Q Acoustics 5020 Loudspeakers: Review
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from growing my Instagram channel, it’s that the audio community doesn’t fit into any box; Music listeners don’t necessarily want to stop using their vintage audio equipment, and many are looking for affordable speakers and sources that can be successfully integrated into their existing systems. Newcomers to vinyl are looking for vintage or new turntables and amps to use with products like the Q Acoustics 5020 Loudspeakers.
As someone who owns a lot of vintage audio equipment, I fall right into this group of music lovers and audiophiles and heard some of the first rumors about the Q Series Acoustics 5000 from EIC Ian White and other members of the Instagram community. “The 5020 seemed like the perfect pair of new speakers to review.
Spending a lot of money on any new component has never been my methodology, and while it has worked so far, there was something about the bookshelf/rack design that made me wonder if it would work with a fairly wide range of solid state components. government and tube amps that I use on a regular basis.
The Q Acoustics 5020’s $899 price tag might not sound like a very “budget audiophile” thing, but as we’ve learned over the past three years, inflation has forced nearly all manufacturers to raise their prices, a reality that applies to just about everything; a new bike, guitar, car or TV.
The reality is that loudspeakers have evolved a lot technically over the past few decades; they may have the same purpose, but the technology is very different from many of the vintage audio speakers I like.
My fifties Ohm F are great speakers, but I thought it was time to see what’s new.
Q Acoustics provided me with a pair of Santos Rosewood 5020 speakers that look absolutely stunning in our living room; other finishes include Satin Black, Satin White and Holme Oak.
Ian White’s EIC has a pair of 5040 floorstanders in Holme Oak and has received nothing but praise for its finish and build quality.
Considering the $899 asking price, which puts the 5020 at the very edge of what I would call “entry level,” the finish, weight, and overall build quality of the speakers are exceptionally high. There are also plenty of internal mounts, and you’ll notice this when playing music with a lot of low frequency information; cabinets are very inert, and this contributes to the firmness and definition of bass notes.
From a visual standpoint, the 5020 is a very attractive loudspeaker both with and without magnetic grilles attached.
Moving the speakers from room to room, it became obvious that they never looked out of place with any of my vintage audio systems; something that our neighbors also noticed, who often listen to me.
Q Acoustics also offers a pair of dedicated stands for the 5020; The 3000FSi measure 9-13/16″ W x 26-15/16″ H x 11-7/16″ D (each) and weigh a fairly substantial 14 pounds each, which is almost as heavy as the speakers. The $239 cost of the stands also includes carpet spikes and rubber covers for hard surfaces like tiled floors.
I would consider them mandatory in terms of performance.
We gave two boxes of stands to my eleven year old son to see how difficult it is to assemble and install the speakers.
He finished building both in 10 minutes and it was pretty clear why they were selling for $239; the grandstands feature laser-cut precision steel construction and acoustically damped columns that make a huge difference. The stands place the tweeter at a suitable listening height for most listeners, and I was quite surprised at how well it isolates the loudspeaker from the rest of the room.
- One pair of bookshelf/standspeakers for music or home theater
- 5″C3 Woofer (continuous curved cone)
- 1″ sealed tweeter
- Rear Port Bass Reflex Enclosure
- Frequency response: 53-30,000Hz (-6dB)
- Sensitivity: 87.9 dB
- Rated impedance: 6 ohm
- Recommended Amplifier Power: 25-100W
- Low profile connection terminals suitable for banana plugs, flat lugs and bare wire.
- Removable magnetic grids
- Dimensions: 7-1/8″W x 11-1/4″H x 11-1/2″D
- Weight: 15.4 lbs. (every)
One of the benefits of having so much vintage sound is that we have six different systems in five rooms throughout the house; which includes 6 different amplifiers.
Amplifiers range from 13 watts per channel to over 300 watts per channel in tube and solid state amplification (all 8 ohms).
Amplifiers included SAE 2500 (300W/ch), Fisher 400 receiver (32W/ch), Muzak monoblocks (13W/ch), Kyocera R861 (100W/ch), Dynaco Mark III (60W/ch). ) and Dynaco ST-70 (35W/ch).
Sources included Dual, Andover Audio, Technics, and Marantz Turntables for vinyl, as well as a mix of Sony, SAE, Apple, and Nakamichi digital sources.
Bookshelf speakers tend to be less sensitive than floorstanding speakers, and this has been proven true with the 5020; they responded better to amps in the 60 to 100 watts per channel range, but that doesn’t mean I was even a bit dissatisfied with the lower power tube amps in my collection.
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Much of the performance and choice of amplification depended on the size of the room and the musical genre; unless you’re listening at a very loud level and planning on constantly feeding them rock or new wave music – you can certainly get by with less.
If you’re listening on a desktop or in a near field scenario where you’re 10 feet or less from the speakers, 30 watts per channel will work just fine.
In terms of sound and presentation, the 5020s sound crisp and very transparent; they definitely sound more neutral than most of my vintage speakers. They are not overly warm; which turned out to be a good thing with so many tube amps in my house.
The bass response was interesting because it was highly dependent on the power and tonal balance of the amplifier; get the right pairing and the 5020 will expand far below what I expected from such a small pair of speakers.
The mids and highs are extremely revealing for both vocals and instrumentation; As a result, I actually found myself using the tone controls on my McIntosh preamp and receivers. Detail reproduction and treble extension are excellent and have highlighted some shortcomings in the rest of my playback chain and favorite recordings.
Don’t feel weird using the 5020’s equalizer if that works best with your music; you will certainly be surprised at how much more detail and clarity you get with these speakers, and the addition of color just made me appreciate them even more.
The 5020s are also very directional, so their placement is critical when it comes to listening angle, distance from the wall, and distance from each other. When properly tuned, the 5020s can create a wonderful headphone-like sweet spot for single-seat listening rooms.
They are used in a wide variety of spaces and are the best option for small to medium sized spaces (less than 200 square feet). They certainly benefit from some distance from the wall; The 5020s come with included foam plugs that can be inserted into the bass ports, but I preferred the sound quality without them.
The tube-boosted tonal balance was definitely my preference, but these are very impressive speakers that can work very well with solid-state amplifiers if the tonal balance is a bit darker. The combination of both would create a very high resolution system that works with any musical genre.
Low frequencies emphasize speed, detail and clarity rather than the impact of room shaking, and this seemed like a very good compromise. Those looking for more bass presence should consider the 5040 or a subwoofer; The 5020 combined with a subwoofer would be a very good 2.1 music/home theater system if you don’t have a large room.
The Q Acoustics 5020s aren’t cheap at $899, and that’s something to consider given how much competition there is from KEF, PSB, Wharfedale and ELAC in the $500 to $900 price range.
What surprised me the most in 4 weeks of listening was how much musical information I was missing through some of my vintage audio speakers.
Connecting some of them showed that I was right; these are speakers that bring out more detail and musical expression from records you’ve probably listened to for years at a very reasonable price.
They certainly benefit from better amplification and their performance window is very large; higher quality sources will only take their performance to the next level.
When you consider build quality, sonic performance and value for money from a brand that truly makes some of the best value loudspeakers in the world right now, the Q Acoustics 5020 is a very wise long-term choice.
Where can I buy: $899 in Crutchfield