ACOUSTIQUE QUALITY AQ Passion

MJ03.04.2018

Floorstanding loudspeakers

Acoustique Quality has been around since early 90’s. The company’s loudspeakers were always close to what can be characterized a good value for money, with a bit of pre-2000 vibe. Speaker by speaker the guys in Acoustique Quality have accumulated vast know-how and when the company invested into a premium cabinet-making equipment the time has arrived to make a next important step. The AQ Passion has been conceived with a single goal: it should be a flagship speaker that would challenge established high end manufacturers.

Function and form

93%
Ease of use
80%
Sound
90%
Appearance

Developing proprietary drivers consumes infinite financial resources and yet, at the end of the job, one is unavoidably benchmarked against the best. So the path was set right from the beginning – let’s not reinvent the wheel and source from the very masters of the trade. Thus Scan-Speak Illuminator occupies the top of the cabinet. This ring radiator is a kind of engineering miracle that reaches to ultrasonic frequencies and can be found in many praised speakers, including Sonus Faber, Franco Serblin and GamuT. Its tipped aluminum cap is probably the most recognizable feature of the Illuminator – it dissipates the heat plus corrects tweeter’s dispersion pattern. Alike the tweeter the 12cm midrange driver and 20cm bass driver are from Scan-Speak, and the bass output is supported by front-firing reflex port. All the drivers are mounted into a rigid enclosure of a rather untypical footprint.

The AQ Passion is not a monumental speaker yet it is pretty heavy. It can effectively disappear in a room as the cabinet recedes from your sight due to tits quarter-circle footprint, but it is not easy to move due to metal damping elements that are strategically placed inside the massive layered enclosure. This “active damping” is a proprietary technology that has been for the first time used in the AQ Passion and its floor-standing sibling, the AQ Orca. The baffle of the speaker is vertically curved to align all the drivers in time domain, plus its resonance modes are eliminated by a central milled groove which can be decorated by a veneer or a paint of your choice.

Unlike many others Acoustique Quality does not use non-name wiring in the speaker – all internal components are wired by AudioQuest cables that employ their active 72V DBS system. The dielectric bias system aka DBS continuously sends voltage into the cable’s insulation to polarize molecules of dielectric, thus replacing necessity of burning-in the component again after it has not been played for a while - the wiring is always in its optimum condition. The capsule with the DBS is mounted in a slot above the speaker’s terminals so it is actually easy to test if the speaker benefits from the active conditioning, so it is easy to replace the battery once in a few years. The binding posts facilitate bi-wiring, they are aligned vertically however. I recommend using banana plugs instead of spades as I had hard time to get some stiffer speaker cables into the posts.

Bass management

Weight
84
Slam
90
Articulation
93

The sound of the AQ Passion oscillates between what can be heard (the excellent drivers) and what cannot (no resonances from the superbly rigid enclosure). The glaring horns introducing the Red King in David Chesky’s Zephertine (Rui Massena & Fundacao Orquestra Estudio) are like laser beams through the AQ Passion – I could hear them deep in the marrow of my bones. Clarinets can be nasty through many speakers but not through the AQ Passion where I could sense their woodiness and tonally correct balance. The AQ Passion can play really deep bass – in the scene of Ib The Monster descending the mountains the cathartic duel of thunderous drum claps with heavy-metal-like strings remained perfectly controlled and resolved. The earth shaking bass thuds were not smeared, there was no overhang, no cabinet resonance. The AQ passion swept the room with detailed liveliness and left me sitting at the tip of my chair.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
95
Air
88
Transparency
85

The sound of the AQ Passion favors classical music with its richness and excellent midrange. Thankfully I could hear a bit less of “audiophile airiness” and could enjoy more of “real life” instead. In the room the AQ Passion reaches down to 25Hz which gives a very solid fundament to orchestral or big band music, as well as to well recorded rock numbers. The control that the AQ Passion exhibits over the sound challenges your listening habits as you want to know what happens if the volume is turned up. Well, I have a good news for you – the sound gets even better. The louder I played the more the sense of “being there” became prominent. The acoustic sounds collage of Thornbjorn Risager (Too Many Roads, Ruf) let the band materialize in the room. Not in the ethereal or downsized fashion, rather the guys arrived and rolled it out live in the room.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
86
Dynamics
85
Temporal resolution
89

Listen with no prejudice and the AQ Passion will tantalize you with even more virtues, for example they threw very wide and deep soundstage in Missa Criolla (Ramirez, LIM/Philips, K2HD). It was delight to see Jose Carreras moving in front of mics – not only was his tenor perfectly trackable across the soundstage but the AQ Passion managed to capture a vertical dimension as well. Here the curvature of the baffle may help to put a listener into spotlight of the drivers. You know, often I hear opera voices coming to me as if the vocalists were sitting on the stage. It is refreshing therefore to hear the voice viewed from the 5th row of an auditorium.

Spatial resolution

Holography
91
Soundstage width
92
Soundstage depth
90

There may be some details that I would like to see be improved with the next generation of the AQ Passions. For example, the fixing bolts of drivers could be sunk and hidden behind rings around drivers. Or the reflex port that looks at a listener all the time could have more attractive finish. Still, this is nitpicking. During my listening the AQ Passions did nothing wrong sonically. Can they challenge the best? With ease.

Nominal impedance: 6 ohm
Sensitivity: 89dB
Frequency response: 20Hz - 45kHz +/- 4dB

Price as reviewed:485 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

AQ s.r.o., Červenka, tel. +420 585 342 232

Associated components

  • Sources: EAT Forte, C-Note tonearm, Ortofon Cadenza cartridge, Arcam CDS27
  • Amplifiers: Pro-Ject Phono Box RS, Elins Audio Concerto
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: AudioQuest Earth and Water, AudioQuest Redwood
  • Power conditioning: AudioQuest Niagara 7000, AudioQuest NRG-4

Gallery

ACOUSTIQUE QUALITY AQ Passion

Acoustique Quality has been around since early 90’s. The company’s loudspeakers were always close to what can be characterized a good value for money, with a bit of pre-2000 vibe. Speaker by speaker the guys in Acoustique Quality ...

Recommended resellers

AQ s.r.o., Červenka, tel. +420 585 342 232

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