This week we’re reviewing the Q Acoustics 3050 floor-standing speakers, Q Acoustics 3090C centre speaker and Q Acoustics 3020 compact speakers, along with the Q Acoustics 3070S subwoofer. This range of hi-fi / home-cinema speakers was designed to replace the famous 2000i range.
The Q Acoustics 3010 and Q Acoustics 3020 compact speakers are 2-way bass-reflex models. The tuning frequencies of the bass-reflex resonators (backfiring circular ports) we reasonably set to 70 Hz and 65 Hz. The 4″ and 5″ speaker drivers are therefore used by the book without trying to reach excessively low frequencies, which would negatively affect the coherence of their behaviour. These relatively high tuning frequencies cause a steep slope mechanical filtering of low frequencies, which allows the driver’s excursion to be reduced at a high volume.
Q Acoustics 3010: 68 Hz at 22 kHz, 86 dB for 1 W at 1 m
Q Acoustics 3020: 64 Hz at 22 kHz, 88 dB for 1 W at 1 m
The Q Acoustics 3090C center speakers and Q Acoustics 3050 floor-standing speakers share the same transducer placement, the tweeter is placed between the two medium-bass drivers. The center speaker is fitted with a pair of 4″ drivers, while the floor-standing model boasts a pair of 6.5″ drivers. The important volume of this model allows it to reach a frequency response down to about 44 Hz. Once again, the bass-reflex tuning is well carried out. Using two medium-bass drivers naturally increases the sensitivity of the speaker when compared to compact models.
Q Acoustics 3090C: 75 Hz à 22 kHz, 89 dB for 1 W at 1 m
Q Acoustics 3050: 44 Hz à 22 kHz, 92 dB for 1 W at 1 m
The Q Acoustics Q3070S subwoofer uses an interesting format. The British brand has adopted the design of the Q2070Si subwoofer while using two 6.5″ drivers, one on top of the other, both in bass-reflex with a large flared backfiring port. The port is once again tuned to a reasonably low frequency, around 40 Hz. The Q3070S subwoofer is more compact than its predecessor as it is 10 cm thinner.
The advantage of using a “small” speaker driver is that the restitution of low frequencies is superior to that of a larger driver whose transient regime is inevitably lower due to the weight of the membrane. The counterpart is that it is necessary to use at least two drivers to maintain the cone excursion to a reasonable level and that the frequency response cannot reach abysmal depths. The idea here is to deliver clean bass and limit the air flow.
Q Acoustics 3000 series: new drivers
The medium-bass drivers used for the 3000 speakers have evolved since the 2000i series. Before, each membrane was made up of paper and mica, now aramid fiber (aromatic polyamide) replaces mica. Better known under the brand name Kevlar, these fibers are very rigid and favour an especially efficient restitution of medium frequencies. Several diameters are used for the speakers of the Q Acoustics 3000 series; 10 cm for the Q Acoustics 3010 speaker, 12.5 for the Q Acoustics 3020 and 16.5 for the Q Acoustics Q3050.
The tweeter used for the 2000i series was also replaced. No more fabric dome and ferrofluids, it is now a ring radiator type tweeter (with dome and circular surround) which is used for the speakers from the 3000 range. This tweeter features a lower resonance frequency, outside of the frequency range which is filtered and delivered. If the former tweeter could be a bit harsh with some amplifiers at times, we noticed that Q Acoustics have sweetened their new recipe.
The electronic components used for the new speakers have been improved as well in order to minimize signal degradations when passing through resistors and capacitors. The woodwork, although lighter than that of the 2000i series was reinforced for each speaker. The quality of the finish is good, the integration of the drivers to the front panel is excellent. A good thing is that the speakers from the Q Acoustics 3000 series are fitted with magnetic front panels, there is therefore no fixation holes to place the cover, with the exception of the subwoofer.
Q Acoustics 3000 series: test conditions
We listened to the Q Acoustics Q3050, Q Acoustics Q3090C, Q Acoustics Q3020 and Q Acoustics Q3070 in various configurations. We tested them for home-cinema and hi-fi with the Pioneer SC-LX59 amplifier and Denon DRA-100 amplifier. We used Norstone Silver 150 cables to connect the speakers to the amplifiers and Viard Audio Premium RCA-RCA for the subwoofer. We listened to music in FLAC format (16/44 to 24/192) sent to the amplifier via our local network (DLNA DMR mode from an Android Meizu smartphone).
Q Acoustics 3050: listening impressions
The only drawback we found to the Q Acoustics 2050i was a (slight) lack of smoothness in the high-medium when used with some amplifiers. This has been corrected with the Q Acoustics 3050, which offers flawless fluidness in the medium and treble.
The DNA of its predecessor is noticeable. In other words the sound layering in depth is breathtaking. The high medium is slightly brought to the fore, which creates an extra dimension and brings out many details.
String instruments and brass sections in an orchestra benefit from the quality treatment of this very analytical speaker. Low-medium is slightly set back, high-bass is right where it should be and there is no overwhelming bass. Listening to David Bowie’s Stay (live BBC 2000, FLAC 16/44) transports the listener to the venue and makes you want to turn the volume up. The coherence of the Q Acoustic 3050 makes the listener comfortable from the very beginning. It is also very nervous in the mediums, which is an excellent thing for both feature films and TV shows.
Q Acoustics 3020: listening impressions
The ambitions of this compact speaker are obviously lesser than that of the floor-standing model. The listening experience is not as spacious and the medium-bass driver gives less room to the tweeter. It is therefore necessary to push the Q Acoustics 3020 a little bit so it can fully express itself. The sound stage is then established, dense yet articulated. Paring up this speaker with the Q Acoustics 3070S subwoofer completely changes it, the addition of low frequencies completely alters the perception of the listener. Treble seems to magically come to life. This is in no way abnormal considering that a speaker in this format is meant to be used along with a subwoofer. We listened to the Habanera (Maria Callas, 1964, FLAC 16/44) and we noticed that the Q Acoustics 3020 likes to play its cards close to its chest with this very demanding recording. The dynamic range is that of a compact speaker with small drivers but when the volume is turned up the restitution stays tight and precise, which is not that common.
Q Acoustics 3090C: listening impressions
The balance of the Q Acoustics 3090C speaker differs from the other models in the 3000 series as it is more centered on the low medium and medium. This is a good thing when its use is confined to the delivery of dialogue using a home cinema amplifier. In spite of its small drivers (2 x 4″) and small format, this speaker has real dynamic abilities. Sound is both dense and detailed. On New Kid in Town (Eagles, FLAC 5.1), the additional center speaker is welcome. The artist’s voice is perfectly centered and delivered with much more detail than in a stereo configuration.
Q Acoustics 3070S: listening impressions
Paired up with Q Acoustics 3050 speakers in stereo and with Q Acoustics 3020, the 3070S subwoofer never feels out of place. Cut between 60 and 80 Hz, in phase, it balances out the restitution of low frequencies with the floor-standing speakers as much as it increases their frequency response. Yes, the extension is moderate but it does have an impact on the listening experience.
More punch, more substance, without turning into a caricature. A good subwoofer above all else.
On Crazy in Love (Beyoncé, Live, FLAC, 16/44), the atmosphere of the show gets suddenly realistic, the lows are massive without affecting the transient regime. The subwoofer gives wings to the Q Acoustics 3020 as they deliver a completely different type of sound as we mentioned earlier. Here, the extension brought to the frequency response is obvious. In home-cinema use, there is a slight lack of stability at very high volume. We had no difficulty in finding the perfect place for the Q Acoustics 3070 subwoofer in our listening room.
Q Acoustics series 3000: conclusion
Q Acoustics really converted the try with the series 3000 and replaced the very good speakers from the series 2000i with even better models. The new tweeter brings the extra softness and light that were missing before without altering the legacy of the speakers. The Q Acoustics 3050 floor-standing speaker is without a doubt the jewel in the crown with its outstandingly deep sound stage regardless of the amplifier (Denon, Pioneer, Hegel, Cambridge all sounded great with this speaker during our listening sessions). The compact speakers are balanced, thorough and really blossom when supported by the 3070 subwoofer. One last word about the design, the manufacturing quality and even the packaging are remarkable. Hats off!French