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Bristol: Best in Show!

Bristol: Best in Show!

We don’t have much to go on photographically, but there were some outstanding sounds at Bristol Sound & Vision. Some of them were outstanding for all the wrong reasons, but there were some really, really good ones, too. One of the best was the new Q Acoustics Concept 500. This £3,600 per pair tower design – from the drawing board of noted European loudspeaker designer Karl-Heinz Fink – was one of the real stars of the show. We saw this in prototype form in Munich High-End 2016, but the realised version is so much better than expected. 

The design features a pair of 165mm mid-bass units flanking a 28mm dome tweeter, and feature what the company calls its Dual Gelcore enclosure, This is essentially a MDF cabinet, wrapped in a MDF cabinet, which is then wrapped in yet another MDF cabinet, each one kept from the other by a thin constrained layer damping gel. The inner cabinet is point-to-point braced, too. Aside from making the loudspeaker weigh a massive amount for a relatively small tower, it also sets new levels in removing the cabinet from the sound at the price, some 30dB down on similar models.

That cabinet alone would make it worthy of note, but there is so much more. Such as the internal Helmholtz resonators, the inductor that weighs more than some amplifiers, the high-grade parts list, the mechanically decoupled tweeter, and more. This is a high-end loudspeaker with high-end aspirations that, if it didn’t have the Q Acoustics name on the front, should probably cost close to £10,000.

In listening tests, albeit tests undermined by the sheer weight of Arcam AV demonstration bleeding through into the room from time to time, it was clear that this is a ‘something special’ design. It has the extension, the soundstage, and the neutrality of bleeding-edge designs costing a lot more, and we hope to listen to these Concept 500 under less harsh conditions in an upcoming edition of Hi-Fi+. If they are as good as they were in Bristol, we’re onto a real heavyweight giant killer!

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