Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase hands-on review

Put Q Acoustics’ M2 Soundbase under your TV, and kiss your soundbar goodbye

Delivering a natural, bassy sound, the Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase has all the benefits of a soundbar with an even slimmer profile.
Delivering a natural, bassy sound, the Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase has all the benefits of a soundbar with an even slimmer profile.
Delivering a natural, bassy sound, the Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase has all the benefits of a soundbar with an even slimmer profile.

Highs

  • Compact design
  • Simple to use and set up
  • Room filling sound
  • Reasonably priced

Lows

  • No surround sound capabilities
  • Digital signal processing will split opinion

Soundbars may be designed for minimal interference with your living room décor, but many of them still take up plenty of space on your TV stand. That’s where a soundbase can come in handy, offering a speaker system that’s compact enough for your television to sit on, while still delivering improved sound quality. As we discover in our M2 Soundbase hands-on review, Q Acoustics has packed its considerable sound expertise into a more manageable design.

The obvious reason to get a supplementary sound system like a soundbar or soundbase is because the speakers in your TV don’t sound great. The M2 Soundbase is a considerable step up, and takes a different approach to the speakers inside than other manufacturers. It employs a pair of 2.3-inch Balance Mode Radiator (BMR) drivers, along with a 6×4-inch internal “subwoofer.” Balance Mode Radiator drivers have a wonderfully wide 180-degree soundstage, spreading audio around the room, so you’re not forced to sit in the sweet spot to get the best sound, while the wider speaker is there to beef up the bass.

Bass response, or a lack thereof, was our problem with the Q Acoustics M3 soundbar, but the Q Acoustics M4 soundbar improved on that dramatically. The company recognized the need for a compact, well-designed alternative to the M4, and the M2 Soundbase is the result. Like the M4 the M2’s cabinet is made from MDF, with plenty of internal bracing, and solid embedded feet to keep it secure. While easier to tuck away, the M2’s cabinet is actually larger than the M4, which makes the best out of the 80 watt total power output.

It’s surprising how much punch and presence there is from such a compact box.

The M2’s cabinet is very simple, and it’s a breeze to set up. It weighs less than 13 pounds, and can support a television weighing less than 55 pounds on top. If you need to put it in a cabinet, a switch on the rear changes the audio characteristics to compensate for a small or large enclosure. Another switch gives older televisions that don’t have strong audio output a boost.

Connections include HDMI ARC, digital Optical connection, and both 3.5mm and RCA analog Line in jacks. The M2 also has Bluetooth with AptX, too. There are just three buttons on top of the cabinet, and a remote is also supplied. If the thought of complicated audio systems make you break out in a sweat, the M2 Soundbase is a great option.

What you don’t get is Wi-fi audio connection, so there’s no using it as the center in a wireless surround sound system like the Sonos Playbase; but then it doesn’t cost $700. Instead, the Q Acoustics Soundbase is priced at 300 British pounds for its UK launch, and when it launches in the United States in October, it’s expected to be around $300. While not all the Playbase’s features are replicated here, it’s hard to ignore the M2 when it’s half the price.

Performance

We’ve only been granted a brief time with the M2 so far, which included a music track, and a sequence from Prometheus, with Q Acoustics’ MoviEQ mode active. The company is proud of its natural sound quality, and music performance is strong, just like we’d heard before from Q Acoustics products.

Watching the movie with MoviEQ active delivered plenty of bass, but the speech was a little muddy. MoviEQ mostly tweaks bass response, particularly at lower volumes. Turn it off, and although the bass is definitely reined in, you can still feel it. The sound becomes more focused and less distracting for movie watching. It sounded better to our ears, but that will likely depend on the film and environment. It’s surprising how much punch and presence there is from such a compact box. It can definitely be described as room filling, though stereo separation wasn’t very pronounced in our limited test.

Conclusion

Ever since we’ve checked out the Q Acoustics M4 and M3 soundbars, we’ve wanted a product that combines the best of both products. A strong, natural sound, plenty of bass, an HDMI ARC connection, MoviEQ, and a modern design. The M2 Soundbase appears to be that product, and in our brief listening period, the sound impressed. We’ll be listening for a longer period soon, and hope that impression continues.

The Q Acoustics M2 is available starting September 20 in the United Kingdom for 300 British pounds, and available in stores and through Q Acoustics website. It’ll launch in the United States on October 19 with pricing still to be finalized.

Home Theater

Say goodbye to the box: The future of home theater has no use for receivers

One of the most intriguing new trends to come out of CES 2019 this year comes from a technology that has been around for years. WiSA, now in new LG TVs, has the potential to cut the wires and change the home theater landscape forever.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

Klipsch’s new Reference home theater system does hi-fi surround without wires

At CES 2019, Klipsch showed off its fantastic new Reference Wireless speaker system, a wireless surround sound setup that uses a re-emerging wireless technology called WiSA for hi-fi surround sound without the need for speaker wires.
Home Theater

JBL/Harman launch smart soundbar, new speakers, and a guitar amp/speaker combo

Harman Kardon and JBL have announced four new audio lines that will hit the market in 2019, including a brand-new smart soundbar, portable speaker, smart home theater speakers, and a massive portable speaker with guitar and mic inputs.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Velvet Buzzsaw,’ ‘IO,’ Fyre Festival, and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's trailers for a Fyre Festival documentary, as well as Velvet Buzzsaw and Iron Sky: The Coming Race.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘Annihilation,’ ‘True Detective’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Annihilation, the start of a new season of True Detective, and more.
Home Theater

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is the epic sound revolution you didn’t know you needed

After Sony’s utterly bizarre press conference, I almost missed what was perhaps the most impactful sonic experience at the show. Luckily, I went back to Sony’s booth on the last day of the show, only to have my mind blown.
Home Theater

Our quick-and-easy guide to programming an RCA universal remote

If you're tired of using a million different remotes in your home theater, office, or living room, you'll likely be interested in a single RCA universal remote. Here's how to program it for your system.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Music

Tidal faces legal jeopardy over fake stream numbers accusation

In another challenging chapter for music subscription service Tidal, Norwegian authorities have begun a formal investigation into charges that the company faked millions of streams for artists such as Kanye West and Beyoncé.
Home Theater

Need to get rid of an unused Netflix profile? Just follow these simple steps

Need to delete an unwanted profile from your Netflix account? It's easy to do, no matter what kind of equipment you've got. Check out our handy how-to guide for step-by-step instructions.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Computing

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 
Home Theater

Not chill: Netflix is hiking prices across all its tiers

Netflix has to get the billions of dollars it's spending on new content from somewhere. The streaming giant announced price hikes across the board, raising its monthly rates between $1 and $2 per tier in the next few months.