The 3030i is the largest of Q Acoustic’s bookshelf speakers on offer. I have luckily had the opportunity to review both the smaller 3020i bookshelf as well as the larger 3050i floor-standing speaker and was bowled over by their sound. As a fan of budget hi-fi, I love the bang for the buck nature of larger bookshelf speakers. Providing you have adequate space for them, large bookshelf speakers paired with suitable amplification is the sweet spot for building out a great setup.
Q Acoustics 3030i Bookshelf Speaker
- Way reflex design
- Bookshelf or stand mount
- Four beautiful finishes
- Bass Driver 1 x 165mm (6.5″)
- Tweeter: 1 x 22mm (0.9″)
In my review of the 3020i bookshelves, I pondered why Q Acoustics chose to go with a smaller 5″ woofer versus using the 6.5″ woofer from the 3050i’s. Alex Munro, Brand Director at Q Acoustics, explained why by saying:
“The MF/LF drivers used in 3010i, 3020i, and 3050i are three different sizes. In each case, we are trying to get the best performance from as compact a cabinet as we can. The 5” driver design used in 3020i is precisely optimized for that size of the cabinet. Using a larger driver would certainly have meant using a larger cabinet, without necessarily improving the performance of the speaker.”
When I saw the press release for the 3030i I thought maybe the folks at Q Acoustics read my review and decided I was onto something. Turns out, the team at Q Acoustics were just keeping their cards close to their chest and had been secretly working away at releasing the 3030i.
0.9 in. (22 mm)
46Hz – 30kHz
The 3030i is not a great departure from what has worked for the 3000i bookshelves thus far. Visually, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and the 3010i or 3020i speakers. And that’s a good thing. I’m a fan of uniformity and it’s just as sleek and stylish design as the 3020i’s. The rounded corners of the cabinet, the beautiful finish, and the shiny chrome bezel surrounding the main driver. It’s all very familiar and very pleasing to the eye. The cabinets are available in four color finishes; Arctic White, Carbon Black, Graphite Grey, and English Walnut. My review sample arrived in Arctic White and they look stunning. My sample was brand new as well so, I had to spend a few days running them in before I could start serious testing (boo-hoo, poor me!).
The 3030i’s woofer is larger at 165mm or 6.5 inches and the overall cabinet dimensions are bigger. How big? More than double the volume of the 3020i’s, 12.5 liters vs 6.1 liters to be precise. The size increase is also reflected in the cabinet depth. It’s quite deep at 13 inches. Bigger means bigger bass and louder volume capability. But bigger also means bigger. At over a foot deep, you’ll need sufficient space to get the most out of them. If you’re looking for a speaker from a smaller room, office, or condo then the smaller 3020i will suit your needs.
The 3030i has been engineered to provide more powerful bass performance from a relatively compact size. It features a new motor with copper-clad, aluminum windings; and has been optimized for use in a smaller stand mount-style cabinet, allowing the 3030i to reach down to 46Hz at low-end. The tweeter and mounting arrangement, meanwhile, are taken directly from the 3050i to deliver class-leading high-frequency performance. Point to Point P2P™ bracing, technology first introduced in the flagship Concept 500 speaker and employed in the rest of the range, is carried over as well and maintains high cabinet rigidity and low distortion.
Like the smaller 3020i’s the 3030i’s features a rear-firing bass port. This needs to be considered as you’ll want to have them pulled out from the wall to prevent boundary reflection artifacts. Q Acoustics supplies a pair of foam bungs to augment bass frequencies should you have little choice in placement options.
I used the speakers paired with my trusty Cambridge Audio CXA60 integrated amp and CXN V2 audio streamer, which are usually connected to my Monitor Audio RX2 bookshelves. After unboxing, it was simply a matter of replacing the RX2s with the 3030i’s. In the back of the speaker, a pair of low-profile terminals allow for banana plugs and fortunately, I have banana plugged every speaker cable (at both ends) in my home to facilitate switching gear in and out. Q Acoustics has also pre-fit their 3000i bookshelf speakers with rubber feet making shelf placement easier. Nice touch guys!
It should be noted that I received the QB12 Subwoofer along with the 3030i’s. So, I used the 3030i’s with and without the sub during my review. Sadly, I hadn’t provided for having a subwoofer connected when we built our living room unit, so I have an unsightly cable snaking from the back of the amplifier, in front of the cabinet and down to the sub. My wife is not happy about this (sorry Apes!).
Speaking of my wife, when I reviewed the 3020i’s she preferred the look of them in the wall unit compared to the Monitor Audio RX2’s as they seemed to visually fit the space better. Now with the larger 3030i’s in place, she prefers these as well to the RX2’s. It must be the overall look of the front of the speaker as the dimensions of the speaker from the front are almost indistinguishable from their smaller siblings.
Once I had them run-in, it was on to listening. I couldn’t resist rifling through some of my favorite tracks on Spotify via the CXN V2.
Marcus Intalex (Rest in Power sir!) “Universe/Cabal/Jupiter/How You Make Me Feel”
Marcus Intalex was one of the more influential artists in Drum & Bass. His vast collection of music has changed my life. And the four tracks listed are just a small sampling of the rabbit hole I went down during this Spotify session. Also, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t engage the QB12 Subwoofer a few times. But I did my best to listen without the sub engaged. The larger cabinet truly delivers a larger soundstage and digs surprisingly low. The bass notes are taut and impactful without overshadowing the other frequencies.
It all held together when the volume was turned up to neighbor-unfriendly levels too. The sound never distorted or became harsh or clinical.
I’ve already gushed about Homemade Weapons in my ‘What We’re Listening To‘ selections for July, but man, I can’t get enough of this guy’s music. It just a wonderfully original and different take on Drum & Bass and the production chops this guy has, are top-notch. Of all his songs, I’ve been caning Swampdrain the most. To me, the bass sounds like WW2 fighter planes flying overhead. I picked this track up on Bandcamp and played it via my Cambridge Audio CXN off my NAS. It’s a track that begs to be turned up loud and the Q Acoustics 3030i’s show off their ability to handle complex beats and dynamics.
Switching to the smaller 3020i’s you can hear a massive difference in scale and weight. The kicks aren’t as impactful, and the bass is lacking. The 3020i’s are much smaller so this is no surprise. With the QB12 switched on, and the 3030i’s back in place there was obviously much more low-end, and a huge smile on my face. But even without the sub, the low-end heft was plenty. Interestingly for this track, I set the crossover on the QB12 to 60hz and it blended seamlessly with the 3030i speakers.
Theo3 “Strong Minded”
My buddy Theo dropped his latest LP about a month ago. I’m biased, yes, but he’s easily one of the best MCs to come out of Toronto. In this effort, he has also taken on production duties as well. My favorite track, Nap Time is a sleepy head-bobber but hits hard and punchy through the 3030i’s. The presentation feels as though I was in the room during the final mastering stage, precise and clean. It’s a wonderful listen.
THE 3030i are in the sweet spot for budget audio. For $399 a pair USD, these speakers are astonishingly good. They easily compete with speakers costing twice the price.
- Beautiful Fit and Finish
- Deep Bass and Wide Soundstage
- Great value for money
- I have nothing bad to say about these speakers.
- I’d like to see a larger center channel speaker in the 3000i range to complement the larger speakers.
I was super excited to review the Q Acoustics 3030i Bookshelf Speakers. After being bowled over by the big, powerful sound of the 3050i floor-standers and amazing sonics of the smaller 3020i bookshelves, I couldn’t wait to see and hear what was on offer from their latest model. The 3030i sit happily between those two models in price and performance. If you need speakers and have space for larger bookshelves, and don’t want a pair of floor-standers, you’d be very happy with the 3030i’s. The bass is deep enough that you won’t miss a subwoofer. Of course, the addition of a sub like the QB12 does fill out the lower depths in music, but if space is a premium in your household you will not find yourself wanting with the sheer scale of their sound. This is a wonderful speaker.