A speaker for (almost) all occasions

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If there’s one thing you can count on in audio, it’s that most people will happily sacrifice quality for convenience. The popularity of music streaming services and wireless headphones are proof of that; they might not be a match for a well-recorded LP or good pair of wired headphones, but they sure are handy.

Recently, however, there has been a conscious push back for quality, with the vinyl resurgence as well as the adoption of high resolution and lossless audio from music streaming services like Apple Music.

The M20s are great music speakers, both over wireless streaming and from connected devices.

The M20s are great music speakers, both over wireless streaming and from connected devices.

So when it comes to speakers, is there a way to enjoy those high quality sources without sacrificing convenience, at a price point that mere mortals can actually afford? Turns out there is.

The $900 M20 HD from British audio brand Q Acoustics is a pair of active bookshelf speakers that is versatile enough to handle wireless streaming from your devices while also serving up a smattering of inputs to connect to your television, PC, games console, CD player or turntable.

Most modern televisions sport at least an optical audio out or red and white RCA plugs, either of which can be used to connect the M20 speakers, and there’s a subwoofer output if you want to bring more bass into the setup via a separate sub. A not so common USB type B cable is required for PC connectivity, but isn’t included in the box.

The M20s are a also a very good alternative to a soundbar for movies.

The M20s are a also a very good alternative to a soundbar for movies.

Cheekily, Q Acoustics calls the product a ‘wireless’ music system, which is a bit of a stretch considering that you will need to run speaker wire between the left and right channels and a power cord to one of them. However unlike other active speakers on the market, you can assign the powered speaker to be the left or right channel at the flick of a literal switch, making it easier to accommodate power point locations in a room.

Also unlike much of the competition, the M20s are just as pleasant to listen to with games and movies as they are with music, which is a first for powered speakers under $1000 as far as I’ve heard. You won’t need to mess about with things like equalisers and audio profiles to get there either; just plug in and play.

Stereo imaging is precise, treble sings true, and the midrange — which is so vital for TV and movie watching — is clean. There’s clearly been some tweaking within the integrated amplifier to provide a bit of extra richness to the midrange to give it a nice mellow tone, conducive to long listening sessions. The bass itself is surprisingly tight and impactful, but never to the point that it would muddy the mids or distort the overall sound.