When at the end of our meeting the Armour folks gave me a Q2 to review, they promised, “And it sounds really good, too!” I hope they didn’t see me reflexively roll my eyes—partly because they’d think I’m a snooty audiophile jerk, and partly because I now have to confess that my assumptions about the Q2’s sound quality were totally wrong.
Can you blame me? After all, the Q2 is just a 3-inch driver in a plastic cube. But the cube itself seems fairly stiff and well-damped, partly because the sides are made from a rubbery material so it doesn’t vibrate much while music is playing. And don’t forget, the enclosure is ported, which at least means someone put some effort into trying to make the Q2 sound good.
Over the course of the last week, I’ve used the Q2 for listening to a variety of music and talk stations. In every case, I’ve been impressed with the sound quality. In sheer fidelity, it’s not quite up there with the Jawbone Jambox, but it’s pretty close, and it sounds better when cranked up than the Jambox does. The Q2 has the classic sound of a good table radio like the Tivoli Audio Model One. The midrange is quite smooth; voices of all types sound surprisingly natural. The treble is a little rolled-off and soft, but that’s a smart decision probably made to provide a psychoacoustic counterweight to the Q2’s lack of bass.
Playing loud, highly compressed material from Metal Assault Radio, the Q2 maxes out at about 80 dBC at 1 meter. That’s probably not loud enough to satisfy Metal Assault Radio’s listeners, but it’s loud enough to fill an average room with sound at the levels most people like to listen. At full crank, the Q2 starts to distort a little but it’s still listenable.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out a way to measure the Q2’s performance because it doesn’t have a line input. To get test signals into it, I’d have to disassemble it or start my own Internet radio station that plays nothing but test signals. Quite the revenue-generator that would be, I’m sure.
The Q2 Internet radio is one of the most appealing audio products I’ve ever used. It’s simple, it’s fun, it sounds good, it looks cool, and it’s reasonably priced. Whether you use it for convenient carry-around sound or as a cheap, amusing way to add Internet radio to your existing system, it’s a winner.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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