The Polyglass main driver has a 125mm paper cone coated with glass ‘micro-sphere’ damping. The type- TNV tweeters use a version of Focal’s familiar inverted dome made from an aluminium/magnesium alloy, with a claimed bandwidth to 28kHz. Although the enclosures are built in low-wage territories, both drive units are made in France.
Stands will be needed here, and Focal supplies some MDF affairs at £125, with neat retractable spikes, a decent footprint, and the facility to bolt the speakers onto the top. Last time I tried these I found that they perceptibly ‘softened’ the sound compared to my regular metal Kudos S100s, which are significantly more rigid and gave the sound greater precision. Less expensive alternatives from specialists like Partington and Atacama might well prove the most cost effective option. Sensitivity is a healthy enough 90dB, though that’s somewhat less than the optimistic 92dB claimed, and the impedance is fairly demanding through the bass region. The impedance trace has quite a complex characteristic, with a rather obvious ‘wrinkle’ at around 900Hz which directly corresponds to a dip in the frequency response. The in-room frequency response is rather uneven through the upper midband, though it stays within +/-3dB limits above 300Hz. Below that the upper bass and lower mid is a shade strong, with a gentle roll-off below 100Hz that indicates a little wall reinforcement might be helpful here, though the alignment is probably best suited to free space siting. The tweeter output is smooth, flat and well extended, but also a little stronger than average.
This isn’t the smoothest, most neutral or least coloured speaker around, but it disguises its limitations quite effectively and certainly knows how to rock and roll. Above all it has a lively disposition that communicates the content of music and speech most effectively, and largely transcends its minor aberrations. At these sort of prices the standmount usually has an advantage, partly because it has half the enclosure area of a floorstander, and partly because it sits off the ground with fresh air underneath. The net result in this case is compact speaker with a natural warmth and richness alongside a freedom from the thickening textures that often accompany floorstanders with a similar balance. This combination of crispness and warmth together is actually quite unusual, as smaller ported two-way stand-mounts are often rather lean in the portion of the audio band between the port output and the main midrange. A simple and straightforward coherence helps the 807V communicate with impressive directness. One might wish for a little more mid-band smoothness, especially towards the top of the main driver’s operating range, and the top end is unquestionably on the bright side of normal, giving a slightly shiny overall character, but also emphasising detail and intelligibility assisted by the fine dynamic expressiveness. Dynamic range is also impressive, ensuring the effective rendition of venue ambience (where appropriate), fine discrimination amongst the players and highlighting any deficiencies in microphone technique.
Stereo imaging shows good coherence and focus, with an essentially neutral perspective and decent portrayal of image depth. Mid-band boxiness is pretty well controlled, though speech does reveal a little nasal coloration. Genuinely deep bass might not be on the agenda here, but the 807V drives the music along with considerable enthusiasm and a fine sense of purpose. The top end might be a bit too obvious for some tastes, but colorations are well enough controlled to avoid spoiling the fine dynamic expression of a speaker that makes a strong case for the advantages of a stand-mount over an equivalent floorstander.
Although KEF is now owned by Chinese interests and its main manufacturing base is in China, the company’s initials stand for Kent Engineering Foundries, its headquarters is still in Maidstone, and in many ways it still stays true to the technology that has been its bedrock since the early 1960s.
In recent years the company has enjoyed particular success with its tiny egg-shaped, home cinema oriented KHT satellites, but these, and indeed the vast majority of KEF’s current product lineup, are based on the clever Uni-Q drive unit technology first introduced twenty years ago.
The iQ-series is the company’s current near-budget range, consisting of five stereo pairs ranging from £230 up to £800, supplemented by three partnering home cinema extras. This iQ9 is the largest and most costly of the five, combining a 165mm Uni-Q driver for midrange and treble with two extra 165mm bass drivers, each in its own ported section of the floorstanding enclosure.