Q Acoustics announces new flagship Concept 500 Series
The kings of budget loudspeakers are now turning their attention upward
Q Acoustics, one of the most continuously successful budget speaker manufacturers of recent years has announced an all-new speaker that enters the market at a considerably higher level than any speaker they've previously built.The Concept 500 is an entirely new concept that uses some key design thinking that has been seen in previous models but takes them to their logical conclusion.
This means that the cabinet is of particular interest. The theory of Constrained Layer Damping was first seen in the Concept Series of speakers which used a double layer cabinet with the layers of MDF being separated by a gel which doesn't set and converts vibration into heat energy. The Concept 500 takes this idea and runs with it. For starters, this layered construction is applied to all sides of the cabinet which for cost reasons can't be done with the more affordable Concept models. Q Acoustics then ups the ante by including a third layer of MDF with a second layer of gel. The result is a very solid cabinet indeed.
They haven't stopped there either. The cabinet is braced at critical points rather than simply being stiffened where convenient. A pair of Heimholz pressure equalisers – a device more commonly found inside a car exhaust – are built into the cabinets to further reduce the diffused energy. The benefit of all this effort is a startlingly inert cabinet that offers exceptionally low distortion compared to a cabinet of the same size and shape not so equipped.
Into these cabinets, a pair of 165mm doped paper drivers with a partnering 28mm soft dome fabric tweeter are arranged in a d'appolito arrangement. While they look similar to existing Q Acoustics drivers, they are all new and have had to be considerably refined because the completely inert cabinet gives no place for any issues to hide. One example of this is that the inductor in the crossover is an unusual air core variant as a more conventional iron core version introduced audible noise into the signal.
The design of the Concept 500 gives more than a few nods to the more affordable speakers but is finished to an altogether different level than anything seen from the company before. The speakers are finished primarily in black or white with a wood strip towards the rear (the wood finish varies depending on the colour of the lacquer). The effect can look a little odd in pictures but makes for a very handsome speaker in the flesh.
It wasn't easy to get a complete handle on performance at the launch but early impressions suggest that this is a seriously revealing speaker that will get out of the way and let you hear the music and supporting equipment and it puts very little of itself into the performance. The slight exception to this is that the bass response appears to be phenomenal for a speaker of this size.
The Concept 500 will cost £3,599 for a pair and go on sale in February 2017.
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