The latest in the company’s 3000i line of speakers, Paul Rigby reviews these new stand-mounters
The 3000i series of speakers was launched by Q Acoustics in April of 2018 and has enjoyed roaring success from the off. The performance and finish of these speakers has been quite startling, especially when you factor in the price.
The 3030i hopes to continue the trend. According to the company, the 3030i has been created for those people who want more than the 3020i can provide but don’t want to shuffle up to a pair of floor standing 3050i speakers just yet.
That said, there are stark similarities between the mid/bass unit on the 3050i and the new 3030i. This 165mm unit features a new motor with aluminium windings covered in copper and has been tweaked for a stand-mounting speaker unit.
The 22mm tweeter displays a similar lineage. That has been taken directly from the 3050i.
On the other side of the coin, looking at the 3020i, you’ll notice that the cabinet is much larger on the 3030i. In fact, the internal volume has been more than doubled.
Point to Point P2P bracing, which the company first introduced on the Concept 500 speaker, is featured in the 3030i.
Sensitivity for the 3030i speakers is a solid 88db, at least for a stand mounted design. Spanning 200 x 325 x 329mm, each speaker weighs in at 6.4kg and, as far as amp matching is concerned? Anything upwards from 25W should be fine.
In terms of finish? You can grab the 3030i in one of four finishes: Arctic white, Carbon black, Graphite grey and English Walnut.
I began by playing the vinyl version of Morgana King’s Like a Seed from her Paramount LP New Beginnings, released in 1973, a sort of jazzy, funky and rather earnest ditty displaying remnants of the hippy dream, still dangling its legs in the waters of Aquarius.
I wanted to initially test these speakers with the 3020i speakers from the same company. Often priced around £199 now. After all, the 3020i speakers are the closest design on the market to the 3030i designs. They are, in many ways, a scaled up version.
The question is then, do the 3030i speakers merely add a bit of bass extension to the 3020i sound? If so, then I would question the value for money aspect of the design and quite possibly the reason for its existence on the market. Or was there more going on? More to warrant the extra £100?
There was indeed and the ear picked up those differences after all of three seconds too.
What the 3030i speakers offered here, right up front, was a sense of space and air around the soundstage. The latter was also wide, wide, wide with sense of space that allowed the instruments and vocals to roam with increased freedom. Hence, the choral background on this song sounded positively ethereal. As if it had arrived on a breath of wind without effort or strain.
Also, on the right channel, there’s an early sequence of a girl playing an alphabet game using the old traditional, throw two balls at a wall and catch each while reciting a rhyme. The notable effect from this portion of the song was the sound of the rubber hitting the wall itself. That sound was clear and prominent in the mix from the 3030i speakers.
Again, even in these early seconds of the song, there was more information from the content. For example, a rather shy triangle was struck at the same time as a glockenspiel was being played. The triangle produced longer reverb tails from the 3030i. Similarly, the early high-pitched vocal interjection from King provided more meat in the middle of each note. That is, the middle bit of each note sounded full and packed with much more substance now.
The above hit me even before the bass appeared. I assumed that the bass would be the headline effect from the 3030i speakers. Not now, it appeared.
When the bass guitar eventually did arrive though, there wasn’t more bass. That is, the bass effect didn’t grow or dominate or somehow control the soundstage. Instead, the bass guitar become full, it matured tremendously and added weight and presence. Bass didn’t so much as bloom as offered a larger and more significant presence. That is, bass never imposed itself but offered more complexity, light and shade.
The same could be said of the bongos, adding bounce and reverb with every strike. The acoustic guitar added to the rasping of the strum with a new and added resonance from the body of the guitar that provided further tonal information. Hence, you didn’t just hear the string being plucked and how that sounded but what the string pluck actually did to the body of the guitar. The after effects of that gave the guitar a larger part in the mix. The acoustic guitar was now stronger with a robust reaction to being played.
I did a quick swop and installed the early, original 3020 speakers which you can still buy for around £140 online.
For the price, these speakers are quite brilliant and an ideal choice if you need a budget system at a rock-bottom price. That said, they can’t compete with the 3030i speakers. The latter had a great focus and precision across all frequencies while the 3020 speakers provided an anaemic bass response in comparison. The 3020 bass was great for that price sure but the 3030i extended the bass, giving it form and heft that the 3020 speakers just didn’t possess.
In midrange and treble terms, the acoustic guitar became relatively shy again and there was less space for the cymbals to move within.
If you have the cash, leave the 3020 speakers for a second system.
I then turned the tables and drafted in the much more expensive Martin Logan 15i speakers, retailing around £795. More than twice the price of the 3030i speakers.
Now I loved the 15i speakers when I reviewed them. Could the 3030i speakers come close?
You know what? Yes, the 15i speakers were wholly superior in overall terms to the 3030i speakers and they taught them a thing or two about clarity and transparency in the upper frequencies but my goodness, the 3030i speakers gave them a hell of a run for their money. They really did.
What the 15i speakers have is that tweeter and a sense of focus that provided an impressive precision that the 3030i speakers couldn’t match. The noise floor fell even further letting more detail through.
Saying that though, the detail from the 3030i speakers was pretty darned good ‘as is’ while the bass did travel a tad further downwards than the 15i speakers could fall. Hence, while the 15i speakers were superior and will reward anyone who wishes to invest in them, those who lack that extended budget and plump for the 3030i speakers will extract just as much pleasure and reward from this design. Having listened and been impressed by the 15i speakers, if you said to me, “Sorry chum, you can’t have those but you can use these 3030i speakers instead.” To be honest? I wouldn’t be that disappointed. I’d have as much of a ball and as great a party with the Q Acoustic 3030i speakers.
I wanted to go dynamic with the 3030i speakers so turned to my McIntosh CD player and a slice of The Cure and the track Open from 1992 LP, Wish. This high-energy release does display some high-frequency edge around the upper mids that can be aggressive at high volumes so I wondered how the 3030i speakers would cope.
Tonally, the 3030i speakers offered a superb tonal balance. Both the upper and lower frequency were not only in sync and matched perfectly but they flowed without dominating one another right throughout the song.
The bass command from the 3030i speakers did give this rock track real authority but the accuracy from the upper mids remained which enabled a heap of detail to hit the ears. Hence, the ear picked up information while rocking out at the same time.
And yes, the edgy and aggressive nature of the upper mids and treble remained on this album. You couldn’t get away from that. Nevertheless, the bass did cushion that effect to reduce the nasty elements and reduced listening fatigue to a minimum.
That these speakers can be bought for £329 startles me. They have me scratching my head that this level of quality can be had for such a low price. It also shows me just how scarily far, in broad terms, budget speaker design has progressed over the years.
In day to day use, the 3030i speakers are ideal for all genres of music. They provide accuracy, focus and space for classical and jazz music but they can offer strength and guts for rock and electronica.
The low noise/high detail presentation from these speakers are incredibly impressive yet they remain relatively relatively compact in form factor.
When you rope in those sonic advantages and then you look at the price tag? There’s only one word to describe this speaker package. Stunning. Completely, indelibly and whole-heartedly stunning.
Q ACOUSTICS 3030i SPEAKERS
GOOD: low noise, commanding bass, midrange precision, treble extension, price
You can buy the 3030i speakers here:
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