These Beautiful Speakers are all about Luxury and Refinement!
Q Acoustics has never made run-of-the-mill speakers. Even their entry-level 3000 series (check out our review here) is known for innovations like attractive curved cabinets with convenient low-profile binding posts, computer designed point-to-point bracing for low resonances, and decoupled tweeters for a clear top end. They usually have features you don’t see anywhere else.
However, their flagship Concept series takes their penchant for revolutionary designs to the max, and the Concept 300 Bookshelf Speaker (which follows the remarkable Concept 500 floorstander), is the latest showcase for Q Acoustics’ most sophisticated technologies.
This stylish two-way loudspeaker is both luxurious and state of the art, utilizing an extraordinary cabinet design on top of a novel stand to provide a remarkably tight, clean sound.
This speaker does a tremendous job of disappearing into the soundstage, unfurling the music across the front of the room into a nice open presentation. If you pair the Concept 300 with the right electronics (read: powerful, high-current), you can get a delightful transparent sound out of them.
Read on for more detail regarding these stunning speakers!
Disclaimer: These speakers were sent to us as a review sample in exchange for an honest review. This complete article constitutes that review.
The Q Acoustics Concept 300 is a two-way standmount speaker with a 165mm (about 6.5 inches) coated paper mid/bass driver and a 28mm (slightly over an inch) microfiber dome tweeter. Like Q Acoustics’ lower-cost designs, the tweeter is decoupled from the cabinet with a rubber gasket to isolate it from cabinet vibrations and facilitate closer placement to the midrange cone.
This arrangement is said to provide better integration between the two drivers (tweeter and mid/bass) and reduce coloration in the high frequencies. The tweeter is also placed in a waveguide with a light horn shape to further aid in integration.
Both the tweeter and mid/bass drivers are secured to the cabinet from behind with spring-tensioned retaining bolts, keeping the front baffle free of exposed fasteners. This gives these speakers a clean look up front, adding to the overall contemporary design motif.
Speaking of Contemporary design, at its price range, the Concept 300 is the paragon of modern design, sporting Q Acoustics’ trademark curved cabinet styling, finished with an eye-popping multi-layered lacquer. Underneath the lacquer is a two-tone color scheme with a wood veneer (in my case, black) covering the rear quarter of the cabinet and a solid gloss color (in my case, metallic grey) on the other three quarters.
My samples also had a huge “Q” logo on the front, which usually turns me off, but in this case, it really worked with the modern styling of the speaker. They also come with grills sporting the same logo, but I left them off even though they looked really cool.
I have to say I love the look of the Concept 300’s which is important since that’s part of what you’re paying for here. Combined with the astonishing tripod stands, It’s the type of look that doubles as an art piece. I can envision them jazzing up the loft of a movie protagonist’s opulent bachelor pad.
But as I said earlier, these speakers are far from being all sizzle and no steak.
There’s a lot of technology under the hood, starting with the dual gelcore cabinet made up of three individual MDF layers, each separated by gel. This setup is designed to negate stray high-frequency waves traversing through the cabinet. When combined with the internal P2P bracing designed to handle low-frequency vibrations, you have an impressively inert cabinet.
You have two sets of 5-way binding posts set up for bi-wiring on the rear of each cabinet. They are more substantial than what I’ve seen on any bookshelf speaker, even though I hesitate to call a speaker this large a “bookshelf” anything.
Above the binding posts, there’s a jumper set up to let you dial in your preferred level of treble. There are two positions, the right side position raises the treble by +.5db, and the left position is the “normal” position. Removing the jumper all together reduces treble by -.5db (more on that later)
Above the jumper is the rear port, which comes with a foam bung pre-installed if you are placing the speaker close to a rear boundary. Q Acoustics recommends that you keep them in if your speakers will have less than 600mm (about 2 feet) of free space behind them. I had about two and a half feet behind my samples, so I removed them.
On the bottom of each speaker is another one of Q Acoustics’ innovations, the Isolation Base System. This is a suspension system that balances the mass of the speakers on four springs. This is interesting, but it doesn’t become special until you screw in the remarkable Tensegrity Stands.
Tensegrity is a structural design principle that works via compressed bars and tensioned wires, where the wires supply greater support as more stress is placed on the bars. In the Concept 300 stands, there are three metal bars or rods that form a tripod connected with metal stranded cables under tension.
It’s a beautiful and elegant solution with a ridiculously low surface area, which in turn picks up minimal floor vibration. The vibration that remains is blocked from the speaker via the spring suspension on the speaker’s base plate, which screws into the stand’s top.
The speaker’s base plate’s energy absorption actually works in two ways because it also prevents the speaker from vibrating the stand possibly causing unwanted noise.
Again, when you set up these speakers on top of the tripod stands, they are truly breathtaking. They’re definitely made for those who want both a refined speaker and a status symbol.
Just understand that all this beauty and innovation doesn’t come cheap. (At least in my book) A pair of these speakers, along with the matching stands, runs $4,499. You could get them without stands for $3,499, but believe me, you want the stands.
Listening to the Q Acoustics Concept 300
Once the Concept 300 were perched atop their stands, I set them up as suggested in the owner’s manual, about three feet from the rear wall and three and a half feet from the sides. The speakers were about eight feet apart and eight feet from the listening position, just about forming an equidistant triangle.
The manual suggests that you point the speakers directly at the listening position, but after listening for a day or so, I ended up toeing them out just slightly for a wider sound stage.
I also removed the jumpers from the back of the speakers, as I found the treble to have a little too much sizzle in the “normal” position.
Since these speakers have a sensitivity rating of 84db and a 6-ohm impedance, I wanted to pair them up with an amp with some grunt. I selected the PS Audio Stellar Strata Integrated Amp ($2999), rated at 150w into 4 ohms.
Q Acoustics suggests using the Supremus cables ($1399) from their sister company QED with the Concept speakers. They were kind enough to lend us a pair, so I swapped them into our setup after listening with my AudioQuest Rocket 11 ($299) cables for several days. The heavy-duty QED Supremus cables are Gorgeous and a perfect match aesthetically with the Q Acoustic speakers.
Each cable has two bundles of 16 solid core silver plated 99.99% oxygen-free copper conductors, and they are terminated with dazzling rhodium-plated banana plugs. Even the clamshell box is stunning, letting you know there’s something special inside.
I didn’t hear a huge difference between the AudioQuest and QED Cables, but there was a difference. The Supremus cables seemed to make things sound bigger in scale, almost like putting a magnifying glass up to the song. The presentation seemed to be taller, wider, and a tad bit more forward.
However, they didn’t really seem to change how the speakers resolved or the music’s depth much. I liked the larger scale of the music with the QED cables, but you definitely don’t need $1400 cables to enjoy these speakers. I consider them more of a tweak than anything. They also look damn good. That said, the impressions that follow are with the Supremus cables in the chain.
For my sound tests, I played a wide variety of 24-bit files through the Strata’s onboard streamer.
If I had to sum up the Q Acoustic Concept 300’s sound in a sentence, I would say they are weighty, open speakers with a clear, natural midrange. Listening to Emily King’s “Radio (Acoustic)” from her “Sides” album, I was amazed at the live quality of the song.
Emily’s delicate purr called to my chair like she was right in front of me. You can tell that they did a great job of controlling resonance in the cabinets because as soon as you play them, they disappear, and all you hear is music.
Along with vocal, there was also nice weight and pace coming from the rhythm section, which made me bounce to the music. The background singers then joined the mix in perfect harmony, very clean and distinct from the lead singer.
Listening to Ben Webster’s “Soulville” let me hear the Concept’s 300’s quality soundstage and imaging. Webster’s horn had a nice tone to it, and the placement of the instruments within the soundstage was precise. The drums were slightly behind Webster to the right.
There’s a nice Bass solo in this song, and it was upfront and natural. The presentation wasn’t quite as warm and palpable as I’ve heard on other systems, but it was still credible.
Listening to The Weeknd’s “The Hills,” I was able to get an idea of how the Concept 300’s handled bass. This song really rumbles, and the Q Acoustics speaker handled it with no problem. However, when I played a song with really prominent sub-bass like Kendrick Lemar’s “DNA.,” they tended to exhibit a little bloat and port chuff. They did alright, but I could tell I was pushing their limits. Basically, if you tend to listen to a steady diet of Miami Bass, you may need a Subwoofer.
A couple of things to note about these speakers. They are very resolving, and if you play poorly recorded music, these speakers will expose it. While they have a nice forward, live presentation, I would love it if they had just a touch more depth. I felt like some recordings just weren’t fully fleshed out. In some ways, they played like floorstanding speakers with nice scale and dynamics, but without the intricate layering of mini-monitors. That said, these speakers can definitely rock and roll like no other bookshelf.
The Wrap Up
The Concept 300 Bookshelf Speaker is for someone looking for a speaker that has both beautiful sound and looks. I don’t think you will find a speaker/stand combo under $5000 with the luxurious fit and finish of these speakers. While they could use just a touch more depth, the sound is open, dynamic, and transparent with any genre. With some well-recorded music, they will put you in a front-row seat at the concert.
Where To Buy
Concept 300 Bookshelf Speaker Pair (w/stands)
Q AcousticsSHOP NOW
Q Acoustics (via Walmart)SHOP NOW
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