Originally Posted by Tom_N
This kind of confirms my research that the reference and IQ series are more popular.
If you mean sales-wise, I don't think that the Reference Series are more popular. If you mean that we all wish we could afford to get the Reference series, then you may be right.
Regarding the XQs:
Just like you, when I first heard them, they were also connnected to some very high-end components, in a more ideal (as ideal as audio stores get) situation. At the time, I was not even considering getting them; only listening. They were way out of my price range. I ended up with a setup consisting of 4 Q1s (comparable to the current iQ3s) and a Q9c (similar to the current iQ2c, but with an identically-sized driver to my Q1s). I had managed to convince several local dealers to allow me to demo the KEFs, in-home, versus several other similarly-priced offerings, namely NHT, Polk, BA, B&W, and Klipsch. I chose the KEFs. After a few months with them, after getting a little bit of the upgrade bug, and after reading a lot of online hooplah regarding a local ID company, I began to wonder if, still, some other speakers might sound better than my KEFs, so I decided out of curiosity to demo some offerings from said company. I was very disappointed in the ID speakers, even some that were much more expensive than my KEFs. So I decided that I, indeed, DID like my KEFs.
At the same exact time, serendipitously I suppose, I happened upon a brand-new, in box set of XQ series speakers on audiogon that happened to be in my same zip code. Whooda thunk it?!!?!? They were 45% off the list price and were being sold by a former employee of the store where I bought my Q series KEFs, from a huge collection of equipment he had amassed with his employee discount. I couldn't resist and I bought them (XQ5s, XQ1s, and XQ2c). They had everything that I liked about my Q1s, and then some. The difference the hypertweeter made was very noticable (to me, anyway). I have been very happy with them, so far, and ended up buying a little bit higher quality amp (Rotel) than my Denon receiver for my front XQ5s. I use my setup mainly for music, in 2-channel both with and without my subwoofer.
I usually don't recommend KEFs as I think they have a unique sound that may not be what everyone is looking for. I feel that it's a speaker that has to be heard, and when it is the "right" speaker, you know it. KEFs, to me, are all about midrange and high-end clarity, particularly their mid-range. They don't produce prodigious amounts of bass, but the bass they do produce is very tight and accurate; no boominess at all. Because of their mid-range clarity, they tend to make really good recordings sound great, but lousy recordings sound really lousy. If you want a "rock-n-roll speaker", I would not recommend them. I do listen to a pretty broad range of music, and for well-recorded music, to me, they sound wonderful.
(Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, Tom_N. If you have any questions about the XQs, please feel free to PM me. I can give you examples of some of the music I listen to through them, etc..)