Q Acoustics 3030i review: Want fun? Just add music

Speaker maker Q Acoustics has been making some great budget equipment since the company first appeared in 2006 and its latest 3000i series is still the best. While it’s not the last word in terms of transparency, the Q Acoustics 3030i offers tremendous fun from your favorite movies and rock songs. It looks great, sounds great, and is relatively affordable. When you add its great compatibility with budget equipment, I have no hesitation in proclaiming it a worthy winner of the CNET Editors’ Choice.

Like it

  • Excellent performance for the money
  • Huge and detailed sound
  • Lots of bass power
  • Tidy and attractive wardrobe

I do not like

  • Longer period of interruption than normal.

i used the larger 3050i speaker as part of my test system in the CNET audio lab before the start of the coronavirus epidemic. The bookshelf 3030i offers some of the power of floorstanding speakers at a more attractive price. This $ 400 speaker manages to challenge competitors that are worth even more, including models from Bowers and Wilkins and the Reference for the debut of Elac. Unfortunately I am unable to compare the Q Acoustics to its main competition, the slightly cheaper Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 ($ 300 at Walmart). However, from my hours of listening to the Elac Debut I remember a leaner and more detailed sound than the energetic rich bass of the Q Acoustic 3030i.

Design and features


Ty Pendlebury / CNET

The Q Acoustics 3030i houses a 6.5-inch woofer and a 1-inch dome tweeter. While other companies like B&W tinker with exotic materials for their main drivers, Q Acoustics uses a proven classic: paper. Er, “cone formed precisely in impregnated and coated paper,” according to the company. It’s the same 6.5-inch driver that previously appeared in the 3050i floor model.

Also, like the 3050i, the tweeter is decoupled from the woofer and the cabinet uses Q Acoustics’ Point-to-Point (P2P) reinforcement for a more inert cabinet. The sample I received came in Arctic White with a nice matte finish, but the speaker is also available in Graphite Gray, English Walnut or Carbon Black.


Ty Pendlebury / CNET

The front of the 3030i features a chrome finish and the white speaker grille attaches magnetically. The back has a bass port and a couple of attractive clamps. The cabinet itself measures 7.9 inches wide, 12.8 inches high and 13 inches deep.

As for the specifications, the speaker is capable of delivering a frequency response of 46Hz-30kHz (+/- 3 decibels, -6 dB) and can be driven by a receiver with a power between 50 and 145 watts.

Sound quality

I’ve always been skeptical of “break-in periods” because in some cases it’s more about your ears getting used to a new sound than any changes in the component itself. Not in the case of the Q Acoustics, because while I was initially disappointed with the sound out of the box, the bass was bumpy and the top end too bright. – the sound came together in a week and produced a dynamic and cohesive speaker.

IQ Acoustics were more comfortable with driven and energetic tunes. Songs like The Foals’ Mountain at my Gates even managed to defy my home reference, the much more expensive Bowers and Wilkins 685. While Q Acoustics were able to keep the rowdy track in check, Bowers and Wilkins sounded a bit trashy, especially during the hectic finale.


Ty Pendlebury / CNET

In my listening sessions I continued with more British cymbals and the stop-start track of Future of the Left Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow. The Q Acoustics was able to capture the tail of the strong, detached notes in a way that the Bowers completely missed. You could hear the bass drum and guitar disappear into the space where the band was recording (or perhaps in the back corner of the reverb unit). While missing this detail, the B&Ws offered a more balanced presentation while retaining the excitement factor.

The latest Strokes album is a welcome return to form. With the open-beat down-beat The Adults Are Talking, the Bowers and Wilkins were able to better present the band members as a unit. Here, the 3030i’s penchant for extracting detail worked against the speaker and the song disintegrated into a collection of individual instruments.

The bass material is where Q Acoustics performed best, with lots of rumble audible in tracks like Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy and Beta Band’s Life. These aren’t great speakers, but on a good set of stands they’ll be able to dig deep without too much strain.

I then turned to the Elac Debut Reference which is a well-mannered speaker but what is missing is rock ‘n’ roll wallop and punch. The spirit of the Q Acoustics 3030i is practically the opposite of the well-mannered; shouts enough “get up and dance!” In my review of the Elac Debut Reference I found that the Elac was better than the Q Acoustics at jelling as part of my mismatched home system when playing movies, and this was still the case after longer running in time. That said, with a pair of nice rears, like the 3020i ($ 262 on Amazon), the Q Acoustics 3030i will extract a lot of detail from your surround soundtracks and deliver crisp dialogue while avoiding harshness.

Should you buy them?

In a word, yes. The 3030i offers excellent detail retrieval and a high level of getting up and running, never straying into grueling territory, which is quite a feat. While the Elac Debut 2.0 is a great speaker, it needs a little more attention with system pairing than the Q Acoustics. If you want an attractive set of bookshelf speakers with a lively and seductive sound, the Q Acoustics 3030i is the best option for the money. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to start a new economic system.

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