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Now compared to other Q Acoustic products, the Concept 300 isn’t inexpensive. But compared to other brands, it’s of relative value. And that’s what Q Acoustics is known for making; high style, high value, high performing loudspeakers that reach well above their price points, and their newest loudspeaker the 3050i tower speaker is no exception.
But I wanted to know just how high does this loudspeaker reach so as to give their flagship speakers a run for their money.
The 3050i is a two way bass reflex tower loudspeaker in the classic Q Acoustic style. This means a one inch decoupled tweeter sandwiched between two six and a half inch mid bass drivers.
Now there is a large rear facing bass port that helps augment the speaker’s bottom and give it a reported frequency response of 44 to 30 kilohertz. Now the 3050i’s cabinet may look very similar to the previous generation though it has been completely redesigned, at least internally, borrowing some techniques from their flagship loudspeaker the Concept 500.
It uses p2p bracing or Point to Point bracing to cut down on unwanted resonance and around the back there has been another noticeable change from the previous generation. The new 3050i uses low profile five way binding posts that are capable of accepting all types of different speaker wire, but unlike the previous generation this new tower speaker is no longer bi-wire or bi-amp capable.
While testing in stereo as well as home theatre when using the matching Q Acoustic loudspeakers, we used a variety of budget and some not so budget components. First we started with AV receivers and the Denon S960H, followed by our Sony 1080 and the Yamaha 3080. And then lastly the NAD T 778.
Now for integrated amplifiers, we stepped things up just a little bit using our name UNITI Atom, but we also tried it with the Musical Fidelity M3si as well as the M5si integrated amplifiers. We listen to a lot of music, not to mention watch a lot of movies through this system, and all of the source material was either streamed through our Naim Uniti Atom or through our Nvidia Shield which was connected to our LG 8k TV.
It comes in your choice of four finishes; black, white, grey or walnut, which makes it a little bit difficult to decide which one you want. We ultimately chose the black because I felt that that was going to be the most common for home theatre use. Thankfully, all of the finishes are matte in nature and I quite like the contrasting gloss bezel that surrounds each of the speakers drivers.
I just think it’s a really slick and clean look but I understand that you may feel differently in which case you can cover it all up using the included magnetic grilles still at this price point. I do consider the Q Acoustics 3050i to be one of the more forward thinking minimal design conscious loudspeakers on the market right now.
How Do the Q Acoustics 3050i Sound?
As far as sound goes, the 3050i Tower Speakers definitely have a signature; and that signature leans towards neutral. And as a result, careful system matching is a must in order to maximise these loudspeakers potential. Now it made it to more affordable receivers like the Denon S960H or even our reference Sony DN1080.
A lot of the traits of these tower speakers that I have come to love is its clear, mid-range, clean highs and taught bass which were altered or glossed over all together. For example, the Denon S960H definitely over accentuated these speakers lower mid bass and bass; and as a result, the sound was just really chesty. The way I like it!
In comparison, the Sony STR DN1080 definitely tightened up the bass but took a bit of sweetness out of the mid range while definitely sharpening the high frequencies. I did prefer Sony’s take on the 3050i’s, sound to that of the Denon, but neither really were my top preference.
Now pairing the speakers to our Naim UNITI Atom proved game changing for the 3050i, if not just a little bit on fair. Yes, bass was deep and taught and now very well balanced with the rest of the speakers frequency response. The mid range was clean articulate and had just a touch of sweetness without seeming overly warm or romanticised, and the high frequencies were exactly how I like them, airy, extended, detailed without being forward or aggressive.
And to be honest, I could have lived with this pairing long term and just called it a day but I just don’t think that a lot of people are going to pair a sub $1,000 speaker like the Q Acoustics 3050i with a 3000 plus dollar integrated line like Uniti Atom.
Therefore the search for a more fiscally appropriate integrated av amplifier was underway. Pairing these speakers with the Music fidelity M3si, as well as the M5si integrated amplifiers proved to be a good fit through either integrated bass which did seem to pick up a few more pounds, as well as a little bit more detail down low.
The mid range was largely unchanged compared to the Naim but it still was sweet,very detailed and ever so slightly warm. But for the most part, the Naim and Music Fidelity performance throughout the mid range on these speakers was about equal to the high frequencies, which did lose a little bit of top end sparkle but definitely gained more detail, air, decay and a lot of emphasis on the decay.
And both of these integrated amplifiers were capable of coaxing all of this performance out of the 3050i, though I will admit, the costlier M5Si did a mildly better job as it relates to bass control and high frequency extension compared to the M3si; but both were very good.
As far as dynamics are concerned, this is not a loudspeaker that is difficult to drive to near concert like levels; but dynamics are just not all about volume: in fact you want a side order of control with your spl, but this is where budget electronics can sort of give up or quit on the 3050i.
For example; you can be watching your favourite movie or listening to your favourite music just trucking along at a pretty nice clip, when suddenly there is a loud crescendo or jumpscare. And that is when these speakers can go from sounding pleasant to shouty.
But that’s on the receiver. And if you pair these loudspeakers with budget electronics from the likes of say Denon,Marantz or even Sony, you may experience this. But if you pair these speakers to more competent, higher end components, i think you’re going to find that their dynamic prowess is pretty darn impressive.
In fact, a lot of those dynamic leaps, the jumps, those crescendos sound very natural and organic indeed, rising to their peak very naturally but coming right back down to earth just as quickly. Which brings me into the 3050i’s soundstage: these speakers are very good at imaging, especially when it comes to centre imaging and detail between the speakers themselves.
Now, ultimate fidelity in detail does fade a little bit as you venture further out from their outer boundaries, but on a whole, the soundstage is pretty darn impressive. And for tower speakers such as this, they are capable of disappearing orally when set up correctly.
As far as channel listening goes, the 3050i is a great choice. But where I really fell in love with this speaker was for home theatre use when I used it alongside its matching centre surrounds and subwoofers driven by the NAD T 778. This setup was huge fun, and arguably the best configuration that I put together during our review period; this setup had all of the refinement, all of the energy, all of the detail, all of the scale, all of the dynamics that I could possibly want in a home theatre and while not inexpensive on a whole, i do think that it would be very difficult to beat a system such as this for less.
I especially love the B12 subwoofer as I found its performance to be phenomenal and not just for the price, this sucker can play deep. Yes, it will shake your furniture and rattle your walls but all that childhood stuff aside, it is incredibly articulate and nuanced in bringing a lot of detail to the mix.
So as good as I think the Q Acoustics 3050i’s are in the bass department, I actually think that you could save a few bucks by going with the 3010i home theatre system which comes with the B12, still powered with the NAD 778 and be just as happy about the matching centre speaker.
It sounds just a little bit constrained compared to the open sound of the 3050i’s but it’s a great match for the bookshelf loudspeakers. Maybe not the perfect match in terms of scale when compared to the towers. The biggest drawback that I see to this loudspeaker is this, while not a difficult speaker to drive, it’s a very easy speaker to drive wrong. You don’t have to go broke on electronics, but you do need to make sure to get the right ones.
Pairing this with an inexpensive receiver from the likes of Denon was a less than satisfactory experience, but stepping things up to the musical fidelity M3s i or NAD T 778 was a great experience. While these speakers may have a new internal bracing scheme, they are definitely resonant down towards the base of the speaker itself and it’s not hard to excite those resonances.
This is why careful placement and proper amplification is key. You need to give these speakers just a little bit of room to breathe, not to mention power them with an amplifier that can properly control their drivers. If you don’t do this, the bass can become very overwhelming fast and maybe even come off as muddy.
Up top around the drivers themselves, the cabinet feels very inert and this is why the mid range and tweeter sound very clean by comparison. Still, it is because of the bass that I think that some of you would actually be better off with Q Acoustics bookshelf speakers matched up with the B12 subwoofer over the towers. If you like the bass, then just disregard what i said and enjoy it that way.
Aside from those two notes, I really don’t think that there is anything about this speaker that you need to be wary of. The fit and finish is fantastic. Their way with music and movies is equally impressive. And they’ are not that large or that prohibitively expensive given their performance in terms of comparable loudspeakers.
We have Fluance’s new reference series. Now, the reference series will play lower than the 3050, but both speakers have the same problem as it relates to bass; and that you have to just be really careful with setup to avoid the bass becoming just too much of a good thing.
Now, the Fluance is more affordable and direct in comparison to the 3050 i bought when set up correctly. I do think that the Q Acoustic towers are a little bit more refined. That said, the Fluance’s are going to be smoother, a little bit warmer; which may or may not be a good thing for you. And unlike the Q Acoustics, they aren’t as heavily influenced by your associated equipment.
That is to say that you are not going to really dramatically alter their sound given whatever you attach them to in quite the same way that you can with the Q Acoustic towers. Now the JAMO C97 Mii is definitely a more lively and dynamic loudspeaker and it has far more control over its bass in more situations in direct comparison to the 3050 i.
Now, I’m not going to say that the JAMO C97’s are neutral, they definitely have a sound and I happen to like that sound. But if you’re someone that likes to err more on the side of neutrality, I do think the Q Acoustic towers are probably going to be a better fit. And now you might be asking yourself;
Well how does the 3050I compare to the flagship concept series speakers from Q Acoustics?
And the truth is, it doesn’t. And I don’t think you should expect it to but I understand why you might expect it to because if you watch or read reviews of the 3050 i’s on the internet, you’re probably thinking that it’s this huge giant killer and the giant that it’s trying to kill is its own stablemates; the concept 300 and 500. I’m sorry it just doesn’t do that.
This is a great speaker in its own right and it may even be a great speaker at or above its price point. But it does not, well, punch five times above its weight class, it just doesn’t do that. But I understand that the concept 300 and concept 500 speakers are cost prohibitive to a lot of people, in which case I will make the argument that the 3050i is a great option.
I continue to be impressed by the sheer number of sub $1,000 Tower loudspeakers on the market right now that have a great price to performance ratio and I consider the Q Acoustics 3050I to be among that group. While not a set it and forget it speaker, you do have to take some special precautions with respect to setup or pairing it with the right electronics, but once you do, you get everything for the most part right. The performance that these towers are capable of dishing out is really impressive. As the centre-piece of a 5.1 home theatre system, I really liked them. So, yes, they are good for music but I think they are also great for home theatre.
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