Q ACOUS­TICS CON­CEPT 500

Q-Acous­tics fur­ther ex­pands into the top-end mar­ket, with its care­fully crafted Con­cept 500 Floor standers, boast­ing im­pres­sive and ro­bust au­dio.

SoundMag - - Contents - By Staff Writer

The Q Acous­tics brand has been a ma­jor suc­cess story. The com­pany is barely a decade old, but in that time it has de­liv­ered a se­ries of class-lead­ing and af­ford­able prod­ucts that have gar­nered plenty of What Hi-Fi? Awards.

But it seems that is no longer suf­fi­cient - the brand is tar­get­ing an ex­pan­sion into the high-end mar­ket. The Con­cept 500 floor standers are its ini­tial weapon of choice.

This isn’t the first time the com­pany has ven­tured to premium price lev­els – it in­tro­duced the Con­cept 40 floor standers a few years ago – but these Con­cept 500s are the most am­bi­tious at­tempt yet to move up­mar­ket.

Don’t let their fa­mil­iar aes­thetic fool you. While they un­de­ni­ably build on the brand’s ex­ist­ing tech­nolo­gies, these speak­ers also take nu­mer­ous steps for­ward in a bid to jus­tify their premium price.

That 115cm tall cab­i­net re­tains the brand’s dis­tinc­tive vis­ual iden­tity but adds a neat wood ve­neer strip along the sides for an ex­tra touch of lux­ury.

It’s a sturdy box, as you’d ex­pect, but here Q Acous­tics uses no less than three lay­ers of MDF sep­a­rated by a soft de­cou­pling ma­te­rial called Gel­core.

It’s a tech­nique the com­pany has used in its ex­ist­ing Con­cept models and re­ally does help re­duce the cab­i­net’s con­tri­bu­tion to the over­all sound. Any vi­bra­tion trans­mit­ted through the wooden lay­ers is ab­sorbed and turned into heat, but the en­clo­sure doesn’t warm to the touch dur­ing use, even at party lev­els.

The whole struc­ture is strate­gi­cally braced too, re­duc­ing vi­bra­tion with­out trans­mit­ting un­wanted me­chan­i­cal en­ergy to other parts of the cab­i­net where it can de­grade per­for­mance.

The drive units may not ap­pear un­usual on pa­per – the twin 16.5cm mid/bass driv­ers use treated pa­per cones and the tweeter is a con­ven­tional soft dome de­sign – but there has been plenty of en­gi­neer­ing ef­fort ex­pended on the de­tails of sus­pen­sion, mo­tor sys­tem, di­aphragm pro­files, ma­te­rial and drive unit mount­ing to ex­tract the most from these in­gre­di­ents. The same can be said of the cross­over de­sign and the com­po­nents used in it.

The Con­cept 500s prove rel­a­tively un­fussy in po­si­tion­ing. We keep them well away from the rear and side­walls of our medium-sized lis­ten­ing room, and an­gle them in a touch to­wards the lis­ten­ing po­si­tion.

It isn’t hard to find a po­si­tion where the fre­quency range sounds bal­anced, and the stereo imag­ing proves con­vinc­ing. De­spite that, the en­gi­neers have de­vel­oped a sys­tem to al­ter the tweeter out­put level – us­ing a move­able link – to help fine-tune per­for­mance.

We end up with the link set to the neu­tral po­si­tion but can imag­ine the ad­just­ment be­ing use­ful in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

We’ve long felt Q Acous­tics prod­ucts have tended to be pretty for­giv­ing of part­ner­ing equip­ment and source ma­te­rial qual­ity. That proves the case here - the speaker’s ex­cel­lent re­fine­ment and smooth de­liv­ery re­fuses to make a meal of poorer, more ag­gres­sive in­puts.

That’s not to say these speak­ers don’t need any­thing bet­ter to shine. The down­side of the Con­cept 500’s ag­gres­sive pric­ing – re­mem­ber we’re talk­ing high-end stan­dards where £4000 is con­sid­ered en­try-level – is there’s a strong like­li­hood they be part­nered with sim­i­larly priced sources and am­pli­fi­ca­tion. That’s a shame be­cause, while we’re sure they’ll sound more than ac­cept­able with such elec­tron­ics, we know these speak­ers are ca­pa­ble of so much more.

Put them on the end of some­thing more am­bi­tious – we used our ref­er­ence set-up of Naim NDS/555PS streamer and Gamut D3i/D200i pre/power am­pli­fi­ca­tion – and they’re ca­pa­ble of a per­for­mance that puts most ri­vals to shame and strongly chal­lenges al­ter­na­tives up to twice their price.

Hy­per­bole? All any doubters need to do is have a care­ful lis­ten to a prop­erly set-up pair on the end of some ca­pa­ble elec­tron­ics. We’re sure they’ll be as con­vinced as we are.

It doesn’t mat­ter what type of mu­sic you play. Stravin­sky’s The Rite of Spring shows off the 500s’ wide-rang­ing dy­nam­ics and abil­ity to han­dle a mul­ti­tude of in­stru­men­tal strands with­out los­ing co­he­sion or the over­all mu­si­cal mes­sage.

There’s so much de­tail on of­fer, and it’s or­gan­ised with care and com­po­sure. Low-level nu­ances aren’t over­shad­owed and, equally, sounds meant to dom­i­nate do so with con­fi­dence.

Pleas­ingly, this is not a prod­uct that em­pha­sises the lead­ing edge of notes just to ap­pear im­pres­sive. The Con­cept 500s are more ma­ture than that. They sound wel­com­ing and easy-go­ing with los­ing the ex­cite­ment in the mu­sic.

Their full-bod­ied tonal bal­ance has plenty in the way of rich­ness and weight but bal­ances this with a fine sense of agility when the mu­sic re­quires.

The 500s’ stereo imag­ing is good for speak­ers of this type – the elab­o­rate cab­i­net con­struc­tion mak­ing it­self heard in the way they project the sound as much as in the un­de­ni­able dy­namic ben­e­fits it of­fers.

Mas­sive At­tack’s An­gel has long been a favourite test track and these floor standers take its jug­ger­naut of a bassline in stride. We love the way they ren­der bass – it’s prop­erly deep and pow­er­ful, but tune­ful with it. We’re sur­prised a pair of 16.5cm driv­ers can dig so deep so con­vinc­ingly.

Vo­cals are de­liv­ered with clar­ity and fi­nesse. There’s no short­age of dy­namic sub­tlety here, or trans­parency. This tal­ent through the midrange points to well-de­signed drive units and crossovers, as well as a prop­erly de­signed cab­i­net.

We lis­ten to ev­ery­thing from the sta­dium rock of Bruce Spring­steen and folk of The Unthanks, all the way through to the large-scale sonic py­rotech­nics of Hans Zim­mer’s Gla­di­a­tor OST and these Q Acous­tics han­dle it fuss­ily. They sound com­fort­able and com­posed re­gard­less of vol­ume level or mu­si­cal com­plex­ity.

Im­por­tantly, their broad skill-set means they sim­ply don’t in­trude on the mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. All pieces of hi-fi, par­tic­u­larly speak­ers, add a bit of char­ac­ter to the pre­sen­ta­tion, but it’s very easy to ac­cept the 500s’ ver­sion of the truth.

Ver­dict

We think these are among the most im­pres­sive high-end speak­ers we’ve heard in re­cent years.If they had been made by an es­tab­lished high-end brand rather than one try­ing to crash the party, we sus­pect the price would have been thou­sands higher. Rec­om­mended? You bet.

Avail­able in Aus­tralia $1,470

Source: What Hi-Fi

The Q Acous­tics brand has been a ma­jor suc­cess story. The com­pany is barely a decade old, but in that time it has de­liv­ered a se­ries of class-lead­ing and af­ford­able prod­ucts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.