Q Acoustics Concept 50 5.1 Loudspeaker Review

hccbestbuybadgev3Mark Craven believes Q Acoustics' mid-level Concept speaker package was worth waiting for

It was almost a decade ago that Q Acoustics launched its Concept range. At the time, the relatively new UK brand was known for affordable loudspeakers, and the 2013 arrival of the Concept 20 bookshelf was billed as a step toward the high-end. Okay, it was still on the right side of pricey, but later on in 2017 came floorstanders (the Concept 500s) at £4,000 a pair.

Ever since then, the Concept range – Q Acoustics' flagship proposition – has had a curious gap between its entry-level and premium points. But not anymore.

Announced towards the end of last year, the Concept 50 floorstander, Concept 30 standmount and Concept 90 centre speaker occupy that once-vacant space. They're a step-up from the Concept 20 standmount and '40 floorstander, and a step-down from the Concept 300 standmount and '500 floorstander. Those other models remain current and on sale. These new speakers don't replace anything, they just flesh out the lineup.

Q Acoustics has used these three fresh speakers to assemble a multichannel 5.1 package, putting the '50 floorstanders up front, and the '30s on surround. There's no sign yet of a smaller bundle using the standmounts both front and back, but there's no reason you couldn't assemble one yourself.


Gloss silver is a finish option, as well as black or white

So Solid Crew
As usual, the design of these new speakers has been informed by what's come before, most notably in their cabinet construction, which adheres to the basic concept that gave the range its name. Right from the off, this lineup was engineered with a strong emphasis on rock-solid, acoustically inert enclosures, and nothing has changed.

All three models feature the same Gelcore cabinet design that first appeared on the Concept 20 bookshelf. Here, two layers of MDF sandwich a third layer of a non-setting gel. The thinking here is that extraneous high-frequency cabinet noise is damped.

Then there are the low frequencies to be tackled, which comes in the form of Q Acoustics' P2P (Point to Point) bracing on the '30 and '50. Here, we're told, Finite Element Analysis and laser interferometry is used to identify specific points of the cabinet susceptible to resonances, which are then selectively braced. None of this is apparent from the outside, of course, but Q Acoustics will show you heat map-style graphics that it says highlight the benefits of its P2P system. Or, like me, you can just give the cabinets a good wrap on the knuckles and notice how utterly non-reverberant they sound.

Another architectural trick, borrowed directly from the Concept 500, is the use of Helmholtz Pressure Equalizer tubes on the Concept 50. These aim to negate internal standing waves in the floorstander that might otherwise cause unwanted bass bloom.


The centre speaker mirrors the driver complement of the Concept 50 floorstanders

While the cabinets themselves have a kind of 'Greatest Hits' vibe, the speaker drivers and crossovers are entirely new, developed specifically for the range. In keeping with the rock-solid ethos, Q Acoustics describes them as being 'designed as an integral part of the mechanical structure of the cabinet'. To this end, both the coated paper 5in bass/mid and 1in dome tweeter assemblies are mounted on a 3mm-thick, damped aluminium plate, fixed to the cabinet by spring-tensioned studs. The tweeter then gets a die-cast chassis that is 'hermetically sealed and mechanically isolated', and outputs into a shallow waveguide. The bass/mid, meanwhile, is also given a die-cast chassis, and borrows voice coil and suspension ideas from the Concept 500.

A final new feature worth highlighting is the floorstander's supporting feet. These feature curved, chrome wings that screw into the base plate, and can then be fitted with studs or spikes. They provide a good, wide footing, but don't be surprised if the speaker itself still has a bit of wobble: Q Acoustics' new base plate, which also acts as a house for the crossover network, features a suspension system to isolate it from the speaker above, and allows for a 'calculated amount of movement'. It can be locked in place, using a supplied allen key, if you wish.

All three new Concepts are bass-reflex designs with rear ports (two on the centre speaker). Foam bungs are provided; with all the cabinets setup quite near (around 20cm) from rear walls, I discovered these could be useful in keeping a check on bass performance.

Looking Good
If you ask me, Q Acoustics has never released an ugly speaker. Its designs have always had something about them, even its angular M3 and M4 soundbars. And on the loudspeaker side, its long-running use of curved corner cabinets and white finishes has leant them a clean-lined, contemporary feel.

The Concept 50s share some of the look of the costlier Concept 500s, but do away with the rear-end veneer panels. They're therefore perhaps more of a kin to the company's 3000i series, albeit considerably more expensive. Simply put, they look gorgeous. Finish options are the aforementioned white, plus black or silver. Natural wood is out, as that's so last decade.

Q Acoustics