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Q Acoustics Concept 300 review: Listen at your credit card’s peril

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £2999

Unique design, beautiful construction and near-holographic sound – shame they’re so expensive


  • Incredible sound
  • Striking looks
  • Superb build


  • The price

It was only ever going to go one of two ways: the experience was either going to be entirely underwhelming, or I was going to rue the day Q Acoustics’ £2,999 Concept 300 speakers landed at my door. Would I ever be able to enjoy a ‘sensibly’-priced pair of speakers again? As someone who will categorically never be able to afford to spend £3k on a pair of speakers (not, at least, without risking divorce) it was a genuine worry.

It has now been a couple of months since the Concept 300 arrived, and I can only say that the results haven’t been quite so black and white. The Concept 300 are clearly better than any speakers I’ve had at home. But are they worth £2,999 a pair? That’s not quite so easy to decide.

Q Acoustics Concept 300 review: What you need to know

While Q Acoustics is better known for its great-sounding, affordable ranges of speakers and soundbars, the Concept 300 demonstrates the brand’s high-end prowess. Born to follow in the sizable footsteps of their floor-standing siblings, the £3,599 Concept 500, the design goal for the 300 was single-minded: deliver uncompromising performance from a stand-mount bookshelf speaker.

The result is a speaker that packs in every one of Q Acoustics’ engineering tricks. Cutting-edge cabinet construction sandwiches layers of vibration-absorbing gel between fist-thick, multi-layered cabinets, and top-end speaker drivers are seamlessly bolted into place from inside. Even the matching speaker stands are special: modern art aesthetics fused with audio science.

Q Acoustics Concept 300 review: Price and competition

If you have the budget to consider spending £3,000 on a pair of speakers, then you’re not exactly short of options. You can buy any number of premium passive bookshelf speakers such as these, or opt for a pair of very capable floor-standing models. Then there’s always the option to go for high-end, fully-active studio monitors. Whatever your initial feelings, it’s not a decision to be rushed.

Oh, and while you’re fishing in your wallet for that credit card, a friendly word: these are passive speakers, so you’ll also need to buy an amplifier, too. Mid-range hi-fi this is not.

Logic dictates that you’re going to be spending serious money on your ancillary equipment: in the world of high-end hi-fi, the sky’s the limit when it comes to amplifiers and sources. Even if you don’t spend a small fortune on them – and be in no doubt, price is by no means an indicator of quality – you’ll still be spending the best part of £5,000 on a full system based around the Concept 300s.

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Q Acoustics Concept 300 review: Features and design

It doesn’t matter how many speakers you’ve seen, the Concept 300 are still something special. From the moment you heave them gingerly from their boxes, it’s obvious that these are no ordinary stand-mount speakers. At 14.5kg apiece, they’re reassuringly weighty in the way that expensive hi-fi so often is and they’re clad with a quality of gloss finish normally reserved for six-figure sportscars.

The cabinets curve elegantly around every edge, and the two-tone sandwich of wood finish looks plainly gorgeous regardless of which of the three finish options – Black/Rosewood, Silver/Ebony or White/Oak – you go for.

They’re pretty large by the standards of most average stand-mount speakers – huge, even. They measure almost 40cm deep, so you can all but forget about popping these on the nearest bit of furniture. But these speakers are unlikely to be sat atop anything as low-rent as a bookshelf, not least because they come with a pair of the most unusual speaker stands you’ve ever seen.

The matching and quite striking Tensegrity stands might look insubstantial, but they’re nothing of the sort. The metal tripod legs are tautly strung with metal wire in order to provide a rigid sturdy base, and each leg tapers to a chunky adjustable spike. There are rubber feet in the box if you prefer not to mark your expensive designer flooring. Thankfully the stands come fully assembled and three bolts secure them firmly to a metal plate at the base of each speaker.

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Even that innocuous metal plate is unconventional. It actually hides a set of springs which are designed to isolate speaker-borne vibrations from the floor and floor-borne vibrations from the speaker.

Upfront, you’ll find a 165mm bass driver and a 28mm tweeter nestled just above, both meticulously custom-built to Q Acoustics’ specifications. At the rear are twin speaker terminals for bi-wiring and bi-amping setups. As usual, a set of jumpers is included for single-amp setups.

Another unusual feature is the ability to tweak the speaker’s treble output, via a small jumper above the speaker terminals and you can choose from -0.5db, flat or +0.5db depending on your preferences and how bright your room is. The supplied foam bungs allow you to stuff the reflex port at the rear to tailor the bass response, too. These subtle tweaks make it easier to get the Concept 300 sounding ‘right’ in different rooms.

Q Acoustics Concept 300 review: Set up and equipment

You may not need to do any of this, though, because the Q Acoustics Concept 300 are the least fussy speakers I’ve encountered in terms of positioning and setup. After a little experimentation, I settled on leaving them around 60cm from the back and side walls, roughly two-and-a-half metres apart, and a tiny bit further than that away from my listening position. They imaged well even without toeing them in but I preferred them toed-in to face the listening position – every room is different, though, so take this with a fistful of salt.

After a couple of tests with bi-amplified and monoblock setups, I settled on connection to a single Yamaha P2500S 250W power amp. Q Acoustics recommends amplification of between 25W and 200W, so even the one amplifier was enough to reach mildly terrifying volume levels.

Q Acoustics provided a pair of outrageously expensive QED Signature Supremus speaker cables for testing (these are £870 – and no, that final zero is not a typo). The Concept 300 were tested, designed and ‘voiced’ with these cables in mind. I also used a pair of my own much more down to earth Van Damme speaker cables, mainly because they weren’t quite such a tripping hazard in my loft-based listening room.

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Q Acoustics Concept 300 review: Sound quality

My expectations were unreasonably high. For this kind of money, I was awaiting a near-hallucinatory experience: spectres of musicians floating between the speakers, instruments in hand, close enough to reach out and touch. It was only once I swapped back to my own PMC DB1+ speakers that I realised quite how close the Concept 300’s actually were to these outrageous expectations.

Sub-£1,000 speakers such as the PMCs are hugely enjoyable to listen to in their own right. Instruments spread wide from left to right and there is some back to front depth, a sensation of music stretching back into a virtual stage. There’s detail. There’s punch. There’s excitement. But as the PMCs fell silent and the Concept 300s took over, the printed cardboard cutouts in front of me were suddenly replaced by vivid 4K holograms. The PMCs present a two-dimensional facsimile of the performance, the Concept 300s are virtual reality by comparison.

You can hear the space around the musicians, the echo of the walls around the drummer, the vocalist leaning into the microphone, the fuzz of distortion as the producer pushes up the faders on the mixing desk; it’s the same music but recreated with intoxicating clarity.

But this isn’t a clarity that renders all but the most perfect recordings unlistenable, far from it. Whether it’s pristine classical recordings, crusty Hendrix albums or hiss-laden tapes of old pirate radio from the 1990s, the Q Acoustics disappear and let the music do the talking.

Q Acoustics state a frequency response of 55Hz to 30Khz for the Concept 300. My 40-year-old hearing gives up around 16Khz but I can attest to the fact that bass stretches down deep enough to satisfy most tastes. Soundtracks and chest-rattling organ recitals definitely benefit from a little help, though: adding a couple of subwoofers to the mix is required to unearth the copious sub-20Hz bass of Hans Zimmer’s Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack, for instance.

Apart from the very lowest bass registers, however, there’s nothing missing. More so than any speaker I’ve ever listened to, there’s no discernable character to the Q Acoustics sound; no harshness, no tubbiness, no sharpness, nothing. What goes in, comes out. The Concept 300 sound as neutral and uncoloured as I’ve ever heard. If the music is good, you simply won’t be thinking about what the speakers are or aren’t doing and that, it has to be said, is rather the point.

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Q Acoustics Concept 300 review: Verdict

The Q Acoustics Concept 300 are genuinely special speakers – it’s just a shame that they’re so expensive.

And a word of warning: if you can’t afford them then don’t, whatever you do, listen to them. You may well end up spending £2,999 you don’t have.

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