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Qln Prestige Three floorstanding speaker

Qln Prestige Three floorstanding speaker

Hi-fi brands come and go, or at least their profiles do in an ever more crowded marketplace. Some get bought and sold too, and one such is Swedish loudspeaker brand Qln which was founded in 1977 but sold to another company in 2003 before being bought back in 2012; designer/founder Mats Andersen must have realised that making loudspeakers is what life is all about after all. The range he makes is small and distinctly formed; it started with the Qln 1 in 1979, a speaker inspired by the LS3/5a but built in the distinctive truncated pyramid style that was apparently the first of its kind and has become a Qln signature. It followed the BBC design in its use of a stiff cabinet with heavy damping pads inside but Mats went for a sloping front baffle in order to time-align the driver centres. This is an approach used in many speakers today, and formed the pyramid shape in order to minimise baffle area.

The Qln Prestige 3 achieves this alignment by leaning backwards at fairly steep angle; so much so that it requires and outrigger base to compensate for any tendency to topple. The cabinet remains true to Qln’s origins but takes a more sophisticated approach to resonance control with construction in Qboard. Qboard consists of two layers of high density board that sandwich a viscoelastic layer and damps any vibration in the wood. This is something I’ve seen in another speaker but given that Andersen copyrighted it in 1995, it’s safe to say that this is the original. The Prestige Three has a not very large – but beautifully executed – cabinet that stands just under a metre high on its cones and pucks; the model supplied for review came in a special edition  (a.k.a. ‘premium’) finish of a stunning book-matched walnut veneer with particularly nice figuring.

It sits on a base that consists of four heavy stainless steel bars which bolt onto the underside and come supplied with large Delrin engineering plastic cones and matching pucks. This is not a material you often seen in speaker supports but it has a good reputation for low resonance and high damping and is used in turntable platters and equipment support feet.

The midbass driver in this two-way Qln is a 177mm (7 inch) Kevlar coned design that Andersen has been working with for over 30 years, so it’s safe to say that he knows it and he likes it. It’s appeal is that Kevlar is extremely neutral and has very little sonic character; it is also self-damping but doesn’t sound dark or dull. Mats also likes the fact that you can tune the break up characteristics. Presumably Bowers & Wilkins felt the same way. Here, it’s powered by a fairly small 19mm hexagonal voice coil with a long gap that’s enhanced by copper rings for greater control and linearity. Oddly enough, no mention is made of the dustcap which appears to be made of paper pulp and is distinctly uneven, presumably this provides some of the tuning alluded to.

The tweeter is one of the ScanSpeak Illuminator models with a large roll surround and a textile dome that’s said to provide high frequencies up to and above 30kHz. It’s set in a felt surround presumably to damp early reflections from the baffle. Qln is quite specific about the cable inside the Prestige Three, which was designed in-house and consists of individually insulated solid core copper wires wrapped around a polypropylene core, all of which is “baked in a damped rubber like acoustic isolation body” to reduce vibration and friction and insulated in pure polypropylene. Which is not a material you often find in this situation, clearly Andersen has spent more than a little time on this speaker. The crossover is designed to achieve constant impedance for ease of drive and uses flat foil coils and non-inductive components that are soft glued in place to minimise resonance. It’s consists of two parts, one to achieve the desired response and the other to provide an even load for the amplifier, which means that despite an average sensitivity of 87.5dB, the Prestige Three can be used with amps offering no more than 25 Watts, like valve amps. Connecting up the speaker you find a delicious pair of WBT rhodium plated terminals in a panel beneath the rear firing reflex port.

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Tags: FLOORSTANDING SPEAKER QLN PRESTIGE THREE

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