It’s a simple actuality of activity that the added there is to do, the added there is to prioritise. For Q Acoustics’ aboriginal all-in-one alive apostle system, the Q Alive 200, the British apostle specialist could accept focused best of its absorption on the alive ancillary of things – that is the unchartered area here, afterwards all. While the cast has some amount of acquaintance in powered apostle design, this is its aboriginal able alive alive proposition.
But the Q Acoustics Q Alive 200 arise to be a speaker-first design, accustomed the aggressive acoustic engineering on appearance here. Get the apostle allotment right, as you’d achievement a abutting with such acclamation in the acreage would, and you’re center there.
If you were assured an alive set of speakers akin Q Acoustics’ accepted ambit of standmounters, again the Q Alive 200’s architectonics may accession a few eyebrows.
The boxes are narrow, abysmal and in a beautifully accomplished matte white – so far, so Q Acoustics. But instead of the accepted tweeter and mid/bass woofer decorating anniversary façade, there is a ellipsoidal grille in the top bend that hides two round, 58mm BMR (balanced approach radiator) drive units.
It gives the chic cabinets a unique, neatly minimalist attending that ability sit able-bodied in abreast advised alive spaces – but the architectonics is acceptable to bisect opinion.
Q Acoustics has called to use a brace of BMR drivers in anniversary chiffonier in alternative to accepted cone units. BMRs accept two big advantages: they bear both midrange and acute (and a bit of bass) from their abundantly sized forms, so alienated the charge for a abstracted tweeter and mid/bass aggregate and the baloney breeding crossover that goes forth with it. And they additionally afford complete analogously above a 180-degree plane, abbreviation the accepted addiction for speakers to actualize a alert ‘sweet spot’.
The drivers’ diminutive size, continued abundance acknowledgment and wide-dispersion talents accomplish it a applied best for a artefact such as the Q Alive 200.
Their accession on the apostle – the bifold BMR agreement can sit either on the central top bend or alfresco top corner, depending on which way annular the speakers are placed – brings some allowances too. According to Q Acoustics, the aberration in the acoustic aisle lengths from the BMRs to the addle edges improves diffraction characteristics. It additionally offers adaptability in positioning: for far-field alert (further abroad or to the sides) they should be positioned to the inside, or for near-field listening, on the outside.
Of course, there’s alone so abundant abundance and abyss of bass a 58mm disciplinarian can dig up, which is why Q Acoustics has chip a ported 11.4cm woofer into the rear of anniversary cabinet. This brings disciplinarian cooperation and crossovers aback into the mix, but Q Acoustics has anxiously advised that.
The high BMR (each BMR has its own DSP and addition channel) operates the abounding abundance bandage from the crossover point with the woofer to 20kHz, admitting the lower BMR is advised to alone assignment up to 5kHz. The woofer fires assimilate a rear baffle, its achievement guided through vents at the ancillary of the cabinet, with adult DSP befitting the complete from all the drive units time aligned.
Whereas the floorstanders in the Q Alive range, the Q Alive 400, use the P2P animating as primarily engineered for the company’s Abstraction 300, these standmounts accept a ‘dart bracing’ technique, which fixes the rear-firing woofer anon to the advanced of the chiffonier to accommodate it with automated stability.
Q Acoustics has advised a brace of committed stands for the Q Alive 200, the Q FS75, added bashful evolutions of the avant-garde stands advised for the Abstraction 300. For an added £350 ($499) per pair, they affection a skeletal, awful adamant ‘space’ anatomy fabricated up of rods in compression, stabilised by cables in tension, and accept constituent that accredit them to be anchored to the standmounters.
Q Acoustics has taken the accommodation not to abode the alive architectonics and connectivity central the speakers, but instead in a abstracted connectivity hub. There are two hub options to accept from, depending on area your articulation ascendancy loyalties lie. The Google Home box (which we accept on test) offers Google Assistant articulation control, additional congenital Google Chromecast, while the Amazon Alexa box alternative works with Alexa.
It’s a abashment one box doesn’t awning both bases – there charge be affluence of bodies who use Alexa, for example, but additionally beck music via Chromecast. And what if your adherence changes bottomward the line? Q Acoustics says it’s attractive into authoritative anniversary hub alone available, admitting hasn’t yet accepted its plans.
Whichever hub you choose, you get the aforementioned concrete inputs – HDMI (ARC), optical, and an alternation ascribe that is switchable amid band akin and affective magnet. Essentially, that agency aggregate from a CD amateur to a TV to a turntable can be affiliated to the hub and streamed to the speakers. Agenda signals from the HDMI and optical inputs are all adapted to 24-bit/96kHz, as are alternation signals through the 24-bit alternation to agenda advocate (ADC).
Rather than the hub alive these adapted signals to a adept apostle that passes the added audio approach to the bondservant speaker, it sends the two channels of audio anon to the speakers over a 5GHz wireless connection, allowance ensure authentic syncing amid them.
The hub is additionally a alive aperture to AirPlay 2 for iOS users, Spotify Connect for Spotify Premium and Family subscribers, and Bluetooth. Abutment for the Roon music belvedere is on the way via a approaching firmware update, too.
If you own a NAS drive with music, UPnP abutment is onboard for arena networked music files up to 32-bit/192kHz (which afterwards gets down-sampled to 24-bit/96kHz for the chiral to the speakers). Q Acoustics will anon absolution its committed Q Alive app for allowance owners with allotment and set-up, ascendancy hub customisation, software updates and basal controls, about it won’t be an all-embracing music ascendancy app from which to browse networked or bounded music libraries and admission alive services.
That’s a shame, but third-party UPnP ascendancy apps aren’t adamantine to appear by, and those application Tidal (via Chromecast) or Spotify (via Connect) may able-bodied accept to use the built-in apps anyway. For accessing our NAS device, we use the chargeless MConnect and BubbleUPnP apps on an Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy S20 buzz during our testing and both assignment fine.
Alternatively, there’s the bunched bittersweet alien ascendancy for adjusting volume, pause/play, absence advance and alteration inputs. A band of blow buttons above the rear of anniversary speaker’s top console added or beneath mirrors alien control, too. They’re accurately acknowledging – sometimes added so than the UPnP apps we use – although as there’s a abbreviate adjournment in the alarm and action, we would accept admired beheld acceptance of the advice from, say, a arresting LED. There is an LED by the controls on the top console that flashes to announce this, but unless you’re continuing you won’t be able to see it.
Q Acoustics has auspiciously congenital a acceptability for accomplished acquiescent speakers in its 15-year history – abnormally in the account market. Its articles accept consistently included class-leading accuracy and absorbing punch, and those talents accept predictably begin their way into the Q Alive 200 too.
We comedy Radical Face’s The Missing Road from Tidal via Chromecast, and the adapted acoustic strums, cello and articulate bustling appear through with an acquisitive lucidity, the presentation startlingly bright and direct, not to acknowledgment room-filling. You shouldn’t necessarily apprehend Q Acoustics’ archetypal affluence and amore here, but the alive speakers’ leaner, added advanced tonal attitude gives them a absorbing faculty of snappiness.
We beck over Bluetooth and, admitting we apprehend the accepted bead in quality, the Q Alive 200 accumulate things decidedly tight, accident a bit of bendability and amplitude compared with UPnP and Google Chromecast playback, but abundantly proving a advantageous adjustment of playback.
The BMR drivers accumulate their end up, overextension complete abundantly and analogously about our analysis allowance and ensuring the speakers aftermath an impressively big attendance for their bunched footprint. They accept the aggregate and bite to accomplish accessible assignment of John Williams’s acute compositions, and while that rear-firing woofer is bound in agreement of complete bass depth, it proves abutting and abrupt as the bassline in SBTRKT’s Wildfire (played over UPnP) comes into play. Bass blends in accurately with the blow of the frequencies, too, proving Q Acoustics has done a acceptable job with the crossover amid the BMRs and low-frequency driver.
To advice optimise positioning, anniversary Q Alive 200 has three settings called by a chiral about-face at its rear. There is ‘Positioned abutting to a corner’, ‘Positioned abutting to a wall’, and our adopted ‘Free-space’, which we acquisition works best not alone aback the speakers were out in the room, but additionally abreast the aback bank – possibly because the speakers’ bass achievement isn’t ascendant and the midrange is a little forward. As always, we’d acclaim experimenting to see which ambience works best in your alert room.
We about-face from Q Acoustics’ committed stands to a brace of Custom Architectonics FS104 Signatures and the presentation sheds some accuracy – from both a sonic and artful point of view, we’d acclaim the custom-built accessory. But, while the Q FS75 extracts added from the speakers, the all-embracing differences aren’t huge. Just agenda that due to the elastic strips beneath the speaker, defended adjustment on a third-party brace of stands may be a little fiddly.
There’s a bit of acerbity in the high mids, which charcoal aural alike afterwards a anniversary of use. It’s not the end of the world, but it does beggarly higher-pitched choir can alpha to abrade afterwards a while. It does annihilation for a dense, cymbal-heavy clue like Touché Amore’s I’ll Be Your Host either.
But our bigger affair with the Q Alive 200 is their accumulated abridgement of activating and adroit expression. With Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Galleon Ship, the piano and articulate bond comes through bright and solid, yet is beggared of absolute feel.
Everything seems to ride forth one audio plane, defective advanced drive and activating tiers. It doesn’t advice that the complete staging isn’t decidedly able-bodied layered either. Together, these things beggarly the clue isn’t all that absorbing or emotionally grabbing.
Whether aggravating to butt the grooves that affirm Thundercat’s Them Changes, or attach the adroit acumen basic to the SBTRKT track, the Q Alive 200 don’t absolutely tie the agreeable strands calm with the allocation all-important for them to thoroughly entertain. They conduct themselves in a startlingly bright and upfront manner, but above that they abort to captivate.
Offering an absolute audio arrangement central such a bunched and acceptable abstraction is no accessible task, but those such as the KEF LSX and KEF LS50 Wireless II, which sandwich the Q Acoustics in price, appearance it can be done. The Q Alive 200 ultimately abatement able-bodied beneath those standards, carrying a cruder accept than we’d apprehend at this not-insignificant price.
It’s rare, if ever, that we broadcast sentences featuring both ‘Q Acoustics’ and ‘disappointing’, but actuality the Q Alive 200 cannot adumbrate abaft their carefully advised blueprint area and apostle engineering. It’s a abashment because the cast has done a lot appropriate – there’s all-inclusive connectivity on offer, a accomplished lot of apostle engineering, and committed stands for those who appetite them. But performance-wise, they artlessly aren’t absorbing abundant to recommend.
It’s generally the case that aboriginal efforts are followed by bigger additional ones, and we actual abundant achievement that turns out to be the case here.
Read our adviser to the best all-in-one alive systems
Read our KEF LSX review
Read our KEF LS50 Wireless II review
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