What is the 3020?
The Q Acoustics 3000 Series has done superbly as a 5.1 package with the only real limitations I could desperately pick out of the wave of positivity were that the subwoofer was a little bit rough and ready for music use and the 3010 didn't quite go low enough for my liking to work without one. As such, what you see here is the bigger brother of the 3010, the 3020. On paper, things don't look different- in fact that all important low frequency response is barely lower than the 3010- but does the 3020 have the magic of its little brother and the ability to go it alone? There's only one way to find out and with that we cue the music. Or at least we talk about the speaker for a bit and then cue the music.
When this is combined with the decision in the 3000 Series to move the terminals to the rear of the speaker, the result is a speaker that has far happier proportions than the older 2000 Series. The 3020 is bordering on the golden rectangle for many of its key measurements and this means it looks rather better than the 2000 Series ever did. Neither is this purely aesthetic. The cabinet is designed to be more inert- greatly aided by the reduced depth of the design and in acoustic terms this is very good news. The Concept 20 uses drivers that Q Acoustics can afford to fit to a speaker that costs £150 into one that costs more than twice that and the performance boost (a considerable one it must be said) is purely down to the cabinet.
The review samples were supplied in the one of the two 'range' finishes of matte graphite (the other being walnut). If you want gloss white or black or indeed the peculiar but rather cool leather finish, you will need to stump up an extra £60 for them. As I've never been a huge fan of white speakers I make no bones about the fact I prefer the graphite to the white but I have to admit that the leather finish is unexpectedly cool and not in the slightly kitsch way I might have imagined. Whether a trick finish is worth £60 to you is something you'll have to work out for yourself but the graphite finish is pretty cool.
It is also a speaker that should not present an amplifier with any significant issues to drive properly. With a 6 ohm impedance and a sensitivity of 88dB/w (which for a fairly small speaker is fairly impressive), the 3020 should present no problem to all but the most underpowered of amps.
Q Acoustics 3020- Sound Quality
The 3020 however comes good. Quite why it does is slightly mysterious as Q Acoustics only quotes an additional 4Hz of bass extension from the 3020 over the 3010. In reality however, the 3020 sounds like a speaker giving you full range where the 3010 doesn't. The better news is that everything that makes the 3010 so impressive is retained here. The upper frequencies sound full and extremely detailed and like the 3010, the 3020 has a real talent with vocals. To hear this small and relatively affordable speaker deliver Martha Tilston's vocals in Zero 7's Pop Art Blue in a way that is immediately attention grabbing is rather wonderful. Balancing detail and sharpness in the upper registers with the ability to stay smooth and civilised when things get rough is a tricky art at pretty much any price point and the 3020 has it down to an art.
Between these two frequency extremes lies a midrange that integrates the two drivers perfectly and sounds rich, involving and entirely believable. There was no instrument, effect or vocal that I threw at them that made them sound anything other than well behaved and believably real. Like the 3010, the 3020 works best with the speakers set with a bit of toe in towards the listening position as they are relatively directional, but this is hardly the preserve of this particular range. Equally, the speaker is not hugely fussed about proximity to walls either at the front or the side which is frequently the hardest thing to cater for in a
In comparison to the Acoustic Energy AE101 that passed through the review process last month, the Q Acoustics has to trade a little bass depth and they can't always match the impressive way that the Acoustic Energy could show up what the rest of the system was doing- the way that the 3020 performs is more consistent in that it will flatter poorer equipment and recordings rather better, but tends to sound very consistent almost (but I stress, not entirely) unrelated to how good the partnering electronics are. As they are undoubtedly voiced to be connected to affordable amps rather than Naim's offerings, this isn't really a surprise.
One area that does make a surprising difference are the stands and having spent some time comparing the supplied Concept stand and the good but rather more conventional Soundstyle, the 3020 appreciates the additional mass and clever design of the Concept stand and this seems to be the source of some of the mystery bass. The performance from the Soundstyle is still excellent but if you are buying stands at the same time, something heavy with a few pea sized lumps of blutac will really help the 3020 deliver the goods.
- Refined, energetic and detailed performance
- Well built
- Easy to drive
- Odd terminal layout
- Require decent stands to deliver their best
- Still not especially bassy
Q Acoustics 3020 Speaker Review
Value For Money
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