If there is one thing that I have learned from the growth of my channel on Instagram, it is that the audio community does not fit neatly inside any type of box; music listeners don’t necessarily want to stop using their vintage audio equipment and many are looking for affordable loudspeakers and sources that can be integrated successfully into the systems that they already own. Those getting into vinyl for the first time are looking for vintage or new turntables and amplifiers to use with products like the Q Acoustics 5020 Loudspeakers.
As someone who owns a lot of vintage audio equipment, I fall squarely into that group of music listeners and audiophiles and having heard some of the early buzz in regard to the Q Acoustics 5000 Series from EIC Ian White and other members of the community on Instagram — the 5020 felt like the ideal pair of new loudspeakers for me to review.
Spending a lot of money on any new component has never been my methodology and whilst it has worked out so far, there was something about the bookshelf/stand-mount design that made me wonder if it would work with the rather extensive range of solid-state and tube amplifiers that I use on a regular basis.
The $899 USD price of the Q Acoustics 5020 might not seem very “budget audiophiler” but as we’ve learned over the past three years, inflation has forced almost every manufacturer to raise their prices and that reality applies to almost everything; a new bicycle, guitar, automobile, or television.
The reality is that loudspeakers have evolved technically in a very substantial way over the past few decades; they might have the same goal but the technology is very different from a lot of the vintage audio loudspeakers that I enjoy.
My fifty year-old Ohm F’s are wonderful speakers — but it felt like the right time to see what was new.
Q Acoustics supplied me with a pair of the 5020 loudspeakers in the Santos Rosewood finish which looks absolutely stunning in our living room; other finishes include Satin Black, Satin White, and Holme Oak.
EIC Ian White has a pair of the 5040 floor standing loudspeakers in Holme Oak and had nothing but praise for the finish and build quality.
Considering the $899 asking price which places the 5020 at the very edge of what I would consider “entry-level,” the finish, heft, and overall build quality of the loudspeakers are exceptionally high. There is also a lot of internal bracing and you notice it when playing music with a lot of low end information; the cabinets are very inert and that does contribute to the solidity and definition of bass notes.
From a visual perspective, the 5020 are a very attractive loudspeaker with/without the magnetic grilles attached.
Moving the loudspeakers from room to room, it became apparent that they never looked out of place with any of my vintage audio systems; something that was also noticed by our neighbors who often listen with me.
Q Acoustics also offers a pair of specific stands for the 5020; the 3000FSi are 9-13/16″W x 26-15/16″H x 11-7/16″D (each) and weigh a rather substantial 14 pounds apiece which is almost as heavy as the loudspeakers. The $239 USD price for the stands also includes carpet spikes and rubber covers for hard surfaces like a tile floor.
I would consider these mandatory from a performance perspective.
We handed the two boxes of stands to my eleven year-old son to see how difficult it was to build them and setup the loudspeakers.
He was done building both in 10 minutes and it was pretty clear why they sell for $239 USD; the stands feature precision laser-cut steel construction and acoustically damped columns that made a huge difference. The stands place the tweeter at the proper listening height for most listeners and I was rather surprised by how well it isolated the loudspeaker from the rest of the room.
- One pair of bookshelf/stand-mount speakers for music or home theater
- 5″ C3 (Continuous Curved Cone) woofer
- 1″ hermetically sealed tweeter
- Rear-ported bass reflex enclosure
- Frequency response: 53-30,000 Hz (-6dB)
- Sensitivity: 87.9 dB
- Nominal impedance: 6 ohms
- Recommended amplifier power: 25-100 watts
- Low-profile connection terminals accept banana plugs, spade lugs, and bare wire
- Removable magnetic grilles
- Dimensions: 7-1/8″W x 11-1/4″H x 11-1/2″D
- Weight: 15.4 lbs. (each)
One of the advantages of having so much vintage audio is that we have six different systems in five rooms across our home; which includes 6 different amplifiers.
The amplifiers range from 13 watts per channel to over 300 watts per channel of tube and solid state amplification (all 8 ohms)
Amplifiers included the SAE 2500 (300 watts/channel), The Fisher 400 Receiver (32 watts/channel), Muzak mono blocks (13 watts/channel), Kyocera R861 (100 watts/channel), Dynaco Mark IIIs (60 watts/channel), and the Dynaco ST-70 (35 watts/channel).
Sources included Dual, Andover Audio, Technics, and Marantz Turntables for vinyl, and a mix of Sony, SAE, Apple, and Nakamichi digital sources.
Bookshelf loudspeakers are generally less sensitive than floor standing loudspeakers and that proved to be the case with the 5020; they responded better to the amplifiers in the 60 to 100 watts/channel range but that doesn’t mean that I was remotely unsatisfied with the lower power tube amplifiers in my collection.
A lot of the performance and choice of amplification depended on the size of the room and genre of music; if you don’t listen at very loud levels and don’t plan on feeding them a steady diet of rock or new wave music — you can certainly get away with less.
If you listen on the desktop or in a nearfield scenario where you are 10 feet or less from the speakers, 30 watts per channel is going to work just fine.
From a tonal and presentation perspective, the 5020 are crisp and very transparent sounding; they are certainly more neutral sounding than the majority of my vintage loudspeakers. Overly warm they are not; which proved to be a good thing with so many tube amplifiers in my home.
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 extended well below what I would have expected from such a small pair of loudspeakers.
The midrange and treble range are extremely revealing with both vocals and instrumentation; I actually found myself using the tone controls on my McIntosh preamplifier and receivers as a result. Detail retrieval and top end extension are excellent and exposed some warts in the rest of my playback chain and favorite recordings.
Don’t feel weird using some EQ with the 5020 if that works better with your music; you will certainly be surprised by how much more detail and clarity you get with these loudspeakers and adding some color only made me appreciate them that much more.
The 5020 are also very directional so placement is crucial when it comes to listening angle, distance from the wall, and distance from each other. When setup correctly, the 5020’s can produce a remarkable headphone-like “sweet spot” for single chair listening spaces.
Having used them in a wide range of spaces, they are a better option in small to medium-sized rooms (under 200 square feet). They certainly benefit from some distance from the wall; the 5020 ship with supplied foam bungs that you can stuff in the bass ports, but I preferred the sound quality without them.
The tonal balance with tube amplification certainly was my preference, but these are very impressive loudspeakers that can work really well with solid-state amplifiers as long as the tonal balance is slightly darker. A mix of both would create a very high-resolution, revealing system that works with every genre of music.
The low end emphasizes speed, detail, and definition over room shaking impact and that felt like a very good trade-off. Those looking for greater low end presence should consider the 5040 or a subwoofer; the 5020 combined with a subwoofer would be a very satisfying 2.1 music/home theater system if you don’t have a large room.
The Q Acoustics 5020 are not inexpensive at $899 and that has to be taken into consideration considering how much competition there is from KEF, PSB, Wharfedale, and ELAC in the $500 to $900 price range.
What surprised me the most during the 4 weeks of listening was just how much musical information I was missing through some of my vintage audio loudspeakers.
Hooking some of them back up revealed that I was correct; these are loudspeakers that will unravel more detail and musical expression from recordings that you have probably listened to for years at a very reasonable price.
They certainly benefit from better quality amplification and their performance window is very high; better quality sources will only take their performance up another level.
When you consider the build quality, sonic performance, and value for the money from a brand that is really creating some of the best affordable loudspeakers in the world right now — the Q Acoustics 5020 are a very wise long-term choice.
Where to buy: $899 at Crutchfield
May 8, 2023 at 12:46 pm
Jeremy, thank you for this detailed review of the 5020s. I’m a huge Q Acoustics fan thanks to their design principles (reduce resonants and rattles). Looks like the 5020s are going on my want/need list. And they will be an easier “justifiable purchase” than the Concept 30s, which would get a series side-eye from my wife. Thanks again for all of the detail.
May 9, 2023 at 6:31 pm
You are one lucky individual on several different levels to have a functional pair of Ohm Model F’s at this point in time. Kudos.
May 10, 2023 at 7:27 pm
Thank you, the Ohm F’s were restored at Millersound in PA and sound sublime.