3030i is the latest bookshelf speaker in the British Q Acoustics 3000i range, it’s the biggest one too. Does increased size translate to a bigger and more involving sound, and what are the general sonic qualities of this speaker? Stay with me and I’ll try to give you all the answers needed to know if this is the speaker you’re been waiting for.
Build and Features
3030i is a somewhat odd-looking fellow because head-on it seems very compact but as soon as you notice its depth, it becomes clear that the volume of the box is respectable. With 329 mm (~ 13 inches), the cabinet is considerably deeper than what we usually see on a fairly compact bookshelf. The bass-reflex port is located on the back, so if you’re limited with space and need to cram speakers as close to the wall as possible, these are not going to be all that cooperative. Other than that, these are built to a high standard. A single pair of binding posts are provided by the AudioQest, a reputable name when it comes to cables and connectors. I know looks are purely subjective, but 3030i is one of the prettiest speakers I’ve recently tried.
Bass/midrange unit is reasonably sized at 165 mm (6.5 inches), and it’s accompanied by the 22 mm (~ 1 inch) silk dome tweeter. Both 6 Ohm impedance and 88 dB sensitivity are average for this kind of two-way design, so these shouldn’t be a particularly heavy load for any decent amplifier.
If I had to describe the sound Q Acoustics 3030i produce with one adjective only, it would be gentlemanly. But fortunately, I don’t have to so I’ll try to explain what I mean by that. Instead of starting with tonality like I usually do, let’s talk about space recreation and dynamics first this time. 3030i is capable of creating a very solid soundstage. It’s not particularly wide, nor especially deep, but it’s impressively stable and cohesive. It doesn’t really matter if I’m playing some low-key tunes with few instruments or it’s a busy recording with many twists and turns, these Q Acoustics will never compress the space and congest instruments into an indistinguishable pile. This is something many speakers at this price point do when things get tough, but not 3030i.
Play some upbeat music and these speakers present it in a calm and well-organized manner as they always do. If you’re looking for an explosive and engaging presentation that’ll get you excited, I don’t think 3030i would fully meet your expectations. On a positive note, this same composure means these can be listened to for a long period of time without any fatigue kicking in.
Tonally, Q Acoustics 3030i is not aiming to be perfectly neutral. To start with bassline – it’s deep and weighty, but also well controlled. It will never go out of its way to dominate the sound signature but it will provide a respectable grunt when needed. There is no upper bass boldening and warming going on here, and that leaves us with a very clean and informative midrange. Some upper parts of the midrange are slightly emphasized and that’s adding presence to instruments and vocals. However, 3030i never feels edgy in any way, because it’s rather smooth in presenting all those details. But, yes, you could say that detail retrieval, edges, and tone texture are put in front of the tone body and fullness. The highest frequencies are informative but sort of tame. I never feel I’m actually lacking air and openness until I compare it directly to a speaker with more extended highs.
Put all of this together – composure, slightly laid back presentation, highly informative but not tacky presentation, with somewhat rolled-off highs… and you’ll get a speaker that’s not as exciting as it is an easy listen. I could easily spend a whole day switching between music and my Netflix binging sessions, without ever feeling that my ears got tired and that I need to decrease the volume.
Elac Debut 2.0 B5.2 I’m well aware that B6.2 would be a much better match to a somewhat bigger 3030i, but this is what I had on hand so this is what I can talk about. Elac is not able to provide the same bass grunt, but its mid-bass is somewhat bolder, slightly fuller and it does a great job of making B5.2 sounds bolder than its size would suggest. Both speakers have a very clear and informative midrange but 3030i takes a slight lead here. Elac punches back with a smoother response and better, more seamless integration of all frequency ranges. It also extends higher and offers more prominent air and atmosphere captured in the recording. All said and done, I feel Elac is smoother and more natural among the two, but 3030i is slightly punchier and offers more energetic edges. No matter how much I try, there’s no way to proclaim a clear winner here.
Klipsch RP-600M is handling huge dynamic swings with much more ease and that makes it the more engaging of the two. Its soundstage is slightly wider but also more two-dimensional, presented more like a huge wall of sound in contrast to narrower, more laid back, but also slightly more three-dimensional one that 3030i is creating. So if you’re more about painting music in broad strokes with huge dynamic swings, you’d probably appreciate Klipsch more… but if you’re about composure and gentlemanly approach, then Q Acoustics does that better.
Q Acoustics 3030i is a well-built, gorgeous-looking speaker with smart voicing that will appeal to many. High octane and immediately engaging sound is not something you should expect. But some of its traits such as composure, informative midrange, and easy-going nature are truly class-leading. It’s not a difficult drive either so you don’t have to sweat much when it comes to pairing. Any decent, similarly priced amplifier will do the trick nicely. Everything else is up to you, if your personal taste is clicking well with the sound signature Q Acoustics 3030i is offering then it can be a really good purchase.
|Q ACOUSTICS 3030i – CHARACTERISTICS
Enclosure type: 2-way reflex