Q Acoustics New Concept Series Loudspeakers Packed with Tech & Good Sound
- Product Name: Concept 30 2-way stand-mount, Concept 50 2-way floorstanding, and Concept 90 center channel
- Manufacturer: Q Acoustics
- Review Date: August 01, 2022 12:10
- MSRP: $1,300/pair + $500 for optional stands - Concept 30 2-way stand-mount, $3,000/pair - Concept 50 2-way floorstanding, $1,000/each - and Concept 90 center channel
- First Impression: Pretty Cool
Q Acoustics Concept 30 2-way stand-mount speaker
- Frequency response (-6dB): 54 Hz - 30 kHz
- Nominal impedance: 6 Ω
- Minimum impedance: 3.9 Ω
- Sensitivity (2.83V @ 1kHz): 87 dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 11.2 x 7.1 x 12.6 inches
- Weight: 17.4 lbs each
Q Acoustics Concept 50 2-way floorstanding speaker
- Frequency response(-6dB): 42 Hz - 30 kHz
- Nominal impedance: 6 Ω
- Minimum impedance: 3.6 Ω
- Sensitivity (2.83V @ 1kHz): 90.5 dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 40.4 x 7.1 x 12.6 inches
- Weight: 50.5 lbs each
Q Acoustics Concept 90 2-way center-channel speaker
- Frequency response (-6dB): 67 Hz - 30 kHz
- Nominal impedance: 6 Ω
- Minimum impedance: 3.7 Ω
- Sensitivity (2.83V @ 1kHz): 90 dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 7.2 x 21.7 x 10.2 inches
- Weight: 27.1 lbs
Recently, and have shaken things up and let the audio world know that they mean business. Q Acoustics made a similarly large splash in the UK’s entry-level loudspeaker market when the company launched back in 2006, but several years passed before American audiophiles paid the brand much attention. In 2022, however, Q Acoustics enjoys an established reputation for excellent affordable speakers on both sides of the pond, and is often mentioned alongside other go-to brands, such as Klipsch, , , and . The $500/pair Q 3030i bookshelf speakers and $1,000/pair Q 3050i towers are the current versions of Q Acoustics’ budget champions, earning both critical praise and commercial success. Thanks in large part to the German loudspeaker wizard Karl-Heinz Fink, and the work of his design team at Fink Audio-Consulting, Q Acoustics has also made the transition into pricier speakers. The company’s current flagship is the $6,500/pair Concept 500 floorstander, which has won all sorts of awards and honors, including the EISA award for best loudspeaker 2017-2018, and the coveted “Class A” ranking in Stereophile’s recommended components list. (The $4,500/pair Concept 300 stand-mount speakers are equally accomplished.) Filling the gap between the entry-level models and the flagships was the responsibility of the Concept 20 and Concept 40, but those speakers were launched before the development of the flagship 500 and 300, and were due for an upgrade. Enter the all-new Concept 30 stand-mount speaker ($1,299/pair, optional stands $499) and Concept 50 floorstander ($2,999/pair). A matching center-channel speaker, the Concept 90, sells for $999 each.
Some of the best sound I’ve heard at the show, and you’re going to be blown away at the pricing. These Q Acoustics speakers are absolutely phenomenal.
— Don Dunn, Custom Installation Expert, VP of Technology at HavenSmart
The look of these new Concept speakers is clearly influenced by the aesthetic design of pricier Concept 300 and 500, but the similarities are more than skin-deep. Many of the acoustic technologies that make those speakers so successful have been trickled down into the new Concept models, which also introduce “new state-of-the art audio innovations,” leading to “truly high-end home audio performance without the high-end price tag,” according to Q Acoustics. The bulk of Q Acoustics’ engineering efforts has been dedicated to designing the quietest cabinet possible, and this is an area in which the company really tends to excel. Many super-high-end loudspeaker manufacturers go to extremes in order to control internal and external resonances, but it’s unusual to see this level of cabinet engineering at these prices. Q Acoustics says that its rigid and acoustically inert cabinets allow these speakers to deliver “focused stereo imaging, accurate audio, and an extended holographic soundstage.” Perhaps the most significant technology at play here is what Q Acoustics calls Gelcore cabinet construction. The Gelcore name refers to a specially-developed, non-setting gel adhesive sandwiched between two layers of solid material that make up the cabinet walls. The use of two individual layers buffered by this unique gel reportedly dissipates high-frequency vibrations (generated by the drivers) into heat, preventing the cabinet itself from resonating and robbing the audio performance of high-frequency focus.
Gelcore technology (left) and isolation baseplate (right) of Q Acoustics new Concept line of speakers
All three new Concept speakers employ Gelcore technology throughout their cabinets. They also feature an interesting isolation suspension system in the form of a sprung baseplate, modeled after the highly effective “isolation base” originally developed for the flagship Concept 300 stand-mount speaker. The isolation baseplate is composed of two individual plates separated by “suspension spheres,” which are designed to isolate the cabinet from interference caused by external vibrations — from another speaker or subwoofer, for example. According to Q Acoustics, this results in tighter stereo imaging with greater depth and improved low-level detail. The crossover is also mounted to the isolation base, which protects the sensitive electrical parts both from vibrations and from the electro-magnetic influence of the drivers.
The cabinets of all three new Concept speakers further benefit from Q Acoustics’ P2P (Point to Point) technology, which sees internal bracing applied to reinforce certain areas of the cabinet where low-frequency reverberations are most likely to wreak havoc. Using Finite Element Analysis and laser interferometry, the engineering team examined the response of the cabinet “down to a microscopic level,” in order to identify the locations most susceptible to problematic vibrational behavior. The team then applied bracing to the precise points on the cabinet that needed additional reinforcement. This laser-focused support placement not only leads to a more rigid cabinet overall, it also helps the cabinet dissipate unwanted energy as heat rather than transfer it to other parts of the enclosure. For the Concept 30 stand-mount speaker and the Concept 90 center-channel speaker, the above technologies are all that’s required to deliver the kind of performance that Q Acoustics was aiming for in terms of cabinet quietness. But the Concept 50 floor-stander has some unique challenges owing to its tall and slender design. Q Acoustics says that tall floorstanding speakers have a natural tendency to cause internal pressure to build up inside their cabinets, leading to troublesome standing waves and reverberations. In order to prevent this pesky pressure from accumulating in its flagship Concept 500 floorstander, the company developed something called Helmholtz Pressure Equalizer technology, which has now trickled down to the new Concept 50. Inside the cabinet, pressure is “converted to velocity” using specially-designed Helmholtz Pressure Equalizer (HPE) tubes, which reportedly eliminate standing waves and reverberations that would otherwise alter the frequency response and thus affect performance.
I believe it was the French philosopher René Descartes who once said, “a loudspeaker without drivers is just a box.” (There is a small possibility that I’m misremembering the quote.) In any case, all of Q Acoustics’ herculean efforts to engineer the perfect loudspeaker enclosure would be wasted without the right drivers, and the company started from scratch in designing the all-new 5-inch mid/bass driver and 0.9-inch soft dome tweeter used across the Concept 30, 50, and 90. The drive units are attached to a rigid, 3-millimeter-thick aluminum baffle plate that functions as an integral part of the mechanical structure of the cabinet. This whole assembly is then installed into the cabinet using pretensioned studs. Q Acoustics says that this design minimizes structural coupling and provides the exact acoustic seal needed to dampen vibrations. The tweeter is hermetically sealed in its own enclosure, and mechanically isolated (floating) from the aluminum baffle plate, leading to reduced distortion, and a lower crossover point to the mid/bass driver(s). According to Q Acoustics, the result is seamless integration through the crossover region. Distortion in the crossover region is further lowered by the tweeter's carefully vented internal back chamber. The 5-inch mid/bass driver employs a large, 1.2-inch voice coil, which provides increased motor strength and a 50-percent bump in power handling over a typical 5-inch driver with a 1-inch voice coil. All three of the new Concept speakers are 2-way designs using the same drivers. The Concept 30 stand-mount speaker uses one of each, while both the Concept 50 floorstander and Concept 90 center-channel speaker use a pair of mid/bass drivers with the tweeter positioned between them. All are available now in premium high gloss black, silver, or white lacquer finish.
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