British hi-fi gear occupies a spot in almost every system in my home; 13 components and counting. The British are also really good at building affordable audio components that deliver excellent sound quality, keep its value, and have proven to be reliable if you know what to buy. One brand that really understands the performance/affordability concept is Q Acoustics. The Q Acoustics 3030i bookshelf loudspeakers at $399 are the main course in this full English breakfast.
Very much like Jason Statham’s character in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the Q Acoustics 3030i are a tad unleashed. They communicate music like an effortless weapon, and with some serious punch in the lower registers with the right amplifier. They borrow a lot of their driver technology from their much larger sibling; the Q Acoustics 3050i floor-standing loudspeaker that retails for almost twice the price.
I’m a huge fan of the 3050i, but I can see how some might find their somewhat restrained sounding presentation a tad boring with the wrong amplifier. The Croft Acoustics Phono Integrated and NAD C 316BEE V2 integrated amplifiers are great matches with the 3050i, but that took a lot of trial and error.
The 3030i are not a replacement for the existing 3020i (one of the best-reviewed bookshelf loudspeakers on the market), but a larger model for those looking for more bass punch.
Q Acoustics have tweaked something in the cabinet design and crossover of the 3030i because they dig just as deep as the larger 3050i, and sound significantly more robust than the 3020i; their presentation takes a firm step forward. Just like Bacon.
The 3030i is not a very difficult loudspeaker to drive (88 dB, 6 ohms) but it definitely benefits from an amplifier with some grip and midrange punch. Stay away from amps that veer dark because the 1-inch soft-dome tweeter needs some illumination.
Q Acoustics use binding posts that are almost flush with the rear of the cabinet and it certainly gives you some extra room if you have to place the loudspeakers close to the wall.
The 3030i are rear ported 2-way bookshelf loudspeakers and while they are supplied with foam bungs (you stuff them inside the port) to reduce their bass output in that placement scenario, we’re going to advise that you leave them in the box.
The 3030i are large and unusually deep bookshelf loudspeakers; the 13-inch depth might be problematic for bookshelves and even some media units.
We highly recommend investing in the stands that were designed specifically for the 3030i; the top plate and overall height of the stand place the tweeter 36-inches above the floor.
The Q Acoustics 3030i require an amplifier that is light on its feet, but also capable of delivering a punch. Brad Pitt’s character was almost impossible to understand (one of his best roles), but he had character and was able to pivot when required. The Cambridge Audio CXA61 is a bit like Mickey; minus the incomprehensible part because it’s damn good with vocals and detail.
The CXA61 can deliver 60 watts/channel and minus the weird omission of a phono stage, has almost everything you could ask for a hi-fi piece of audio equipment; 3 digital audio inputs, support for Bluetooth aptX HD, 32-bit/384kHz PCM digital audio (using the USB input), and a really clean industrial design.
It might lack the Thor-like power of the Edge A integrated amplifier, but the $999 CXA61 is no lightweight when pushed.
The midrange is very transparent sounding, and the top end is quite detailed and smooth.
Cambridge Audio has really stepped it up over the past 5 years and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a piece of their equipment that doesn’t deliver both excellent sound quality and value.
Colin Farrell delivered one of his best performances in The Gentlemen and like the Rega Planar 3/Nagaoka MP110 combination – it’s all business. Don’t try to overthink it. Don’t try to play games with it or pretend you’re more sophisticated than you are. The Rega has been around the block a few times and knows how to handle itself.
So how do you put all of this together?
The Q Acoustics/Rega/Cambridge Audio trio is the basis for a hi-fi system to take you many years into the future with support for vinyl playback, hi-res streaming, and other legacy components if this is going to be for both music and watching movies.
Add the Bluesound NODE streamer to keep the price down and quality high; Cambridge offers a compatible streamer for almost $500 more but the need for an external phono preamp and the desire to keep the price below $4,000 for the entire system made us pick a product from the Commonwealth.
The Full English
- Q Acoustics 3030i Bookshelf Loudspeakers ($399/pair at Amazon)
- Q Acoustics 3030FSi Stands ($249 at Amazon)
- Cambridge Audio AXA61 Integrated Amplifier ($1,099 at Amazon)
- Cambridge Audio Alva Duo Phono Preamp ($349 at Amazon)
- Bluesound Node Streamer ($599 at Amazon)
- Rega Planar 3 Turntable ($1,125 at Turntable Lab)
- Nagaoka MP-110 Phono Cartridge ($105 at Amazon)
- QED Reference XT40i Loudspeaker Cables ($159 at Amazon)
For more information: Best Affordable Bookshelf Loudspeakers
For more articles like this: Audiophile System Builder
June 18, 2022 at 6:26 pm
How will audiolab 6000A pair the 3030i? Or the 3050i?
June 18, 2022 at 10:41 pm
I own all 3 and my view is that the 6000A is a solid option for both. The 3050i is more restrained sounding of the two and benefits a lot from the forward sounding signature of the Audiolab.
The 6000A is lean sounding but is also very detailed and it can drive both speakers well.
I still prefer the NAD or Croft with the 3050i though.
June 18, 2022 at 8:10 pm
Ian, my friend. Do you know that I am hoping to retire one day? Yeah…Thought so. So hey…The Amazon link says the 3050i are out right now and the gods (small “g”) have no spAmazonian clue as to when it will be back in stock.
So I couldna’ buy em, laddie!
Blue Sound? Pass. I’m no “B Soundrel” and will stick with my HEOS.
Niiiiiiice turntable! I like ttl too! I like red too! But I have six turntables already and while there are seven days in a week (8 if you are a Beatles fan like me!) if I get another on I am going fully Automatic.
I have NEVER replaced a cartridge in my decades of existence.
I gots lots o’ zip cord.
I really like red tho’…Green is my favorite color but red is in second place. I am looking in earnest for a pair of speakers for my older brother. He has had his for nigh on 25 years now. Or more. I can not recall how long nor the make and model but he likes them.
The 3030i and their stands are in stock but my older (not bigger, I’m the largest of us even now) brother prefers floorstanding speakers. I’m ramblin’.
Cool kit, brother! I will continue to consider those 3050i speakers. I am a Klipsch enthusiast (I do not like the term “fan” as it implies being FANatical. 😉 I think he might go for trhe 3050i is they just showed up at their home.
But getting him some new speakers he would be happy with is some thing of a mission for me and I am not even Mormon…Gad I hope the readership here has a sense of humor. Prolly not, huh?
Screw ’em. I really like Red. Oh. As for bacon? One of my Aunts married her husband whom my mom introduced to her and he converted to Judaism from Catholicism for PURE love of her. Some times they would have BBQ pork and after the first time they had me over I was kinda sorta informed it was NOT an all I can consume buffet. There were others there. I can eat more than all of ’em put together.
I am thinking white speakers might help me convince my sister-in-law to help me convince my brother. Ramblin’…
June 18, 2022 at 9:33 pm
qacoustics.com seems to have the 3050i in-stock, but they raised the price to $999. Although we saw them go on sale last year for as low as $711 at Amazon for Black Friday. I suppose that may be why they’re sold out.
June 18, 2022 at 10:33 pm
Thank you, Sir Brian of Mitchell!
I am going to get him some nice speakers that I can also afford and even at that price I could do so by saving a few more months, as his day of birth is in December!
Be assured that I very much appreciate this site and all of you here. I would not say as much were it not true. It was a genuine pleasure to meet you and the guys that were there that day at (the) T.H.E. Show! Please let Miss Emiko know that I would have happily shaken her hand too but I know she was busy elsewhere at the show. 🙂
Thank you again!
June 19, 2022 at 8:32 am
Brexit resolved? Life getting back to normal in the UK?
Do you even read the news?
June 19, 2022 at 11:01 am
The original article was published almost 15 months ago.
June 20, 2022 at 7:03 am
Then why is this article on your homepage and why did you change the opening paragraph to reflect my previous comment ???
June 20, 2022 at 10:24 am
If an older article starts to get a lot of traction again, it gets pushed back to the top of the homepage. I changed the opening paragraph to keep the focus on the product versus the specific politics of the time when it was written.
August 4, 2022 at 8:19 am
How do you think the 3030i would pair with the Rotel A11 Tribute?
I’ve seen your conversations with “a British Audiophile” on YouTube and you’ve mentioned the amp and speakers are both great.
In the UK they are also affordable as the speakers are £235 on Amazon and the amp is around £300 2nd hand.
Are these components a good match?
It’s just I’ve had 2nd thoughts after you explained they either need playing at high volume or with a powerful amp in order to sound their best.
Any recommendations for an amp in the £250-£500 range that will get you most of the way there at lower volumes?
I’ll be running them with a JDS labs atom DAC or maybe a topping E30.
August 4, 2022 at 2:20 pm
It would be a good match from a tonal perspective but the lack of power would be an issue. The A14 would work better.
The NAD C316BEE V2 works well with it, but I really need to turn it up.
Rotel, NAD, Yamaha, Cambridge Audio would all be good matches.
August 5, 2022 at 9:18 am
Thanks for the response.
That’s a bit disappointing to hear because it seems like you’re talking an amp that approaches £1000 over here in the UK to get the most out of the 3030i.
Have you tried the A11 Tribute with the 3050i?
If that works it’s a much more accessible combination.