Q Acoustics 3020i review: Big, smooth sound from small, affordable speakers

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The Good The affordable Q Acoustics 3020i give smooth, rich sound in a relatively compact design. The speakers are well built, look sweet and are available in a number of attractive finishes.

The Bad Despite simplified speaker connectors, the 3020is are not suited to wall-mounting. The Elac Debut B6.2 offer better performance for the same money.

The Bottom Line The Q Acoustics 3020i bookshelf speakers combine cutting-edge design with excellent sonics and are suited to systems with tight space requirements.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Sound 8
  • Value 8

A relatively young brand in the world of hi-fi, Q Acoustics has been producing budget hi-fi since 2006. We first heard the company's products with the unique bolt-on Q-TV 2 speaker and were pleased when the brand finally gained US distribution last year.

While competitors such as Elac and Bowers & Wilkins are shifting to a more "exciting" sound, Q Acoustics is going the other way. The 3020 was a fairly bright speaker, but the updated 3020i offers a refined sonic design with a smoother midrange and deeper bass. This makes it a much better match for the typically thin sound of many AV receivers.

While the Elac Debut 6.2s cost the same and sound better, they're bigger and more generic-looking than the 3020i. If you need a pair of speakers for a smaller system, these babies offer a lot for the money. The Q Acoustics 3020i are available now for $299, £249 or AU$599.

Staying small by going deep

Sarah Tew/CNET

The bigger the speaker, the more air it can push and (in gross general terms) the better it sounds. But not everyone has room for a set of floorstanders, like Q Acoustics' 3050i, or even large bookshelves like the Elacs, in their living room. 

The 5-inch woofer of the 3020i helps keep the speakers compact at 6.7 inches wide and 10.9 inches high. Their biggest dimension is actually depth -- 11.1 inches -- which creates a 25 per cent increase in volume on the model before it. The box itself offers something Q Acoustics calls P2P bracing for less cabinet vibration.

The woofer is paired with a 22mm (0.86-inch) decoupled "High Frequency Driver" with a wide surround, which the company claims offers a wider stereo image than before.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The cosmetics are a little flashier than before, with a metallic surround on the woofer and a seam-free cabinet with a vinyl wrap (black, white or walnut) that also covers the front of the speaker. The speakers come with magnetic grilles, which is a welcome addition at this price.

While the original binding posts looked kind of cool, they were a little impractical. By mounting the terminals flush on the new versions and eliminating the scooped-out section, the speakers have better structural integrity and will fit in even tighter spaces than before.