QED XT25 review

Even at this budget price, the QED doesn’t disappoint for clarity and detail

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

We know QED for sensational levels of clarity and detail, and, even at this lower price, it doesn’t disappoint. This kind of transparency is difficult for rivals to match


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    Unmatched levels of clarity and space

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    Digs deep into texture and timbre without eschewing dynamics


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    Tough competition

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In simple terms, the duties of a speaker cable are not unlike those of the sports coach. They aren’t expected to make a system more talented, rather to draw out the maximum from each component and help them work as a team.

If you want to highlight detail and insight in a wide-open space, QED has long been a cable manufacturer with the necessary acumen to help your system sing.

Build and compatibility

The XT25 is another beneficiary of QED’s X-Tube technology, which first came to light in the company’s Award-winning Silver Anniversary XT cables more than a decade ago.

Its basic premise is essentially the same: a hollow tube runs through the centre of the cable combatting “skin effect” and “proximity effect”, effectively aiming to make the most of the conductors, regardless of frequency.

Along with low DC resistance, low-loss dielectric and its near entirely oxygen-free copper make-up, QED says its cables measure better with audible sonic improvements when compared with other loudspeaker cables.

MORE: How to build the perfect hi-fi system

At this price, and in many areas, they are absolutely correct. It’s worth repeating that, especially in terms of detail and space, the QED XT25s are clear frontrunners measured against their direct rivals.

As with our direct comparison, the Chord Company C-Screen, marginally cheaper at £5 per metre, we run these cables through two separate systems: one our reference kit comprised of Naim NDS/555 PS streamer, Gamut D3i/D200i amps and ATC SCM 50s; and a more financially appropriate team of Cyrus CDi, Rega Elex-R amp and ATC SCM11 speakers. The QED’s sonic signature remains consistent with both systems.

MORE: How to buy speakers and set them up for the best sound


Take Lubomyr Melnyk’s unerringly stunning Corollaries. The timbre of his piano is dealt with great delicacy, showing up the closeness of the microphones on which it is recorded.

In terms of that kind of insight, it is difficult to see how our system’s detail could be bettered by another £6 per metre cable.

Space plays an important part, not only in reflecting the physical expanse of the piano, but in spotlighting each part of the haunting vocal in Pockets Of Light as a separate strand of equal musical importance, without becoming overly detached.

The airy freedom either system is given when hooked up with the XT25 in particular, is a delight. In terms of outright expression, drive and punch, it doesn’t always match the C-Screen, but the presentation is both subtler and more sophisticated.

This QED helps our system pick out the delicacies in texture and timbre better, not to mention natural reverbs and physicality.

The XT25’s organisation is perhaps not as outstanding as with the C-Screen, but the latter benefits from a more insular, closer soundstage. It’s a case of differing abilities more so than one being objectively better than the other.

Pairing would be a consideration. Though clarity is absolutely a forte for QED, a currently thin, cold-sounding system may not benefit wholly from the balance of the XT25. On the other hand, a warmer, less spacious set-up would certainly benefit from this cable’s expertise.

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We loved the more expensive XT40 for precisely the same characteristics shown by the XT25 – and that’s the mark of a manufacturer that knows its identity.

If you don’t want to meet the cost of the former, this is a cable offering the same family sound for a tighter budget, and it won’t leave you longing for the upgrade.

See all our QED reviews

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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