If you’re considering getting into the world of hi-fi to play vinyl and don't know what speakers to choose then this pair of bookshelf units could well be the answer be the answer.
Increasingly, more and more of us are looking to better quality audio – often because we want to play vinyl and of course that requires a bit more thought than going out to buy a Bluetooth speaker.
While conventionally you’d have had separates to drive passive speakers of this type, there are a bunch of all-in-one systems like the Denon DM-41 DAB or Naim Uniti Atom with the power to drive decent-sounding passive speakers with the output to match.
If you want to play them with a turntable and don't have an all-in-one system with photo input you'll need an amplifier. Note that you may also need an external turntable pre-amp with some amplifiers; but many turntables have this built-in. If you have a turntable with a USB output, these have a pre-amp.
British firm Q Acoustics is behind the pair of speakers we're looking at here, part of the company’s 3000i range released earlier this year. The most expensive model is the £649 3050i floorstanders but you don’t need to spend that kind of money to get something that sounds great.
The pair of 3010i speakers is £199 and features 4-inch and 0.9-inch drivers and pump out a decent, clean sound for a bedroom or smaller-sized living room and yes, they really do fit on a shelf. For reasons that will become clear, you will need to ensure they will fit on in terms of their depth front to back.
You can either pair them with a mini system or plug them into an amp between 15 and 75W, a bracket into which our own Cambridge Audio amp settles quite nicely.
The price of these well-appointed speakers can't be quibbled with, not least because you can get a set of the 3010i speakers, a decent turntable and Bluetooth-enabled amplification for around the same price as the floorstanders alone. The sound isn't as good as the floorstanders (which we've heard in a demo scenario only) of course, but it's remarkable what they can pump out.
The 2018 range has had a significant redesign and takes some design know-how from Q Acoustics’ top-end £4,000 Concept 500 speakers in how it uses bracing within the cabinet to reduce vibration as much as possible.
Equally, there has been work on isolating the tweeter to ensure minimal interference from the woofer (that's the high-frequency decoupler referred to on the front of the units); Even at very high volume, it's remarkable how little distortion there is.
While the width of the 3010is is the same as the predecessor model, the depth and height have been significantly increased - the height by 18mm and the depth by 52mm (that's why you'll need to ensure they fit on your shelf front-to-back).
The significantly bigger size means far better bass response than the predecessor model - it doesn't thunder through your body, but you can definitely feel it.
The Q Acoustics 3010i is available now from Amazon in graphite grey, English walnut (pictured), carbon black and arctic white (it’s hard to choose between the walnut and the white as our favourite).
The speakers accept 4mm banana plugs, although we've just wired them in as you can see. They also come with grilles, but we prefer them without as you can see here.
Finally, you can stand-mount the speakers should you wish or even wall-mount them if you prefer. Foam bungs are supplied for the rear ports in case you want to dull the bass slightly but we'll warrant that you won't.