Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase Review
Superb in every way
What is the Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase?You can spend thousands of pounds on a TV to give you the best Ultra HD 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision picture quality you can find but the onboard sound can usually only ever be described as adequate at best and, at worst, hugely disappointing and an unpleasurable assault on the ears.
This is where the soundbar and soundbase comes into its own. These outboard audio solutions give your TV a much needed boost to it’s often lacklustre onboard speakers. The soundbar is the most familiar of the two, usually a wide speaker with a low height designed to sit in front of or just below the TV, often with a separate subwoofer to beef up the bass capabilities. Then there's the soundbase, which is normally a much larger box that is designed to have the TV sit on top of it with several models capable of taking a large TV and quite a hefty weight.
Q Acoustics is an acclaimed speaker company with multi award winning speaker expertise and pedigree, that offers both soundbars and soundbases. The M2 is the latter and retails for just £299, featuring 180-degree sound speaker technology, a built in subwoofer, 80W of integrated amplification, Bluetooth support and can take a TV weighing up to 25kg. Read on to see if the M2 Soundbase gives your TV a much needed kick in the audio department...
What about the Design, Connections and Control?Designed to either sit underneath the TV or in a cabinet, the M2 Soundbase won’t look out of place regardless of which option you choose. It has a stylish curved edge design with a black metal grille to the front, smooth black bezel and the silver Q Acoustics logo at the centre. The main cabinet of the M2 is made from MDF with an attractive black sparkling finish to it.
The cabinet has internal bracing to cope with a TV weight of up to 25kg, which should comfortably take a TV over 55” in size, although the 5.8kg unit itself is only 550mm wide x 338mm deep x 93mm, so if you have a TV with a wide stand, you may find that it won’t fully sit on top of the M2.
To the rear we have the mains input, Bluetooth pair button and the source inputs which include HDMI (ARC), digital optical, analog 3.5mm and analog RCA. Also to the rear we have two buttons which are configured according to the location of the M2 and your type of TV. The first has three positions and is set by whether you have the unit under your TV or on top of a cabinet, in a large cabinet or in a small cabinet.
A remote control is also included, not the largest or most stylish remote we have ever seen, but as there are so few options to be configured it isn’t that necessary. The remote includes power/standby, source change, volume and mute buttons plus a final button for turning the MoviEQ option on, which is Q Acoustics’ ‘preferred balance to maximize the excitement and drama from your TV and Movie viewing’.
Specifications and FeaturesThe M2 Soundbase has clearly been developed to provide the best quality for your TV, Movie and Music sound. As such it does not include any pass-through features or additional connections as seen with some other soundbars. You can’t for example connect several devices to the unit and then pass through the video signal to your TV. For Sky, DVD or Blu-ray players you would connect via optical audio to the M2, then a separate HDMI cable from the player to the TV. It is also stereo 2.1 only so no surround or Dolby Atmos capabilities.
In that regard it isn’t as versatile as we would have liked and if you have multiple devices you may find you are constantly swapping cables to ensure you can use the M2 all the time, which as we will get to shortly, once you have heard it you most definitely will want to use it! Bluetooth V4 aptX is included and the M2 includes NFC for quick and easy pairing.
How was it setup and tested?Apart from setting the two switches on the back of the unit to suit your setup, there are no other settings to be changed or configured. You simply plug your HDMI cable from your TV (using the TV’s ARC port if it has one) to the M2, then any other sources you want to use and turn it on. For Bluetooth once you’ve pressed the pairing button on the rear of the M2, you can either connect to it via your device’s settings or place that device on top of the unit for NFC pairing.
There are no bass or treble settings with this unit, although we did find that the location button in effect has three pre-configured setups, so these can be altered if you don’t quite like the presentation of the audio.
We tested this using all the available sources, including HDMI from our TV with Netflix and Amazon, Optical from our Blu-ray player and SkyQ and Bluetooth from our Apple iPhone with a variety of music. This was with the Location and Low Source Gain switches in all the available positions and with the MoviEQ setting enabled and disabled. To say we were very impressed is putting it mildly!
PerformanceThe M2 offers superb build quality and mighty impressive audio at a competitive price
You’ll never emulate the soundstage of a full 5.1 surround sound system with a 2.1 soundbar, but boy (or girl) does the M2 give it a damn good go. Using BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) speaker drivers, Q Acoustics promise 180-degree sound technology to ensure the whole room is a ‘sweet spot’. Often with less capable sound bars you will find that if you aren’t sitting directly in front of the unit, you will not receive the full benefit, but here you can sit anywhere in the room and the audio quality will still be optimal.
That was definitely the case with the M2 and the quality is superb across the board. With Movies and TV, including sport, the performance was outstanding. The M2 is tonally spot on, with clear and crisp vocals that aren’t drowned out and a bass level that is nicely integrated. Unlike some soundbars where they are good performers for TV audio but sub-par for music, the M2 cracks that too. Music sounds superb and suffers no issues such as an overly thumpy bass level or screeching vocals, even with the highest frequency female artists. The M2 really needs to be heard to be believed, it's that good.
If you don’t find the bass level to your liking, which is unlikely but you never know, then the location button on the back which is set to match the location of the unit actually seems to change the level of the bass, so it can be altered to the other two presets. The low signal gain button we kept at the ‘standard TV’ position, the ‘quiet tv’ position increases it by 6dB, but we preferred it without the boost.
By default, the M2 is set with the MoviEQ setting disabled, which Q Acoustics recommends for music playback. For Movies and TV this is recommended to be enabled, which will be acknowledged briefly by a yellow light on the top of the unit. The change is subtle for Movies and TV audio but it was certainly an improvement. It appeared to balance the levels that much better than with it disabled. We even preferred it enabled for music, but we accept that digital signal processing is very much a case of personal preference as to whether it improves the audio or degrades it.
Testing via all the inputs and with Bluetooth from the likes of Apple Music the overall performance was superb. In the audio department the M2 is an outstanding performer and we could find no complaints in this area at all.
- Excellent design
- Superb build quality
- Outstanding sound quality and soundscape
- Room filling beautiful sound
- Instant improvement to woeful TV audio
- Remote control underwhelming
- Not suitable for sitting under TVs with very large stands
- Only 1 HDMI port
- No wireless features
Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase Review
Should I buy the Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase?At £299.99 the M2 Soundbase from Q Acoustics is not the cheapest soundbar or soundbase you will find, but unless you are on a specific fixed budget, it is definitely worth the extra outlay. Q Acoustics are well known for their superb speakers and they have transferred all that knowledge into the M2. Across the board it performed extremely well, with clear and crisp vocals and excellent bass levels, which were further enhanced by the MoviEQ setting.
It is solidly built with a pleasing design, one that won’t look out of place either in a cabinet or under your TV and with a variety of input sources including HDMI (ARC), Optical and Bluetooth, it should cover all bases. Our only real negative with the M2 is that if you have multiple sources you may be constantly changing cables about as it doesn’t have the ability to accept multiple HDMI in, although it does support ARC. In addition, it has no wireless capabilities which would have truly sent it into the realms of perfection.
What alternatives are available?The soundbar world is becoming increasingly popular these days, especially as even on the most expensive of TVs, the onboard sound is still pretty bad. There aren’t a huge range of soundbases available, so direct competition to the M2 at the £299 price point is likely to be the Cambridge Audio TV5 or from Canton with their DM range although none of these appear to include HDMI. Top of the list would be the Sonos Playbase, but at £699 it’s a different proposition altogether to the £299 M2 and given our marvellous experience with the M2 we would highly recommend the Q Acoustics model if you are looking for a good quality soundbase from an established brand.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £299.99
Ease of use10
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.