The Q Acoustics 3030i are a very interesting loudspeaker; not necessarily from the perspective of the technology they employ but their overall value proposition. In the grand scheme of things, the $400 asking price is actually not very high for a loudspeaker that can deliver this much sound quality.
Products like the Q Acoustics 3030i are a positive trend for the high-end audio segment; and it’s good to see that other brands like Wharfedale, ELAC, Polk Audio, and Klipsch are investing more in more affordable loudspeakers that a wider segment of the population can afford.
One of the biggest failings of the audio/video press is that we don’t do enough to present equipment in the context of a system that people might actually want to buy. Reviewing the Magnepan LRS or Q Acoustics 3030i loudspeakers is a pointless exercise if we don’t explain how to build a system around them.
Telling you that a $400 pair of loudspeakers sound great only gets you so far. How can you maximize that purchase and not make costly mistakes when building a system.
You have to create a path for people who are new. And it has to be a reasonable one.
Does It benefit the reader and industry more to discuss $500 products or $50,000 components?
As much as we enjoy reviewing state-of-the-art products (because who wants to review a Prius when you can spend time with a Porsche) that very few people on the planet can afford, there needs to be greater focus on the products that might help increase the size of the base – who might eventually have the money to buy much better products.
My listening priorities as a 51 year-old Orthodox Jewish man with 3 kids in private school and college are not the same as a 25 year-old living in an apartment (or parent’s basement…time to get out).
We agree, however, on one important concept; we both want to enjoy the music that we love with the highest level of sound quality that we can afford.
The concept of “affordability” is slightly tricky.
Everyone has a different budget. Some people can afford to spend $100,000 on a stereo system and that gives them the ability to try components that 99% of the population will never get to experience. It’s not a contest.
I know people who have spent that amount of money and have been stuck on the high-end merry-go-round for years. They’re never happy with the sound of their system and clearly care more about the equipment than the music.
Most people that I know have a very specific budget for their home stereo system. $3,000 is the most they would ever consider spending on a system and that’s actually a very good place to be.
Audiophiles who tell you otherwise are insecure human beings who are unable to trust their own ears or accept that if something sounds good to you — your opinion is equally as valid.
Very much like Jason Statham’s character in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the Q Acoustics 3030i are a tad unleashed. They communicate music like an effortless weapon, and with some serious punch in the lower registers with the right amplifier. They borrow a lot of their driver technology from their much larger sibling; the Q Acoustics 3050i floor-standing loudspeaker that retails for almost twice the price.
I’m a huge fan of the 3050i, but I can see how some might find their somewhat restrained sounding presentation a tad boring with the wrong amplifier. The Croft Acoustics Phono Integrated and NAD C 316BEE V2 integrated amplifiers are great matches with the 3050i, but that took a lot of trial and error.
The 3030i are not a replacement for the existing 3020i (one of the best-reviewed bookshelf loudspeakers on the market), but a larger model for those looking for more bass punch.
Q Acoustics have tweaked something in the cabinet design and crossover of the 3030i because they dig just as deep as the larger 3050i, and sound significantly more robust than the 3020i; their presentation takes a firm step forward. Just like Bacon.
The 3030i is not a very difficult loudspeaker to drive (88 dB, 6 ohms) but it definitely benefits from an amplifier with some grip and midrange punch. Stay away from amps that veer dark because the 1-inch soft-dome tweeter needs some illumination.
Q Acoustics use binding posts that are almost flush with the rear of the cabinet and it certainly gives you some extra room if you have to place the loudspeakers close to the wall.
The 3030i are rear ported 2-way bookshelf loudspeakers and while they are supplied with foam bungs (you stuff them inside the port) to reduce their bass output in that placement scenario, we’re going to advise that you leave them in the box.
The 3030i are large and unusually deep bookshelf loudspeakers; the 13-inch depth might be problematic for bookshelves and even some media units.
We highly recommend investing in the stands that were designed specifically for the 3030i; the top plate and overall height of the stand place the tweeter 36-inches above the floor.
The Q Acoustics 3030i require an amplifier that is light on its feet, but also capable of delivering a punch. The Rotel A14MKII Integrated Amplifier that we just reviewed worked exceptionally well with the 3030i; detailed, solid low end control, and a very clean and transparent sounding midrange.
The 3030i are more engaging than the more expensive 3050i from the perspective that they have more of a personality; the 3050i feel somewhat “Canadian” vs the 3030i that are more “American/Israeli” in that presentation. I’m a combination of all 3 nationalities and I really liked how the 3030i pushed vocals out and in front of the speaker into the room.
It’s never a speaker that tilts too far forward that the treble becomes etched or hard sounding and that made me want to turn it even louder when the music demanded it.
Midrange resolution is excellent with these enlarged stand-mount speakers; singers have presence, instruments have layers of texture, and you’ll never become bored by the sound.
I can see the 3030i working well with vintage amplifiers with some grunt and a more forward sounding presentation and some sparkle in the treble.
Natalie Merchant’s Tigerlily (Qobuz, 24-bit/96kHz) was a prime example of just how good the 3030i can be with a good recording and affordable amplifier; dynamic, transparent, and no sense of hesitation when she hits her groove, and her powerful voice takes over your listening space.
EDM and electronica are well-served by the 3030i because Q Acoustics have paid close attention to not only the deep extension of the bass response but also the solidity of the notes and speed. The 3050i can sound slightly reserved and slow in comparison.
There is no question that there are a lot of really good loudspeakers in 2021 below $500 from some very respected high-end brands. That’s a good thing. If the industry wants to attract new blood, products like the Q Acoustics 3030i are the best way to do it.
There is just enough swagger in these loudspeakers to make them work with a really wide range of amplifiers; they can take the power of more expensive products and they will not become detail monsters that become fatiguing over time. Feed them a balanced diet of power, neutrality, and some midrange punch and you might come away thinking these are the best sounding $400 loudspeakers you’ve heard in a very long time.
They have earned a permanent place in my home office system and I think I’ve only scratched the surface of their sonic prowess.
For more information: qacoustics.com/3030i-bookshelf-speakers.html
Where to buy: $399/pair at Amazon