Q Acoustics Concept 500 - Review

2022 The WAM show

Bigman80

BigBottle Audio
Wammer
Dec 18, 2015
808
393
83
Wolverhampton
AKA
Oliver
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Opinion based piece, not to be taken as fact or as a definitive guide!

Backstory for those who don’t know the drama of my system. 

Today I am feeling an overriding sense of relief.

After being forced (by the horrid room interaction) to sell my beloved Mordaunt Short 880’s a few months ago, I have been adrift on a plateau of OKAY speakers due to my trampoline like floor. Exagerated bass has seen off many a well reviewd pair of speakers. 

OKAY may seem like a strong description considering the caliber of speaker that have been here. Such well revered classics such as the Yamaha NS1000M’s, Modern-ish Naim Ovator 400’s & KEF LS50’s have graced the listening room. While i am happy to say the Yamaha’s were easily my favourite out of all of those, even the might of the Yamahas paled in comparison to the 880’s, The Heco Celan GT 702’s & one of my favourites from another system….the JMLabs 926 Electra’s. 

The issue I had with the yams was the bass driver. IMO it climbs way too high into the midrange and causes a midrange hump type of effect. It distracted from a tweeter and midrange driver combination that was utterly devoid of colouration. The Tweeters and the mids are utterly neutral, maybe too neutral for some, but I really appreciate how good those two units are. Troels Gravessen's replacement XO’s correct this issue of the midrange bloom caused by the woofer, apparently. Of course, all of this could be down to some sort of room interaction and therefore would not be the same experience for others in their system and rooms. 

Over months, Angus (Phonomac on AOS) and I theorised about what the next move for my system could or should be. A planning session to move the whole setup into a converted garage seemed highly likely, but the magnitude of all the work I would have to do elsewhere, prior to being able to convert the garage, I knew I had to change the plan. 

I will make that move, but I didn't want to be without the right sound for 3 years while i was doing it. 

The failed attempt with the Naim Ovators actually gave me a lot of hope of being able to put a speaker of that physical size in the room. The Ovators lack the level of transparency I required, however, there was no overpowering of the room. FINALLY….. Some HOPE. It wasn’t a match made in heaven though, and according to the Naim forumites they fare much better with Naim amps. That's never going to happen here, so they were shunted out within a week. 

Back to square one. 

When Angus and I were talking about speakers some 6 or so months ago, I mooted the possibility of trying the Q Acoustic Concept 500’s. Angus’s usual disdain for the majority of speakers I suggested didn’t appear, he seemed quite ok about them. They were now firmly on the radar although at £3999 RRP and £3000 for a used pair, they seemed unlikely. 

I think i read every review, watched every Youtube video and digested any information i could find on the Concept 500’s. A used pair at £2500.00 popped up on eBay. They represented a significant investment, and to have never heard a pair, and to have never tried a pair in my speaker killing room…….well, it was a squeaky bum moment when i sent the eBay offer in. Three offers swiftly rejected by the cash hungry B*****ds at Peter Tyson followed. Why they have the “make an offer” facility activated when they have no intention of accepting any offers is beyond me. 
 

I decided i couldn’t spend the money on them. It was just TOO much. 

Then they dropped the price to £2399.00……..BOOM….BUY IT NOW! Lol

Strange how a little discount pushes you over the edge. Fair play to Peter Tyson, they got their price and delivery was swift. Next day. No complaints from me. 

The Arrival

The speakers arrived in coffin sized boxes. Seriously, I'm saving these bad boys for a “low cost eco-burn and scatter” at some point in the future. 

Getting the speakers out was a huge PITA. They weigh 40kgs, the boxes slid all over the place….OMG….nightmare. Eventually, with my spine barely hanging by a thread, I had them out and in a half reasonable position. 

Looking at them, the finish is absolutely boutique level. They are immaculately finished and the deep black gloss seems to go on forever. A quick wipe over with the cleaning cloth to remove my hand prints and I was ready to fire them up. 

The Listening

Seeing as I was like a kid on Crimbo morning, i left the stock jumpers in place. A big no-no, but i hadn't made any of my OCC ones and i just wanted to see what they did straight out of the box. No spikes, just on their stands on the carpet. 

I put on a few tracks and they sounded good. VERY good, but i was still missing that open window into the soundstage. IT was close, closer than i’d been for months, but not quite. 

I cut them a bit of slack. They were cold and they needed to warm up and thrown into the room in eagerness to hear them. I left some music on and just tried to get them to misbehave. The bass did reverberate a little, so i took the bungs and pushed the middle out, making them look like a donut. In they went, and as i sat listening to “John Lenon's - Gimmie Some Truth” i could tell things were starting to open up. 

A few very enjoyable hours passed and I decided it was time to put some heavy duty copper links in, instead of the jumpers provided. 

This is proven ground as far as i am concerned, so it should come as no surprise that i noted immediate and obvious improvement to LF detail, delineation was improved and so too was the space in the soundstage. More snap in the drums, and less reverberation in the room. I took the bungs out and listened to a few tracks, but felt I still preferred them in place. 

Forgetting I had some OCC in the garage, I listened for another couple of hours. The soundstage and imaging is totally detached from the speakers, and that apparition effect we managed to get out of Macca’s system was happening here...just not quite as obvious. Likely due to space to evolve. 

The one thing that kept coming to me was a friends words about how his system is pin sharp, and I wasn't totally convinced i was there. Maybe a few more hours to warm up…..maybe a different DAC?…...then i remembered my OCC stash…..Lets make some proper jumpers for them.

OCC and the journey to the GODS!

It doesn’t seem to matter where I stick this stuff in the system, it never lets me down. Once again it did not fail me. Literally, within seconds of listening the sound was crisper and cleaner. Bass was tighter, HF had better extension and detail was improved too. NOW it was hitting those levels i have been chasing for the last 6 months. 

The Q 500’s are absolutely seamless in all ways. The balance and even handed response from top to bottom is without emphasis in any section. I watched a review where the reviewer suggested they were just not noteworthy for anything. I don't think he meant it complimentary, but he was right for the wrong reasons. The Q’s are entirely noteworthy for NOT stepping out of line across the spectrum. They are even handed and totally smooth....like a fresh shave. Their best weapon though…..camouflage. They are big units, but it’s like they vanish the second any music starts. They don't exist when music is playing.

They don't imprint themselves on the sound. They don’t colour anything. They don't pull your attention towards them in any way, and THAT is what the very best speakers do. 

Listening to almost anything in my library, they brought out everything in the recording, but not at the expense of anything. It’s so hard to explain.

The 50 hours mark

I'm now nearly 50hrs into owning the Q's and as per my previous experience, letting them get up to room temp and settle down is starting to show a lot of reward. 

I spent some time today making sure I had the speakers level, all connections were tight and secure and that I had toe-in spot on. I subjected them to some of my most crucial tracks. You know the ones, the kind that if you can't *feel* them, then whatever you have put in to the system has to be replaced. Deal breaker playlist, as it's called here. 

I felt a little uneasy hitting them with this kind of material so early on, but they have really hit the ground running so i wanted to push them. My best test track for this is "The Beatles - A Day In The Life" I've gone over this before, but it's not about SQ. It's about the way it was recorded and how it is reproduced by the system, and ultimately from the speakers. I have heard systems butcher this. It's not an easy feat to nail it.

Having left the system simmering for an hour or so, I decided to play the track. 
 
Any feeling of concern was swiftly dispelled and in its place was awe. The Piano sounded utterly vibrant and realistic in tone and harmonics. As soon as Lennon started singing, I knew that the rest of this track was going to be "a moment" I'd remember in my HIFI journey. It was. Startlingly intimate then moving to grandiose as the orchestra chimed in. In my time as an audiophile, I haven't heard it ever sound as good as it did today. 

Obviously, I am already a huge fan of these speakers. I was also aware that my enthusiasm for them may already be swaying my opinion. "They can do no wrong" is not how any piece of kit should be viewed.

So I pulled out the big guns........"Cartel" Greatest (only) demo recording session tapes. Yes, the band I was in was called Cartel, and yes.....these are the big guns, because I was there.  Not only playing the guitar, the bass and whatever else we needed, but I helped record and mix down the tracks too. 

The first one I played was a simple vocal over rhythm guitar track, with the accompanying instruments pulled right down in the mix. It was the singers (Kerr) first take, so it's pretty rough. I'd already recorded three guitar parts and the bass player had done his bit too. Vocals next and then the drummer (when he bothered to turn up) would do his bit. All of this was done in a huge purpose built shed in the bass players garden in Low Hill - Wolverhampton. It was a simple control room and a second room for the recording to take place. It may have been simple, but it had great kit in it, and he knew what he was doing. 

I started the track and got a shiver down my spine. Kerr (singer) was there. 100%. My memory of that day was ignited, and we were back in "The Shed" recording that track. I went through the whole of that session, or at least the tracks  I still have, and it was like being there. 

Kerr's voice. I couldn't get over it. 

The Q's revealed everything, the finger slides on the guitar, the technique I use when I play. I mean, I KNOW how I play, but it was odd to hear how I play so accurately replicated through a HIFI system. It was like my memory of that session was playing back through the speakers. Like they had streamed it directly from my brain and tuned it to how my ears heard it on the day, and my brain remembered it originally. 

Seriously, I have never had an experience like that in my life.

Then there was the guitar I used to record another track. Nylon strung, big body, fat neck. Wow, it was uncanny how accurately it replayed it. I had a J200 at the time too. Used on multiple tracks, and you could hear when I swapped from the J200 to the Taylor. I still own the Taylor and while playing it today (different strings) it was eerily close to the recording. 

I took a bit of a break, as hearing the past so vividly had scrambled my brain a bit. Returning to King Crimson and the like, I was just in awe of how good these Q acoustics are. I am literally looking forward to hearing them again. I woke up a 6am thinking about what I was going to play today. That's how enjoyable my system is with these on the end of it. 

In regard to whether any of this listener experience would translate into another system or not, I just don't know. All I can say is, in the last 50 hours, not only have I got back to the level I was at with the 880's, I think I have surpassed it by some distance. Likely to do with the other changes I made since the 880's left, but I can tell you this, based on what I have heard here so far, I would not consider swapping the Q's for ANYTHING else I have heard anywhere, at any price.

I think they are that good. 

Are they perfect? Well, that's unlikely. I am sure in a different environment, against a proper full range speaker of equal quality, there would be differences.

However, in a domestic setting such as mine and that of countless others, that have issues with bass, lack of space or reverberation all over the place.......they are the speaker I'd recommend.  They are quite prominent and draw your attention visually in the room. They don't "blend in" as they are pretty tall, but even on the spikes, the bass is under control with the bungs used to good effect. Soundstage is wider than the outer edges, scale is excellent and depth is great too. I suspect even better in a larger room. They are very articulate and precise. They are not clinical or hard, but i suspect they would reflect the quality of whatever you attach them to. 

They are not cheap, but I have to say that I think they are worth every penny I spent. Fantastic speakers. 

Once again, this is only a user experience piece and is not intended to be seen as fact. Other user experiences may vary. 
 

 
Last edited by a moderator:

CnoEvil

Legend Wammer
Wammer
Aug 7, 2018
8,823
7,708
148
Northern Ireland
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Great review, thoughtfully written.

If you have a sprung floor - have you considered isolation, like Gaias or Auralex Grammas? It's an issue I have to deal with.

 
  • Like
Reactions: Bigman80

Bigman80

BigBottle Audio
Wammer
Dec 18, 2015
808
393
83
Wolverhampton
AKA
Oliver
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Great review, thoughtfully written.

If you have a sprung floor - have you considered isolation, like Gaias or Auralex Grammas? It's an issue I have to deal with.
Thank you  :)  

With the Mordaunt Short 880's, we tried Townshend Podiums, bars and Gaia feet. It was entirely hopeless. They were just too big for the space. 

I have a pair of Monitor Audio GS20's here on Townshend podiums too, and they work well with those. I don't think the Q's need it, but i will try it at some point in the future. Ineed to repair the damage to my bank first lol.

 
  • Upvote
Reactions: CnoEvil

Amormusic

Wammer Plus
Wammer Plus
Jul 27, 2018
2,251
1,482
168
UK
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I may have missed it, but what size is the room they are in?

Also, we gotta have some pics 😀👍

 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: Bigman80

Bigman80

BigBottle Audio
Wammer
Dec 18, 2015
808
393
83
Wolverhampton
AKA
Oliver
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I may have missed it, but what size is the room they are in?

Also, we gotta have some pics 😀👍
Its about 3.2x4.5m but has a piano in it at the moment. That will come out soon though. 

I'll put some pics on but i havent taken any good ones yet, so i'll sort that out tomorrow. 

 
  • Upvote
Reactions: Amormusic

Bigman80

BigBottle Audio
Wammer
Dec 18, 2015
808
393
83
Wolverhampton
AKA
Oliver
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Here's a quick pic of the speaker.

Please note, the pavers behind the left one has been removed [emoji1787]
c0aee0582f1099a59595869bd3fa3c16.jpg
d22b28f32fa681fab1f6e21bf34d39de.jpg
62d56c9e90d92aa4012649c688063800.jpg


 
  • Like
Reactions: chrisph

Amormusic

Wammer Plus
Wammer Plus
Jul 27, 2018
2,251
1,482
168
UK
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Interesting. What distance is your listening position?

They look lovely 👍

I have thought about getting a set of these in my front room before. I assumed my room/positioning was to small - my width is about 2.5m and I'm about 3.75 away from them. 

 

Bigman80

BigBottle Audio
Wammer
Dec 18, 2015
808
393
83
Wolverhampton
AKA
Oliver
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Interesting. What distance is your listening position?
They look lovely [emoji106]
I have thought about getting a set of these in my front room before. I assumed my room/positioning was to small - my width is about 2.5m and I'm about 3.75 away from them. 
My room is 3.2x4.5m so not ideal for cavernous depth or serious width in the soundstage, but I've never had that anyway.

The Room doesn't allow it.

I can get 1.45m between the Tweeters, more when the Piano comes out.

What I am pleased about is the fact that they don't sound squashed in, or overload the room.



 

westerwick

westerwick
Wammer
Aug 6, 2019
52
65
38
Shetland Isles, Scot
AKA
Tom Gray
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I was going to mention to anyone interested that I have added Townshend Seismic Platforms under my Q Acoustics 500 Concept speakers. Townshend have produced a very clever product, the 500's were really good before but the platforms lift them into a different class. I know they are expensive but they are worth every penny, in my opinion. Music just comes alive with these platforms in place, try to audition a pair if you can.

 

Bigman80

BigBottle Audio
Wammer
Dec 18, 2015
808
393
83
Wolverhampton
AKA
Oliver
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I was going to mention to anyone interested that I have added Townshend Seismic Platforms under my Q Acoustics 500 Concept speakers. Townshend have produced a very clever product, the 500's were really good before but the platforms lift them into a different class. I know they are expensive but they are worth every penny, in my opinion. Music just comes alive with these platforms in place, try to audition a pair if you can.
You have?

Fantastic news!

Any chance of a pic?
 

Jules_S

Are we there yet?
Wammer Plus
Jun 7, 2019
1,778
1,843
183
Southampton
AKA
Jules
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Oliver, not sure how I missed your review - I'm normally all over anything QA-related like a rash! Really interested to hear your thoughts on them and how they compare with my own experience of the 500's.

I've been happy with mine since installing them at the end of 2019. I have the white / oak gloss finish and they are every bit as lustrous and immaculate in finish as your black ones, truly a classy item. The gelcore cabinet construction makes them not only heavy, but really inert too, it definitely does the job in keeping cabinet resonances to a minimum.

I suspect that my room is mainly to blame for the inconsistencies that I hear compared to your own personal experience. It's a bit larger than your own room but the killer is that it's L-shaped and with an internal window aperture (no glass, just a hole) into the kitchen area next door. Coupled with a full height "nib" and a limitation on the placement of the kit rack, it's far from ideal. Also I'm not completely convinced that I yet have the positioning correct - I've experimented quite a lot but I think there's still more to do here because I do suffer with noticeable unevenness in the lower frequencies, with some very obvious resonances and nulls. I think the return leg of the "L" is to blame here. So my own observations probably need to take that into consideration.

Where I agree with you is that they are, overall, a wonderful listen, both insightful but also relaxing too. They're beguiling, unfatiguing, rewarding. They draw you into the music and you tend to forget about the fact that you're listening to hi-fi. I wouldn't say they had studio-monitor levels of neutraility and accuracy, but they do display excellent ability with the small details that give you the "hairs on the neck" moments. They just get on with making music and (in the main) getting out of the way doing it.

The one thing I find different to you is the tonal evenness you mentioned. For me that's not quite true - in my own room / setup there is a tendency towards an upper-bass / lower-mid emphasis that puts a little "bloom" on certain vocalists, I guess I would say roughly baritone / contralto ranges for men & women respectively - in modern music terms I'd pick out two of my favourites - David Sylvian and Alison Moyet. With these types of vocalist I find that there's that additional emphasis. It doesn't seem to result in a lack of detail and it doesn't negatively impact on the rest of the musicians in the mix, but I do find myself thinking that if I was actually stood in a room listening to either of them sing, the sound wouldn't be quite as "fruity". In overall terms, I'd say it's one of the least bothersome of inaccuracies, certainly better than a tendency towards stridency or aggressiveness. Could it be other items in the chain? Possibly, although I have recently had to downgrade my DAC and amp for personal reasons and I notice the same issue now as I did with the previous items in the chain. Also I can't say I felt quite the same with my previous Concept 40's in the system, positioned in pretty much the same location as the 500's are now. I can't rule out the dreaded acoustics, although I made the same observation with the speakers in other positions so I'm inclined to feel it's a characteristic. 

My other observation, and I appreciate from your photos that this may be difficult to achieve, is that they absolutely blossom with respect to soundstaging and imaging, when you can get them away from the front wall and give them space the breathe. When I was experimenting with positioning I tried some dramatically different locations, from halfway down the 6.1m length of the room, to 30cm from the front wall. I even tried that radical toe-in thing that Ken Ishiwata did with them (can't say it worked for me). Positioned so closely to the front wall I noticed that the incredible sense of depth and spacing was badly suppressed, the sound seemed to close up and lose the wonderful sense of being able to imagine each performer in their own space. I also though the sound was constricted, admittedly with the foam port bungs in place (which was necessary to avoid overwhelming levels of bass). Imagine putting Pavarotti in a corset to stop him filling his lungs, and think what you'd get. Good, but not the full ticket. Brought forward into the room (1.9m to the cabinet front baffle) I can remove the bungs completely which "frees" the sound and allows the C500's to perform their incredible imaging illusion. Admittedly the sweet spot (in my weird room) is small - in order to achieve the focus and precision to the image I have to sit pretty still, but once locked-in these big old beasts really do disappear from the sound, which occupies all the room area behind them, and seemingly goes back as far as the house at the top of the street!

I wish my room was wider than 3m as I could do with getting them an extra 50-75cm away from the side walls. I feel they would benefit again from this as the tonal balance and image does suffer when I turn up the volume, which I put down to room interactions. I've threatened to experiment with some acoustic treatment in the room for ages now and have yet to take the plunge! I'm hoping that might help. To Tom's ( @westerwick )'s point, I went the DIY route and made my own sort-of Townsend Seismic Platforms  (<-- link to thread) which really helped clean up the bass. My floor shares many traits with a trampoline so a combination of coupling and isolation seems to have worked well here. Also it's added around 9cm of height to the speakers, which has brought the tweeter up to roughly ear level. I found that helped with the tonal balance for my room / seating position.

I love the chance to evangelise about these amazing speakers as QA do get pigeonholed as budget speaker makers. Yes, their more affordable models do offer incredible performance and value for money. Yet I feel there's a lack of awareness that in addition to that market, they have been steadily pushing into higher and higher performance brackets over the years with their Concept range, and they are genuine competitors to the "establishment" and every bit as capable. Yet they get tarred with the same brush on so many occasions - "oh, aren't they a Richer Sounds special?" (presumably meant to be an insult), "amazing, for a budget bookshelf speaker", etc. I'm a bit of a fanboy, currently owning Concept 20's, Concept 40' and now the 500's too. They do all sound different (20's especially) but they all share the same ability to make music enjoyable, which to my mind is what this hobby is meant to be about, once we stop drooling over kit we can't afford to buy!

My next move will be away from cone loudspeakers towards electrostatics I think, because I can't really imagine how else I could improve on the Concept 500's, in this room. Granted, if I had a mansion to fill I expect I could find some other monsters to move up to, but with my space limitations I think anything else of a similar ilk would be a sideways move. I'm really glad you liked yours, hope you enjoy them for a long time to come

 
  • Love
Reactions: newlash09

Bigman80

BigBottle Audio
Wammer
Dec 18, 2015
808
393
83
Wolverhampton
AKA
Oliver
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Oliver, not sure how I missed your review - I'm normally all over anything QA-related like a rash! Really interested to hear your thoughts on them and how they compare with my own experience of the 500's.

I've been happy with mine since installing them at the end of 2019. I have the white / oak gloss finish and they are every bit as lustrous and immaculate in finish as your black ones, truly a classy item. The gelcore cabinet construction makes them not only heavy, but really inert too, it definitely does the job in keeping cabinet resonances to a minimum.

I suspect that my room is mainly to blame for the inconsistencies that I hear compared to your own personal experience. It's a bit larger than your own room but the killer is that it's L-shaped and with an internal window aperture (no glass, just a hole) into the kitchen area next door. Coupled with a full height "nib" and a limitation on the placement of the kit rack, it's far from ideal. Also I'm not completely convinced that I yet have the positioning correct - I've experimented quite a lot but I think there's still more to do here because I do suffer with noticeable unevenness in the lower frequencies, with some very obvious resonances and nulls. I think the return leg of the "L" is to blame here. So my own observations probably need to take that into consideration.

Where I agree with you is that they are, overall, a wonderful listen, both insightful but also relaxing too. They're beguiling, unfatiguing, rewarding. They draw you into the music and you tend to forget about the fact that you're listening to hi-fi. I wouldn't say they had studio-monitor levels of neutraility and accuracy, but they do display excellent ability with the small details that give you the "hairs on the neck" moments. They just get on with making music and (in the main) getting out of the way doing it.

The one thing I find different to you is the tonal evenness you mentioned. For me that's not quite true - in my own room / setup there is a tendency towards an upper-bass / lower-mid emphasis that puts a little "bloom" on certain vocalists, I guess I would say roughly baritone / contralto ranges for men & women respectively - in modern music terms I'd pick out two of my favourites - David Sylvian and Alison Moyet. With these types of vocalist I find that there's that additional emphasis. It doesn't seem to result in a lack of detail and it doesn't negatively impact on the rest of the musicians in the mix, but I do find myself thinking that if I was actually stood in a room listening to either of them sing, the sound wouldn't be quite as "fruity". In overall terms, I'd say it's one of the least bothersome of inaccuracies, certainly better than a tendency towards stridency or aggressiveness. Could it be other items in the chain? Possibly, although I have recently had to downgrade my DAC and amp for personal reasons and I notice the same issue now as I did with the previous items in the chain. Also I can't say I felt quite the same with my previous Concept 40's in the system, positioned in pretty much the same location as the 500's are now. I can't rule out the dreaded acoustics, although I made the same observation with the speakers in other positions so I'm inclined to feel it's a characteristic. 

My other observation, and I appreciate from your photos that this may be difficult to achieve, is that they absolutely blossom with respect to soundstaging and imaging, when you can get them away from the front wall and give them space the breathe. When I was experimenting with positioning I tried some dramatically different locations, from halfway down the 6.1m length of the room, to 30cm from the front wall. I even tried that radical toe-in thing that Ken Ishiwata did with them (can't say it worked for me). Positioned so closely to the front wall I noticed that the incredible sense of depth and spacing was badly suppressed, the sound seemed to close up and lose the wonderful sense of being able to imagine each performer in their own space. I also though the sound was constricted, admittedly with the foam port bungs in place (which was necessary to avoid overwhelming levels of bass). Imagine putting Pavarotti in a corset to stop him filling his lungs, and think what you'd get. Good, but not the full ticket. Brought forward into the room (1.9m to the cabinet front baffle) I can remove the bungs completely which "frees" the sound and allows the C500's to perform their incredible imaging illusion. Admittedly the sweet spot (in my weird room) is small - in order to achieve the focus and precision to the image I have to sit pretty still, but once locked-in these big old beasts really do disappear from the sound, which occupies all the room area behind them, and seemingly goes back as far as the house at the top of the street!

I wish my room was wider than 3m as I could do with getting them an extra 50-75cm away from the side walls. I feel they would benefit again from this as the tonal balance and image does suffer when I turn up the volume, which I put down to room interactions. I've threatened to experiment with some acoustic treatment in the room for ages now and have yet to take the plunge! I'm hoping that might help. To Tom's ( @westerwick )'s point, I went the DIY route and made my own sort-of Townsend Seismic Platforms  (<-- link to thread) which really helped clean up the bass. My floor shares many traits with a trampoline so a combination of coupling and isolation seems to have worked well here. Also it's added around 9cm of height to the speakers, which has brought the tweeter up to roughly ear level. I found that helped with the tonal balance for my room / seating position.

I love the chance to evangelise about these amazing speakers as QA do get pigeonholed as budget speaker makers. Yes, their more affordable models do offer incredible performance and value for money. Yet I feel there's a lack of awareness that in addition to that market, they have been steadily pushing into higher and higher performance brackets over the years with their Concept range, and they are genuine competitors to the "establishment" and every bit as capable. Yet they get tarred with the same brush on so many occasions - "oh, aren't they a Richer Sounds special?" (presumably meant to be an insult), "amazing, for a budget bookshelf speaker", etc. I'm a bit of a fanboy, currently owning Concept 20's, Concept 40' and now the 500's too. They do all sound different (20's especially) but they all share the same ability to make music enjoyable, which to my mind is what this hobby is meant to be about, once we stop drooling over kit we can't afford to buy!

My next move will be away from cone loudspeakers towards electrostatics I think, because I can't really imagine how else I could improve on the Concept 500's, in this room. Granted, if I had a mansion to fill I expect I could find some other monsters to move up to, but with my space limitations I think anything else of a similar ilk would be a sideways move. I'm really glad you liked yours, hope you enjoy them for a long time to come
It's funny you should mention that mid-band bloom, as that was the absolute final straw for me when i decided to get rid of the Yamaha NS1000M's. They did that, but the room was to blame, i think. 

I did notice that a little with the Q's but i felt it was the room interaction again. 

Since i wrote the review, i have removed the piano from the room, moved the system, pulled the speakers out from the wall and added Townshend Seismic Bars. To my great delight, the majority of any issues i did have, have now been almost completely nullified. 

The biggest difference has been the soundstage. I have depth now, but nowhere near what i think they are capable of. I have width and scale too, but again, i know the room limitations are playing a factor in the absolutes they could achieve. The Townshend Seismic bars have also now allowed the removal of the bungs, which has been well received. 

Your comment about not being neutral, or maybe not being of the same palette as the monitor speakers used in studios is very valid. Once again, i felt the Yamahas, whilst being neutral and transparent, were lacking the ability to paint vivid pictures. Like it's only palette was made of pastel colours, rather than the Q Acoustics that have the full bouquet to pick from. What i am keen to highlight, is that even though they have that range, they do not paint what isn't there. Nothing i have heard has been over egged or "laid on thick"

I like tonal texture, and any speaker that convinces me that the guitar i am hearing is realistic, is a speaker i am going to like. These do that. 

As for positioning, well......no drama here. I have them toed in so i can just about see the rear edge and the image is focused and stable. One thing 90% of us are always going to struggle with, is the room the kit is in. The sweet spot in this room has never been huge, but it's normal.....i don't notice it as an issue. 

I've heard a great deal of electrostatic speakers and that's not a move i would make, but good luck with it. 

 

Jules_S

Are we there yet?
Wammer Plus
Jun 7, 2019
1,778
1,843
183
Southampton
AKA
Jules
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Good to hear that you have been able to improve on things with some rearrangement. The QAs really do image incredibly well given enough room to do their thing. Like you I think I could get a lot more out of them given a more sympathetic environment but they reward even in more challenging spaces.

I was hoping not to over-play the comments on the tonal balance - it's certainly not a deal-breaker in any way, rather something that makes them likeable and easy to live with. Rather that, than a highly-strung prima-donna of a speaker that only works well with certain types of music or in millimetre-perfect positions.

At some point in the not too distant future I'm going to have to acquire another amp as I am currently using a stand-in. I think it would be interesting to explore the difference with matching very different types with the 500's, see how they respond to different methods of drive, including SE and PP valves, hybrids, etc. Until recently I was using the grippy Gato 250S (class D, as it happens, although I'm not hung-up on that) and I felt that the pairing worked really well. My suspicion is that they do give of their best with something a bit muscular behind them to give them some control. But maybe they take on a whole different persona with different types of amplification.