I have to admit, I'm a recent convert to Q Acoustics speakers. It was just last year that I reviewed my first model, the adorable 3020 bookshelf speaker, but the company has since refreshed its 3000i Series line. Ears-on time with the new 3020i (full CNET review to come) proved it's even better than last year's 3020. So it made sense to also check out the new tower, the 3050i, which goes for $800 a pair in the US, £649 in the UK and AU$1,399 in Australia. It's available in four finishes: Arctic White, Carbon Black, English Walnut, and Graphite Gray.
Standing 40 inches (1020mm) high, the 3050i isn't small but its curved lines cut a distinctly modern look. The speaker features two coated paper 6.5-inch (165mm) mid-woofers, a cabinet-decoupled 0.9-inch (22mm) dome tweeter, and there's a large bass port on the speaker's rear panel. Q Acoustics engineers opted for HPE (Helmholtz Pressure Equalizer) technology and bracing to reduce cabinet resonance for improved sound quality. The newly designed wire connectors only accept banana plugs, the 3050i's average impedance is rated at 6 ohms, minimum impedance is 4 ohms. The cloth grilles are magnetically attached.
So what does it sound like? The 3050i pushes its weight around; there's a solidity to the sound you never get with small speakers. It also sounded awesome played loud, and got better and better as I pushed the volume up with a few Aerosmith albums! This speaker can rock and roll with ease! Encouraged, I hurled brute-force Blu-rays like House of Flying Daggers at the 3050is, and they reminded me why I'm such a big proponent of stereo home theater! No sound bar can touch the 3050i's dynamic punch!
To put the 3050i sound in perspective, I brought out a set of Pioneer Elite SP-EFS73 towers that sold for $1,500 a pair in 2015. Well, they sound very different — the SP-EFS73 sounds leaner, faster and clearer than the 3050i. The 3050i is a lower-resolution speaker than the SP-EFS73, but it's so much fun I didn't feel like I was slumming. Not at all.
The 3050i was nearly magical in the way it reproduced vocals — male and female — they sounded very human and present. Frank Sinatra practically materialized between the two 3050is, and later on so did Norah Jones. The SP-EFS73's sound was more present and immediate, but vocals sounded thinner.
David Bowie's Black Star album was another one that invited louder than average volume playback. Possibly because the 3050i's treble is so sweet, the high frequencies never hardened or turned bright.
The Q Acoustics 3050i is a keeper — I love it for its power and its way with vocals; it's an easy speaker to listen to for hours at a time. True, it's not the ultimate for transparency or soundstage depth, if you're looking for that the Pioneer Elite SP-EFS73 would be a better alternative. Right now they're going for $1,000 a pair online in the US.