Q Acous­tics’ 3000i speaker lineup prom­ises to ex­tend the com­pany’s bang-for-the-buck hi-fi tra­di­tion

Re­fine­ment, not rev­o­lu­tion, takes cen­ter stage in this re­design.

Macworld (USA) - - Play List - BY THEO NICOLAKIS

British speaker man­u­fac­turer Q Acous­tics has taken the wraps off its all-new 3000i loud­speaker se­ries. The com­pany says the new lineup builds on the suc­cess of its orig­i­nal 3000 speaker se­ries and fea­tures in­no­va­tive au­dio and de­sign tech­nolo­gies taken from its $6,000 flag­ship, the Con­cept 500.

I had a chance to au­di­tion the new lineup first hand and left fa­vor­ably im­pressed with the price/per­for­mance ra­tio on of­fer. At first lis­ten, it looks like Q Acous­tics has once again de­liv­ered bona fide hi-fi per­for­mance at main­stream price points.

The three models tar­get vary­ing bud­gets and liv­ing-space con­straints: The

com­pact 3010i, mid-sized 3020i book­shelf, and floor-stand­ing 3050i. Q Acous­tics also an­nounced the 3090Ci cen­ter chan­nel and Q3060S sub­woofer for home the­ater ap­pli­ca­tions, but those weren’t avail­able dur­ing the demo.

PRE­MIUM FIN­ISHES

Some­times when com­pa­nies come out with up­dates to their prod­ucts, you’re hard-pressed to fig­ure out what those up­dates are and what they do. That’s cer­tainly not the case here, there are lots of ev­i­dent changes in­side and out.

The line comes in four fin­ishes: Graphite Grey, English Wal­nut, Car­bon Black, and Arc­tic White. Un­like the pre­vi­ous se­ries, buy­ers won’t need to pay ex­tra for any of them. Q Acous­tics help­fully brought along sam­ples of the orig­i­nal 3000 se­ries, so I could make di­rect com­par­isons. The new fin­ishes are a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment.

The fin­ish now comes edge to edge, adding re­fine­ment to the speak­ers’ looks. Chrome ac­cents around each driver add a stylish flair when you see them with their mag­netic grills re­moved.

RO­BUST IN­TER­NAL BRAC­ING

A Q Acous­tics rep­re­sen­ta­tive told me the 3000i range in­cludes point-to-point in­ter­nal brac­ing, con­struc­tion first em­ployed in the com­pany’s top-of-the- line Con­cept 500 floor-stand­ing speak­ers. The in­tent is to elim­i­nate the vi­bra­tion-in­duced cabi­net res­o­nance that can color a speaker’s sonic re­pro­duc­tion. The 3000i speak­ers fea­ture in­ter­nal sup­ports at key junc­tures as in­di­cated by com­puter anal­y­sis.

But it’s not just the cabi­net de­sign that helps re­duce res­o­nances. The soft-dome tweeter is de­cou­pled from the baf­fle via a sus­pen­sion sys­tem to iso­late it from the woofer.

The 3000i’s bind­ing posts are brand new and a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. Speak­ers with

low-pro­file bind­ing posts have a huge draw­back: ba­nana plugs stick half way out from the back of the en­clo­sure. The orig­i­nal 3000 se­ries em­ployed an awk­ward, an­gled bind­ing post to al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem. The 3000i se­ries’ bind­ing posts are re­cessed into the cabi­net, so that ba­nana plugs prac­ti­cally dis­ap­pear in­side.

The speaker’s low-pro­file rear five-way bind­ing posts al­low you to in­sert ba­nana plugs fully—with­out

The most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence be­tween the old and new se­ries, how­ever, is the size. The cab­i­nets for the 3010i and 3020i book­shelf models are slightly taller and 25-per­cent deeper than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. Q Acous­tics says the in­creased phys­i­cal vol­ume ex­tends lowend fre­quen­cies for a more pow­er­ful bass that be­lies the speak­ers’ diminu­tive size. Af­ter lis­ten­ing to them dur­ing the demo, I must agree.

3010I COM­PACT SPEAKER

The 3010i is a com­pact speaker that’s per­fect for a book­shelf, coun­ter­top, or any­where you want high per­for­mance from a small foot­print. Priced at $250 a pair, the 3010i is a two-way re­flex speaker with a 4-inch bass driver and a 0.9-inch tweeter crossed over at 2.6khz.

Fre­quency re­sponse is rated at 65Hz to 30khz (+3db, -6db). Each speaker weighs 9 pounds and mea­sures 5.9 inches x 10 inches x 9.9 inches. I was shocked by this speaker’s per­for­mance con­sid­er­ing its size and price tag.

3020I BOOK­SHELF SPEAKER

The mid-sized 3020i speaker weighs in at 12 pounds and is priced at $300 for the pair. The 3020i sports a larger, 5-inch driver, but re­tains the same 0.9-inch tweeter. The tweeter and driver are crossed over at 2.4khz, with a fre­quency re­sponse of 64Hz to 30khz. The 3020i should serve equally well as a stereo pair or as part of a sur­round-sound setup for a home the­ater.

3050I FLOOR-STAND­ING SPEAKER

The 3050i floor-stander is the 3000i se­ries’ flag­ship. Priced at $800 for the pair, the 3050i weigh in at 39.2 pounds each and mea­sure 12.2-inches x 40.2-inches x 12.2-inches. An Mtm-de­sign ar­ranges the driv­ers in a midrange, tweeter, midrange con­fig­u­ra­tion.

The twin midrange driv­ers are 6.5 inches in di­am­e­ter and the tweeter is the same 0.9 inches as the other speak­ers in the lineup. The woofers are crossed over to the tweeter at 2.5khz. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the 3050i de­liv­ers the deep­est bass of the three models, with a rated fre­quency re­sponse of 44Hz-30khz.

Tall loud­speak­ers can be sus­cep­ti­ble to in­creased in­ter­nal pres­sure caused by stand­ing waves. To ad­dress the un­wanted res­o­nance, the 3050i em­ploy­ees a Helmholtz Pres­sure Equal­izer tube in­side the cabi­net, which evens out the cabi­net’s in­ter­nal pres­sure.

I had a chance to sam­ple all three models, fed by a Naim mu­sic server play­ing tracks from Tidal. In short, at first lis­ten, the 3000i se­ries prom­ises to de­liver the out­stand­ing sonic value that Q Acous­tics has be­come known for. We’ll be do­ing a full, hands-on re­view of some of the 3000i models in the near fu­ture.

AVAIL­ABIL­ITY

The new 3000i lineup is avail­able now in the U.K., with the 3010i, 3020i, and 3050i sched­uled to ship in the sec­ond week in May for U.S. cus­tomers. U.S. cus­tomers won’t be able to get a hold of the ac­com­pa­ny­ing cen­ter chan­nel and sub­woofer models un­til sum­mer. ■

The 3010i com­pact speaker.

The speaker’s low-pro­file five-way bind­ing posts al­low you to in­sert ba­nana plugs fully into the cabi­net.

The 3050i has an MTM driver ar­range­ment.

Q Acous­tics 3020i speaker.

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