Q Acoustics Concept 50 5.1 Loudspeaker Review Page 2

The subwoofer part of this package is the Q B12, a familiar face as it's been doing bass duties on the brand's larger AV setups for some years now (see HCC #256). Q Acoustics used to (and still does) make slim subs better suited to tucking away in a living room, but these were often deemed to be letting the side down a little when it came to high-impact home cinema, so it went away and came up with a conventional model with 12in driver and 220W Class D amplifier. Finish options for this are black or white in gloss or matte, but this £4,225 package includes a gloss model to suit the other speakers.

If you want this system described in one word... well, I'd struggle. But if you can cope with two, I'd opt for 'rich' and 'meaty'. Throughout my listening, I never stopped admiring how this six-pack brought scale, weight and heft to film soundtracks. And this isn't just a case of copious LFE; it's the way all the passive models sound generous and full-bodied themselves. This extends from a bass presence with a degree of warmth through to a mid-range with plenty of nous when it comes to textures and nuance. There's still scads of detail retrieval, but the top-end sounds somewhat smoother and less clinical than other speakers that aim for ruthless transparency. This makes the array eminently listenable and unfatiguing, but importantly there's still slam and punch to go with it.


Used with an Arcam AVR850, the speaker's bass drivers seemed to be held in a firm grip and responsive to power. Yet even when I swapped to a far less gutsy Marantz NR1710 receiver, the Concept 50s' admirable sensitivity came to the fore. These are easy to drive.

With the core 5.1 soundtrack to Freaky (Sky Cinema), the system brought real articulation to Foley effects and latched on to the orchestral score. String stabs to accompany jump scares were fulsome and layered, the instruments well separated, while even mundane soundtrack elements, like a door closing or footsteps, had a solid feel to them.

This big-boned sound carries into the centre channel. At 55cm wide this unit is large enough to demand dedicated mounting space, but with that size comes robust, focused dialogue. This isn't merely about intelligibility, it's about sounding natural too. Vince Vaughn's rapid-fire patter in Freaky varies between gruff and panicky, and these nuances are all conveyed with aplomb.


The new bass/mid and tweeter units are mounted on a 3mm- thick aluminium plate

The pack's seamless LCR stage often does most of the heavy lifting, but it's worth emphasising how accomplished the smaller bookshelf speakers are at finishing off the surround field. They share the same lush tone as the bigger cabinets, and sound impressively large, so that when effects transition from front to back, or a film score plays from all corners, you feel completely engrossed. The attack-on-the-house scene in The Book of Eli (Blu-ray), with its maelstrom of panned bullet effects, found the five speakers creating a cohesive, laced-up soundfield.

I'd be wrong to describe the Q B12 subwoofer as a weak link, even if it's the least immediately impressive element of the setup. It does sound a shade less tight than some rivals around this price point, and not quite as ready to really hammer home a bass transient. But it dovetails brilliantly with the rest of the array, adding appreciable low-octave presence to the already impressive Concept 50s, and coming into its own when a soundtrack demands it, particularly with details in the upper bass range, but also dropping deep to render rumbles and explosions. When flaming comet fragments pound the highway in disaster flick Greenland (Prime Video), the Q B12 brought a glorious level of viscerality to the chaos.


Stand options for the Concept 30 include Q Acoustics' four-legged Tensegrity model

Brilliant With Bernstein
If you want to also use your AV rig to listen to music, this system puts you in very safe hands. That smoothness of treble mentioned earlier works brilliantly to take the edge off poorly mastered tracks, so that even something as rough and raucous as Aerosmith's Rocks album (CD) begs you to settle down for a long listen. With better recorded material, such as the recent West Side Story soundtrack (Tidal), the Concepts showcase their ability to make all manner of instruments sound almost tangibly in the room.

Stereo playback does find a slight limit to the floorstanders' soundstage spread far and wide, something that was less apparent with movies. But imaging and focus between the cabinets is superb.

Where I'd like to see the Concept system taken next is into the Atmos arena. I'm aware that Q Acoustics sells a variety of in-ceiling models, but some style- and timbre-matched Atmos modules, to put atop either the Concept 50 or '30, would be the icing on the cake. But even without that top layer, this 5.1 package is sweet enough.

HCC Verdict

Q Acoustics Concept 50 5.1

Price: £4,225

We say: This package offers a brilliantly big, rich, moreish soundstage, and one where the surrounds and centre don't play second fiddle. Gorgeous styling and immaculate build, too.

Overall: 5/5


Concept 50
DRIVE UNITS: 2 x 5in paper cone bass/mid; 1 x 1in soft dome tweeter ENCLOSURE: Rear-ported bass reflex with Helmholtz Pressure Equalizer technology FREQUENCY RESPONSE (CLAIMED): 42Hz-30kHz SENSITIVITY (claimed): 90.5dB POWER HANDLING (claimed): 150W Impedance (Claimed): 6ohm (nominal); 3.6ohm (minimum) Dimensions (including feet): 1,025(h) x 418(w) x 319(d)mm WEIGHT: 22.9kg

Concept 30
DRIVE UNITS: 1 x 5in paper cone bass/mid; 1 x 1in soft dome tweeter ENCLOSURE: Rear-ported bass reflex FREQUENCY RESPONSE (CLAIMED): 54Hz-30kHz SENSITIVITY (claimed): 87dB POWER HANDLING (claimed): 100W Impedance (Claimed): 6ohm (nominal); 3.9ohm (minimum) DIMENSIONS: 284(h) x 180(w) x 319(d)mm WEIGHT: 7.9kg

Concept 90
DRIVE UNITS: 2 x 5in paper cone bass/mid; 1 x 1in soft dome tweeter ENCLOSURE: Dual rear-ported bass reflex FREQUENCY RESPONSE (CLAIMED): 67Hz-30kHz SENSITIVITY (claimed): 90dB POWER HANDLING (claimed): 150W Impedance (Claimed): 6ohm (nominal); 3.7ohm (minimum) DIMENSIONS: 184(h) x 550(w) x 259(d)mm WEIGHT: 12.3kg

Q B12 (subwoofer)
DRIVE UNITS: 1 x 12in long-throw bass driver ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): 220W Class D amp ENCLOSURE: Sealed FREQUENCY RESPONSE (CLAIMED): 28Hz-300Hz REMOTE CONTROL: No DIMENSIONS: 400(h) x 400(w) x 440(d)mm WEIGHT: 21.5kg FEATURES: LFE input; stereo line input; phase, crossover and gain control; auto on

Q Acoustics