Q Acoustics M20 HD review – Is this new powered wireless music system worth buying? Get the answer here!
If you have been around this site for a while, then you know we’re big on Q Acoustics. This UK-based speaker manufacturer utilizes modern manufacturing techniques and materials to make affordable products that produce high-end sound. That blend of design expertise and accessible excellence has also won them many awards.
Their relatively new M20 HD Powered Wireless Music System ($599/pr.) is a compact bookshelf speaker system that’s designed to deliver high-quality audio performance. It features two 5″ woofers, along with 7/8″ tweeters, and a built-in Class-D amplifier (65w x 2).
Besides that, The M20 HD system offers a variety of connectivity options, including aptX HD Bluetooth, USB DAC input (24-bit/192kHz), Optical Digital, stereo RCA input, RCA sub output, and 3.5mm aux input jack.
Q Acoustics created this system as a simple yet affordable way to gain entry into high-end audio. So does it fit the bill? Read on, and I’ll let you know the scoop!
Features/Specs at a Glance:
- Tweeter 0.87 in
- Mid-Bass / Driver 4.92 in
- Frequency response 55Hz – 22kHz
- Crossover frequency 2.4kHz
- Bluetooth® 5.0 (with aptX™, aptX™ HD, aptX™ Low Latency, SBC and AAC compatibility)
- USB (24bit/192kHz compatibility) for connection to a PC
- Digital optical (24bit/192kHz compatibility) for connection to a TV or other digital sources
- Stereo RCA (line level) for connection to a CD player or other analog source
- 3.5mm (line level) as an additional analog connection
- Power 2 x 65w
- Cabinet-type Two-way reflex ported
- Dimensions 11 x 6.7 x 11.65 in
- Weight 5.1kg (11.25 lbs) (passive speaker), 5.5kg (12.2 lbs) (powered speaker)
- Internal P2P™ (Point to Point) cabinet bracing for reduced cabinet distortion
- decoupled to minimize any internal vibrations that can adversely affect the audio
Q Acoustics M20 HD Review: Our Impressions
When it comes to build quality, the Q Acoustics M20 HD is one of the most solidly constructed systems I’ve seen to date. The heavy-duty MDF enclosure is substantially supported by Q Acoustics’ P2P™ (Point to Point) bracing, which makes for a really quiet cabinet. A quick rap test elicits just a brief “thunk” instead of a loud knock, which is a good thing.
We’ve talked about P2P bracing on some of Q Acoustics’ passive models, and it’s been hit or miss. However, on the M20 HD, it works extraordinarily well, possibly due to the relatively small cabinet.
Mounted on the front of the cabinets are the two drivers, a 22mm (0.87 in) tweeter and 125mm (4.92 in) woofer. Those are covered by an acoustically transparent grille which is meant to stay in place. On the rear of the speakers are the bass ports, which provide a deeper bass response.
Being a powered speaker set, you get one “powered” speaker that houses the 2-channel Class D amplifier and a “passive” speaker that receives power/signal from the powered side using a standard speaker wire.
On the back of the powered speaker are all the connections previously mentioned, along with a speaker output for the passive side. You also have a connection for the power cord and a Left/Right switch so you can put the powered speaker on the side closest to the outlet (or equipment).
Additionally, there’s an EQ switch to tune bass according to your room placement (corner, center room, front wall).
That said, I did find a couple of quirks regarding connections. First of all, only one of the two Analog Line Inputs can be used at a time. The RCA input is disconnected once you plug something into the 3.5mm input, which takes away some flexibility.
Secondly, there’s no Phono pre-amp built into these speakers, so you’ll need an external unit or a turntable with one built-in to play your vinyl.
The simplicity of setup is one of the places the Q Acoustics M20 HD really shines. In order to use them, first, you set them out on stands (or a desk), then connect the included speaker cable between the powered and passive speakers. After that, you set the main speaker for left or right placement and plug it in.
Lastly, you press the power button on top of the main (powered) speaker, and you’re ready to go.
That process takes all of ten minutes (probably less), and if you use Bluetooth as a source, you’ll have music playing in a few minutes more.
Additionally, alongside the power button on top of the speaker are volume up/down buttons, which work great for nearfield listening. The power button also doubles as a source selection button.
Furthermore, the power button has an integrated status light. That light changes color to tell you when the speaker is on standby, Bluetooth status, and the source that is in use, amongst other things.
If you place the M20s on stands, you also get a handheld remote for control from your listening chair. That remote handles power on/off, volume, source selection, and playback control for Bluetooth. It’s a nice size, not too big or too small, and it feels good in the hand. You also get AAA batteries for the remote in the box.
By the way, you get foam bungs in the box to dampen the rear ports. Q Acoustics recommends that you use them if you place the speakers close to a wall or in a corner. This will prevent you from overloading the room with bass.
Listening to the Q Acoustics M20 HD
I spent most of my time listening to the M20 HD via Bluetooth (aptX HD), playing a bunch of test tracks from TIDAL. I positioned them on heavy-duty metal stands in the same position as the Wharfedale EVO 4.2 I’ve been using to demo different amps. That would put them about 3 feet from the front and side walls and about nine feet from each other.
Then I sit about nine feet away from the speakers forming an equilateral triangle, more or less. After some trial and error, I found that some slight toe-in gave me the best balance of soundstage and focus.
Speaking of soundstage and focus, the M20 HD was masterful in this regard. I found it hard to believe that a $600 system could have such depth and separation. While the soundstage wasn’t the widest I’ve ever heard, it was tall and fell way back behind the speakers giving the presentation an organic quality I didn’t expect to hear from an entry-level product.
The M20 HD system has a somewhat forward perspective, but it’s not in your face. It sounds like you’re in an intimate jazz club, sitting not too far from the stage. Tonal balance is quite good for a system this cheap, there’s no part of the audio spectrum that sticks out too much.
Many cheap systems with Class D amps have artificially boosted highs that attempt to wow you right away, but that’s not the case here. I did detect a slight bump in the midbass, but nothing too distracting.
The Bass overall is strong and weighty, with more punch and articulation than expected from smallish speakers such as this. The Treble is very detailed and sweet for the price range, and the mids are remarkably velvety to boot.
Along with that, this system really shined in terms of dynamics. These speakers play fast and agile with a good sense of impact. That let the M20 HD drive the music precisely with a massive scale for such a small speaker.
Listening to Chick Corea’s “Fingerprints (Live – Montreux Jazz Festival 2001)”, a whirling dervish of a song with many dynamic Drum and Piano solos, I was amazed at how well the system brought out the power of the instruments. Not only that, the texture of the instruments was so realistic, and the M20 HD was able to drop them in their own little bubbles in the stage with very little noise in the background.
That said, while this system is capable of some astounding Bass dynamics, keep in mind there is a limit to what a 5″ woofer can do. When I played some hip-hop and dance tracks with thundering bass, the M20 HD ran out of gas at times. Things became compressed and hard, but this is to be expected from a speaker this size.
However, I was still amazed at how much quality punch and slam they eked out of these speakers, even if the slam was lacking at points. These speakers play big and loud with very little distortion, which is remarkable. At the end of the day, if you’re looking to have a dance party, you can plug in a powered subwoofer.
Q Acoustics M20 HD: The Verdict
In short, the Q Acoustics M20 HD Powered Wireless Music System is an easy-to-use, well-built, and remarkably good-sounding hi-fi system. I can’t believe you get such a refined system with a built-in USB DAC, great Bluetooth, plus Digital and Optical connections for so little money. The only things that may give some folks pause are a lack of phono input and super heavy bass.
To me, those aren’t dealbreakers, and I would have a hard time recommending another system to someone with $600 to spend on their hi-fi. I would pick this system over used gear any day. Highly Recommended!
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.