I take a look at the Concept 20 loudspeaker from Q Acoustics to see if it lives up to its reputation. Continue reading this article for my Q Acoustics Concept 20 Review.
Q Acoustics – a bit of history
Based in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, Q Acoustics are a 10 year old company and was founded with the ambition of bringing high quality speakers at a low cost. Owned by Armour Home, Q Acoustics have QED, Alphason and Systemline as siblings.
Since they were established they have continuously focused on the budget end of the hi-fi speaker market. Q Acoustics have received glowing reviews, awards and sold bucket loads of their 2010, 2020, 2020i, 3010, 3020, etc. The Concept 20 take a step up the hi-fi pricing ladder and bid to appeal to a more discerning consumer.
The Concept 20
So here we have the Concept 20. It is a small stand mount speaker measuring 27cm tall, 28cm deep and 17cm wide. When I saw them in the flesh they were much deeper than I was expecting. This further underlines my belief that small speakers should go on stands not on bookshelves as they are quite chunky.
Two colour options are available: gloss white and gloss black. Round the back is a bass reflex port along with a pair of speaker binding posts allowing for bi-amp or bi-wire configurations. On the front is a rather flimsy fabric grille, but when attached they do look pretty smart. The finish is exemplary; they look and feel much more expensive than they are.
The mid-bass driver and tweeter are lifted straight from the 2020i budget speaker and placed into a new cabinet. The designers at Q Acoustics strongly believed that their drivers were “good enough” and that better performance could be had from cabinet improvements. It is the cabinet which makes this a special speaker.
Q Acoustics also developed a stand dedicated for the Concept 20 which is very fancy looking (if not a bit expensive too). Sadly I couldn’t afford the dedicated stands so am using some cheaper Mission stands that I already have.
The Gelcore cabinet
The Concept 20 uses a technology called Gelcore. This is a viscous liquid which sits between two layers of the cabinet material. Gelcore reduces resonance from the cabinet which Q Acoustics believe is key to providing higher end sonic performance. It is an interesting approach and emphasises the importance of cabinet design on speakers. Better cabinets is generally something you only get as you start to look at more expensive models.
Q Acoustics Concept 20 Review
Set up on Mission stands, the Concept 20 look a bit dinky when compared to my floor-standing IPL S2TLKs. I hook them up to my Naim Superuniti and sit down for a listen.
The best way to evaluate speakers is to hear them with music that you are very familiar with. To that end I streamed a 16/44.1 album called Invol2ver by Sasha; this is electronic music designed for a nightclub – plenty of beats and bass to test the 20s. This album also has lots FX and reverb which sound great on a system that can pull out that kind of detail.
Well, strike me down! I am bowled over by how good these are. Lets not forget that I am driving £350 worth of speakers with £3000 worth of electronics so this is not a “real world” scenario. That being said, if you do have a good quality amplifier and source(s) then the Q Acoustics will reward you for it. What I did not expect was that these little speakers would hold their own so well against my big floorstanders.
The Concept 20 don’t dig quite as deep bigger speakers – which is absolutely fair enough. There is still plenty of bass though. In fact, the 20s don’t seem to excite the bass in my room quite so much – effectively bypassing a troubling room mode I have around 45-50hz. What you miss, when compared to bigger speakers, is the “feel” of bass i.e. vibration that comes through the floor to your bottom. There is plenty of texture and warmth which makes for a very pleasing overall sound.
Treble is good: very easy to listen to. The Concept 20 are definitely not bright or analytical speakers. There is detail and accuracy in the higher frequencies which is better than you would expect at this price level. Midrange comes through well and is in keeping with the richness offered in the sound elsewhere.
I switch albums and go for some Adele and Prince in order to see how they handle vocal based music: they handle it very indeed. You will be singing along in no time at all!
Soundstaging is good too: with some experimentation over positioning and toeing-in you can get a nice big sound thrown out into the room. These are speakers that will allow well recorded music to shine while still being kind to lesser quality music such as MP3 or Spotify streaming. The forgiving nature of the Concept 20 means they will be easy to partner with your other equipment.
So it is time to wrap up my Q Acoustics Concept 20 Review. These are just fabulous little speakers. They have been around for a little while now so there is a good chance you can pick them up for less than the full £350. The performance of the Concept 20 gets them very close to much more expensive models; with these you can get 90% of the high-end at 20% of the price – thats the law of diminishing hi-fi returns right there! Q Acoustics have since released the Concept 50, where they put the Gelcore into a floorstanding speaker – so if you do need that extra layer of bass and more impact I would look there.