Q Acous­tics 3050i

FOR Punchy and mu­si­cal; spa­cious pre­sen­ta­tion AGAINST Noth­ing of note at this price

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

If your love of bass and big sound is para­mount in your search for new speak­ers, you may find your­self look­ing at pair of midrange floor­standers. Few pairs of­fer that kind of heft while match­ing the best com­pa­ra­ble stand­moun­ters in every other re­gard, but there are some… such as these Q Acous­tics 3050is, for in­stance.

Reg­u­lar read­ers of What Hi-fi? won’t be sur­prised to see five stars next to Q Acous­tics’ name – not only have both the 3010i and 3020i stand­moun­ters in the brand’s 3000i fam­ily al­ready bagged max­i­mum stars, their pre­de­ces­sors, the 3050s, also won an Award last year.

Steadily evolv­ing

The 3050is are more evo­lu­tion­ary than rev­o­lu­tion­ary, in both per­for­mance and aes­thetic. For the lat­ter, there is the ad­di­tion of a fourth colour fin­ish and a stylish chrome bezel around each driver.

But there are some ad­vance­ments upon the pre­de­ces­sors they re­place. As with the 3010i and 3020i, cab­i­net rigid­ity has been im­proved – P2P (point-to-point) cab­i­net brac­ing piles ex­tra sup­port to the parts that re­quire stiff­en­ing to make them qui­eter; the baf­fle is thicker to sup­port the tweeter and mid/bass driver; and tra­di­tional ter­mi­nal panel cut-outs make way for em­bed­ded sock­ets within the cab­i­net.

The 3050is' 20mm soft dome tweeter has also been de­cou­pled from the baf­fle via a sus­pen­sion sys­tem, iso­lat­ing it from vi­bra­tions from the two sand­wich­ing 16.5cm woofers.

Unique to the 3050is in the range, how­ever, is Q's use of HPE (Helmholtz Pres­sure Equal­izer) tech­nol­ogy, which was first in­tro­duced in its high-end Con­cept 500. Essen­tially, this is a tube filled with damp­ing ma­te­rial in­side the cab­i­net, which ab­sorbs en­ergy and re­duces res­o­nance.

Ef­fort­less con­cen­tra­tion

The Q Acous­tics 3050i’s per­for­mance isn’t short of en­ergy. Echo­ing their pre­de­ces­sors’ mu­si­cal­ity as well as warmth, smooth­ness and scale, they are also no­tice­ably clearer, cleaner and punchier.

We start with the wild groove of Jack White’s Cor­po­ra­tion. The 3050is keep it all in check, clock­ing dif­fer­ent dy­namic sig­na­tures and track­ing over­lap­ping in­stru­ments in a spa­cious, or­derly sound­stage so that noth­ing feels like a mere foot­note. It is, im­por­tantly, an in­ter­est­ing de­liv­ery, the 3050is' predilec­tion ap­par­ent as we flit be­tween gen­res.

Even with more am­bi­ent tracks, such as Gas’s Rausch, these Q Acous­tics have the sub­tlety to pick out tex­tures and dis­cern dy­nam­ics with­out comb­ing over in­tri­ca­cies.

With ef­fort­less con­cen­tra­tion, they ride the piece’s un­du­lat­ing waves and un­der­ly­ing techno beats, the lat­ter taut, punchy and punc­tual through the 3050is' woofer. The Q Acous­tics’ abil­ity to an­chor even the deep­est, most fore­bod­ing notes

al­lows them to com­mu­ni­cate threat and peril ef­fec­tively.

Texas Mid­lands by Nick Cave and War­ren El­lis is also a great ad­vert for floor­standers of this cal­i­bre, al­low­ing these Q Acous­tics to ex­tract greater de­tail and reach fur­ther into the low end than just about any stand­mount al­ter­na­tive.

Like­wise, the tribal drum pat­ter­ing in LCD Soundsys­tem’s How Do You Sleep? re­veals the Q Acous­tics’ low-end agility in all its glory.

Thank­fully that ta­lent doesn’t come at the ex­pense of the higher fre­quen­cies. With Suede’s Film­star, Brett An­der­son’s vo­cal lifts and lurches be­tween the dense elec­tric in­stru­men­tal as he belts out his cyn­i­cal lyrics, show­cas­ing the 3050is' rich midrange, while there’s crisp­ness to the lead­ing edges of the tangy gui­tar lines that re­flect the record­ing’s thorny pro­duc­tion.

Plug­ging a gap

The 3050is are a pair of speak­ers you may only need to hear for a few min­utes be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion on which fin­ish suits your room best.

Q Acous­tics has squeezed more per­for­mance into its mid-level tow­ers than ever be­fore, al­beit at a higher price (the 3050s launched at £500). In do­ing so, it has com­fort­ably helped fill an im­por­tant price gap be­tween Fyne Au­dio's five-star F302s (£399) and Mon­i­tor Au­dio's 2017 Award­win­ning Sil­ver 200s (£1000).

With the 3050is, Q Acous­tics has reaf­firmed its po­si­tion within the midrange floor­stander mar­ket. We shouldn't imag­ine you'd be too sur­prised if they fea­tured again in a few pages' time.

The 3050is can be se­ri­ous, but never with­out a sense of fun

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