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Q Acoustics M20 HD Review

Verdict

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Another winning performance from a Q Acoustics’ system, the M20 HD speakers are versatile performers with a warm sonic performance that’s thoroughly enjoyable with music, movies and games.

Pros

  • Powerful, engaging sound
  • Versatile feature-set
  • Affordable asking price

Cons

  • Could benefit from more definition, dynamic agility
  • Stands add a fair bit to overall cost

Availability

  • UKRRP: £399
  • USARRP: $599
  • EuropeRRP: €499

Key Features

  • AptX-HD BluetoothCan stream up to aptX-HD (24-bit/48kHz)
  • Point-to-Point bracingReinforces internal structure to minimise vibration for a cleaner performance
  • Remote controlIncludes remote control for playback, switching inputs

Introduction

After ploughing lesser-known fields with its Q Active series, Q Acoustics’ latest set of speakers see the British hi-fi brand return to similar ground with its powered wireless speaker system.

The M20 HD arrive with hopes of elevating the performance of music, movies and games, and a focus on delivering class-leading high-definition playback over Bluetooth at a very enticing price.

Design

  • Unassuming looks
  • Variety of placement options possible
  • Requires speaker cable to connect speakers

The M20 HD’s appearance will be familiar to those who have previously bought a pair of Q Acoustic speakers. The glossy silver ‘Q’ logo matched by a smart-looking silver trim that outlines the baffle and the curvature of the cabinet – to assist in dispersing reflections from the tweeter – speaks to a refined aesthetic.

With its matte black finish, the M20 HDs are rather inconspicuous (although since launch Q Acoustics has added matte white and walnut veneer options with matching stands to boot). There’s some common ground with the Q Active 200; a trio of buttons that includes volume and a multi-function button. The multi-function button is lit up by an LED ring that flashes or changes colour, depending on the input.

Q Acoustics M20 HD buttons

Used as TV speakers, though, you won’t be able to see it from a seated position. The remote is of Q Active ilk, too; it’s responsive to presses, if you remember to point it at the powered speaker.

Q Acoustics M20 HD remote

The cabinet is reassuringly solid but not too heavy, and it’s rear-ported, which can affect bass levels. If positioned close to a wall (within 200mm), there are foam bungs to plug up the ports if you find the speaker’s bass excessive.

Q Acoustics M20 HD cabinet side

At 296mm, the cabinet is fairly deep, but not by so much that it couldn’t fit onto a bookshelf. The speakers are compatible with the 3000i speaker stands (£159) and the Q300WB bracket (£39.92/pair) for more placement options. Q Acoustics recommends a space of between 2m to 4m to get the full effect of the stereo image – although this is a suggestion, not a mandate.

One last thing to mention is the cable that connects the speakers. It’s one of the less conspicuous around and shouldn’t pose much of a problem; but it may aggravate those after a ‘truly’ wireless experience.

Features

  • Point-to-Point internal bracing
  • AptX-HD Bluetooth
  • EQ switch for adjusting sound profile

There’s no Wi-Fi here, which rules out ‘casting’, AirPlay 2 or Spotify Connect-esque functionality. A Bluetooth 5.0 connection is the sole wireless option, with the M20 accepting sources up to aptX-HD (24-bit/48kHz). Use the USB input and the ceiling raises to 24-bit/192kHz.

Like the Q Active series, both speakers can operate as the left or right channel, by flicking a switch on the rear of the powered speaker. Also on the powered speaker you’ll find binding posts, an EQ switch, optical, USB, 3.5mm aux, stereo RCA input and a sub out. Aside from a pair of binding posts, the passive speaker has no other connections.

Q Acoustics M20 HD connections and switches

The EQ switch is another feature borrowed from the Q Active model. Offering three positions, it can indicate to the speaker the space it’s in, allowing it to adjust the sound with a choice of next to a wall, in a corner, or freestanding. However, it’s rather easy to forget about if you move the speaker often.

Powered by 2 x 32W of continuous power and able to hit a peak of 2 x 65W, the M20s have a 125mm mid-bass driver and a 22mm tweeter that’s decoupled to reduce the effects of vibrations on it. Q Acoustics’ P2P (Point-to-Point) bracing returns to stiffen the enclosure and eliminate distortion, while also helping to improve the accuracy of the speaker’s stereo image.

Sound quality

  • Rich character to sound
  • Engages with music, movies and games
  • Weighty bass performance
  • Some tinkering with volume necessary

Over the course of testing the M20 HD, starting with some music, the speakers reveal themselves to be in-keeping with Q Acoustics’ tradition – delivering detailed and powerful sound with some warmth, giving music an appealing richness.

Some experimenting is required with the volume to get the preferred performance. The bass in Justin Timberlake’s Let’s Take a Ride initially lacked punch and was softly described. Pushing the volume up delivered more grunt; the M20 have a presence that’s big, inviting and solidly described.

Q Acoustics M20 HD powered and passive

Vocals are handled smoothly, with the mid-range home to some warmth. The M20 take Anya Taylor-Joy’s voice in Last Night in Soho’s Downtempo and ekes out detail from the breathy intonations of her wistful voice. Rhythmically, Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire is given toe-tapping energy and momentum, as well as a fine sense of timing.

Bass is weighty and fulsome, and at the top-end there’s clarity, the decay of high-frequency notes handled smoothly if perhaps lacking a certain sharpness. Highs and lows are fluidly managed, but the M20 isn’t the most agile in dancing between the two. Rising notes are dealt with in a broad sense. It’s an expansive, easy-going performance, but the M20 HD aren’t analytical; fine detail is a little loosely defined.

Compare them to Klipsch’s The Fives and there’s sharpness and clarity beyond the Q Acoustics’ means, but those speakers also cost twice as much.

Q Acoustics M20 HD rear port

Use them as speakers with a TV and they strike a fabulously weighty sound. The M20s don’t accept Dolby Digital audio, so any audio fed to them must be PCM – this speaker being strictly a stereo experience, after all. Simply head into the sound settings of your TV to change that.

Q Acoustics M20 HD on stand

Watching Reminiscence (4K Blu-ray), the soundstage was big, broad and wide. The M20 HD speakers showcased an excellent feel for the tonality of voices, capturing the character of, well, the characters.

Dialogue matches placement on-screen; effects pan across the soundstage; and bass response is sonorous and powerful. In the film, glass shatters with intensity, gunshots hit with a thud, and the cadence of Rebecca Ferguson’s Mae in her singing scenes is afforded ample clarity. It’s a very effective, full-sounding performance.

Q Acoustics M20 HD silver trim

Games work, too, with the M20s lapping up detail within a spacious soundstage, and effects positioned well to create depth in the stereo presentation. Raise the volume and the M20s avoid distortion – my only request is perhaps some more sharpness and definition.

In terms of fulfilling their mission brief of working across music, movies and games, the M20 HD consistently satisfy with a thoroughly engaging and entertaining performance.

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Should you buy it?

You want a versatile system at an affordable price Like the Q Active series, the M20 HD work well across a range of sources. Buy a stand and pair them with your TV, and you have a front-room speaker system for music, movies and games.

You’re after more dynamism and detail The M20 HD are adeptly skilled for the asking price, but if you want something more analytical or more high-end, you’ll have to pay more.

Final Thoughts

Considering their price, performance and versatility, there isn’t much to moan about when it comes to what Q Acoustics has laid out with the M20 HD. They’re fun and engaging active wireless speakers.

But there are a few niggles. I feel there’s a shortfall in terms of outright definition, despite their high-resolution promise, and I feel their agility in terms of dynamism and attack is broadly rather than acutely defined. Still, the character of the speakers is rewarding with music, films, and games; its warm and rich mid-range, powerful bass performance and defined top-end make them a musical performer.

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Tested for more than a week

Tested with real world use

Tested with a range of sources

FAQs

Why does the M20 HD’s LED light flash white every few seconds?

If you’ve connected the system to a TV for the first time, the LED light may flash white. That’s because the system doesn’t accept Dolby Digital audio when connected to a TV, only PCM.

Can I add a subwoofer to the M20 HD?

Yes, you can, through the sub-out connection.

What is the highest resolution the M20 HD supports?

The M20 HD can support 24-bit/192kHz through the USB input.

Full specs

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