Q Acoustics has built a very solid reputation in its British homeland by delivering affordable quality in a room-friendly packaging. Reason enough for us to get a 5.1-set of the brand the Q Acoustics 3000 series. This series of eakers consists, in our review, of the following models;
- Q Acoustics 3050: € 369 / piece
- Q Acoustics 3020: € 279 / set
- Q Acoustics 3070s: € 429
- Q Acoustics 3090c: € 189
Q Acoustics 3000 series
Although Q Acoustics made a name for itself in the entry and middle segments, we got to know the brand in a funny way with a high-end product. This year the British company launched the Concept 500, a floor stand that costs around 2,000 euros / piece. For Q Acoustics that was totally new territory, but the British immediately made a big impression with this beautiful loudspeaker. On us, but also on many others. For some in the high-end hi-fi world that was a total surprise. But the concept family-friendly Concept 500 actually fits in perfectly with the products that Q Acoustics has been putting on the market for some time. Like the 3000 series loudspeakers we see here, which cost considerably less than the Concept 500. Even though it is at the same time loudspeakers from the higher part of the Q Acoustics segment. The 5.1 package includes two 3050 floorstanders, two 3020 bookshelf speakers, a 3090c center speaker and the 3070S subwoofer. All together for this whole you come to a price around 1,500 euros. Q Acoustics is a brand with a somewhat more variable pricing policy, so shopping is the message.
A light feeling
The Q Acoustics speakers are all characterized by their very own design. For high-end speakers, this is often codetaal for ‘they are special’, here we mean something else. At this price point you often encounter functional designs, loudspeakers that look like sturdy but very unsophisticated boxes. That is certainly not the case with the Q Acoustics speakers. The corners are considerably rounded, the casing seems to consist of a single unit from the seat, and the drivers are nicely integrated in the front. There is no screw or bolt in sight, and each driver is surrounded by a ring that turns into the ring of another speaker. It will not come as a surprise that the included grilles are magnetically attached (except for the 3070s subwoofer).
The loudspeakers are very modern, no matter what color you choose. Q Acoustics gives you a lot of options in this area. We received the speakers in a matte black (graphite), but you can also opt for a black or white glossy lacquer. Or would you prefer a dark version with leather? Finally, there is a version with the matt black front and a walnut veneer all around. We have not seen this last finish in real life, but it looks good in the picture. Because of their shape and finish the speakers are also relatively ‘light’ and less bulky, fitting well in an interior that is based on Scandinavian design. It is not an unimportant advantage if you want to convince skeptical families to place a surround package in the living room.
The only design thing you can criticize with the 3050 floorstanders is that their design is marred by a wider leg at the back. You should not apply it, but it makes this slim speaker more stable. Fortunately, it is only present at the back and the front remains slim and slender.
The 3090c and 3020’s are very compact speakers of 26 x 22.6 x 17 cm. The center speaker is 15 cm high, 20 cm deep x 43 cm wide. That is a lot smaller than the Dali Rubicon Vokal that we usually have in our listening room. But you can hardly place that big boy in an average living room, something that’s simpler with the 3090c.
The 3020 is really a small bookshelf speaker, small enough to place on a wide windowsill or a bookshelf. They are also fitted at the bottom with a screw thread to attach them to a stand or a wall. That is pretty handy and rarer than you would expect. What it does indicate very well is that Q Acoustics is more focused on TV sound than average loudspeaker brands, which for example comes from the design of the center speaker and the 3070s subwoofer.
The 3070s is absolutely not a typical, weekday active subwoofer. To begin with, it shares all the design aspects of the other 3000 speakers, including the available finishes. This increases the visual integration in the living room. In addition, the Q Acoustics subwoofer has a vertical design, with two 170-mm drivers placed one above the other. It is a lot slimmer than a usual block box subwoofer: 20 x 42.5 x 53.5 cm. This allows you to place it more smoothly in the room (although we still recommend that you take into account the rules for a good subwoofer placement). It is true that the slim feeling of the 3070s is a piece of optical deception. The depth of the sub is still pretty. You just need a certain cupboard volume to produce deep bass.
And despite the modern forms, there is a classic bass port at the back. Because of this you can not place this sub against a wall. If you want to do that anyway, make use of the stops that Q Acoustics provides. You also get that with the other 3000 loudspeakers that we view here, so you can also place those speakers closer to the wall. It is not optimal, but if you do it anyway – then dampen those bass gates in the back.
The 3070s is beautiful and cleverly finished. Cable management has been thought of, for example, by concealing all connections behind a valve. You lead the cables through an opening at the bottom. In the box you will find spikes and caps to place the subwoofer acoustically disconnected on the floor. The buttons needed to properly control a sub (such as the crossover and the volume) are at the back, but at the top and within reach. Practice.
The 3050 speakers are somewhat larger than the other models in this setup, but we do not find that a problem. With a surround setup you sometimes want to listen to music as well, and then it’s nice if your left and right channel are taken care of by some more potent speakers. Remarkable: the 3050 is equipped with dual loudspeaker terminals, so that you can bi-ampen and binary if desired. Whether that is really necessary? We do not think so in this case. It is already a fairly sensitive floor stand.
Q Acoustics opts for these 6-ohm speakers for a classic 2-way design, with a tweeter mounted between two 165-mm woofers from Aramid fibers and paper. This construction is interesting because it is supplied layer / middle coherently with the detail. What strikes us when we move around 3050 is that the speaker in the horizontal plane radiates the speaker very wide, but vertical performance changes very quickly. In other words: make sure you have the tweeter of these speakers at ear height. You can adjust the height using the included spikes. The broader appearance is also a plus when watching movies, because then everyone in the seat can enjoy a lot of detail. You also do not necessarily have to turn the 3050’s far.
Also at the 3090c-center is the tweeter placed between two woofers, something that you often see at a center speaker. This ensures, among other things, that dialogues come to you completely full and in one piece. In our test setup, we found the center a bit too present, which prompted us to slightly lower the calibrated level of the center channel. Among other things, this included listening to the recent reissue of ‘Automatic for the People’, mixed in Dolby Atmos and via Blu-ray, for a better result.
As friendly as they look
For our test we have set up the 3000 speakers according to the rules of Dolby, with a Marantz SR8012 as an amplifier. That is of course a bit overkill for this set, but we have this receiver on test. You do not really need a powerhouse of this size to drive the Q Acoustics. The sensitivity of 92 dB of the 3050’s is pretty high as said, so you do not need enormous power to make the floor standers sing. The 3020s (88 dB) and 3090c (89 dB) can also be controlled. The difference in sensitivity between the 3050’s and the other speakers is a bit larger, so you definitely have to set the AV receiver properly in terms of volume levels (or let the built-in calibration system do its work). A possible advantage of the difference is that in an installation where the sensitive floor stands are further away than the insensitive rear channels, you still have a good,
First we listen to some music. Via Tidal (with HEOS on the Marantz) we listen to the new electropop album by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Just in direct mode, so that only the 3050’s are covered. What is immediately noticeable is a pretty good imaging. The gushy music fills the room in an enveloping way, with Gainsbourg nicely in the middle of the soundstage. With a track like ‘Rest’, the synthesizer melody remains warm and somewhat in the background. Speakers that place more emphasis on the middle and high make this synthesizer line sound sharper and more prominent, which is more pleasant and deeper. At the same time, the vocals are very full and natural. It is clear that the 3050 does not aim at the ultimate in detail, but presents a beautiful whole starting from a surprisingly strong bass response. Q Acoustics chooses a tuning that fits a lot of music, including some more fast rock-colored tracks. At ‘Refugee’, from the new Deluxe Edition of ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, you have to be of stone so as not to start spontaneously on the music. The 3050s show themselves warmer, but not woolly or slow. Could we perhaps want to hear that piano from ‘Here Comes My Girl’ more prominently? Maybe, but then this song would sound less like a whole, we suspect. Also ‘Automatic for the People’, which we simply listen to in the new, beautiful surround version, therefore sounds very coherent on this Q Acoustics system. The best track on this disc is ‘Star Me Kitten’. Although not with the voice of William Burroughs (that version you have to look for on an old soundtrack of ‘X-Files’), but with a daring mix that stops the voice of Michael Stipe in the rear channels. Because the 3020s are quite solid standalone bookshelf speakers, we get one vocal that can be heard behind us and a spacious soundstage in front with all the instruments. Despite the fact that we only listen to a 5.1 set-up here, the sound field is very large and without holes – again in our opinion due to the wide radiance of the tweeters on the Q Acoustics speakers.
Home cinema without bombast
The picture is most accurate when we switch to film content and games, which again indicates that Q Acoustics also emphasizes this. A bit like Polk does (as we recently noticed when testing their Signature and T lines), but with a British approach. Less bombastic is that, a little more refinement. Since this is the week of the release of ‘The Last Jedi’, we get ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ up again, from Blu-ray, for the scenes where Rey and Finn escape from Jaku and a little later Han Solo is confronted with two groups of dissatisfied customers – and three very hungry and tentacle rich Rathars. A successful moment, like the Millennium Falcom above the deserts of Jakku, is being chased by two New Order T-Fighters. Due to the broader horizontal look of the 3000s you can hear the action move seamlessly through the room, while the floorstanders provide the crucial orchestral accompaniment by John Williams. We are honestly amazed that these small center speaker voices reflect so well.
With the loud explosions associated with every spacecraft fight (what was the sound with a vacuum?), The 3070s provides more than adequate support. Basses are sturdy, detailed and fast. There is no exaggerated rumble (a good thing), but the sub does not dive very deeply. Officially he dives ‘only’ to 50 Hz, our own measurements and impressions let the 3070s a few hertz earlier tonight. But let’s not be overly critical, because then we expect from the Q Acoustics the performance of a more expensive sub, like the large Monitor Audio Silver W12 that we use as reference nowadays. With the use of the living room you will be very happy with the 3070s.
Surround is not only very cool with movies. Games are also ten times more fun to play when surrounded by compelling sound effects and game soundtrack. To test that, we put ‘Project Cars 2’ in the Xbox One X. The cinematic rookery may have been a bit of Gran Turismo, it brings you right in the mood to get behind the wheel of some supercar . The commander is just a film fragment, so that is obviously good. Even during the actual game we experience a great ‘we are in the middle of the action’ atmosphere, the only thing we miss a little bit is the deeper impact in the low. Positional audio is more important to a shooter than a racer – for example, you want to be able to hear where that enemy is – so we switch to ‘Halo 4’ in the Master Chief collection. In terms of atmosphere and immersion no problem, the Q Acoustics again provide a room-filling sound field, in this case filled with Halo’s typical soundtrack based on a male choir. Even when the action starts, you will get a good idea of what is happening through the 3000 set-up. We found the recently tested Bowers & Wilkins 700-arrangement somewhat stronger in terms of the position of objects and opponents, but you are talking about a more expensive setup that also bets more on the display of detail and the high. In any case, firefighting has been made exciting by the Q Acoustics set. That the deepest foundation sometimes lacks something (again, compared to more expensive subs) is in itself rarely disturbing (especially in an ordinary living room).
Q Acoustics 3000 series: conclusion
Q Acoustics is a brand that has clearly thought about how and to whom it wants to sell speakers. And we think that’s a good thing, because vision is often lacking in the budget segment, so that speakers sometimes happen to be good. The British brand chooses, among other things, a smooth design that appeals broadly. The many color options and the rounded lines mean that these speakers can easily be lost in any contemporary interior.
At the same time, the manufacturer has not only applied to design. The temptation must have been great, but Q Acoustics has been able to resist that. The 3000 series, with the 3050 in particular, really performs very well for the requested money. The tuning may be mainstream, but that only increases the viewing and listening pleasure. There is criticism here and there, but overall this is a good performing surround package that offers a lot for a reasonable amount. And that for music, movies and games.