England is thought for a lot of issues. Huge Ben, crimson buses, tea, the Beatles, and naturally high-end audio. Q Acoustics is following that wealthy custom by delivering great-sounding, high-value audio system. Q Acoustics is well-known within the U.Okay.,however the corporate is a brand new participant within the U.S. market. The M2 Soundbase is my introduction to its product line, and I’m impressed.
The M2 Soundbase seeks to unravel the obtrusive drawback of contemporary TV’s: horrible built-in sound. The M2’s major operate is to make dialog intelligible, give film and TV programming dynamics and affect, and supply fundamental audio streaming. It is a product whose focus is delivering sound high quality over bells and whistles, and it delivers.
The M2 has a downward-firing subwoofer and two Balanced Mode Radiators alongside the entrance. Off axis efficiency is exceptionally good. In case your favourite chair is off heart or you may have individuals visiting, everybody will really feel like they’re sitting within the room’s candy spot.
The distinction between a sound base and a soundbar
The M2 is a sound base, which differs barely from a soundbar. Whereas a soundbar could be held on a wall, a sound base is meant to be put immediately beneath a TV and (as its identify implies) act as a base or help. You’ll be able to’t dangle a sound base on a wall, however you’ll be able to put it on high of or inside a cupboard.
Equipment and setup
Organising the M2 may be very easy. I had it related and able to go in a matter of minutes. I related my Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray participant through Toslink optical and related the M2 through HDMI to my TV. The M2 helps HDMI’s audio return channel (ARC), in order that it could actually ship audio over the identical HDMI cable again to the speaker. Your TV should help ARC and also you usually have to allow HDMI CEC in your TV for this function to work.
I related the M2 through Bluetooth to my iPhone 7 immediately, however I had issues utilizing NFC Bluetooth pairing with my Sony NWZ-A17 high-res audio participant. When you may have units that help NFC pairing, all you must do is faucet the 2 units collectively they usually pair immediately. On this specific case, the Sony saved telling me that it was incompatible with the M2. I by no means resolved this NFC subject, so I can’t opine if the issue lay with the Sony or the M2.
I ought to word that the M2 comes with an HDMI cable and an influence wire, however no optical cable. To strengthen how new Q Acoustics is to the U.S., my assessment unit was shipped immediately from England and got here solely with European energy cords. I had to make use of a European-to-U.S. adapter to get the sound base powered up. I don’t anticipate that to be the case for U.S. client purchases.
In the event you plan to make use of the M2 as a TV base, it could actually help most trendy TVs of cheap dimension. If, nonetheless, the TV has outer legs as a stand, the 21.6-inch-wide speaker may be too slender.
The M2 comes with a robust assortment of inputs for this value level. You’ll discover HDMI audio through ARC, Toslink optical, Bluetooth with AAC and aptX codec help, and two analog audio inputs, labeled as Line In 1 (three.5mm enter) and Line In 2 (RCA enter). It’s very uncommon to discover a soundbar or sound base at this value level that helps aptX, which delivers close to CD-quality audio streaming over Bluetooth. The standby button’s shade adjustments relying on the enter chosen. Sadly, as a result of the sunshine is on high of the unit, you will not see the colour in case you’re seated.
In the event you’re searching for Wi-Fi or whole-home streaming, you’ll have to look elsewhere and upwards in value. One thing like the Sonos Playbase, maybe. The M2 additionally doesn’t include a subwoofer, and there’s no subwoofer output connection nor help for an wi-fi subwoofer. Whereas most customers will probably be exceedingly pleased with the M2’s efficiency and never assume twice about it, there will probably be a smaller share who discover that the bass simply isn’t sufficient. On the finish of the day, physics is physics.
Q Acoustics boasts that it has designed the M2’s pre-amplifier to be smar, dubbing it the Clever Pre-Amplifier or IPA. The IPA will robotically flip the unit on and auto-select a supply when it detects an energetic audio sign. I additionally appreciated the truth that Q Acoustics gives a prioritized hierarchy of sources. In different phrases, if two inputs are energetic on the similar time, the M2 will prioritize one energetic enter over one other. First precedence is given to an energetic HDMI supply, second to the Toslink optical enter, Bluetooth is third, and eventually analog Line In 1 and Line In 2. You’ll be able to after all override auto supply choose by urgent the supply choose button on the distant or the speaker itself.
When there’s been no energetic audio for a pre-defined period of time, the M2 will robotically go into standby. For HDMI sources, the M2 will honor HDMI CEC management and for optical indicators, the M2 will energy on when the crimson optical mild comes on or go into standby when the optical mild goes off. For analog indicators, the off time is 20 minutes. The one caveat to this automated setup is in case you join your TV through optical cable. Some TVs will proceed to ship an optical sign even when the TV is in standby. In such instances, you’ll have to put the M2 into standby utilizing the distant.
The M2 has one other function referred to as low supply achieve (LSG), which you’ll be able to allow with a rear change on the again of the unit. Place 1, the default, gives no achieve to the incoming sign. LSG Place 2 gives a 6dB achieve for optical and HDMI sources ought to their output be decrease than anticipated. Sometimes, you’ll by no means want to make use of this function with Hello-Fi tools.
Talking of achieve, you’ll be able to regulate the quantity of every supply independently, which may are available actually helpful. When you set a quantity for a specific supply, the M2’s IPA will keep in mind the quantity degree that you simply had set and return to that quantity degree if you re-select that supply.
Some commercials sound considerably louder than this system you’re watching. Some soundbars and sound bases have a function to tame these rogue commercials. The M2 doesn’t.
Mediocre distant management
The included distant is of the small, half-credit card dimension selection. Round buttons are aligned vertically. The distant is just not backlit and the small, mild printing on every button makes it tough to see what every button does in dimly lit situations. These design issues are sadly typical of many client electronics merchandise—together with soundbars—at this value level. I want that the distant was higher designed for no-look use. For instance, the facility toggle button ought to have been bigger and crimson, the quantity buttons may have been a unique form, and so on.
Fortunately, M2 could be managed by a satellite tv for pc, cable, or third-party distant management, so that you solely need to cope with a single distant. The Q Acoustics full person handbook (solely obtainable from the Q Acoustics web site) takes you thru all of the steps wanted to program the M2 with a common distant or the everyday TV or set-top field distant.
Fundamental however efficient EQ compensation
How a speaker sounds depends upon its placement. Soundbars and sound bases are not any exception. Fortunately, the M2 comes with three EQ settings to assist tame typical sonic anomalies based mostly on placement. The ON setting is perfect for putting the M2 on high of a cupboard, IN+ if the speaker is positioned in a big cupboard and IN- for placement in a small cupboard. It’s clear that the EQ adjustments the response of the bass and decrease midrange, the identical frequencies that may turn out to be muddy or boomy when put in a cupboard. The IN+ and IN- attenuate these frequencies to differing levels.
I arrange the M2 in my dwelling theater on high of a desk. The M2 sound base persistently delivered extremely intelligible dialogue with none gimmicks or acoustic trickery throughout a variety of seating positions in my dwelling theater. I watched and listened to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and I had no bother in any respect understanding each little bit of dialog completely. Dialog engulfed by advanced audio objects, such because the crowded market or ambush scenes on Jedha, Jyn earlier than the Insurgent Council, or the X-Wing assault on Eadu all the time got here throughout cleanly, crisply, and didn’t have synthetic timbre. You would be shocked what number of soundbars wrestle with these components.
That being stated, dynamics are a bit compressed, and you’ll expertise some “boxiness,” and the underside finish simply doesn’t dig down actually deep. Explosions and different typical film results don’t have the identical affect that you simply’ll discover with techniques that includes a subwoofer. These quibbles apart, the M2 was a strong performer all through.
A strong package deal, high to backside
The Q Acoustics M2 sound base goals at only one factor: delivering extremely intelligible dialog and excellent audio. And it succeeds. In the event you’re trying to improve your TV’s built-in audio expertise at a really cheap value, you simply can’t go improper with the M2. To beat the M2’s main shortcomings–compressed dynamics and lack of deep bass–you’ll have to spend considerably extra money. However, in case you’re you’re searching for a sound base that delivers a strong worth at a killer value, the M2 is a good selection.