Q Acoustics 3030i HiFi Speakers Review
I recently undertook a group test on nine standmount HiFi speakers to try and find the best affordable standmount speaker under £650
Reviewing, by its very nature, is a subjective thing and lots of factors can influence perceptions. In order to minimise the external influences, my listening room is heavily acoustically treated with panels from GIK acoustics to manage sound reflections and the rooms behaviour. To take this a step further I use DIRAC Live to manage the frequency response of the speakers I am testing to undo what negatives effects their placement in my room may have. I also take this one stage further utilising Dirac Live as a tool to get the very best sound from the speakers.
In this review I compare the Q Acoustics 3030i speakers with the Bowers & Wilkins 606 speakers, which I reviewed earlier in the group test.
Q Acoustics are known for affordable, good performing HiFi speakers. The 3030i is currently selling for £299 which is £250 less than the B&W 606s they are being compared to in this review. In fact, a larger speaker in the Q Acoustics range, the 3050i, is only a little more expensive than the 3030i however they were the speaker Q Acoustics submitted for this under £650 stand mount speaker group test. That is the confidence Q Acoustics have in the 3030i
You may think my comments are a little harsh in this review, but I will say, straight off the bat that, at their price, they offer superb value for money in terms of looks, build quality and sound quality. They are an easy speaker to set up and get sounding good and, to my mind, they are an ideal speaker for someone just starting out on their HiFi journey.
In Room Frequency Response
We can see some interesting things about the 3030i from how they measured in my room for frequency. The treble region from 3KHz and upwards is very smooth and even and we can see a strange dip in the response around the crossover region. Its very possible the 3030i have been designed to have a dip here as this the commonly used BBC dip which helps to make the speaker more "pleasing" or pleasant in the frequencies regions human hearing is very sensitive to.
The mid range region is a little erratic and looks particularly erratic compared to a speaker like the Wharfedale EVO 4.2 which measure 3 extremely smooth.
Bass measurements from the 3030i are very good and the overall shape of the speakers in room response is of a warmer sounding speaker
My first thoughts on firing them up was that the 3030is have a very full bass and an overall full and bassy sound, which is very impressive for a speaker of its size and price. They are rated down to 45Hz, which comes through strongly. They sound more substantial ion their bass than the Bowers 606 nut the 3030i do sound as there is some ‘fat’ being added (or is it phat!) to help give them this perceived sound whereas the Bowers 606 sound a little leaner but they are tighter and faster sounding too. It was amazing that the 3030i sound this close to the Bowers for their bass given the price difference well done Q Acoustics.,
However, I felt that the mid-range was not quite delivering a sound to match the bass and it could be the 3030i’s Achilles heel. There is something in the upper mid-range which comes over as a softening of certain notes or vocal and even after applying a custom DIRAC correction I could still hear this in the 3030i's sound.
You can see in the frequency response graph some upper mid range dips and I found this softens the whole presentation a little too much especially compared to the Bowers 606 which much livelier and more energetic in the mid-range and their treble has a lot more energy, drive and resolution.
The Bowers 606 mid range also sounds much more free of the speakers and transparent but again we have to factor in the big price difference
The treble from the Q Acoustic 3030is impressed me with its ability to resolve subtle micro-details from a more reserved overall treble presentation. I would categorise as the treble being all there and being detailed and smooth but you have to pay attention to hear it whereas the Bowers 606 very much makes you aware of its treble at pretty much all times. The 3030i have what I would call a delicate treble.
The 3030i deliver a soundstage that is clear overall and precise, with good width, to slightly wider than the speakers but not very tall. The sound stage barely rose above the physical height of the speakers themselves. In contrast, the Bowers 606 sound open and expansive especially for the height of sound they create. I did wonder if the Q Acoustics might be better situated on a 700mm stand rather than the 600mm I was using to physically raise their tweeter higher, this is just a theory and I wasn't able to test it.
The looks and build quality of the 3030i are very impressive, I particularly like this graphite coloured finish with the silver accents. Its also impressive that the speakers have rounded corners with grilles that match the curved profile of the cabinet and look rather elegant. I was also very impressed with the custom speaker cable terminals. The build quality of the 3030i is very much on a par with the Bowers 606s which is again very impressive considering the price difference.
Initially I had a minor niggle with the logo which seemed like an out of place cheap sticker. It wasn’t until after a few days that I realised that the Q logos were covered in protective plastic, once removed they looked much nicer and I realised there was very much pie on my face Doh! I am just glad I realised in time before going on camera
The Q Acoustics 3030i didn’t have a sound with enough quality to hold my attention at a similar level to the Bowers 606 and the Wharfedale EVO 4.2 have so far in this group test. Both the Bowers and Wharfedale cost nearly double so that is expected and you do get more when you pay more
However, I can still see the merits in what Q Acoustics have designed and what they are offering audiophiles here with the 3030i, a speaker that has an easy-going sound, that are easy to set-up and are very undemanding for a new user on their system quality and setup. What they are is a speaker that in a very short space of time the owner will have the favourite tunes blasting out with a good amount of overall presence doing the most important thing, making that owner fall in love with listening to music.
Overall, the Q Acoustics 3030i really offers amazing quality at this low price point and is terrific value for money, a perfect first HiFi speaker
A Serious Bang for Buck Award is granted in recognition of a products stand out high performance being significantly greater than its perceived price point