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Issue 76
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QUESTED V3110

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15 July 2013

Quested V3110 Landscape

After a long time in development, Quested’s latest three-way midfield has finally arrived in Australia.

Text: Andy Stewart

What do get when you drop a 39kg Quested V3110 four feet onto your unsuspecting left foot? A broken toe, that’s what. At least it feels broken… I may be over-stating it, but I can’t put any weight on it so it’s not looking good.
I’ve never had so much difficulty setting up a pair of monitors in my life. These new Questeds are heavy, slippery and large, making the whole process of lifting them – even above waist height – a dangerous and risky enterprise. They’re a genuine two-man lift not worth attempting on your own. When I first dropped the speaker, my initial reaction was to save it by clutching at it as it fell, and in doing so I almost put my right hand straight through the main driver. When that failed to stop the accelerated decent, I stuck out my left foot like a desperate Socceroos defender. It was testament to the speaker’s build quality that it came off unscathed – which is more than I can say for yours truly. It’s the first drop test I’ve ever performed on a studio monitor, come to think of it… and hopefully the last.
Final score: Quested 1; Andy Stewart 0.

SPECS OF NOTE

The new Quested V3110 is a ported three-way active midfield monitor, featuring a 250mm (10-inch) low-frequency driver, a 75mm (three-inch) soft-dome midrange and a 28mm high-frequency tweeter. Physically the cabinet stands 380mm wide, 600mm high and 360mm deep, although it’s also configurable horizontally by rotating the midrange and HF driver’s mounting panel 90º (clockwise or anticlockwise, depending on whether it’s a left or right). I was tempted to use the word ‘footprint’ here to describe the cabinet’s size, but it seems a tad ironic now.
Each speaker component of the V3110 is driven by its own amplifier; the HF and MF drivers are served by Class-A/B amps, while the LF driver sports a 700W Class-D amp, for fast excursion and the minimisation of the cabinet’s overall weight. I suspect if the speaker were loaded with a third Class A/B amp to run the LF driver as well, the unit would top out at well over 40kg. I’m sure more than one toe would have copped it in the event of this design method – thank god for Class-D amps!
The amps themselves are rated – from high to low frequency – at 150W, 150W and 700W respectively. The crossover filters acting between these three components are centred at 650Hz and 2.5kHz,
and feature 24dB per-octave slopes – double the gradient of the 12dB per-octave slopes in the crossovers of my venerable VS2108As. Each speaker also contains a 10kg cement block that’s positioned to make sure the speakers remain stable on their stands and savage in the event of a fall… at least that’s my assumption.
There are recessed EQ controls on the rear panel for the tonal management of all three drivers. The HF and MF drivers have independent dip switch-style trim controls that provide ±1dB shifts either side of ‘flat’, should you feel the need to adjust them to suit your ears and/or room. The LF driver EQ meanwhile consists of a recessed, rotary four-position switch (requiring a flat-head screwdriver to adjust it). This facilitates a 6dB cut below 100Hz for when you’re running a sub (or yearning for that NS10 sound), and boosts of either 3 or 4dB above 80Hz should the bass response feel a touch anaemic. Overall, these controls allow for only a modicum of adjustment rather than providing you with enormous potential for tonal tomfoolery, but admittedly, I quickly settled on the maximum cuts of both the midrange and top-end EQs, and the maximum low-end boost (+4dB) on the LF driver to get the speakers to sound full and deep. Which leads me to the inevitable conversation about their all-important sound.

MIND OVER FLATTER

The V3110s provide a giant aural rendering of mixes, reminding me once again of the simple fact that cabinet size and power handling are fundamental to the scale of the image a speaker produces. In comparison to all the other monitors in my mixing room – Yamaha NS10s, Quested VS2108As, Event Opals and PMC DB1s – the V3110s produced by far the largest image, not just in terms of bass extension, but also less tangible concepts like spatialisation of sounds within a stereo framework, depth perception and panning detail. The speakers have the effect of miniaturising the listener, allowing you to see fine detail in three-dimensional space: where a reverb’s asymmetrical delay is positioned, how that slap off the vocal double is functioning with respect to other spaces in the mix, how the distant instruments are functioning up the back, and so forth. It’s a luxurious viewpoint, revealing the inner workings of your mixes in ways that smaller nearfields simply cannot match. It’s not something you readily appreciate when you spend your life in front of smaller two-way nearfields. During mix sessions in particular, the V3110s were seductive and informative in equal measure, making the switch back to smaller monitors a hard move to stomach.
Tonally the Quested V3110s are not too dissimilar to the VS2108As, although they’re quite bright overall for their size. Like I said, the ‘view’ is spectacular – wide and detailed – but the bottom-end is neither enormous nor exaggerated. Where the older VS2108As offer a thicker representation of frequencies in the region of around 80 and 200Hz, presumably as a result of cabinet resonances that seemingly produce sub-harmonics without ever really doing so (almost like the head bump of a tape machine), the V3110s are less prone to exaggeration in this region. Instead, the speakers pass through this area quite smoothly, extending beyond the range of 2108As and into the sub-harmonics before finally rolling off at 34Hz. The published specifications bear this out, claiming a frequency response of 34Hz – 20kHz (±2dB). Despite this, however, I was still slightly underwhelmed by the bottom end extension. Perhaps I was simply expecting too much from a 10-inch driver…
Once I got past the yearning for more bass extension, however – something I’m particularly partial to in a larger monitor – I quickly grew to like the V3110s. They’re crystal clear and rather luxurious to work with. If you’ve never heard midfield monitors before, the experience is similar to seeing the original of a famous masterpiece for the first time – a reprint of which you might even have on your wall at home. The original is usually much bigger and more detailed than you ever imagined possible. Unfortunately, what’s also true of the original – apart from the fact that you almost certainly can’t afford to own it – is that your home probably doesn’t have a wall big enough to hang it. The same applies to midfield monitors: they’re expensive and require a big space, which unfortunately means they’re not for everyone. Midfield monitors in general are designed for a larger space that physically requires a bigger speaker to achieve adequate sound pressure in the room. If you’re mixing in a small bedroom you’d essentially be throwing thousands of extra dollars away on a monitor that you’re never going to be able to turn up to levels it’s designed to run at. The other physical problem is that, being a large three-way design, you’re never going to be able to get far enough away from it to avoid hearing the individual components of the cabinet rather than the speaker acting as a single entity.
For anyone with a large space that requires speakers with greater SPL capacity, the V3110s are ideal candidates. They’re not big, unwieldy monitors that require a savage crank of the handle before they come to life either. They’re capable of a wide range of volumes; holding together well at high SPLs yet still remaining detailed at low levels.
Wooden cabinets with parallel surfaces are relatively rare these days, but the Questeds V3110s prove there’s still merit in simple speaker design and construction that features quality components. If you’re in the market for a decent three-way midfield monitor, and your room is big enough to accommodate them, check out the Questeds. They may not be brimming with the latest sophisticated curves and waveguides but the sound is big and meticulous.

 

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