It isn't every day that a global fashion magnate swoops down on New Zealand to scoop up a local brand simply because it caught his eye, yet this precisely what has happened. Q Speakers whose kit will soon go on sale in Ralph Lauren outlets in Paris, New York, and London.
Ralph Lauren wasn't the only one struck by the Q's eye pleasing design. I had to admit to emitting an involuntary "Wow" whilst un-boxing the review unit.
Demonstrating it to visitors elicited similar responses - testimony to their style and well-crafted design. Thankfully they sound as good as they look.
Handcrafted out of what appears to be a single, metre-long piece of solid timber, the Qs can be had in a range of wood finishes ranging from Walnut or Maple as well as the exquisite Oak of my review sample.
Reeking of handcrafted quality, it's easy to see how they managed to catch Ralph Lauren's eye.
Rather than opting for separate left and right speakers, the folks at Q have crafted a single sound bar design complete with an integrated class D digital amp, making it ideal for situations like apartments - or flash boats - where space is at a premium.
The only visible speaker is a small woofer located smack-bang in the middle on the Q's front, whilst a bunch of one-inch mid-range and tweeter drivers are discretely tucked away on the underside where they utilise reflected sound to deliver an astonishingly wide and immersive sound stage.
Inputs, power and volume controls are all accessible from the Q's rear, with both RCA and iPod-friendly 3.5mm inputs available.
About the only things missing are optical or coax digital inputs; however a small USB port has been thoughtfully included for charging MP3 players. Powering up the Qs and hooking up my iPod using the supplied cable saw a small white LED glow up as the Q got ready to do its thing.
A more accessible power switch would be better, given its fiddly rear location, however it is probably just a compromise to allow the clean and uncluttered design.
Hopefully successive generations of Q speakers will utilise an RF remote to get around this thorny issue.
Having listened to my more than my fair share of sound bars in the past, I'll admit that my audio expectations weren't terribly high, with shrill and fatiguing audio usually the order of the day. This thankfully wasn't the case with the Q.
Whilst the Q's didn't deliver ear-drum pummelling bass, nor did they shake any plaster loose from my ceiling, they did dish out a surprisingly warm, rich and balanced sound that filled my lounge easily.
With all mids and tweeters located in the same metre-long cabinet, I was also pleasantly surprised to find Left and Right channels were reasonably distinct, along with a surprising amount of depth in the soundstage.
Highs and mids weren't too strident, even during periods of extended listening. In short, the team from Q seem to have pulled off the near impossible feat of creating a speaker that sounds as good as it looks.
Packing an eye pleasing design that makes other sound bar speakers feel cheap and "plasticy" by comparison, the Qs deliver where it counts by dishing out solid sound.
Even better still, because they're New Zealand made, the Qs are also available at a wallet friendly $1450. If you're looking for a classic design that won't take up a lot of room, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
Power Rating: 90 Watts RMS
Frequency response: 60HZ - 17KHZ
Inputs:Stereo 3.5mm jack, stereo RCA
USB: 5V DC (charge only)
Dimensions: 1 metre x 270mm x 165mm (l/h/d)