We are no strangers to soundbars. Since the flat screen TV revolution there has been a definite need for external speakers. Just as we are losing headphone jacks from mobile phones, as televisions get skinnier their integral speakers (if they have any) are getting smaller and pretty much pointless. The old TV sets may have been huge and heavy, but at least you could get a decent pair of speakers in.
Can the M2 Soundbase restore that full-bodied stereo sound that the CRTs managed back in those halcyon days?
M2 Soundbase design
Additionally, should you want to stash the Q Acoustics M2 inside a cabinet, it has a neat sound toggle to compensate.
The 550mm x 93mm x 338mm M2 is perfect to sit on top of your TV stand or cabinet with the telly on top of that. The soundbase is good for supporting up to 25kg.
Along the front is a crisp black speaker grill. Behind this lies two 2.3-inch Balance Mode Radiator (BMR) drivers that provide a 180-degree sound. Q Acoustics claims that you won’t have to sit directly in front of the speaker to get the best sound performance.
Those full-range drivers are partnered by a downward firing subwoofer on the soundbase’s underside.
The only physical buttons you’ll find visible on the soundbase are a pair of volume controls and an input switcher that also doubles as an LED indicator. It’ll turn blue for Bluetooth (makes sense), purple for HDMI-ARC, or white for optical, and green for line-in.
The M2 has been designed not to draw your eyes to it. It is by no means ugly, but it is not what you’d call striking, either. For me, this is a plus. Granted, the Sonos PlayBase does arguably have a little more style, but you should be looking at the screen.
M2 Soundbase performance
Setting up the M2 is pretty straightforward. However, as my television is the Panasonic TX–47AS740B, this has one long bar at the front and a pair of feet at the stand’s widest point.
So, this is just a word of experience. Get your tape measure out before making plans.
This just meant that the M2 would sit on the A/V stand beneath the television. If this was going to stay with me, then I’d look in to getting a TV riser that would accommodate the soundbase underneath. No biggy.
The M2 is also kitted out with HDMI-CEC skills. CEC, or Consumer Electronics Control, enables you to control your kit with one remote via HDMI. So, if all is compatible, you can just use your regular telly remote to control the soundbase’s volume. Furthermore, that also means one less remote to juggle, no matter how small and flimsy the M2’s one is.
However, if you have to hook up using an optical or line-in connection then you might need to use the bundled remote or the buttons on the soundbase. Fortunately, the only time I had to use the physical buttons on the Q Acoustics was when it went into standby mode. At that point I had to cycle through all available inputs to resurrect it.
Granted, there is no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X to be found here. Expecting a clever virtual surround sound experience? You might have to look elsewhere.
That all said, the soundbase is capable of kicking out the low end. Its bass response was one of the first things that I noticed. The M2 produces a confidently nice low rumble from its down firing sub. Hans Zimmer’s score in Blade Runner 2049 is a prime example. The opening track, 2049, has plenty of sub and this is presented remarkably well.
OK, it’s not going to rattle your teeth loose but it is wonderfully controlled. Furthermore, this control makes the M2 usable in the typical home where you have to give a little consideration to neighbours and flatmates.
The soundbase does a great job with separation. Additionally, this gives the appearance of a decent soundstage. I say “appearance” as I reckon it isn’t actually as wide as some might at first think.
Furthermore, the unit handles dialogue really well. The spoken word comes through clear and crisp without much hint of sibilance.
Giving the EQ button on the remote a give poke takes the speaker to ‘Movie Mode’. This makes everything a little bit more. This does ramp up the epicness but the jury is out as to whether-or-not it makes the sound any better. Personally, I noticed that I had the soundbase set in ‘Music Mode’ and left it there once I stopped messing with it.
M2 Soundbase review conclusion
If you don’t have the room on your TV stand for a soundbar and don’t want to mess with a separate subwoofer, then the M2 soundbase has already made its point. The only thing I would suggest you check is that the base of your telly is narrower than the soundbase.
I also like the fact that the M2 can be controlled by your existing TV remote, should your telly have a HDMI CEC-equipped ARC port.
You get plenty of controlled, deep bass, direct mids and crisp trebles. Movie soundtracks are reproduced with both detail and depth. Where you might not get surround sound or a huge soundstage, you are undoubtably improving on your set’s integrated speakers. So, if you are looking for a compact speaker solution, the M2 Soundbase should be on your shortlist.
Price and availability
The Q Acoustics M2 is available now for £239 from Amazon.