Kuala Lumpur International AV ShowAVHi-Fi
September 17, 2014

Q Acoustics Concept 20 Speakers

Article by WL Low

 

Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers in gloss white and matching stands.

 

During my rounds at the KLIAV 2013 show, I was rather smitten by the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers powered simply by Atoll electronics. So smitten I was, that I rated the said combo top 5 in the “Best Of Show”. For a system made up completely from beer budget components, now that’s saying something!

 

I was offered a pair for review just 2 months prior to the last KLIAV 2014 show and the review though completed, was put in the back burner until today. The Concept 20 speakers came in 2 shipping boxes, one for the speakers them selves, the other box for the stands. Once I opened the box containing the speakers, I was greeted by very nice gloss white painted speaker cabinets. It’s a classic rear ported, two way design employing a soft dome tweeter and a 5 inch mid bass driver(made from materials similar looking to bextrene for cone). Nothing special about the speakers so far. I then proceed to open the box for the flat packed stands, which means some assembly is required.

 

All in the speaker stand kit 

 

The speaker stand is design from a combination of wood, glass and steel materials

 

The stand assembly took about 30 minutes with a detailed instruction manual. Note the cable route built in to the stands for tidy appearance, but not accommodate garden hose size speaker cables 

 

The completed speaker stand

 

From the experience gained while assembling the stands, it became clear to me that these are no ordinary stands, and any one buying the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers should really consider buying the stands as a set, as the stands are a big, big part of the equation in making the speakers sounds so….. very good. I did not have any spare stands lying around to test, but I am very sure that the speakers would sound very, very different(for better or worse), if supported by other non-standard stands. The stand assembly also taught me that there are some areas of tweak(mainly the stand to floor interface and stand to speaker interface), which will influence the sound of the speakers a great deal.

 

I tried both the rubber shoe and spike floor interface with the following conclusion. The spike interface gave a more precise, sharper imaging property but the down side is a slight loss bass quantity, resulting in an overall leaner tonal balance. The rubber shoe floor interface gave a more solid and dense imaging, and a overall more lush tonal quality, which is my preference favoured.

 

Next up is stand to speaker interface, which again one can choose between stainless steel shoes or rubber buttons. This time, I opted for the stainless steel shoes, only because it seemed to couple the speaker to stand rather more stable. The rubber shoes made the speaker to stand coupling seemed somewhat wobbly.

 

With the tweak combo finalised, I proceeded to place the speakers in my room. The were placed 43 inches away from the back wall and 22 inches from the side walls of my small 10ft x 12ft man cave. The review you’ll read is based on the above setting and speaker placement parameters.

 

The floor interface choice can be steel spike(the brass coasters are not part of the package) or

 

Rubber shoes, in this case, no need to use brass coasters

 

The stand to speaker interface allows a choice of  stainless steel or rubber buttons, I used the stainless steel ones

 

Hooked up to my Plinius SA250 MKIV power amp, the Concept 20s sound is about warm, natural tonal colour, with good texture and very unfailingly musical to the last note. There is a dramatic roll off in the highs and the mids are well rounded, rendering voices with solid and believe able density, and the slightly woolly bass quality that threatens to break up when played loud. However, that is normal with most small speaker designs. Play within it’s volume limits, and you’ll be rewarded with smooth, lush and easy on the ear musical presentation. Naturally, with rolled off treble response and not much bass frequency reproduced below 80Hz, this is certainly a narrow band width design.

 

If there seems to be some physical limitations to what these speakers can do, here’s another one! The level of transparency in hifi re-production terms is poor. The Concept 20 rose tint view of the musical proceedings just makes every recording played sounding very much, with consistently the same niceness. Put in a good recording and it sounds well, good. Bad recordings didn’t sound that bad and ugly recordings stills sounding rather listen able. In short the Concept 20s made the Good sounding less than great, Bad sounding less than bad and Ugly sounding very tolerable indeed! Is this a good or bad trait to have in a pair of hifi speakers? I think it depends, if you’re like me chasing the hifi rainbow for the illusive musical unicorn, you’d be very much disappointed in the end. However as music lover chasing for emotional engagement and beautification of sound, then this Concept 20 speakers are just right.

 

The sound stage scale is slightly smaller than what I am used to at 5/8 scale, which is about right with book shelves and small floor standing speakers. Imaging however is a strong point with these babies as they are very good at projecting solid yet believe able vocals from mouth to chest. Many small speakers only give mouth, minus the chest. Look past it’s physical limitations and design compromises as a budget speaker however, one will be rewarded with great musicality and excellent PRAT qualities on offer.

 

Q Acoustics Concept 20 sans grille

 

RM3,300.00 doesn’t buy much in hifi these days, and the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers are genuine proof of that harsh reality. However, the same money can still buy very much musicality, which I feel is very important in the budget sector. You see, it’s not quite fun listening to music with “warts and all” as they say, when partnering a pair of super transparent speakers to budget electronics which most likely have an edgy sound. I think the designers at Q Acoustics are well aware of that fact, and they came out with a design that wears musical make up, and sympathetically beautifies the chances of poor recordings and edgy budget electronics to maintain your listening pleasure.

 

So despite some obvious flaws noted in this review, I still highly recommend the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers for it’s musically engaging performance. Those favouring hifi superiority can look else where.

 

If you’re still looking for a musical demo after reading this review, The Audio Store has a demo pair on offer at a very special price! Do contact Mr Aw at 03-78872233, or enquire at store.

 

Q Acoustics is sold at all Vismart appointed dealers.

 

Article by WL Low