Director of Q Acoustics, Alex Munro spent the majority of his career working for the most prestigious British brands, such as KEF and Tannoy. He took the time to talk to Son-Vidéo.com about the Q Acoustics Q Active 200, the English brand’s first connected speaker.
What is your job at Q Acoustics?
My name is Alex Munro and I’m the Brand Director of Q Acoustics.
What challenges did you encounter when creating a brand new active speaker from the ground up?
There are many challenges in producing, not just an active speaker, but a complete high resolution audio system. However there is also a freedom that you are not constrained by trying to create an active version of an existing passive speaker design with all it’s existing compromises.
Why did you decide to use a dedicated amplifier for each speaker driver of the Q Active?
A fully active speaker design with a separate amplifier for each drive units means that you can tailor the amplifier specifically for each driver and that you can implement the crossover in DSP (Digital Signal Processing). This permits much more precision that working with a limited number of passive crossover components and means that there is no difficulty matching them to the drivers. Another benefit is that you can design delay into the front mounted drivers so that the subwoofer is precisely time aligned.
What are the advantages of the BMR drivers?
When compared with a dome tweeter and mid-range driver BMRs have a number of benefits: They have inherent super wide dispersion for a panoramic sound stage, which we describe as Dynamic Widescreen Sound. The wide bandwidth of the BMR gives a seamless mid-range performance resulting in no mid-range crossover distortion in the critical voice frequencies. They have an extended lower frequency range, down to 150Hz for seamless integration with the inbuilt subwoofer. The relatively large 32mm voice coil of the BMRs gives high dynamics with low thermal compression.
Why did you decide to place the woofer at the back of the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 wireless speaker?
As the BMRs extend down to 150Hz the woofer is a genuine subwoofer and we used a subwoofer design technique where a high-power, long-throw driver is mounted in a ported enclosure, facing a fixed baffle. Then facing the driver there is a cone-shaped boundary control lens guiding the bass output through the side vents of the cabinet. This makes the boundary conditions predictable for the subwoofer no matter where it is located in relation to rear walls and corners.
What are the advantages of the Dart braces?
Dart bracing, where the rear of the subwoofer driver is braced to the front baffles and the large cabinet side-panels, provides a high level of axial stiffness directly to the driver motor system. It gives superior mechanical stability to the drive unit over un-braced systems that can otherwise result in drive unit ‘bounce’ on the mounting fixtures and baffle.
What type of wireless technology is used to connect the hub and the Q Acoustics Q Active wireless speakers?
Wireless transmission between the Hub and the Speakers is at a resolution of 24bit/96kHz. Q Active can also play 32bit/384kHz audio files from an appropriate source, down-sampling them to its native 24bit/96kHz resolution. It’s recommended that the Hub is always located in the same room as the speakers, but as the Remote Control uses RF it doesn’t need to be in line of sight, so the Hub can be hidden away by the wi-fi router, wall mounted by the TV or located beside any legacy sources being used like a turntable, disc player or games machine.
Can you tell us more about the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 speaker’s position switch? How does it work and what does it do exactly?
Like most Q Acoustic products Q Active can be optimised for both the room environment and the listener’s system needs. A channel setting switch on the back of each speaker enables it to be set to be the left or right channel. This, with the asymmetrical design of the speakers allows the BMR drive units to be positioned optimally for near-field or far-field listening. There is also a 3-position boundary setting switch on each speaker, which enables the DSP to change the speaker’s voicing. Consequently Q Active speakers may be optimised for a number of different listening environments including: close to a corner, close to a wall and when in free-space.
How did you adapt to the unprecedented situation caused by the current sanitary crisis? How does one prepare the launch of a brand new product and the PR campaign in such a situation?
It’s been a fascinating experience. The team working on Q Active have not met, other than electronically, for almost 6 months. Normally our product launches would be held in a comfortable London location over several days with all our press and commercial partners coming to visit us. Whereas on this occasion we have been introducing the product by sending a sample then conducting an online presentation / Q&A with our partners and 4 people from Q Acoustics. It takes more time but it’s completely personalised to each guest, though I do miss the social side afterwards in a nice London restaurant.
Are there any plans to add more Q Active speakers to the range? Maybe a wireless subwoofer?
The Q Active Hub has a wired output for adding an extra subwoofer if it was ever felt to be needed. I’m sure we will add to the Q Active range, but for now I’m going to have to leave you guessing.