Q Acoustics Concept 40 Speaker Review

A great sound and an equally impressive price

Hi-Fi Review

1

Best Buy
Q Acoustics Concept 40 Speaker Review
SRP: £999.00

Q Acoustics Concept 40 - What are they?

The Concept 40s are Q Acoustics' latest flagship floor-standing speakers and they incorporate the same Gelcore technology found in their smaller Concept 20 stand mount speakers. The Concept 20s picked up an AVforums Highly Recommended award when we reviewed them, in part because of their innovative use of Gelcore to reduce cabinet vibrations. The Concept 40s take the same principals and apply them to a floor standing speaker with a retail price of £999 a pair, although they can be picked up for as little as £799 (September 2014).

Q Acoustics Concept 40 - What do they look like?

The Concept 40s come in a choice of either lacquered gloss black or lacquered gloss white and employ a classic two-way driver configuration with a 25mm soft dome tweeter. The low distortion 125mm drive units employ powerful oversized magnets to ensure wide dynamics and ultra fast transient response. The speakers have an aluminium facia plate that is not only designed to look attractive but doubles as part of an assembly which clamps a butyl rubber sheet to the front panel to reduce cabinet resonance still further. The overall build quality is excellent, especially when you consider the price set by Q Acoustics.
Q Acoustics Concept 40
Q Acoustics Concept 40

There is a bass port at the rear of the Concept 40s and they come with foam bungs if you should need to adjust the bass response. The speakers sit on a tripod stand that uses a safety glass section which might divide opinion in terms of looks. However the tripod configuration does allow for rigidity and solid floor contact, especially when you use the provided spikes. At the rear, near the bottom to allow for easier access, are the speaker terminals which can be bi-wired or bi-amped if you want so choose. The speakers stand 972mm high, are 170mm deep, 288mm wide and weigh 18.5kg.
The Concept 40s use bespoke drive units combined with MDF sandwiched around Gelcore.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 - What inside them?

In terms of the technology inside the Concept 40s, the main selling point is Q Acoustics' use of Gelcore technology in the construction of the cabinet. The idea is that there is a cabinet within a cabinet and the Gelcore sits between the two cabinets to absorb vibrations. The Gelcore is essentially glue that never hardens, so it's very effective at eliminating resonances that would normally be caused by the cabinet itself. The sandwich construction of MDF and Gelcore stops vibrations reaching the outside and affecting the sound because the Gelcore disperses the vibrations, turning that energy into heat.
Q Acoustics Concept 40
Q Acoustics Concept 40

Q Acoustics Concept 40 - Setup

The Concept 40s were connected to an Anthem MRX710 and Oppo BDP93 combination with additional media supplied by an Apple TV, including both Netflix and iTunes. Music testing was carried out using the BDP93 as a CD, SACD and DVD-A player, as well as both the Oppo and the Apple TV acting as streamers for lossless and high resolution audio files. The speakers themselves are quite flexible in terms of positioning but we placed them in our listening room with a degree of space, without the foam bungs and at a slight toe in towards the primary listening position.
The Concept 40s proved to be very flexible in terms of placement with good stereo imaging.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 - How do they sound?

So how do the Concept 40s sound? Well in a word they sound fantastic. The use of Gelcore in the construction of the cabinets definitely works, eliminating vibrations effectively and deliver a wonderfully clean and detailed sound. The sound had an open feeling that was both spacious and warm but also transparent and free of colouring. The design delivers a richly detailed mid-range that retains a wonderful sense of clarity and precise imaging. Clearly all Q Acoustics' hard work at eliminating cabinet resonances has paid dividends and like the smaller Concept 20s, the 40s are a triumph.

However it wasn't just the cabinet design that impressed and the two-drivers also played their part, resulting in a well rendered mid-range and a nicely integrated crossover with the lower frequencies. The Concept 40 could deliver a decent amount of bass extension, although not as much as some of its larger competition. The higher frequencies are also well represented by the tweeter and these meshed perfectly with the excellent mid-range performance. These factors all combined to deliver a well balanced sound that complimented the wide open delivery and transparency.
Q Acoustics Concept 40
Q Acoustics Concept 40

The sensitivity of the Concept 40s meant that they also remained responsive, with a lively and genuinely enjoyable sound. The Q Acoustics proved quite flexible when it came to positioning them in the room and given enough space they could really open up with a room-filling sound. We have a range of music that we use for testing, all of which is intended to reveal any weaknesses in a speaker's performance. The combination of acoustic guitar and female vocals in Rickie Lee Jones' Hi-Lili Hi-Lo can sound brittle and shrill on lesser speakers but the Concept 40s handled them with style.

We use Limehouse Blues by Arne Domnerus as a test of the speaker's ability to create a three dimensional sound field and place instruments within that space, whilst The Gates of Dafos by Mickey Hart is an excellent percussion piece that the Q Acoustics' handled with speed and agility. All these tests showed that the Concept 40s were capable of delivering a detailed stereo image with a wide dynamic range and real control, resulting in a clarity that was able to distinguish individual instruments well. The innovative construction came into play again, keeping the performance clear and focused.

This sense of transparency was especially apparent on orchestral pieces, where the Concept 40s were able to handle the complex arrangements effectively, retaining a cohesive structure to the overall sound. We enjoyed the performance of the Q Acoustics so much that we found ourselves dipping extensively into our back catalogue. Whether we played The Smiths, Don Henley or Nick Cave, the Concept 40s handled them all with great verve, producing a sound that could easily compete with speakers that cost considerably more.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 - Video Review

The Concept 40s delivered a transparent and open sound that was hugely enjoyable.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 - Any Issues?

Frankly, for the price there really is very little to complain about with the Concept 40s and any issues we raise really would be nitpicking. As previously mentioned, the clear plastic base might divide opinion but that has nothing to do with the sound quality. The build quality is excellent but the overall design is a little simplistic, lacking the finesse and style of some of Q Acoustics more expensive competitors. In terms of the sound quality, the only area where we could criticise the Concept 40s is that they perhaps lacked the physical presence of some of the slightly bigger competitors. However in an average sized room they certainly have sufficient presence to fill the space with a decent soundstage.

Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Enjoyable and exciting sound
  • Refined and transparent performance
  • Excellent bass extension
  • Nice build and finish
  • Flexible positioning
  • Great price

Cons

  • Nothing at this price

Q Acoustics Concept 40 Speaker Review

Are they worth buying?



The Q Acoustic Concept 40s prove that you don't need to throw a fortune at a problem like cabinet resonance to come up with an effective solution. All that you need to do is find an innovative way to approach the problem and the results will speak for themselves. Building on the success of the concept 20s, the floor-standing 40s use the same Gelcore construction to deliver a wonderfully transparent and enjoyable sound that is better than speakers costing considerably more. The excellent build quality and tripod stand add to the feeling of superior performance, which makes the £999 asking price all the more attractive.

What are the alternatives?



It's difficult to think of a pair of speakers that can compete with the Concept 40s for the price but if you're prepared to spend a bit more you can get comparable performance. Certainly the Monitor Audio Silver 8 speakers we reviewed recently offered a similar performance, whilst also having a more refined design and build quality. The Silver 8s also boast a three-way driver, a bigger sound and more bass presence but they're also £400 more expensive. All of which gives you an idea of the value the Q Acoustic Concept 40s offer, making them a definite Best Buy.

Best Buy

Scores

Sound Quality

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
8

Verdict

.
9

Value For Money

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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