This week we reviewed the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 wireless speakers. This compact model is a part of the new Q Active speaker range from the British manufacturer. Like the other models in the range, this pair of bookshelf speakers works with the included Q Active Control base that centralizes all physical and digital sources and wirelessly streams them to the speakers with a resolution of up to 24-bit/96kHz. Sold for 1,799 euros, will these active speakers retain the acoustic qualities of the British manufacturer’s passive speakers while benefiting from the convenience of wireless transmission?
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: the brand
Founded in 2006, Q Acoustics is the hi-fi and home theater speaker subsidiary of the British group Armour Home Electronics, which also manufactures QED cables. The quality of its speakers and the technical expertise of its engineers and designers were the main building blocks for Q Acoustics’ identity. By applying this expertise to each of its products, Q Acoustics has established itself as a major player in the global loudspeaker market in just a few years. In 2009, only three years after the company was founded, What Hi-Fi? Magazine wrote that the British brand’s speakers were “some of the most avant-garde products in existence”. In 2012, the specialist magazine gave the
The excellent build, elegant design and acoustic performance of Q Acoustics’ speakers quickly established the brand’s reputation. In 2015, the
In 2017, the first truly high-end speaker from the British manufacturer was released. Visually impressive, the
In 2018, the British manufacturer revamped its 3000 range and presented the Q Acoustics 3000i series. The letter “i” stands for improved. To further optimize these already exemplary speakers, the engineers incorporated some of the technologies used in the high-end Q Acoustics Concept models. In particular, the cabinet features P2P technology, which uses internal braces and spacers to solidify the cabinet and reduce distortion. The
Until now, Q Acoustics had stuck to designing passive hi-fi and/or home theater speakers (with the exception of the Q Acoustics 3060S, Q Acoustics 3070S and Q Acoustics QB12 subwoofers). The new Q Acoustics Q Active speaker range marks the arrival of the British brand in the wireless speaker market. It includes the Q Acoustics Q Active 400 floorstanding speakers, which are scheduled for release in 2021, as well as the compact Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers that are the subject of this review.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: packaging & accessories
The Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers come in a single box inside of which they are securely held in place by two large wedges. Each speaker is protected by two foam pads and soft synthetic packaging. Two power cables are included to connect the speakers to the mains. The British manufacturer also supplies the Q Active Control base to centralize the various sources and connect the speakers to the internet. The base comes with a USB cable with an AC adapter for the power supply, an HDMI cable and a remote control with batteries.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: presentation
The Q Acoustics Q Active 200 is the first active speaker in the British manufacturer’s catalog. Like all Q Acoustics speakers, it has a beautifully finished MDF chassis. The rounded edges on the front and back minimize cabinet edge diffraction and reinforce the speaker’s compact look. The Q Acoustics Q Active 200’s front panel is adorned with the brand’s chrome logo and is reinforced inside with a brace that also supports the woofer. This optimizes the cabinet’s dynamic performance to reduce unwanted vibration and distortion.
The front panel of the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speaker hides two 2.25” drivers behind a metal grille. These drivers are responsible for reproducing high and midrange frequencies. They benefit from proprietary BMR technology which widens the sound dispersion to limit the sweet spot effect and ensure an optimal reproduction across a wider area than that of traditional speakers. In addition, the drivers can operate up to 150Hz. Therefore, no filtering system is needed between the highs and mids. This ensures a more accurate sound and reduces distortion.
For anything under 150Hz, the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speaker’s active crossover system entrusts the reproduction to a 5.5” low frequency driver that is mounted at the back of the speaker. A wave guide with a central cone is placed in front of the driver to efficiently handle the bass response and limit distortion. This wave guide has two openings on the sides of the cabinet to distribute the low frequencies evenly throughout the room and ensure smooth airflow.
To efficiently power the drivers, each Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speaker uses three Class D digital amplifiers capable of delivering a total of 280 watts of power. Each driver therefore benefits from its own amplification module that has been selected according to its characteristics and the frequencies it reproduces, which ensures that the sound reproduction is better controlled and more precise.
Variable frequency response
The Q Acoustics Q Active 200 wireless speaker has a bass-reflex enclosure with a streamlined port in the rear panel. With other models, a rear-firing port means that you can’t place the speaker too close to the wall to ensure good low frequency dispersion. But this is not the case with the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 thanks to a switch that allows you to adjust the low frequency response according to the placement of the speaker in the room. Three settings are available to modify the curve to suit its location, whether it’s close to a wall, in the corner of the room or in an open space.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: analog and digital inputs
All of the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers’ connectors are on the Q Active Control base. This base is included with the speakers and is essential for the proper functioning of the Q Active range, whether you want to listen to wired or digital sources. On the back of the Q Active Control base is an RCA analog input that can be switched to a line or phono input to connect a
The sound of the different sources connected to the Q Active Control can be wirelessly streamed to the speakers with a resolution of up to 24-bit/96kHz. To do this, the Q Active Control transmitter generates its own wireless network. This communication bypasses the local network to avoid the risks of an unstable WiFi connection or insufficient bandwidth. It is always smooth thanks to very low latency, and we didn’t notice any loss of synchronisation during our test. Even when using the HDMI ARC connection, the sound from the speakers was always perfectly synchronised with the images displayed on the TV.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: streaming
In addition to its analog and digital inputs, the Q Active Control also benefits from a wide range of steaming options and technologies, making it a powerful network player. It provides direct access to the vast majority of online streaming services, such as Amazon Music, Deezer, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Qobuz. For these last two services, Hi-Res music is supported up to 24-bit/96kHz. The player also features the Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth and Google Chromecast protocols to allow you to easily stream music on any app from a smartphone, tablet, computer or DAP.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: voice control
The Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers offer a variety of control options to suit all users. They can be controlled via the Q Active mobile app, but also using the remote control and even vocally. To do this, simply pair the Q Active Control base to a Google Assistant smart speaker. You will then be able to adjust the volume, play your favorite music on your streaming service of choice, skip tracks and turn your TV on (CEC protocol required) simply by asking.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: multi-room
The Q Acoustics Q Active 200 wireless speakers can be added to a group of AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Roon or Amazon Music compatible multi-room speakers or devices to enjoy your music throughout the house. The various groups are managed via the Roon, Apple Home, Google Assistant or Amazon apps, depending on the multi-room protocol used. It is then possible to precisely configure your installations to listen to the same music throughout your home or a different track in each room. The Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers’ multi-room compatibility even allows you to stream sound from different sources connected to the Q Active Control base to all compatible devices. This way, you can enjoy the sound of your TV in other rooms of the house so you never lose track of what is happening on your TV shows.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: configuration
It only takes a few simple steps to configure the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers. First, you must connect the sources to the Q Active Control base, then turn the speakers on. They then automatically synchronize with the control base. A switch on the back of each speaker lets you select which channel to reproduce (left or right).
The second step is to pair the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers’ remote control the Q Active Control base. This is done by pressing the dedicated button on the remote. A LED on the front of the Q Active Control box indicates that the pairing was successful. This pairing is essential because the remote control works with radio frequencies and is not natively linked to the box. However, this mode of communication has the undeniable advantage of providing total control of the speakers without having to point the remote control in a specific direction.
The rest of the setup procedure for the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers will depend on the source you want to use. To use a physical source connected to the base, simply select the input using the tactile control interface on the Q Active Control or on the remote control and the system will be operational. To enjoy online music services, Google Chromecast or AirPlay 2, you must connect the base to the local network and the internet. There are two ways to go about this: either via an Ethernet connection or a WiFi connection. For the latter, the rest of the procedure is done in the Q Active app by selecting the WiFi network you want to use and entering the password.
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: listening impressions
From the very first listening session, the Q Acoustics Active 200 wireless speakers impressed us with the spaciousness of their soundstage. On Lana Del Rey’s track
We changed styles with Chris Rea’s Looking for the Summer, a song that allowed the Q Acoustics Active 200 speakers to demonstrate their excellent control in the low end of the spectrum. The lows were deep, well structured, tight and intense. The 4.5” woofer is definitely one of the speaker’s main strengths. The bass was more efficiently controlled and more powerful than with many other compact speakers. There was a “wow” effect every time we listened to a song and it was almost as if the speaker was accompanied by a small subwoofer.
We continued our review of the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 with Hans Zimmer’s performance of the soundtrack to Pirates of the Carribean during his iconic Prague concert. The Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers were very dynamic and generous. The magnitude of the soundstage was at its peak, and the orchestra and acoustics of the concert hall were incredibly well reproduced. The different arrangements were well rendered and outlined. Nevertheless, the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers sometimes seemed a little harsh in the highs, especially with brass instruments.
Because the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers feature an HDMI input, we also tested their performance with movie soundtracks. To do so, we connected the Q Active Control base to the HDMI ARC port of our LG UHD 4K television. With the movie
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: compared to…
KEF LSX Wireless: the KEF LSX Wireless are sold for €1,200 and are equipped with a 4.5” coaxial driver with a 0.75” vented tweeter. They feature a double amplification module that delivers 70 watts of power to the midbass driver and 30 watts to the tweeter. The KEF LSX Wireless speakers deliver a sound that is a little more energetic and they are capable of reproducing finer details in the highs. However, the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers benefit from more power and provide deeper and better controlled lows. The KEF LSX Wireless have the advantage of having directly integrated connectors and therefore do not require an additional base to centralize sources.
Dali Callisto 2C: sold for €2,400, these Dali speakers are a 3-way model equipped with three drivers including a super-tweeter. The incorporate a 2 x 30W amplifier and a wireless audio receiver. Like the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers, the Dali Callisto 2Cs require a hub (
Q Acoustics Q Active 200: conclusion
The British manufacturer has taken its first step into the active speaker market with the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speakers. While many competitors in the industry simply build an amplifier into their passive speakers, Q Acoustics designed an easy-to-use active speaker suitable for high-resolution streaming up to 24-bit/96kHz from scratch. One of this speaker’s greatest strengths is its extreme compactness. It can just as easily be placed on a TV cabinet, in a bookcase, on a shelf or on a dedicated stand. Its preset equalizer is ideal for adjusting and optimizing the frequency response curve according to its placement in the room. And finally, the 4.5” woofer at the rear of the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speaker is a deal-breaker for anyone who wants deep, powerful bass.
What we liked:
- The spacious soundstage
- The powerful amplification
- The deep lows
- The simple setup
- The many features
What we would have liked:
- Smoother highs
- An integrated base