The Qln Prestige 3 Speaker Review. The best I have had. No matter the price.

The Qln Prestige 3 Speaker Review. Best I have ever Heard no matter the price. 

By Steve Huff

A video look at my listening room, and speakers in for review. Includes the Qln!

Hot on the heels of my Klipsch Cornwall IV review, today I am writing about another speaker that is smaller, but yet cost $4000 more than the big Cornwall IV’s. Today I am going to talk about the Qln Prestige 3 speakers. A speaker that was in no way on my radar just 6 weeks ago but only because I was not even aware of its existence. That should have bene a sin, as I was truly missing out on a very special speaker.

About 5-6 weeks ago I stopped into my local audio shop Arizona HiFi, before our self isolation started. I listened to and then took home the Qln Prestige 3’s for a home demo as I loved what I saw AND heard in the shop. To be honest, I was very impressed with my in store demo but as we all know, when a speaker is in your home it may sound completely different from how it sounds at a dealer. The room size, what is in the room and even the upstream gear makes all the difference in the world. So I knew I had to try them at home, in my room as I was interested in purchasing them if they sounded just as good at home. What I heard was all I have ever wanted in a speaker, so if it held up in my room then it would be a done deal.

This may be a bit of a spoiler but 2 days after I took them home I knew I wanted them as I never heard such a satisfying, complete, magical, sweet sounding speaker in my life. The build quality is also top notch as is the design and passion put into creating them. 

I have had speakers in my listening room that range from $500 to $45k and these under $10k retail speakers sound better than ALL OF THEM, and they offer a sound I never even though was possible from a speaker of this price or size. Yes, $10,000 is A LOT OF money for a pair of speakers but believe me, there are speakers that cost over $100k and sound more like a $10k speaker.

At this just under $10k price point you can find a slew of wonderful speakers but I have never heard any speaker at this price sound so coherent, so natural, so pure, so transparent, so layered and textured and so…human. Of course some of this could be from my Vinnie Rossi L2i SE amp with L2 DAC and Phono Stage. Synergy here is amazing, To see for myself I hooked up the Raven Audio Osprey MK3 to these along with a Bluesound Node 2i and the sound character remained, and while they were not as beautiful they were close, and that was with much less power. They still sounded so pure, so beautiful and the Raven Osprey Mk3 is one hell of an integrated for the money. I will be reviewing this piece along with Raven’s Celeste Tower Speakers which have also blown my mind for their $4k price tag. Spoiler there, you won’t find a better sounding speaker for $4000. Stay tuned. 

Small Stand Mounts are best for some things…

The truth is I have always LOVED small two way monitor style speakers. Sonus Faber Guarneri, Dynaudio Special 40, Focal Sopra #1, etc. I find two way stand mount speakers to bring a presentation that I love and adore when listening to music as they have the power to completely disappear when set up correctly. I mean, you hear the music but cannot tell where the sound is coming from, even if you stare at the speakers while music is pouring from them. The music floats, seems to be coming from thin air and offers up a transparent soundstage where every instrument has its place on the stage. Really good stand mounts can do this, and all floor standers I have tried to date have not done this nearly as convincingly.

The weakness with stand mount speakers, even very expensive ones, is the bass performance is usually lacking when compared to a larger speaker that can present a solid foundation of tight, clean bass. The small speakers can give us good bass, but never as deep or impactful as a larger speaker. So that is the drawback. With small well made speakers we can have that floating soundstage, holographic imaging and amazing focus without sounding like we are listening to speakers. We just lose out on the all out bass performance.

With large speakers we sometimes can tell the music is coming from a box. It is a different presentation. Not necessarily better, just different. Some have box colorations. Some do not.

But imagine this.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a small floor standing tower speaker that gave you the performance of the very best stand mount speakers but with bass and foundation about as good as you ever heard? Well such a thing does exist and it is called the Qln Prestige 3! 

I simply have been blown away by this speaker, and not only does it offer the qualities of a very nice $20k two way stand mount, it offers the tight and clean DEEP bass of a $20k set of towers. The bass here is solid, as in wall shaking and yet tight as a drum. The bass goes down into the high 20’s and that is enough for ANY kind of music to sound wonderful. To be honest, these have deeper, tighter and more solid bass then the Klipsch Cornwall IV’s I had in here, and those use a 15″ bass driver. The Klipsch has powerful authority for sure, and a much bigger wall of sound is painted but they lack the all out magic of the Qln. The Cornwall IV speakers are some of the nicest sounding I have had through my room, but the Qln’s are significantly more refined and offer up all of those qualities of small speakers but with the solidity and heft of larger speakers. Quite the amazing feat. By comparison, the Raven Celeste get close but do not have the same bass impact or tunefulness of the Qln. The Ravens have more zing on top, which is good as it bring the dynamics of some instruments into focus. The Qln’s are more natural but so natural that the music just flows in a way I have never experienced.

We have all heard about speakers that are effortless in the way that they play music. These are about as good of an example of that that I can give. Natural, Wide, Effortless, Sweet, Silky, Detailed, Layered and Textured. Not bright yet not soft. Detailed yet not in your face. Voices and instruments that float in space, yet remain in the correct part of that soundstage. Time aligned.

It’s almost as if there is some kind of magic in these Qln’s as these go much farther than having amazing bass and imaging. These are simply, without question, the best sounding speakers I have had in my room as of April 2020. Yes, they best the $16-$45k Sonus Faber’s I have reviewed and raved about. They beat the Dynaudio’s I have raved about, as well as ALL speakers I have reviewed in the past. These Qln’s have some amazing MOJO about them and with that comes zero box colorations, no audible distortions and no hiss or noise when idle. The music emerges from a jet black background and floats into the room. Whether I am listening to Frank Sinatra, Patrick Watson, Jewel or Black Sabbath these speakers handle it with ease and grace. They can be as delicate as a morning flower or can rock out with a solid foundation of heft and bass that is tight as it gets. EDM? These things can PUMP and shake the room. Low volume or stressed, they retain composure and deliver the music without clumping it all together. Jazz, classical, strings, acoustic, rock, metal, vocals…these play it all with grace and style.

The Prestige 3’s have a way of presenting music in a way that is so 3D, so clean, so rich and with a solid backbone of bass that blends in so well, you do not even realize it is there until you feel it. The soundstage is wide, tall and deep. The sound is buttery yet detailed, smooth yet dynamic and every little musical detail is brought forth without a hint of strain or harshness. There is also no darkness, no overly warm sound, no muffled sound. It’s light, delicate, and brings forth details I never knew existed, but does so in a way I never heard before. As I said, there is magic in these speakers. It’s the best of imaging and transparency without any of the thinness that plagues so many speakers. THIS is the difference with the Prestige 3.

Running them with my lifetime integrated dream amp, the Vinnie Rossi L2i SE, they seem to be a perfect match. With my Swisscable Diamond speaker cables, it adds to the synergy yet again. I love my Swisscables Diamond cables and feel they kick Nordost (in the same price range) to the curb. Just my honest opinion. I’ll never sell my Swisscables and that’s the first time I have ever committed to Cales for the long term. You can read more about them at their website HERE.

I will say it now and again…these truly beat any speaker I have had in my room, no matter the cost when run with my amp and cables. With a dead black background, and  such a silky textured sound with a beautiful emotional midrange they are almost indescribable.

As for build quality, they are exquisite. Solid, beautiful craftsmanship, and with gorgeous feet and pucks to put in place once you set them up. Mine are the matte walnut, so the basic model in looks, but they all sound just as beautiful whether you buy the glossy finish or the matte. As a matter of fact, the ones I bought were demo models, used for reviews. My dealer bought them, and then I bought them from him and because of that I saved a little cash.

As for set up they were pretty easy to dial in. I placed them in my usual spot, about 3 feet from the back wall and 2 feet from the side wall. Toed in to my listening seat. The result? The blackest backgrounds I have ever had, the most holographic 3D presentation I have had, the deepest (though not widest) soundstage I have ever experienced. The tightest and outright best bass performance I have ever experienced in any speaker I have owned or reviewed.I have had speakers put out MORE bass but never as tight or controlled or as authoritative as these. It’s a different level for me even after 25+ years of HiFi.

Again, I want to state that for even less money the Raven Audio Celeste are remarkable. These are $4000 yet sound like $8000 speakers and have some traits of these Qln’s though not as refined and the bass is not as integrated as the Qln, but I mean, they are close. The Raven will give you more top end and also without any harshness. I feel they need feet to be better stabilized on carpet but they are remarkable for the money, and I will have a review soon.  You can read about them HERE.  Those Klipsch Cornwall IV’s are also a very special speaker, but that speaker offers up a different presentation. A much bigger one. : )

If you have $6k more to spend, you should take a serious look at the Qln’s though if you want the ultimate in build, refinement and performance.

Now, keep in mind that this experience is in my 12X13 room with my high end amplification and cables. There is absolutely nothing offensive about these speakers in any way. From looks to sound, they are for me, simply a magical musical instrument. It’s not often I call a piece of audio gear an instrument, but these are. They seem like they were built from a true passion for music, and fine tuned to be able to get you the best sound imaginable for what you are paying here. As for what we are paying, even at full retail of just under $10,000 these feel, sound and perform like a more expensive speaker.

The QLN Prestige 3 sits next to the Raven Audio Celeste Speakers. Behind them are the Klipsch Cornwall IV. 

They may not sound as huge as the Klipsch Cornwall IV, but they are not far off. They have better bass performance, a better more floaty treble, and a slightly more soulful midrange. Better soundstage, better imaging, and oh yea, smaller. They are $4k more though so in this case you do get what you pay for.

To be honest I am having a hard time trying to describe the sound of these Qln’s, because no matter what I write, it will not do them justice. Listening to “Morning Light” by Justin Timberlake shows me why these speakers are so beautiful and seemingly sent from the heavens themselves.

The bass line is STRONG, POWERFUL and BAM, it’s there and I feel it. Yet, no boom in my room. While that bass line is there where I can hear the bass line so strong, the high end and mid range are clean, clear and holographic. I can hear every snap, every pop, every sound and they are placed where they should be in space, and the speakers? They disappear. They are about the most wholesome and organic speakers I have heard, with the most amazing skill of layering and texture I have experienced.

These are not the easiest to drive, nothing like the Klipsch so low power tubes need not apply. My Vinnie Rossi powers them perfectly but I have to bring the volume to around 40 for a nice big sound in my room. By comparison, the Klipsch Cornwall IV are a much easier drive and my volume usually stayed at around 15 for daytime listening. The Raven’s are also easy. to drive. So I think to bring out the best from them,  the Qln’s will require some current and good amplification. The Raven Osprey 3 sounded wonderful as well with the Qln, the Klipsch and the Raven Speakers.

My source of digital music is all from Innuos. I recently reviewed the Innuos Zen Mini MKIII with power supply and the Phoenix Re-Clocker. Without question, the best digital streaming source I have ever owned, though there are better out there for more money. While I lusted after the Innuos Statement, I knew this combo was more than good enough to satisfy me as not only does it sound more analog like than most digital, it sounds better than any analog rig I have personally heard. I admit I have not heard any $20k analog rigs, but have heard $10k setups. This Inuos 3 box solution, for me, beats that all day long and costs much less.

So the moral of the story with these speakers? Use high quality upstream gear. A good amp or integrated, a good source and cables. If you do this you will never want for better quality or amount of bass in a speaker ever again. You will not be wanting for a solid foundation of sound. You will never hope for a deeper soundstage or for a more holographic imaging performance. For me, these are as good as it gets for my room, here in April 2020, but they should be. They cost just under $10,000 USD.

These for me, blow past any previous speaker I have owned, in life. That includes my beloved Sonus Faber Guarneri, all versions. I can say these have a quality about them that reminds me of the original masterpiece from Sonus Faber. The ORIGINAL Guarmeri Homage. The Qln has just as good of a midrange, treble and yet improves on the bass like you would not believe. At times I catch myself saying that these sound like the Guarneri Homage but with world class bass performance. Something those early Guarneri’s lacked. They are that good.

There is so much right about these Qln Prestige 3’s and they surprised me as I did not expect them to have such a solid and powerful foundation of bass. It showed me what truly high end bass performance could be like in my small room. This makes the Qln Prestige 3’s just about perfect for ME. I love so many speakers as all offer something different. Some pick speakers based on looks, some on bass alone. Some pick speakers for their detail and some for the way they bring the artists into the room with you. We can be happy with mostly all good speakers these days but it can sometimes be a long journey to discover what works best for us, our ears, our room and our gear. For some, the journey never ends and it is always continuous. Music is good four our soul, t’s good for our brain and for our well being. Music can be powerful as it has the ability to touch our heartstrings and for that, I find it a valuable part of my daily life.

LISTENING NOTES

I have enjoyed the music of Jewel for many years and there is a story that goes along with it. Many years ago, sometime around 1998-2001 I was in a high end audio shop in Arizona. It is no longer in business, but was one of the premier shops for serious audio equipment. I remember looking a set of dream speakers at the time, the Revel Salon and as I was drooling I was well aware I would never be able to afford these speakers. I believe, if memory serves me correctly, that they were in the $20k range. Way out of my budget back then. As the salesman powered it all up, he put on “Foolish Games” by Jewel. A CD I had at home, and heard many times. In fact, this debut by Jewel is by far my favorite music from her even in 2020. When this song came on with that system which was probably a $100,000 setup with amps and cables, I couldn’t believe the sound. It sounded nothing like it did at home back then because at home it sounded thin, flat and without life. But here in the store back in the late 90’s it sounded absolutely heavenly.

Jewels voice floated in the room, and I heard every detail, texture and the fullness of her voice. The Piano was just there, as it was in the room. I sat and listened for the entire song while my friend at the time was trying to get me out of the shop! Lol. I have never heard this song in the same way, or even close to that until today. When I play this song through Qobuz using Roon in to my Innuos stack and then the DAC and Amp, I am taken back to that time in the shop and hear it just the same as I did then. The emotion, the vocal and the space here is incredible, especially when listening at 1 in the morning when the world and my house is quiet.

Ive heard this song through maybe 40 sets of speakers and only twice did it touch my soul. The Qln’s let this song shine through, how it was meant to be heard.

My favorite album from The Moody Blues, “A Question of Balance” is a well recorded masterpiece IMO. I love all of the songs on this album but here I showcase “Melancholy Man” as it’s one of my faves here. The sound is expansive, rich, details yet very full and I hear every instrument as it should be. The depth of the stage is fantastic and the vocal so pure, clean and present and locked dead center. This album showcases great sounding systems as it will test your soundstage, imaging and overall tonal balance of sound. It should sound very good, very spacious and very well recorded. On some systems this has sounded thin but on a good system it should be full, and very dynamic as well. A great album to check out if you haven’t done so. Some will consider it a bit trippy but sometimes that can be a good thing. The Qln’s do this track and album full justice once again. Seems I have not been able to find music these speakers do not do well. Even old 80’s tracks that ALWAYS sound thin and unlistenable are now VERY listenable and sound great. An amazing feat, and something I have never experienced in any speaker before.

Amazing recording here. With Led Zeppelin I have had systems that sounded awful with most of their recordings and some sound good. The Qln’s ROCK THE HOUSE here with a vocal purity and slam but also with outstanding instrument separation and details. Again, all without any harshness or strain. Turn it up, and it sounds composed and tight but with a bass foundation that is unbelievable. I have been listening to Zeppelin albums over again now with the Qln speakers.

Doesn’t Matter

Music type usually matters when buying a high end system. With the Qln Prestige 3’s, all music sounded amazing. From classical to jazz to rock to metal. From folk to vocals and acoustic instruments. Percussion is unreal with the speakers as well. No matter what you like to listen to, with the proper setup and amplification these will reward you every time. The biggest problem I have had is I never want to stop listening one I start and can get lost for hours in the music. That’s a good thing during these crazy times as it takes my mind away from the negative.

The Qln Prestige 3 speakers are well worth a listen or audition if you are looking for your last speaker or a speaker you can be happy with for a long time to come. If your budget is up to $10,000 it would be a crime to NOT check these out!

I bought mine from Arizona Hi-Fi in Phoenix AZ. 

Also, just to be clear, I was not paid in any way to review these nor do I have any affiliate links here. I wrote this out of passion for audio and the fact that these are AMAZING speakers. Best I have owned, and I still can’t believe how happy I am with these speakers (and my amp)! In other words, I make no money at all from my audio reviews. I write them out of love ; )

20 Comments

  1. Hi, great review! I know you’re a Vinnie Rossi fan and I’m wondering if his Lio amp would be able to power these adequately. I’m drooling over his new amp but it’ll be a long time before I can afford them.

    • Great question, but one I do not have an answer for. I never did try a Lio. You can contact Vinnie himself, through his website. He will answer you and he will have a answer as he owns and loves these speakers as well ; )

  2. I totally agree with you! The Qln P3 are magnificent- bought them a few months ago and couldn’t be happier- best speakers I’ve ever heard!

  3. Heppy to see your reviews coming!
    But whit a so hawfull coil cover on the Qln Prestige 3?
    It seems it is not your set, they look all the same on that point?
    At that price, I am a bit puzzled.
    Though I’d like to listen to them! Many review of these speakers are with Vinnie Rossi too 🙂

    • Not sure of your question? There are grille covers, I never use them. They are built to a very high level of quality. Much better than most. Thank you.

  4. It’s comforting to read some new reviews on your site. Thanks. I have long term interest in both photography and HiFi so both topics are good. Sometimes the rapidity with which you fall in love with new HiFi gear is a bit head spinning, but there are so many companies offering HiFi gear (compared to just a handful of camera companies), continuing discovery of great products is understandable. Keep exploring, reviewing, and most of all enjoying.

  5. Interesting. Of all the limited number of speakers I have heard (a few S.F. floorstanders, a few B&W floorstanders, a few KEF bookshelves), there were two which disappeared like no others, both were from Wilson Audio, one entry level, one mid-level. I have not heard even bookshelf speakers that disappear better.

  6. Yes, QLN are a Swedish company and their speakers are fantastic, the founder/owner and designer is Mats Andersen a great guy, very friendly and helpful, had a Signature model many years ago that I sold to my brother, then 3 years ago I was thinking about buying the new Signature 3 model and exchanged many emails with Mats, a truly nice guy and very helpful, in the end I bought a into the BBC sound ( Graham Audio LS 5/9) a sound I always wanted to experience, I really love my speakers and think they are fantastic, but if I could afford to have 2 setup or had to go to other brand, then QLN would be my choice, they are very special.

  7. Designed and manfactured in Gothenburg Sweden as it says on the back plate, like Hasselblad. Look forward to read a test of a Volvo made in Gothenburg next.

  8. Steve, nice review as always. Just one lapse. The speakers are made in Sweden, not Switzerland. They do not even share a border. And or not part of the same landmass, if considered to be the same continent. Check the photo of the backplate. Says so right there. “.se” is the Swedish internet suffix. “.ch” is the suffix for Switzerland.
    Carry on the good work. Cheers!

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