Q Acoustics Q7000i Review
Q Acoustics carefully tests the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' maxim
What is the Q Acoustics Q7000i?It goes without saying that every manufacturer wants to make a product that destroys the competition and becomes the standout model in that product category. If you get a ‘clean sweep’ of reviews from different publications and wind up top of the pile, you can be the de facto product for people shopping in that category. Securing this position isn’t something that happens all the time and when it does, you want to make the most of it.
The sting in the tail is that when you have one of these products, replacing it (or even changing it) is risky. Some categories - TV’s, AV Receivers and the like have such quick lifespans that manufacturers don’t have any choice but to change them. Outside of these pressure points though, products can last long enough for companies to suffer the pangs of doubt about whether to leave something alone and risk it falling victim to the next big thing or if you should try and improve on something that the press and public have already decided is rather special.
Q Acoustics are likely to suffer this dilemma more than most companies as they have a something akin to a Midas touch when it comes to affordable loudspeakers. As the company puts a few more years under its belt, it now has the task of staying in their commanding position by updating their existing product line. The Q7000 sub sat system was a class act and AVForums (along with almost everyone else) loved it. Time waits for no man (or speaker) though and the company has now released the 7000i to stay up to date. Although it looks similar to the original, Q Acoustics has been busy changing a great deal of the components that make up the 7000. The competition is a fierce as ever - does the 7000i stay near the top of the pack?
Q Acoustics Q7000i DesignAt the most basic level, the Q7000i is the same fundamental concept as its predecessor. The system comprises four vertically arranged satellites, one horizontal one for the centre and a subwoofer. You can naturally buy all all the components separately and thus augment your existing five speakers to seven or nine if you need. The basic appearance of the speakers (more of which later) remains unchanged.
Internally however, Q Acoustics has been busy breathing new life into their babies. The chassis of the Q 7000LRi goes unchanged but both the midrange and tweeters see some substantial revisions. The tweeter is a completely new ‘ring radiator’ type while the larger units have been heavily revised to allow for greater excursion. The same tall and thin design is kept from before - presumably to avoid changes to the expensive and complex tooling that makes up the outer chassis. The design remains relatively unusual in that each satellite mounts three drivers rather than the more predictable two. I think that the radiating area of the two smaller drivers works out as greater than that of the single larger one in the KEF ‘Egg’ or Cabasse Eole but this is not always easy to be sure of thanks to a slight grey area on including the driver surround in the calculation.
The chassis of the Q 7000LRi goes unchanged but both the midrange and tweeters see some substantial revisions
While the satellites have been revised, the sub has been completely changed. This could be cause for concern because I thought the old Q7000 sub was a bit of a class act. The unusual design with the driver concealed behind a removable side of the chassis made for a potent little sub that was fairly unfussy with regards to placement. The Q7070Si that replaces it uses the same design principle but ups the appeal to the lazy by relocating the connections to a more accessible locale and ensuring you don’t have to take the side off to connect it up. The less encouraging news is that the respectable 10 inch driver has been replaced with a more compact 8 inch example and the cabinet that houses it is smaller as a result. The very unusual ability to wallmount it is rolled over from the older version.
The move to a smaller sub is possibly heresy to the collected membership of this fine forum but viewed in a wider context, it makes sense. Key rivals to the 7000i (with the notable exception of the Monitor Audio MASS) are all packing smaller sub boxes as 5.1 packages really start to feel the pinch from soundbars. The claimed response figure of 35-200Hz is in keeping with the competition and the controls are useful if not the most comprehensive going. With the satellites offering a crossover point of roughly 100Hz, this is bang on for the performance of the sub.
With the satellites looking identical and the sub a slightly shrunken version of its predecessor, the overall visual impression of the Q7000i isn’t really much different to the Q7000. Whether this is important to you is going to depend largely on if you liked it first time around. The satellites - in black especially - are subtle affairs. The shape is actually quite innovative but sufficiently free from adornment that they don’t really grab the attention in the same way that some of the competition does. The white finish is slightly more eye grabbing but this is still a subtle and fairly discrete set of speakers. An optional floorstand is available for £125 which is hardly cheap but seems par for the course these days. The unported design of the satellite together with the capable foot come wall mount means that many owners will get away without needing them.
The build quality of the system is excellent however. The paint finish on the metal enclosures is first rate and the hinges and other moving parts all feel very solid and well thought out. In fact everything supplied with the package is utterly logical. Clever features like the rotating foot that allows for hassle free wall mounting are welcome and the fact that the centre also benefits is useful. Less brilliant are the push down speaker terminals that will really only accept the wimpiest of speaker cables and are completely unsuited to banana plugs.
Q Acoustics Q7000i SetupThe Q7000i was used with a Cambridge Audio 751R and 752BD player, Sky HD, PS3, Netflix via Panasonic GT60 and a NAD DAC1 connected via coax to the 752BD to act as a USB interface to my Lenovo T530 ThinkPad. The satellites were placed on the Soundstyle stands that mount my normal speakers although I was also able to try the rears wallmounted to see if this had any effect on sound.
Material used included Blu Ray, DVD, Netflix, Sky Digital and a quick helping of Gran Turismo 6 before boredom got the better of me. Music used included lossless and high res flac and compressed audio from Spotify and the web.
Switch to stereo and the Q7000i is superb
Q Acoustics Q7000i Sound QualityThe Q Acoustics range now comes in a fair few shapes and sized but the voicing present to all the products has imparted a house sound to the brand that is distinctive and for the most part very welcome. The review set of speakers arrived run in and from the outset that they are happy to be used close to walls and corners and maintain an impressively consistent performance while they do so.
This performance shows itself to be subtly different to many of its competitors. Twenty minutes with the Q7000i won’t necessarily show it at its best. Compared to the more upfront performance of the KEF and Cabasse packages, the Q Acoustics is smooth and refined to the point where you might almost - almost - accuse them of being slightly dull. There are two reasons for this and they need to be taken into account to see what the Q7000i can do. The first is that the voicing of the 7000 seems to have been carried out with a view to many AV receivers at the price points likely to be used with it can come across as bright or forward and the Q7000i will act as a large dose of smoothness and civility. The other aspect of their design that is worth noting is that some back of an envelope calculations suggest that the Q Acoustics is a little less sensitive than some of the competition and unless careful level matching is taken into account, the 7000 will come across as slightly less exciting when run at the same given input.
The payoff of this is that run Fast and Furious 6 at high levels and the Q Acoustics is a mighty performer. The control and smoothness it brings to the insanity on the screen is unusual for such small speakers and especially ones at such a sensible price point. The handover from speaker to speaker is seamless and the detail retrieval is all encompassing without tipping over into brightness or aggression. The handover to the subwoofer is also seamless and controlled.
The 7070i subwoofer is also still a capable bit of kit despite the reduction in size and driver area. It has been over a year since the Q7000 sub was last in the same room but I suspect that the older model could go lower than the new one and really big explosions and other ‘bass events’ don’t have the impact that some larger subs can manage but it is still more capable than rivals like KEF’s E2 for example. The bass there is has definition and detail that is excellent for making more subtle parts of the LFE channel sound more believable. Pushed hard, it can get a little unruly but you will be running seriously antisocial levels by the time this happens. There is also a sense that the voicing has been done in such a way as to give it one other party piece.
Switch to stereo and the Q7000i is absolutely superb. The lack of absolute bass depth is a more than acceptable trade-off for the agility and integration it offers from the lowest notes to the upper registers is genuinely excellent. Listening to the Cinematic Orchestra’s Motion is a genuine joy - not just ‘good for a sub sat system’ but a seriously convincing piece of stereo with a soundstage and cohesion that is a world away from 2.1 systems of old. If you are looking for a system that is equally capable for music and movies, I honestly feel that it breaks new ground for sub sat systems running in two channel.
The downsides to the system are not too significant but go back to the earlier comments about the first impressions the system can give. At lower volume levels, the Q Acoustics doesn’t have the same life and excitement that it does at higher levels. The more sensitive and slightly brighter Cabasee Eole 3 simply sounds a bit livelier at late evening levels and does a better job with vocals under these circumstances. The Q Acoustics is perhaps best seen as more of an ‘event speaker’ - something to use when you want to enjoy yourself rather than a constant boost to poor TV speakers.
The Q7000i lands some impressive hits against the competition.
- Exceptionally refined and spacious performance
- Superb in 2.1
- Solid build and useful features
- Sounds less exciting at lower levels
- Effete speaker terminals
- Floorstand is fairly pricey
Q Acoustics Q7000i ReviewThe market for sub sat speakers remains as competitive as ever and delivering the grand slam product that surpasses all the others is increasingly difficult. This being said, the Q7000i lands some impressive hits against the competition. This is a beautifully built and exactingly designed package that has a smoothness and control that makes everything you play on it sound rich, powerful and exciting. Moreover, this is a seriously talented performer in stereo too. Q Acoustics knew there wasn’t much wrong with the original 7000 series but this revision to the Q7000i has kept their offering very near the top of the pack against the best of the competition.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £900.00
Value For Money9
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