First Impressions of the Concept 40′s

concept40Having listened to many speakers in my life there is one thing that really irritates me: a speaker that has that “hollow boxy” sound (some may call this “that horrible bass drone”). Hollow, boxy, bass drone is more common in floor-standers. Here’s why. The advantage of a floorstanding speaker is the larger cabinet. The bigger the cabinet the more bass you get, that is just physics. However, the larger cabinet introduces increased flex and cabinet resonance. It’s this resonance that causes loose bass, and the ongoing drone that becomes very fatiguing over time. It’s very hard and expensive to get cabinet resonance to a minimum, damping material helps a bit but that cannot stop cabinet vibrations and you reduce bass levels with too much damping.

You can make the cabinet stronger by using a square pillar approach like the excellent Castle Conway 3 for instance but you lose the popular slim front looks now so important for your other half to give the nod as well.  You can make the cabinet stronger by lots of internal bracing but you lose internal volume… and add significant cost. One of the most practical ways to keep the slim front looks is to use curved boxes but it’s expensive to manufacture if you want to do it right like the JAMO D570/D590 or the fabulous Mission SX series for instance.  No cabinet at all is the perfect solution like the Jamo R909 or R907, but physics demands that to be physically large to produce any low frequencies and thus more expensive. Flat panel speakers like Maggies and electrostatics can do midrange and treble very well but it’s physically impossible to get deep bass right, it just cannot move enough air. So that is why you have to add a sub to them…

So this is why speaker manufacturers give you an alternative. If you hate drone, like me, you can go for their quality big stand mount speakers, and then add a dedicated subwoofer to increase the low end response. With that you can make the cabinets so much stronger at much less cost.

So how does all this relate to the Concept 40’s?

concept40-whiteYou can imagine how excited I was when I heard of a completely new way to tackle this problem …by Q Acoustics with their Concept 20 stand mount speaker. Building a cabinet inside a cabinet and then separating the two with thin high quality vibration deadening material. This speaker went on to win the What Hifi “Product of the Year” speaker award for 2013.  It sets the bar for a small stand mount speaker and the unique design gives it the midrange and treble sound of a panel speaker like the Maggies or Electrostatics.
But because it is not a big stand mount speaker it isn’t a full range speaker, you need a subwoofer to fill in the lower octaves. I was hoping Q Acoustics would apply this ground breaking technology to a floor-stander… and they did! The Concept 40’s arrived this week with huge expectations based on their little brothers the Concept 20.  Needless to say its midrange and tops are open 3D electrostatic like, like the Concept 20′s, but it’s the bass that impressed me the most , it’s clean and tight with a nice punch and wait for this; it has weight as well with very little if any drone.

When I first looked at the relatively small slimline cabinet I thought it would be a bit lean in the bass, but I was wrong – in fact I like everything about this speakers . It easily ticks our 4 x L’s with distinction:

Looks: Stunning high gloss finish, aluminium detailing with high quality construction.
Label: Q Acoustics are one of the most successful Brands in its short time of existence with plenty of awards)
List price: If the concept 40’s were produced by some other manufacturers, we’d expect to see price of double what these are listed at. We’d see these easily compete with speakers up to 4K.
Listening test: I’m so impressed, the Concept 40’s are very listenable, they image beautifully and their impressive cabinet design has resulted in a speaker which is easy to position and will sound fantastic in a wide range of rooms, without the drone…

If you’d like to come by for a listen, we’d love to demo these to you, no obligation!

View more information about the Q Acoustics Concept 40

New Products on Stereotype

We’re pretty excited by some recent additions on Stereotype, here’s a few recent products that we think are worth mentioning.

Audioengine D3 Premium 24-bit DAC
- Connect the D3 to a USB port on your Mac or PC and send high-quality music to your headphones or any audio system.
- D3 includes a USB DAC and headphone amplifier for incredible audio performance in a portable design.
- Audioengine D3 is the perfect intro to computer audio!

 

 

Myryad Z20 DAC

The Myryad Z20 DAC is a high-end digital to analog convertor featuring the same DAC chip used in the top of the line MX series CD Players. If you’ve ditch CDs and gone digital, or just want to maximise the most from your computer audio, the Myryad Z20 will turn your digital audio experience into something you had never imagined before.

 

 

Q Acoustics Concept 40 Floorstanding Speaker

The Q Acoustics Concept 40 is the flagship floorstanding speaker from this UK manufacturer known for incredible value. It is the newest addition of the acclaimed award winning Concept range, and it delivers unparalleled sonic performance at its price. We strongly believe that these HiFi speakers set new standards, and can even outperform those that are in a much higher price bracket.

 

 

TASCAM PA-R200 AV Receiver

The TASCAM PA-R200 is the flagship of a powerful new line of Professional Networking A/V Receivers from TASCAM. The PA-R200′s 8 HDMI inputs support 3D content, HD audio and upscale video to 4K with Marvell’s Qdeo™. The latest Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ formats are also supported. Select between three zones to deliver astonishing audio to different rooms. Also included are full 7.2 channel Preouts for connecting external amplifiers, a fully functioned unit for the discerning audio and videophile.

New Audio-Technica Noise Canceling Headphones

The Audio-Technica ANC 29 and ANC70 QuietPoint® Active Noise-cancelling Headphones are ideal for use with smart phones, tablets, laptops, music or DVD players & in-flight entertainment systems, the QuietPoint® closed-back headphones deliver clear, high-resolution sound, with intense bass, a detailed midrange, extended treble and accurate imaging in an immersive soundfield.

 

If you have any questions about any of these new products please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Stereotype Top Albums of 2013

2013 has been a huge year for great new music. Maybe it’s just that I feel like I’ve listened to more new music than last year, and the number of new albums that I enjoyed made forming this top 10 a very difficult task. As always, I don’t claim this as a definitive “best of 2013″ list, but rather a “Stereotype favourites” list. It’s impossible to call something the best when you’ve only experienced a small percentage of what was released in a given year. So while the supply us high, the great thing is that the demand has never been higher. The resurgence of vinyl keeps bubbling away and on that note we’ve seen great demand for the new range of Music Hall turntables which in our opinion offer the best performance in their class. Digital downloads and streaming are now the normal – even if I feel like I am the odd one out who still likes to buy CDs, let’s hope the likes of iTunes/Spotify/MySpace/Xbox Music etc. keep pushing for better quality files. At the moment the quality is pretty low, and unfortunately brilliant services like HDtracks don’t have the range, but this is improving. While I still buy CDs I do find myself streaming music via my Micromega MyDAC more often that spinning discs. I guess the most important thing is to not really get that hung up about the format, it has never been more affordable to get a high quality source regardless of whether that’s analogue or digital, and for me they all have a place.


lonebellow10. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow

The debut album from Brooklyn based based Folk group The Lone Bellow came up in my recommendations list shopping on Amazon. I gave it a quick listen and thought, now there’s a brilliant vocalist. The album has country and gospel influences in places, tracks Tree to Grow and Teach Me to Know are the stand outs, while the opener Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold doesn’t do it for me and You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To is too country for me. Some gems in here, recommended.

daftpunk9. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Without a doubt the most hyped album of 2013, featuring the most played song of 2013. But does it live up to the hype? Does the rest of the album have anything worth listening too? Thankfully yes. It’s a fantastic recording and The Game of Love became a go to demo track. However, my favourite song is Instant Crush featuring The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.

repave8. Volcano Choir – Repave

Indie darling Justin Vernon’s side project Volcano Choir released their follow up album to 2009′s Unmap. Repave is less experimental, which makes it more listenable, and no doubt more appealing to the Bon Iver fans. There are three stand out tracks for me and they are back to back on the album; Byegone, Alaskans and Dancepack. All different, all genius. However, Byegone is an epic song that I would have put either as the opener or closer to this great album.

amok_7. Atoms for Peace – AMOK

Every time I listen to this album I hear something new, there are so many layers, and so many background sounds that sneak up on you that you weren’t expecting. I unashamedly pretty much love everything Thom Yorke touches. If you’re intrigued, checkout Default and Judge Jury Executioner which are two of my favourites. One of my most listened to albums of 2013 as its great to work to with your headphones cranking.

fandango6. The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango

The Phoenix Foundation made our 2010 list with Buffalo, and Fandango carries on nicely with playful adult pop at its best. Clever lyrics, catchy riffs and NZ made, what’s not to love here? Thames Soup should’ve got NZ Song of the Year, but of course someone ruined that for the boys. Support your local, buy it!

articmonkeys5. Arctic Monkeys – AM

I never got into earlier Arctic Monkeys songs but when the single Do I Wanna Know was released I couldn’t get enough of it. I bought the CD on the basis of this track expecting to be a little disappointed with the rest and to my pleasant surprise this a bloody good rock album. And just when you thought you’d figured out the album, they drop rock ballad No.1 Party Anthem that will be turning the Gallagher boys green.

mazzystar4. Mazzy Star – Seasons of your Day

A new Mazzy Star album was exciting news for me. In my book lead singer Hope Sandoval can do no wrong. She could sing the dictionary and it would be amazing. Fade Into You is one of my all time favourite songs and Massive Attack’s Paradise Circus which features Sandoval, was one of my favourites from 2010. Pour a glass of Pinot, turn the lights down, listen and enjoy.

thenational3. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

It took me a few listens before Trouble Will Find Me stood out as a truly great album. The opening track I Should Live in Salt and the track Heavenfaced show off lead singer Matt Berninger’s voice beautifully. In my 2010 list, The National’s High Violet made it to the #1 spot, so it was a tough act to follow, but they’ve proved there’s plenty more in The National boys, I can wait three years for the next album if the quality remains this high. Highly Recommended.

boyandbear2. Boy and Bear – Harlequin Dream

Aussie band Boy and Bear produced a crackingly good album this year, you’ll probably be familiar with the opening track Southern Sun if you listen to Hauraki or presumably other Rock radio stations. Bridges and Back Down the Black are the stand out tracks for me, and if they left off the country influenced End of the Line this album would be perfect!

localnatives1. Local Natives – Hummingbird

The more I listen to this album the more l enjoy it! Hummingbird was an early favourite for the top spot and it held on. It’s hard to pick stand out tracks but Three Months, Heavy Feet (which has a brilliant video featuring visually impaired model aeroplane pilots) and Mt Washington would be my favourites. Really the whole album is outstanding apart from perhaps Black Spot that I finding myself skipping over. Album of the year for me, so yes I think you should rush out and buy it.

Well there you have it, what was your favourite?

Merry Christmas from both Tiens and I, thanks for the continued support and we look forward spending many more hours listening to great music on great sounding Hifi in 2014.