With no manufacturing capabilities of their own, Q Acoustics employed an established speaker designer with his own, sophisticated testing facilities, an industrial designer to make them look good within the realms of affordable manufacture and finally, a far eastern OEM manufacturer to actually make the things. What is interesting is that the manufacturing division had the capability to turn a prototype driver into a reality and ship it to the acoustic designer for testing against the model, within days, which is a capability few manufacturers have. Final voicing was achieved with input from Armor's staff, who after all, were going to have to sell a product they believed in.
It's a process that seems to have worked, because every product type produced by Q Acoustics has been their first and yet, they've consistently garnered praise and awards each time. The product first we have here, is Q Acoustics brand new Q7000 system that, like every Q Acoustics product before it, is bespoke from the ground up. No mean feat for a 'lifestyle', compact 5.1 sub/sat package retailing at only £799 and it's one they're very enthusiastic about. It's certainly got an illustrious, if short, heritage to live up to.
As is common these days, the speakers are all available separately and the package price is simply the sum total of the constituent parts. The 7000LR (Left Right) are available in pairs at £175, the 7000C (Centre) singly at £100 and finally the 7000S subwoofer at £350. You can thus, buy combinations to cover every configuration, from 2.0 to 11.2 channels, albeit I wouldn't recommend trying to get away without the sub, unless you were using a pair for a computer desktop - It would be a bit bass light. Colour options are all gloss in either black or white.
Each speaker comes prefitted to it's dedicated cast aluminium stand, that secures to the back of the speaker via a ball and socket arrangement. Once a suitable angle is set, you tighten a pair of allen bolts and the speaker is locked, rock solid in place. That angle is pretty much any you choose, although the shorter centre speaker stand, precludes vertical orientation like the 7000LR. The stand can be oriented to allow wall mounting by hanging on a couple of suitable screw heads and serves a further purpose. Underneath the foot of the stand, is a recess that houses the speaker binding posts, which are a good quality, chrome metal, sprung post. They are however, slightly fiddly to access if you have hands like my shovels, and won't easily accept wire of more than about 1.5mm2 - 14 AWG if you're a colonial. Likewise, the cutout in the foot to allow the cable to trail out of the back, is slightly too small to accept cables with a large insulator, like my Chord Carnival Silver Plus. I'd suggest that £6/m cable for £100 satellites might represent a slight misallocation of budget anyway, as a decent quality, oxygen free copper of 1.5mm2 is plenty adequate. To complete the picture the foot of the stand has a solid rubber ring inlaid to prevent them marking the surface on which they sit, or walking off at high volumes.
The enclosure itself, is a reassuringly dense cast aluminium, fronted by a perforated metal grill that mirrors the shape of the cabinet. The plastic frame of the grill is picked out in a dark 'chrome' that adds a touch of discrete style and secures into the baffle of the speaker via four pin in plastic cups. Behind the grill, lurk two mid bass drivers flanking a tweeter D'Appolito style, a configuration that restricts vertical dispersion, in favour of wider horizontal dispersion. The 75mm nominal mid/bass drivers and 25mm ring radiator tweeter are formed directly into the front baffle, which serves as the basket for the motor structures and is secured into the cabinet by two tensioning bolts that pass through the rear of the enclosure. The enclosure is sealed.
Whilst the 7000LR & C aren't the smallest satellites you'll ever see, they will need a subwoofer to deliver anything traditionally recognized as bass and Q Acoustics have really delivered in the matching subwoofer. The 7000S subwoofer is not only about the size of maxed out walk on airline hand luggage, it also weighs like it was packed by someone confronted with a Ryanair baggage allowance on a winter holiday. Fundamentally, it's a fairly straight forward, sealed subwoofer in a flattened and very well made MDF box, that hides it's dimensions very well. The driver is mounted to one side, along with the connections (stereo RCA and speaker level inputs, plus a figure of eight mains socket), and this face is surrounded on three sides by a two deep plastic framed grill. The one remaining side panel, then torques down onto this frame via a single, central allen bolt, locating on pins to keep it square. Q Acoustics claim sonic reasons for the driver firing at a side plate configuration, not least the constant unimpeded distance to a flat surface. This is claimed to avoid absorption by soft surfaces like carpet, but unless your carpet is deep enough to touch and therefore, mechanically impede your traditional subwoofers driver, it won't make any difference - bass wavelengths are simply too long and too energetic to care about carpet. The board is a style based inclusion and it does result in a very clean and tidy look.
Regardless, all the gubbins are neatly hidden from view, a small control panel inset into the top of the grill frame being the exception. The controls provided are Gain, Crossover, switchable 0/180deg Phase and a sensitivity switch for marrying up to speakers other than the Q7000 lineup. A chunky looking 250mm bass driver, is given motive force by a 150W RMS/300W Peak amplifier. The picture is completed by four rubber feet that allow for leveling with a nice knurled steel locking collar. There is apparently a wall mount available, but you'd better find some wall bolts, rather than screws, if you want this sub to stay put! Like I say, the 7000S is actually quite straight forward in tech terms, but that's no bad thing as high tech, space saving solutions cost, often deliver a performance below their traditionally engineered cost equivalent.
With small satellites, it's very much more a game of two even halves, as they place a much greater emphasis on the subwoofer not only to do deep bass, but to assist in dialogue clarity and provide the upper bass kick, as they lack the driver area to manage alone. Without wanting to get all Rita Hayworth about it, the Q7000S may very well be one of the best budget subs I've had the pleasure of playing with. For a budget sub/sat package, it's damn near epic. As mentioned, although it hides it's dimensions well, the 7000S is actually quite a large sub in terms of internal volume and this brings efficiency benefits. On paper, 150W or so, isn't much to stir the man blood, but as a large volume of air takes less squeezing, less power is consumed in squeezing it and more therefore is available for throwing the cone about. And it does so with aplomb.
Kung Fu Panda has some fairly torturous bass moments. I'm not about to kid you it lifted me out of the sofa with 'Skadoosh', but Ti Lun's prison escape delivered sofa wobbles I hadn't thought to hear, much less feel. This requires good, solid in room output, down into the mid 20s of Hertz and is not to be sniffed at. It prompted me to play with bombastic films normally reserved for much larger and/or more expensive subs and it was old favourite, Master and Commander, that gave the biggest grins. Renowned for it's cannon fire, you need a really big sub to do the battles true justice, but the convincing stab the Q Acoustics sub had at it, was utterly unexpected. The room bending pulse of compression was only hinted at, but it was the upper bass kick that kept the effect feeling concussive. It's this upper bass capability, oft ignored by the infra bass hunters, that is so important when satellites are in use, because that's the thud in the chest bit and it's actually quite tricky to do, because it requires a clean, low distortion upper bass which requires some careful motor design if it's not to get expensive.
Which sort of brings me full circle back to dialogue, because with a 120Hz crossover, the sub is contributing quite a lot in this area. If it can't, then voices tend to sound a bit hollow and recessed, easily getting lost amongst background noise and if the sub is a hopeless distortion grumble box, then voices will sound chesty and indistinct and the sub rather obvious. The 7000S just dovetails neatly into the bottom of the satellites, extending smoothly down and never once could it be pinpointed. Even trying to get medieval with it, failed to provoke any nasties. Clearly Q Acoustics have paid attention into it's limiting and how it approaches the edges of it's performance envelope.
This bodes well for music and it is indeed a nice taught and tuneful performer, the system as a whole benefitting by sounding a lot larger than it should. Bass guitar had ample texture and kick drum had a well delineated thwack to it, rather than a dull thump. Music is a real spotlight on natural detail and it's great for finding limitations that can't be found with a movie the volume control alone. Tonally, the 7000LCR satellites are pretty neutral, with only the mild top end lift, that works so well with movies, notable. It's not excessive and with a nice clean recording, gives a polished sheen to the sound of brushed cymbals and nice rasp to saxophone. With more modern, grittier, compressed mainstream fayre, the treble can be provoked into a giving a slightly waspish edge to overly harsh sibilants, but it wasn't a show stopper. Likewise, natural mid range detail is good, rather than stunning, but overall expression is still communicated well - It's just not a studio monitor spotlight that will have you reaching for a hanky to wipe a tear way.
And nor can they possibly be expected to do so - the 7000LCRs are less than a hundred quid each. Because the performance in general is so good, it's easy to fixate on areas that are less than stellar, unless you keep reminding yourself just how much the package as a whole, or individually doesn't cost. On balance, I'll happily live with that compromise, because the peaks in performance are well out of this league and you can't have everything for nothing.
- Great sound for the price and a fair bit more
- Superb subwoofer
- Excellent finish
- Flexible mounting options
- Fiddly binding posts
Q Acoustics Q7000 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker Package
When you take into account the superb build, finish and thoughtful design touches that abound, you know you are looking at a product of seriously high value. We're not talking perfection here, but it's a damn site closer to it than it has any right to be for the price. That makes the Q Acoustics Q7000 the very definition of a Best Buy award.
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