QED Reference XT40i review | What Hi-Fi?

If there’s one thing hi-fi fans understand greater than normal civilians, it is the value of excellent cables. Whether it’s speaker wires or the interconnects between your source and stereo amplifier, the variation between a high quality pair and those bundled in for free at the dealership is chalk and cheese.

Take the QED Reference XT40i speaker cables – for only £Eleven in step with metre, they're going to audibly unencumber otherwise unrealised potential in the rest from a micro-system proper as much as the top finish. They may additionally restrict the latter rather a lot, however you get the point – if you happen to’ve spent any more or less money on your formula, you’ll hear the difference those QEDs make compared with cheap speaker cord.

Any long-term readers are prone to have already come across those cables’ predecessors, with the Reference XT40 having received a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2014. But QED has completed more than upload an ‘i’ to the title and hit republish.


The nearly 50-year-old British corporate is introducing its logo new Air Gap dielectric to these 99.999% oxygen-free copper cables, a technology that will increase the separation of conductors within the cable and thus the volume of air between them.

QED XT40i tech specifications

99.999% Oxygen-free copper

Low-Loss Air Gap Dielectric

X-Tube Technology

In turn, this halves the dissipation and capacitance characteristics within the cable and, in keeping with QED, improves the timing and rhythmic accuracy heard through your components, all while keeping the cross-sectional space best for lengthy cable runs.

The Reference XT40i also keeps QED’s X-Tube formation, where cable conductors are accrued in a tube-like form round a hollow insulating rod to equalise current densities, handing over low inductance and presenting a consistent and even load to the amp.


QED is even offering pre-terminated lengths of 2m, 3m and 5m Reference XT40i cables for £110, £130 and £a hundred and seventy respectively, which seems like a just right deal taking into consideration usual marketplace rate for the carrier.

It feels an excellent higher deal if you’ve heard what the Reference XT40i can do for an entry-level or mid-range system. Even plugged into our reference package, it is apparent that QED hasn’t deserted its reputation for helping produce a blank and insightful presentation.


For somebody whose hi-fi is built upon clarity and research, these cables might be just the ticket. At occasions it is as though our components is begging for granular synthesizer items, something into which it could possibly sink its tooth and taste each bold sq. and sawtooth wave because it passes over its palate.

Or if no longer, then the creeping of a bow across the strings of a cello, or the excess air because it breezes in the course of the mouthpiece of a tenor sax.

QED simply excels in helping hi-fi apparatus describe the form of an instrument, the room it's in and how its sound has been recorded, and the Reference XT40i not at all dollars that pattern. 

It speaks about an progressed sense of timing as neatly, and there's a definite eye for accuracy alongside consideration to element about the way in which our formula plays with these cables plugged in. Nothing is permitted to slip, with notes and percussion hit with precision and goal. It isn’t as although previous efforts had been altogether obscure, but there is an unerring self belief about the way in which our speakers play right here.

In these regards, QED can't truly be crushed for the money. Its fiercest rival around this value is the Audioquest Rocket 11, which used to be once more named our Accessories Product of the Year in 2019. It is marginally more expensive, at £12.50 per metre, but even when using that, our system is reluctant to disclose fairly as much knowledge.

But it does offer us extra of a musical complete. It is a lot to do with dynamic expression, the ones leading notes that turn accurate timing into a traceable rhythm, and which help painting a extra lyrical, human bent to the music. It’s additionally a bit to do with organisation, and the way each and every instrument is tethered to and interacts with one every other – surely also aided via rather less area to play in.

The trade-off is that loss of comparative clarity, and that’s the compromise we’d more willingly make. Equally, others will choose to move the other way, and we will see exactly why. You’d need to spend £18 according to metre on Chord Company’s Rumour X to combine the two.


If you’re looking to upgrade your method by way of investing in speaker cables this side of £15 according to metre, you should hear what distinction each and every of those can make on your equipment. It may well be that the QED Reference XT40i is a transparent winner in more techniques than one.



Best speaker cables 2020

Read our Chord Company Rumour X review

Read our QED XT40 review

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