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Q Acoustics Q-BT3 Review

Verdict

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Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Eye-catching design
  • Rich, detailed sound quality with any source

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not as convenient or space-efficient as a soundbar

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £349.95
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with apt-X
  • 2 x 50W power output
  • Low-distortion DAC
  • Optical/analogue inputs and subwoofer output
  • 100mm mid/bass driver and 25mm silk dome tweeter

Soundbars are a wonderful way of upgrading your TV’s sound quality without impacting on living space, but they’re not for everyone. Their shallow cabinets often put a limitation on sound quality, making them too much of a compromise for discerning listeners.

That’s why Q Acoustics has come up with a more traditional alternative in the Q-BT3, a pair of powered hi-fi stereo speakers with a built-in amplifier, a variety of connections and Bluetooth – much like the Blue Aura X30 we reviewed recently.

There seems no end to its versatility – you can hook up your TV and boost movie playback, stream music wirelessly from phones and tablets or connect a laptop. It might cost a little more than most soundbars, but we’re hoping the step-up in sound quality is worth the investment.
Q Acoustics Q-BT3

Although not as convenient or space-efficient as a soundbar, Q-BT3 is visually striking and sublimely-made pair of speakers. They come in three funky colours – Juice Red, Urban White and Jet Black.

We tested the bright red version, which makes a fun, eye-catching addition to any room, contrasting stylishly with the curved black metal grille on the front (which we’re told can be removed with the right tools). Gently rounded edges soften the lines.

Build quality is superb too – the rigid cabinets feel pleasingly robust when handled. You can place them horizontally or vertically according to your setup (the Q Acoustics badge on the front rotates) and there are adhesive rubber pads to curb vibration.

Q Acoustics Q-BT3

The active right speaker houses all the connections. These include optical digital, analogue stereo RCA and 3.5mm minijack inputs, plus a subwoofer output if you want to boost bass output. The right speaker connects to the passive left using high-quality binding posts on the back of each (a 4m speaker cable is supplied in the box).

Q Acoustics Q-BT3

The right speaker also houses a digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), a 2 x 50W power amplifier and a Bluetooth 4.0 receiver, which is the obvious highlight. It supports apt-X to deliver better sound quality than bog-standard Bluetooth, and remembers up to eight paired devices so visitors can reconnect easily.

Each speaker uses a 100mm coated paper cone mid/bass driver and a 25mm silk dome tweeter – the sort of full-range array that you don’t normally get inside a soundbar – while the built-in DSP’s high-precision digital filters fine-tune the frequency response curve.

Setup involves a little more
faffing around than a soundbar, but not much. Connect the right speaker
to the mains, link the speakers’ binding posts and plug in your devices.
When used as a soundbar replacement, just connect your TV’s optical
output to the right speaker and away you go.

Q Acoustics Q-BT3

On
top of the right speaker are volume and power buttons and an LED that
glows different colours to denote its status – blue for Bluetooth
(natch), green for analogue, white for optical and red when turned off.
It flashes blue when pairing with Bluetooth devices and slow flashes
when muted. It took seconds to pair a Bluetooth device.

Q Acoustics Q-BT3

You
can also control the speakers using the supplied credit card style
remote. We don’t like the horrid blister buttons, cheap build quality
and the fiddly size, but it’s hard to get worked up by a zapper that
sports just five buttons – power, source, volume up/ down and mute, all
arranged in a vertical line.

The
Q-BT3 is a real jack of all trades, working brilliantly with TV shows,
movies and music. No matter what you throw at them, these speakers
handle the material with refinement and authority.

Unlike many
soundbars, its sound is satisfyingly complete, going from deep, punchy
bass right up to super-crisp top end without giving undue prominence to
any particular frequency groups. We tested it directly after Toshiba’s
budget SB3950E1 soundbar, and the difference was the sonic equivalent of
walking from a dark tunnel into bright light.
Q Acoustics Q-BT3
We
started with the Blu-ray version of Thor, and the Q-BT3’s class shone
through from the very first listen. It makes the comic book action sound
remarkably rich and fulsome, taking everything in its stride even at
high volumes. Sounds are cleanly separated and skilfully organised
within the wide stereo stage.  

When Thor and pals square up to
the Frost Giants, Q-BT3 fills the room with dynamic, weighty effects.
There’s a fierce crunch as Thor’s hammer blasts the Frost Giants, while
swords connect with a clean, metallic clang and shards of ice shatter
with gusto.
    
These effects are backed up by quick, thumping
bass hits. We’re impressed by the amount of bass these speakers produce,
lending a decent sense of scale even without the involvement of a
subwoofer.

The system also drips with detail and conveys dialogue
beautifully. Voices are presented with all their nuances intact and
stay locked to the centre of the soundstage. Deep-voiced characters like
King Laufey have real presence. These impressive vocal abilities
continue with TV material, where clear speech is of the utmost
importance.

The Q-BT3 is equally impressive with music. Songs
sound smooth and easy, with clear midrange, solid yet agile basslines
and sparkling detail. The jazzy brass licks in Afro Elements’ Live Your
Life are sharp and precise, with a clearly-defined leading edge. We
tried music from an OPPO Blu-ray deck, an iPod and even a portable CD
player, and in every case the Q-BT3 makes it sound great. We really
can’t speak highly enough of these speakers.
Q Acoustics Q-BT3

If
you want to improve your TV’s audio quality but feel uninspired by what
soundbars have to offer, then the Q-BT3 is a fantastic alternative. Its
superb, full-range sound trumps almost every soundbar on the market
(and most powered speakers for that matter) turning music, movies and TV
shows into things of sonic beauty.

But you don’t have to use it
with a TV – it’s equally at home with a PC or as a wireless hi-fi,
thanks to its built-in Bluetooth. There’s no end to its flexibility.

What’s
more, build quality is of the highest order and we love the funky red
finish. It’s relatively pricey and not as discreet or hassle-free as a
soundbar, but with sound quality this good it’s worth the inconvenience.

Superb sound quality and funky design come together in Q Acoustics’ wonderful wireless speaker system

Trusted Score

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Score in detail

  • Performance 9
  • Features 8
  • Value 8
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Design 9

Features

3D Ready No
Number of Speakers 2
Supported Channels 2
DVD Player No
Blu-ray player No
Audio Processing No
Dolby Digital No
DTS No
Dolby Pro Logic II No
Dolby TrueHD No
DTS Master Audio HD No

Connectors

S/PDIF Optical In 1
Subwoofer Out 1
Stereo Line In 2
Power (Watt) 2 x 50W

Physical Specifications

Height (Millimeter) 240mm
Width (Millimeter) 148mm
Depth (Millimeter) 208mm
Weight (Gram) 7.2k (total)g

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