Q Acoustics, established in 2006, is very much a new-wave brand that owes no philosophical allegiance to tradition, even if it is by definition a part of the entry-level British speaker scene.

With the Concept 20, two elements combine to achieve noteworthiness – the cabinet technology and the optional stands. It goes without saying that the price alone (£350 for the speakers, or £550 for the package) automatically qualifies this as of exceptional value.

The 655mm stands are handsome, well-made and clever – they lock to the speaker, hide the cables down the back, feature adjustable spikes, sound terrific and could probably sell by the truck-load on their own.

But they are merely adjuncts to the speakers themselves. The bi-wirable Concept 20s, offered in lacquered gloss black or white, are two-way reflex designs with rear ports for which foam plugs are provided for fine-tuning. Under the grille you’ll find a 125mm composite woofer and 25mm dome tweeter crossing over at 2.9kHz.

The cabinet is made of a construction called ‘Gelcore’, and Q Acoustics says ‘The Concept 20 proves cabinet resonance need be a problem no longer’. This refers to a ‘cabinet within a cabinet’ design, the separate inner and outer enclosures ‘bound together by an adhesive which never quite sets’.

Q Acoustics specifies a frequency response of 64Hz-22kHz, a nominal impedance of 6ohm (minimum 4ohm), with a sensitivity of 88dB. Regardless, we were able to drive these to more than adequate levels with a current fave budget amp, the single-ended Coincident Dynamo 34SE which has one EL34 tube per channel in for a rating of 2x8W!

Copious bass

We kicked off with the stunning ‘For What It’s Worth’ from Keb’ Mo’s Peace… Back By Popular Demand [Okeh/Epic]. It leads off with rich bass, solid percussion, slithery guitar work, a tight brass section and thick-as-molasses vocals.

Once we got over the fact that the wee Coincident punches like a 35-watter, we were drawn to the copious amounts of bass from this small enclosure. Considering that these followed listening sessions with Sonus faber’s Olympica IIIs [p99] and Wilson Audio Alexias, it was almost unfair. Yet they held their ground.

The piano-only ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ was positively chilling with Keb’ Mo’s voice centred, the piano just to the left, the space convincing, the airiness intact, the chiming nature of the instrument tinkling to beautiful decay. Seconds later, the funky, rhythmic take of ‘Get Together’, in all its quasi-reggae glory, provided a direct contrast.

Transient attack? Snappy, tight, no overhang with backing vocals seamless, harmonious. Coherence, from the lowest registers to the ear-friendly, sibilant-free top – how can a speaker and dedicated stand at this sort of price sound so good?

Verdict

Here is an ‘everyman’ speaker: affordable, easy to drive, easier to listen to, and in possession of the wow factor. Don’t expect the last word in finesse or subtlety, but that’s just fine if string quartets ain’t your thing. A genuine bargain.

Originally published in the 2014 Yearbook