Q Acoustics’ first active speaker is part of a wireless system that has some AV possibilities, says Ed Selley – even if he’d likely give the optional stands a pass… Read our Q Acoustics Q Active 200 Review.
Position: Debut Q Active model, to be followed by floorstanding option
Peers: Naim Mu-So Qb2; Klipsch The Fives
With the exception of subwoofers, Q Acoustics has not made an active speaker up to this point (previous standalone devices have been ‘powered’ rather than active) and its opening gambit, the Q Active 200, is an intriguing bit of kit.
Each speaker has a pair of offset 2.25in BMR drivers on the front, while around the back is a single 4.5in woofer handling frequencies below 160Hz. Power is quoted at 100W continuous/280W peak.
They communicate wirelessly over 5.8GHz, and the speaker pairing is supplied with a device called the Q Active Hub. This is an input box with an HDMI ARC connection, optical digital audio and RCA input (the latter of which is able to be used as an MM phono stage), as well as Bluetooth, AirPlay and UPnP playback (with Roon compatibility).
This hub transmits information to the speakers as a 24-bit/96kHz digital signal. The box supplied for review was a Google Assistant- enabled device (with Chromecast built-in). An Amazon Alexa-compatible version will follow (the boxes can’t switch between the two systems).
Aesthetically, the Q Active 200 is curious but likeable for it. Elements of its styling follows the brand’s pricier Concept series of speakers (reflecting that many of Q Acoustics’ ideas on cabinet bracing used there are also used here), but those dinky BMR drivers at the front look peculiar.
Black and white finishes are available. The smart-looking optional chrome stands (pictured) are a whopping £ a pair. Nice as they are, that feels very steep.
See also TOP 10 Subwoofers
A smarter touch is that the Active Hub remote is RF-based so the little box can be stowed out of site (or wall-mounted) for neatness. Setup is also simple, although the speaker mains leads could be longer.
Three into one
The Q Active 200 system might come in three separate parts but it really ought to be seen as a rival for all-in-one systems like Naim’s Mu-So Qb2, and it has some of the same pros and cons. Compared to more conventional speakers, when you sit in the ‘sweet spot’ the Q Active 200’s sound feels slightly diffuse. The twist is that the ‘sweet spot’ is pretty much anywhere that isn’t physically behind them. Revisiting the Golem fight in Onward (BD), this active stereo setup is able to give an exceptionally cohesive soundstage even to listeners sat very much off to one side.
Within this soundstage, the details are good too. Dialogue is well delivered and the tonal accuracy on offer impresses. Like a few BMR designs I have listened to over the years, the Q Active 200 does its best work with a little volume behind it, and even then there’s not the top-end sparkle of a dedicated tweeter. There’s plenty of low- end shove, though, and you can add a subwoofer to boost it further if you wish.
Additionally, there’s a level of stereo immersion here that very few one-box systems can get near. A live concert performance of Silent Alarm by Bloc Party was delivered with a compelling sense of the venue stitched into it.
In some regards, this is an odd piece of kit in that it looks like one thing while being rather more like another. But as a system to boost your TV and film, plus hand out some stereo music thrills, it could well fit the bill.
Acoustics Q Active 200
A halfway house between a hi-fi system and an all-in-one that offers a very room-friendly performance, albeit with some quirks.
Best Q Acoustics Q Active 200 prices in the US ?
Best Q Acoustics Q Active 200 prices in the UK ?
See also TOP 10 Subwoofers
DRIVERS: 2 x 2.25in Balanced Mode Radiators (BMR) and 1 x 4.5in bass driver (per cabinet) AMPLIFICATION (CLAIMED): 100W RMS CONNECTIONS: 1 x HDMI ARC; 1 x optical digital audio; 1 x switchable line/ phono RCA input; subwoofer pre-out; Ethernet REMOTE: Yes DIMENSIONS: 170(w) x 284(h) x 290(d)mm WEIGHT: 7.5kg (each)
FEATURES: Wireless connection to Hub; aptX Bluetooth; Apple AirPlay 2; Spotify Connect; adjustable EQ for positioning; compatible with Google Home or Amazon Alexa; UPnP with Roon (Roon Ready)