speakers perform even better with more Watts in general.

The second question is if i should go for an integrated amp or separate pre-amp and amp, even though the latter is far more expensive. At the moment I am thinking of going for a cheap integrated amp and maybe in the future to sell it and go for separate pre-amp and amp. The way i see it is that I would buy the integrated amp second hand at a good price to begin with, so I wouldn't lose much money when i resell it. I was looking at the ONKYO A-9010 UK version, that I can easily find for £150 right now and if i wait for a good deal possible cheaper.

Any help, ideas and possible suggestions for an integrated amp or separate pre-amp and amp would be appreciated.

Sorry for the long post but I needed to let my story get out of my chest :P

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by raphaelmabo » 04 Sep 2019 13:37

The KEF Q100's are highly revealing quality speakers that needs good sources. You will be just fine with 30 - 60 watt. The more watt, the louder you can play. Speakers are designed to work with large range of watts, but typically you need the speaker to be able to handle more watts than the amplifier, not the other way around. If you feed the speaker with more watts than it can handle, you may damage the cones.

You need an amplifier with a built-in phono stage/riia-amplifier, so you can connect your turntable.

As for this pre-amp - amp thing: This can be quite confusing. You see, there are two types of pre-amps:
1. Phono pre-amp (external phono stage/riia-amplifier). It amplifies the signal from the cartridge so you can feed it into a standard amplifier, that hasn't got a built-in phono stage. A phono pre-amp can be connected to any integrated or pre-amp.

2. Pre-amp to connect to a power amp. This is an input selector with volume control. It can have a built-in phono stage, or not. It's still a pre-amp.

I have, for example, an Alchemist Nexus. This is an integrated amplifier, but it doesn't have a built-in phono stage so I have a Thorens MM-02 phono pre-amp to connect to my integrated amplifier.

The Onkyo A-9010 you're looking at should work well with the speakers and is a nice entry. Go for it.

kapsopod
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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by kapsopod » 04 Sep 2019 14:35

The pre-amp - amp thing is confusing indeed it seems.

I was referring to case 1 myself. Where the amp would be just a power amp (not integrated) and a pre-amp would be needed separately.

But to your case 2 example, I guess this covers the scenario where I would go for an exposure 1010 integrated amp, which does not seem to have a built in phono stage. This is another amplifier I seem to like from what I have read. Did i get this right?

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by raphaelmabo » 04 Sep 2019 19:38

kapsopod wrote:
04 Sep 2019 14:35
The pre-amp - amp thing is confusing indeed it seems.

I was referring to case 1 myself. Where the amp would be just a power amp (not integrated) and a pre-amp would be needed separately.

But to your case 2 example, I guess this covers the scenario where I would go for an exposure 1010 integrated amp, which does not seem to have a built in phono stage. This is another amplifier I seem to like from what I have read. Did i get this right?
But then you are refering to my no. 2 with your no. 1. Pre-amp to connect to power-amp. A pre-amp that have or have not a built in phono stage. A pre-amp with volume control an input selector. A power amp does not have volume control, a power amp is controlled by the pre-amp. An integrated has a pre-amp with volume control and input selector plus a power amp - in one case.

The Exposure 1010 is a fine amp. Very musical and will also work well with the Q100. But you need an external phono stage yes, so you can use your turntable.

A little gem is the Alchemist Axiom, this was my first Alchemist and is now in my 2nd system. I used to have it drive ALR Jordan Entry 2M with 88 dB. The Axiom is a little 30 watt amp, but wonderful sound - and looks. It also exists in a version with built-in phono stage, it's called the Maxim. Here you have the Maxim:
http://www.alchemisthifi.info/ranges/ma ... lifier.htm

The Axiom/Maxim is a high-resolution and very musical amplifier. With a smooth sound. And the 30 watts sounds bigger than what one may believe. :)

NAD is another excellent brand making great amplifiers and they have produced many fine amplifiers with built-in phono stages. I've had a NAD 306 with MM/MC input, 50 watts but they have a special "power envelope" - a sort of "turbo mode" that makes them go into an overdrive so they can pump out even more watts, for shorter moments when it's needed by the music.

Arcam is another fine brand with a perfectly good built-in phono stage.

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by chgc » 07 Sep 2019 03:05

I don’t have experience with the equipment you mention (although I have some KEF Q150’s that I like), but I think your Technics/Roth setup is probably a really good sounding small system. I would listen to that for a while and upgrade if you find it lacking in some way. If you want to get the KEF’s and an integrated amp, I’d get a nice, inexpensive, old receiver with a phono input. But I really think your original setup deserves a chance. Is there something you don’t like about it?

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by ravelax » 08 Sep 2019 17:06

I have a pair of Q100's (that I'm very satisfied with). Like raphaelmabo says, detailed and revealing sound, also good deep bass for such a modest size speaker. I've tried mine with a few different amps, but mostly I've run them with a Rotel RA-10 integrated, which was recommended to me as a good budget amp that had also received significant praise for its built-in phono stage. The RA-10 isn't sold anymore but the current A-10 seems to be basically the same thing with a slight cosmetic update to the front panel. I was very satisfied with the Q100/RA-10 combo, if you like a clear, clean sound you probably would be too. The Rotel is 40w and that is more than enough for typical home listening with the Q100's.

I've since changed the Rotel in my main system to an old Sansui AU-2900 integrated (mostly because I think it looks better, hehe). Soundwise, it performs as well as the Rotel even though it's only rated at 15w, so if I were you I wouldn't worry at all about the amplifier output if you buy something like a 40w amp. Like raphaelmabo says, something like a NAD integrated or the Onkyo he mentions would work well too. If you prefer a warm-ish sound, a Marantz amp could be a good idea. Even their basic integrateds also seem to get good reviews for their built-in phono stages.

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by kapsopod » 10 Sep 2019 09:13

chgc wrote:
07 Sep 2019 03:05
I don’t have experience with the equipment you mention (although I have some KEF Q150’s that I like), but I think your Technics/Roth setup is probably a really good sounding small system. I would listen to that for a while and upgrade if you find it lacking in some way. If you want to get the KEF’s and an integrated amp, I’d get a nice, inexpensive, old receiver with a phono input. But I really think your original setup deserves a chance. Is there something you don’t like about it?
The plan was always to build a hifi system. It is just that I started with the turntable that made me get the active speakers with the phono input in, to start using the turntable while I am hunting for nice deals for the rest of the separates. I just found a few nice deals too soon :) But to be honest I don't think that the Roth speakers can even compare to the Q100 (even though I have not listened to my Q100s yet).

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by kapsopod » 10 Sep 2019 09:18

ravelax wrote:
08 Sep 2019 17:06
I have a pair of Q100's (that I'm very satisfied with). Like raphaelmabo says, detailed and revealing sound, also good deep bass for such a modest size speaker. I've tried mine with a few different amps, but mostly I've run them with a Rotel RA-10 integrated, which was recommended to me as a good budget amp that had also received significant praise for its built-in phono stage. The RA-10 isn't sold anymore but the current A-10 seems to be basically the same thing with a slight cosmetic update to the front panel. I was very satisfied with the Q100/RA-10 combo, if you like a clear, clean sound you probably would be too. The Rotel is 40w and that is more than enough for typical home listening with the Q100's.

I've since changed the Rotel in my main system to an old Sansui AU-2900 integrated (mostly because I think it looks better, hehe). Soundwise, it performs as well as the Rotel even though it's only rated at 15w, so if I were you I wouldn't worry at all about the amplifier output if you buy something like a 40w amp. Like raphaelmabo says, something like a NAD integrated or the Onkyo he mentions would work well too. If you prefer a warm-ish sound, a Marantz amp could be a good idea. Even their basic integrateds also seem to get good reviews for their built-in phono stages.
I think I got carried away by reviews I found online saying that the powerful amps make the Q100 sound even better and I got an Arcam alpha 9 integrated amp which is rated 70W. But I guess for this to be true you would have to listen to music quite loud, which in practice I won't be doing very often at all... But I'll see how it goes.

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by chgc » 10 Sep 2019 15:54

If you feel like sharing your impression of how the Roths and the KEFs compare, I would be interested. I have the Q150’s (which I believe are similar to the Q100’s) and I was considering getting some VA4’s as a gift for a relative who was looking for a small system.

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by raphaelmabo » 10 Sep 2019 16:32

kapsopod wrote:
10 Sep 2019 09:18
I think I got carried away by reviews I found online saying that the powerful amps make the Q100 sound even better and I got an Arcam alpha 9 integrated amp which is rated 70W. But I guess for this to be true you would have to listen to music quite loud, which in practice I won't be doing very often at all... But I'll see how it goes.
I have two amplifiers, the Alchemist Nexus (80 w) and Axiom (30 w). I love them both, but they have different virtues. :)
My main speakers are not Infinity Reference 50 3-way floorstanders but I've also got a pair of ALR Jordan Entry 2M 2-way stand mounts. I was very happy with my Axiom and the ALR Jordans, very happy. The Nexus drives the Infinitys better, and this may come as a surprise because the Infinity is an easier load with higher sensitivity rating than the ALR Jordans, and they're rated at 8 ohm and the ALR Jordans at 6 ohms.

But my understanding is this: The larger 8" bass driver in the Infinitys needs more power for it to be controlled and precise, and it's here the Nexus works better. It simply ends and stops with more control, even at lower volumes.

With the smaller ALR Jordans, there was a less of a difference in that area. The Nexus is more revealing, more details, but the Axiom has a charm that I love.

I'm sure the Delta's will give fantastic sound with the Q100, and if you sometime in the future want to upgrade to bigger or more demanding speakers, the Delta will still serve you well.

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by raphaelmabo » 10 Sep 2019 17:42

I see there's an extra "not" in there that shouldn't be there, makes my message a bit hard to read. Second sentence, should read "My main speakers are Infinity".

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by kapsopod » 10 Sep 2019 22:22

raphaelmabo wrote:
10 Sep 2019 17:42
I see there's an extra "not" in there that shouldn't be there, makes my message a bit hard to read. Second sentence, should read "My main speakers are Infinity".
Yes, I had understood that already. Also my amp is the older alpha, not delta. I think deltas were the next series to mine or something. But what you say is good news, about the bigger Wattage amps driving the speakers better. This is what people were saying online and since i found a good deal i went for it.

Your alchemist amps seem to be very rare. There are only 1 or 2 you can find being sold at any time and these not in great condition. But people seem to be going for them regardless. Even if they are sold for spares. I am guessing they are hoping to fix them.

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by raphaelmabo » 11 Sep 2019 09:28

Yes, the Delta-range was above the Alpha. (I wondered what happened with the Beta...). Ok, Alpha 9. But I think they will be just wonderful with the Q100’s and can also stand a future upgrade of speakers.

Alchemist was a british manufacturer founded in 1989 and they went into liquidation in 2001. During their short life they made some unique and wonderful sounding amplifiers. Nexus was their last serie before they closed down. Their products had names inspired ny mythology and their first products - the Kraken series - looks like they were designed in the medieval era. :)

Extravagant looks but with a smooth yet dynamic sound. But I can understand if they are hard to find. They never sold in large numbers. I bought my Axiom in 2000, before they closed. I found the Nexus as a demo unit in a shop 2011. It had been in the shop for 10 years, unsold.

I think the non-traditional looks scared away people.

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by kapsopod » 11 Sep 2019 09:54

Yes, I did research the story of this brand once you told me about your amps and read all this info. It is interesting and they certainly look cool in my book :)

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Re: What amplifier for KEF Q100

Post by KentT » 14 Sep 2019 03:12

kapsopod wrote:
04 Sep 2019 11:27
So for some reason I decided that I want to have a turntable. No friend of mine has one and I was never involved with people that had one.

So just to begin I got a cheap Technics SL-D303 (which has an issue that needs to be repaired but does not affect how it plays) and a set of Roth VA4 speakers which have a built in pre-amp and amp. So I just plug in the turntable to the speakers and I am set.

However I want to build a decent hifi system. When I say decent I mean for a beginner who does not have any clue or friends with this hobby. What I am trying to do is keep looking for certain components and when i find a good deal to go for it. And when I say deal I always mean second hand.

So I decided to get a pair of KEF Q100 speakers because
1. it seemed the best value for money option for a decent bookshelf speaker up to the money I wanted to spend.
2. because I don't have space for bigger speakers, I had to go for bookshelf speakers
3. I read many good reviews by many privates and magazines etc (I know that it all comes down to the individual taste but since I don't have a reference, it feels I will be ok to begin with those).

My question now is what amp to pair them with. The specs of the speakers are these:

System type 2-way
Enclosure type Reflex
Frequency response ± 3dB 49 - 40000 Hz
Nominal impedance 8 Ohm
Amplifier Requirements 10 - 100 W
Sensitivity (2.83V/1m) 86 dB
Maximum output (SPL) 107 dB
Tweeter 25mm (1 in.) aluminum dome
Woofer 130mm (5.25 in.) aluminum Uni-Q

The matter is a bit confusing by everything I read online because many people pair them with 40-50 Watt amplifiers and they say they are very happy with that. But I have seen a few people saying the amp needs to be of more Watts compared to the continuous Watts power a speaker is designed for.

So the first question is what amp to look for as far as the tech specs go. Around 40-70 W? Or 100+? I've read some people saying that these speakers perform even better with more Watts in general.

The second question is if i should go for an integrated amp or separate pre-amp and amp, even though the latter is far more expensive. At the moment I am thinking of going for a cheap integrated amp and maybe in the future to sell it and go for separate pre-amp and amp. The way i see it is that I would buy the integrated amp second hand at a good price to begin with, so I wouldn't lose much money when i resell it. I was looking at the ONKYO A-9010 UK version, that I can easily find for £150 right now and if i wait for a good deal possible cheaper.

Any help, ideas and possible suggestions for an integrated amp or separate pre-amp and amp would be appreciated.

Sorry for the long post but I needed to let my story get out of my chest :P
You need 100 watts/channel-150 watts/channel and high current. Separate power amplifier/preamplifier, or better integrated amplifier highly recommended. Avoid the cost cut cheapened ones. Be prepared to pay for quality. Anything new will cost you at least $2500 or more to do it properly.

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