Q Acoustics 3000i Series Speaker System Review Page 2

But it was full orchestra programs that showed the British pair at its best. A favorite old Telarc CD of Bruckner's 9th played by the Cincinnati Symphony was presented with a full, strong image that completely filled the space between the speakers and was accompanied by a nice sense of scale. The old monk's highest-octave strings never shrieked, and his close-clustered chords in the brass were free of extra edge or dissonance. All in all, it was a very competent reproduction, and the 3050is surprised me by wrapping hall ambience quite a bit up the side walls.


With many movie soundtracks mixed to the bright side, filmsound is a friend to warmer-sounding speaker designs. The Q Acoustics system certainly seemed to friend filmsound right back. I streamed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and was rewarded with big, impactful sound (with or without the 3060S sub on board, more on which below), a satisfyingly deep presentation, and unfailingly crisp and intelligible dialogue.

219qa.mainbac250.jpgIn the keystone position, Q Acoustics matches the towers with its 3090ci, a horizontal two-way center speaker that uses a pair of 4-inch woofers rather than the 6.5-inch units in the towers. On its own merits this is a very competent design, with clear, well-focused sound, though it was a little thinner on some male voices than many such dual-woofer centers, which I often find tend toward lower-mids excess and even over-fullness or “hoo.”

The 3090ci's crispness is not necessarily a demerit, but it made for a fairly sharp contrast with the 3050i towers. Comparing a range of announcers both male and female between centered- mono (3090ci) and dual-mono (tower pair) playback, all but a couple of higher-pitched female voices sound distinctly, even dramatically different on the center unit: brighter, with a more focused and prominent presence-range that tended to highlight different vocal formats to an easily noticeable degree. This is not altogether bad, but I also noted a timbral discontinuity in full-range, busy sequences like the bank-vault monorail-ride/dragon-escape sequence early in Harry Potter where front-stage cohesion seemed less complete than what I hear from my everyday speakers.

The 3060S subwoofer is fairly obviously the red-headed stepchild of this particular Q Acoustics suite. First, it's a very compact 8-inch sub, pack- aged not in the familiar cubical cabinet of most such designs, but in a small-suitcase format intended to nestle unobtrusively against a wall. It's equipped with big-subwoofer facilities like substantial class-D power and line-level-only signal input, and equipped with a delightful, magnetically fixed modesty panel that conceals cables, power-cord, and controls other than Crossover (frequency)and Level (volume). It's a very attractive design, and at $399 would be a very fair match with bass-limited systems based around soundbars or sub- compact satellites. (One based around a quartet of Q Acoustics 3010is might make a good deal of sense, and in a brief trial the small two-ways mated better with the 3090ci to my ear.) But in the context of the 3050i system, it seemed a clear outrider: an 8-inch sub beside a tower pair whose total low-frequency- driver cone area measures more than three times greater.


That said, Q Acoustics specify the little subwoofer with a useful bass limit (-6 dB point) of 35 Hz, and the 3050i towers at a surprisingly higher 44 Hz, but my ears did not fully agree. I had some difficulty finding film or music examples where the sub added much to the party. Setting my pre-pro's left/right high-pass crossover to a fairly low 60-Hz setting and dialing in the sub for optimum musical balance yielded a useful whole, with a slightly leaner, tighter bass character than the towers alone, and possibly a soup- spoon of additional extension. (This may well have had as much to do with placement as actual performance.) But I was challenged to find a case where adding the sub, regardless of crossover point, produced a noticeable extension of overall deep-bass quantity.


On their own, the 3050i towers delivered solid in-room lows, contributing content down to very nearly 35 Hz or so, as evidenced by familiar material such as the cannon-fire practice sequence from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and similar low-bass chestnuts. With the sub activated and goosed up a few dB, I could certainly match the overall deep-bass heft of the towers alone on filmsound, and with a slightly heavier effect. This might well have delivered a dB or two more of ultimate level—rather louder than any master level I'd likely call for in real life—but I nevertheless did not judge it to be a sufficient improvement. (As I plumbed the ultimate capabilities of the 3060S late in the review period. its amplifier failed while raising input signal level to about 1 volt. A second sample performed flawlessly and absorbed all the punishment I sent its way.)

Don't get me wrong: the 3060S is a terrific, uniquely configured 8-inch sub, and a strong value. But the simple fact is that Q Acoustics does not offer—yet, anyway—a subwoofer with enough deep-bass extension and output to make much sense paired with the 3050is.


Outside of the subwoofer's slight contribution to the system, it is hard to find fault with this 3050i-based Q Acoustics array. Room constraints may, as with many tower designs, impose bass-balance challenges, but receiver- or preamp-based room/speaker correction, or the much simpler expedient of a bass control, can deal with much of that. (In fact, simply setting my pre-pro's bass to -1 largely mitigated the 3050i's slight remaining low-frequency excesses in my room.) Otherwise, getting a well-balanced 5.1 system with exceptional imaging capability for $1,499 -- a figure that includes a subwoofer you might not really need, or might find more useful in another room paired with another system—is a unique value.

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