Floorstanders…do you need to spend big bucks to get the best from the design or can a sub-1k model actually do more than add a bit of bass onto a good pair of bookshelf speakers? Paul Rigby finds out when he reviews the Q Acoustics Concept 40
Q Acoustics has a well deserved reputation of producing value for money speakers. It has found a research, design and business model that seeks out the very last drop of performance for each and every penny spent. I’ve already reviewed a couple of their stand-mounted speakers, the Concept 20 and 3020 but I have always pondered its floor standing designs and thought that the Concept 40s (related to the smaller Concept 20s) might be worth a little listen).
Looking at the compact design, the 40s are definitely considered and well thought out. The heavy Gelcore cabinet features two layers of MDF. Stuffed in the middle of these layers is a bespoke, resonance absorbing, non-setting adhesive. This material takes the kinetic energy produced by the working speaker and disperses it as heat.
The cabinet holds dual 125mm drive units and a wide dispersion 25mm tweeter, sensitivity is 90db. With its gloss finish, the 40s feel plush and luxurious, for the price. Set up requires a couple of minutes work as you have to bolt on a glass stabiliser or ‘outrigger’ as the company calls them, which prevents nasty wobbles.
The rear offers a reflex port so they’ll need to be moved away from the wall (you can move it closer if you insert the included foam bung into the port) a bit with a bit of toeing in for ideal listening.
I began with a concept piece, The Book of Intxixu, a psychedelic folk/rock outing of strangeness with lots of organic pointers including strumming guitar, plucked strings from the same, bongos, tambourine, flute, male and female vocals and the like.
If you wanted to be super critical, you could point to a slight wavering in terms of imagery, a slight lack in discipline perhaps in how the instruments are laid out along the soundstage but really, for the price, that would be churlish and there is so much to be positive about in terms of how these speakers handle music and present it to you.
Firstly, the open and spacious nature of the soundstage allows dynamics to roam and the frequencies to really breath. Not in a manufactured sense, either, there is a real organic aspect to the presentation of the midrange and treble that allows the ear to hear all of the information on offer, even the most subtle and shy of instruments offer their delights to the ear.
The 40s provide pleasing exactitude when an acoustic guitar string is plucked. There is so much tonal realism here that it adds to the richness of the presentation and enhances the organic nature of the sound while a vigorously strummed acoustic guitar almost shimmers with upper midrange and treble fragility but there is enough precision in their upper area to allow the ear to here delicate cymbal taps while all of this is going on. That is the upper mids offer no negative smearing, only a sense of focus.
That precision is shown during the strike of the tambourine where the skin strike is noted but the tiny delay in hearing the surrounding bell cymbals is also provided without delay.
Bass is also notable by is presence but its refusal to bloom, mask or dominate offers an overall balance to the music and grounds it but never removes itself from the mix to boss the other frequencies.
Vocals, finally, are given enough space and air to emote successfully. They never sound cramped on forced.
Moving to Dusty Springfield now and Just a Little Lovin, her almost breathy central vocal is tracked wonderfully by the 40s. There’s a series of textural nuances from Springfield’s considered and restrained delivery that demands work from the speaker to track and project fully but the 40s do this wonderfully and with no little panache while the orchestral backing offers sweeping strings and an open percussive support on the left channel. Meanwhile, the backing vocals provide an added harmonic richness that provides a sense of maturity to the song, giving it a fullness and a depth that pushes the stereo image back, in a 3D manner.
Finally, on CD and the rock band, 60ft Dolls with the track Alison’s Room from the album Joya Magica. There’s a welcome space and freedom to the presentation with enough power and vigour to portray the excitement of the and high energy nature of the track without blurring the detail in all of the excitement. Delicate cymbal strikes are heard above the din of the screaming electric guitars and the crashing drums while the character of the vocal is never drowned underneath the cacophony behind him. The broad and open nature of the soundstage helps in this manner, adding a grand a rather epic construction that provides the necessary space for detail to flow without restriction.
So are the Concept 40s more than a pair of stretched Concept 20s? Absolutely, there is more going on here. Offering a tremendous tonal realism, for the price, with a sense of air and space that impresses, the Concept 40s manage to present detail to the ear but without that tired old trick of compressing upper mids until they squeal. The Concept 40s never even hint at compression nor, for that matter, do they hint at any sonic element which is less than natural. They are insightful and relaxed speakers that encourage you to listen to music with a sense of joy.
Such is the happy, bouncy and rapturous nature of their general demeanour if you, as the listener, don’t sing along with your arms in the air pretty pronto then, goddammit, these speakers will instead. Nothing, it seems will dim their enjoyment of the sounds that they are determined to produce.
Q ACOUSTICS CONCEPT 40 SPEAKERS
Tel: 01279 501111
GOOD: open and airy soundstage, delicate and detailed treble, organic and natural midrange, solid design
BAD: nothing at the price
Geoffrey28th June 2017 at 7:02 pm
Lovely review. Great company. Keep um coming.
Paul Rigby28th June 2017 at 7:11 pm
Very kind of you Geoffrey. Thanks.
Dave miller15th August 2017 at 12:34 pm
Paul I enjoyed reading your review and got to say you’ve given a true account,I think for me personally they needed a bit more bass and depth,so I tested a few different subs and ended up buying the rel 7ti which made a massive difference.i have the concept 20s and the 40s,my taste in music varies quite some but mainly soul jazz funk reggae,but I’ve listened to rock and a lot of the old classical and it’s a great little set up for such little money as well as very contemporary and stylish too .
Paul Rigby20th August 2017 at 9:22 pm
Sorry for the delay in replying – just returned from holiday: thanks for your thoughts Dave. Glad the REL is working for you.
Fritz28th May 2020 at 3:07 am
Concept 40 or the 3050i?
Clive Stevens2nd November 2018 at 1:00 pm
Thanks you weren’t wrong. Concept 40 are great and they work very well in my living. I will leave the subwoofer off for a while and see how it goes ( my girlfriend hates my subwoofer anyway but only how it looks).
Paul Rigby2nd November 2018 at 5:41 pm
Thanks for the update, Clive – glad they’re working for you 🙂
Mark Whitley2nd May 2019 at 11:06 am
Dilemma do i buy the Q Accoustics 3050i’s or the concept 40’s
Paul Rigby3rd May 2019 at 10:27 am
To be honest, it’s difficult to remember the finer points of the 40s because lots of time has past since that review and I have never had the chance to do a straight A-B test between the two. I do remember liking them very much indeed…as I did the 3050i speakers. It’s a bit of a fudge, I know, but I would look towards the best cash deal and go for that deal. You won’t be disappointed with either.
Alexandre Perron4th February 2020 at 9:59 pm
Hi Paul! I have a Rega Planar 1 turntable and an Audiolab 6000a integrated amp (thank you for the insightful reviews!). I am looking for the best sounding speakers (for music only) in the Q Acoustics 3050i/Concept 40 price range for my large room. I would be fine with purchasing a powered subwoofer to take care of the very low frequencies if need be (KEF kube 10b? PSB subseries 250? Not sure…). Would you have any recommendations that would be a nice fit with my current equipment? For now I am using a pair of Klipsch Synergy F1 floorstanders coupled with a (undersized) Cabasse Santorin 20 subwoofer that I temporarily borrowed from my home theater setup (the Klipsch alone were not cutting it)… I am looking for a noticeable upgrade in sound quality. Thank you very much!
Paul Rigby5th February 2020 at 12:19 pm
Hi Alexandre – subwoofers…hmmm. I’m not really the chap to ask about subwoofers, to be frank. I don’t like them at all. I can direct you to them, sure, but won’t recommend the things. For AV? Fine. Hi-Fi? No. I find they ruin the balance from a pair of speakers. Speakers in which the designer has worked hard to attain the best possible tonal balance he can for the price. Adding all of that sub lower bass, throws everything off kilter. Which negates the poor chap’s work. For me, if you need a sub, then your main speakers need to be changed. Because that’s where the problem lies. After that rant… 🙂 I would firstly suggest floor standing speakers, as a first check, and that’s where your at, so good. I’d also look at room damping because the room can suck bass or not direct it to the ear if poorly set up (so a sub can be like throwing good money after bad, for example). Check out the link here: https://theaudiophileman.com/damping/ I talk about damping the room on the cheap, so don’t get worried about that 🙂
After you’ve looked at that, if you still require help, come back and describe the room dimensions and shape and we can talk further.
Alexandre Perron13th February 2020 at 6:36 pm
Hi again Paul! You were absolutely right about the subwoofer… it is gone from my music listening setup now. I seemed like I always had to readjust the crossover and level based on what I was listening to and it was getting on my nerves… “Back to your home theater setup little guy, you’re fired!” More seriously, I have read your article on damping and it makes perfect sense to me. It is still a work in progress, but I already get big improvements. My room is rougly 10 meters x 4 meters with two large (~2 m) doorless openings to other rooms in one of the long sides. The other long side is an exterior wall with a patio door and four tall windows that all have window treatments. My speakers are located on both sides of a fireplace which is located on one of the short wall (not flush with wall and coming out by about 0.6 m). The nooks on both sides of this fireplace are where I have room to put my audio equipment (including my LP) and the speakers which are about 2.1 m apart (location is now wife approved!). The nooks are about 1 m wide each (full room height). My current towers (Klipsch Synergy F1) fit nicely and there is some room left behind them (they are not rear ported so I tend to get them closer to the wall to increase the bass response). There is a three seat sofa located in front of the fireplace, at about 2.5 to 3 m from it (this is were I would like to get “optimal” sound even though I tend to listen to music when eating or entertaining guests at our dining table, which is located more towards the center of the room or even while cooking in the kitchen). The L-shaped kitchen is located at the other end of the room (cabinets from floor to ceiling and a island). The ceilings are 2.75 m tall everywhere, except over the two openings, where they are lower (concealed beam). As you can see, it is an open concept house, but this is really where I would like to listen to music. I seem to get enough power from my Audiolab 6000a, but I would like to improve my setup with better speakers. Any advice? Thank you.
Paul Rigby14th February 2020 at 8:54 am
Glad I could be of help, Alexandre – what’s you budget for new speakers?
Rodrigo10th December 2019 at 1:38 am
Did you figure it out?
I’m at that same point
Alexandre Perron14th February 2020 at 6:47 pm
I do not have an exact figure in mind, but I would like to get speakers that would play on the same team as my Rega Planar One and my Audiolab 6000a. I liked the pricepoint of the Q Acoustics 3050i, but would be willing to go a little higher if it meant reaching the next level, if you know what I mean (sub-£1000 let’s say). They will also be very visible in the room so the design (and color) matters, to some extent. Sound is paramount though. Thanks!
Paul Rigby17th February 2020 at 9:58 am
Hi Alexandre – if floor standers are attractive and you can push that limit by a little bit then these are well worth looking at: https://theaudiophileman.com/monitor-audio-silver-300-speakers-review/
Alexandre Perron18th February 2020 at 3:04 pm
Wow, they do look like awesome speakers! Do you think my Audiolab 6000A would have enough watts per channel (50W) to drive them efficiently, even at lower volumes though? The Monitor Audio Silver 300 user guide does recommend a 80-200W amplifier power range (is this total power or per channel?). Anyhow, if you could also suggest a second option with a lower MSRP it would be appreciated. I live in Canada and the markup for a pair of Silver 300 is quite significant (equivalent of £1750, which could unfortunately be a deal breaker, unless I can get my hands on a used pair somewhere). Thank you so much for the excellent suggestion and for taking the time to answer.
Paul Rigby18th February 2020 at 5:05 pm
Hi Alexandre – I think the sensitivity of the speakers allow the Audiolab to be used BUT, if you’re at all hesitant and that price offends then…let’s see, the 3050i (go for the ‘i’ model) would be a good fit for you: https://theaudiophileman.com/3050i-floorstander-review-q-acoustics/
Alexandre Perron18th February 2020 at 5:35 pm
Thank you Paul, makes sense. Looking forward to reading your future reviews.
Andy Thompson11th August 2022 at 12:01 am
Its now Aug 2022, these speakers are now on offer for £499!!! amazing
Just wanted to know if you think my Arcam A90 integrated amp would sound ok with these, also using an Arcam CD73 player with it.,
Thinking my old B&W 602’s are so in danger of being pulled off by grandchildren,(tweeter covers already pushed in!!) the floor standers may be safer, but I do love the sound of the B&W’s ..just worried I may be disappointed
Paul Rigby11th August 2022 at 9:49 am
Hi Andy – indeed! Maybe a deal to take advantage of too. In techie terms sure, you should have no issues with that match up.
Julian8th September 2022 at 6:02 pm
HI Andy, did you buy them? I’m looking at the same offer, seems too good to miss!
I’m in a very similar position to you: Arcam A75 with B&W 600 S3!!! I know the system was good at the time but I don’t have a clue where it stands today. I don’t have the luxury of an audition, sadly.
I’m also looking at:
burchardt s400 mkII
amphion argon 1
acoustic energy ae1 active
Julian3rd November 2022 at 8:54 am
update: I bought the concept 40 and am delighted. The reviews are reliable. They’re SO much better in every way than my old standmount B&W 600 S3. Listening again to my library makes me smile as I hear a totally new sound! One thing that particularly surprised me is they’re fantastic at low volume close-up (they’re just within arm’s reach either side of my desk (not ideal), though I listen from a chair at the back wall) much better than my B&W.
TL;DR Don’t hesitate! BW, Julian