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