The Q Acoustics 3000 family already offer a lot of quality for a reasonable amount. Now there is the Q Acoustics 3000i series, with a barely noticeable name change and a very similar proposition. Yet there are plenty of reasons for choosing the new elegant design speakers from Q Acoustics.
Q Acoustics 3000i series loudspeakers
Earlier this year we were invited to a launch event by Q Acoustics. Not in England, where this brand has its home base at the Armor Home holding (also known from QED cables), but in Germany at the local distributor . There we were presented with the new 3000i, a family of elegant and affordable speakers that look very similar to the 3000-series but are not intended as successors. For the time being, the 3000-speakers and the 3000i-speakers remain coexisting.
The 3000i-family consists of several 2-way loudspeakers, including a center speaker and a very slim subwoofer. They are also very elegant and modern in appearance. Just what you need if you want to set up a surround setup in the living room without getting into a fight with the partner. In this test we look at a 5.1 set-up, consisting of a set of 3050i speakers of 798 euro / pair, a set of 3020i’s of 299 euro per pair, a 3060S subwoofer of 399 euro and a 3090Ci of 199 euro. In other words, a 5.1-set of just under 1,700 euros. Admittedly, that is not nothing, but it is not really that much for a full surround set. Because of the many speakers you need to get even a minimal 5.1 surround experience, you always look at a certain edition. But you get a lot in return.
Caress to the eye
In this price category there are certainly alternatives for the 3000i series, but few are so beautifully finished. The different speaker models share the same design, so you end up with a surround setup that looks just neat in its entirety. That does not surprise us. Q Acoustics is a brand that realized at an early stage that speakers should also be given a place in modern living rooms where perhaps affordable affordable furniture from Ikea or Made.com can be found. With success, because in the United Kingdom Q Acoustics has become very successful with speakers that are relatively compact and ‘soft’ eyes.
The 3000i speakers also remain true to that design philosophy. The strongly rounded corners on the sides give them a very modern look, no matter what color you choose. You can choose from four versions, all of which are equally priced (with the 3000 series that was different). Although all four more beautiful eyes than before, the most handsome is the totally new English Walnut. Walnut in the 3000 series meant a less convincing wood pattern on the sides and a black front, but in the 3000i a veneer was chosen that covered the entire speaker. Moreover, a fairly realistic relief has been applied, making the English Walnut version a lot more luxurious than you would expect at this price point. It is not entirely perfect (at the edge between the front and side you can see from very close a fine white line where the veneers alternate, for example), but still damn good. There are certainly more expensive speakers that look less well-groomed. New is also the ring around the woofers and tweeter in shiny metal, which gives a dash of extra class.
The rounded shapes of the speakers are not chosen purely to make the 3000i family more interior-friendly. There are acoustic reasons for, among other things, limiting standing waves in the cabinet. The 3000i speakers are also constructed on the basis of the knowledge gained in designing the high-end Concept 500 speakers, says Q Acoustics. We understand that this affordable line involved the German engineer Karl-Heinz Fink, the man who provides know-how around loudspeaker designs for more and more audio brands. His point of view is that a solid, resonance-free case has a crucial impact on sound quality – a view that we can find more and more.
Regardless of the new finishes and details, the 3050i and 3020i do not look much different from the previous series. . That is different with the subwoofer. This 3060S subwoofer is an unusual thing. His predecessor, the 3070S, was that too, but still different. It contained two 6 ½-inch drivers placed on top of each other to produce a pretty deep layer, while the 3060S contained ‘only’ one 200-mm driver pointing to the side. The 3060S is also particularly compact for a subwoofer, with an upright housing that lends itself well to placement behind a sofa.
Installation of Q Acoustics 3000i
Unpacking and installing the 3000i speakers is not particularly challenging. Only with the 3050i you have some extra work, because you have to attach a single foot to the large floor stand. This keeps this large, slim speaker more stable. Certainly not unimportant if you have children in the house. The foot disfigures the slender lines, but because it is only placed at the back of the speaker it is not too bad. In the walnut version that we have on the test, all the way, in the white version it is perhaps more of an eye-eye. Although Q Acoustics now provides a gray instead of a black foot for the white 3050i’s.
The 3000i speakers are usually provided for spikes, but they are only included with the 3050i and Q 3060S. For best performance, it is best to apply them. If you have a wooden floor that you would rather not be damaged, you can wrap the sharp points with rubber caps that stick in the box.
All 3000i speakers have the same practical terminals where you can easily plug in a stripped speaker cable and a banana plug. Done with the bi-wiring option that you found in the 3000 series, but at this price point it seemed to us a redundancy.
We already noticed that the 3060S has a very compact design. If you install the sub, you also discover that it is very clever. All connections and some controls are in a niche that you do not normally see. After all, Q Acoustics provides a metal plate that perfectly covers this cavity thanks to magnets. Only two recessed rotary knobs (volume and cut-off frequency) remain accessible. It is absolutely brilliant how Q Acoustics tackles cable management. There is a discreet opening in the bottom of the niche where you plug the power cable and the cable to your receiver, so you can completely work it out. Also nice: the 3060S is available in the same finishes as the speakers. Often you have to be satisfied with a black or white. That is again that attention for the interior peace that characterizes Q Acoustics.
If you take into account the format of the 3060S, you can not really have much criticism about the layer view. But it is a component that you might consider replacing with a hungry subwoofer. You lose all the advantages of the small size of the 3060S, but the extra support and refinement that you win will lift your entire set to a higher level.
To control the 3000i set, we use two receivers in succession. First our permanent test receiver, the Denon AVR-X6300H, then we received the brand new AVR-X2500H, which fits well with the 3000i in price positioning. The review of this new Denon receiver you will soon read here, now we use X2500H mainly as support for the test of the Q Acoustics. As source we use an Oppo 203 player. With both receivers, we calibrate the speakers via the Audyssey MultiEQ app. We are a huge fan of this optional app for Denon and Marantz receivers, because you can adjust frequency curves yourself after the measurements.
Still about our setup: Q Acoustics itself puts a 5.1-set in the spotlight that is almost the same is all we test. The only difference is that in the ‘official’ package two 3010i’s are delivered instead of the slightly larger 3020i’s that we use as rear channels. In itself, the smaller 3010i’s are certainly suitable for this, the advantage of 3020i’s is that they sound a little fuller and are easier to control (88 dB sensitivity instead of 86 dB). With a cheaper receiver, that can be a point. We also note that the average impedance of the 3000i speakers is around 6 Ohm, with a minimum of 4 Ohm. This is not a problem for most AV receivers.
When we look at the arena fight between Hulk and Thor in the equally witty and spectacular ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ we quickly reach the same conclusion as in the test of the 3000 speakers earlier this year: this sounds good. You can even call the 3000i setup pretty impressive, especially if you take into account its price tag. Should we designate a weaker element, then it is the center speaker. Even after we manually give the center more volume, the voice reproduction remains somewhat understated and less full than we would like to have. This is probably because the Q 3090 Ci is not particularly large, while a center speaker can use some volume. It is an important speaker that has to display a lot in the low – and that is difficult with a small cabinet. But the downside is that these large center speakers rarely fit into a living room layout. The compact Q 3090 Ci can still be lost for a TV with a modest foot.
Back to ‘Ragnarok’. While the two Avengers succeed each other in their fur and blue (or should they be green?) And fly through the arena, the action moves nicely through the room. Kudos here for the 3050i and – especially – the 3020i, because they sound much bigger than they are and are relatively fast. Even during the escape of the refugee planet Sakaar, the battle between the spaceships that frolic between the buildings is transferred perfectly. For a bombastic feast like this, the 3000i speakers are completely suitable. Musically they are also strong, which makes the finals in which Thor puts on the tones of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ in the battle for the preservation of Asgard, making it so much more enjoyable. And what if it becomes more sophisticated? The Ultra HD Blu-ray of ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ had been waiting in the test room for some time to be unpacked. This seemed like a good opportunity to get out of the plastic and ram into the Oppo. Ok, refined is indeed perhaps not quite the right word, since from the first moment this film is completely filled with absurd violence, crazy camera angles and lots of music. The final battle between the two Kingsmen and the treacherous Statesman – spoileralert! – in a 50s restaurant is perfect for a surround setup on the rack. It is full of manic action that moves around you, while there is an equally manic version of ‘Word Up’. The 3000i set-up is not unconcerned, and does bring the hectic action in this price class very well. The sound image is very homogeneous, perhaps not ultra-precise, but very enveloping. Beautiful!
They do not look very different from the 3000s that appeared before, but the subtle adjustments have been successful. The new walnut version is an improvement and adds a lot of class and style to these affordable speakers. The upgrade is not completely limited to the visual. The 3050i and 3020i remain two very good speakers that are now a bit more refined. The new Q 3060S is even more of a small miracle. It is a particularly compact subwoofer that may be slightly less impressive than its predecessor, but is even better to hide in your living room.
What the Q Acoustics 3000i speakers mainly prove is that you do not have to spend huge capitals to get a very convincing surround experience. At this price point the new 3000i-series is a reference.