Low on smarts, big on sound

(Pocket-lint) – British manufacturer Q Acoustics has a rich heritage when it comes to producing top-tier loudspeakers for hi-fi systems.

With the M20 HD speakers, the company promises a simple and unique solution for listening to music, watching TV, movies, and gaming.

Thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0 and no additional amplifiers required, we expect that signature Q Acoustics sound without the hassles that traditional Hi-Fi systems often bring.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been using the speakers with a variety of different devices to see how they perform.

our quick take

The Q Acoustics M20 HD speakers offer remarkable sound quality, especially given their reasonable price. If you’re looking for a set of powered stereo speakers, these should be high on your list.

They are equally capable of listening to music or used as a soundbar alternative. They can also be a fantastic addition to a gaming PC setup, as long as you have the space to accommodate them (they’re pretty big compared to regular PC speakers).

The M20s offer nothing in the realm of smart features or multi-room support, instead choosing to focus solely on the basics. You get a wide range of wired connections that let you connect to almost any source, plus the convenience of Bluetooth when you need it.

Q Acoustics has valued sound above all else, and that has resulted in some great-sounding speakers at a great price, as long as you’re willing to forgo modern bells and whistles.

Q Acoustics M20 HD review: Little smarts, big sound

Q Acoustic M20 HD

4.5 stars – Pocket-lint recommended

For

  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Minimalist and attractive design.
  • Excellent connectivity options
  • Excellent value for performance.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 wireless playback
Against

  • Old school speaker wire connecting the two speakers
  • No smart functionality
  • non-removable grilles

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Design

  • Dimensions: 279 x 170 x 296mm
  • Weight: 5.1 kg (passive speaker); 5.5kg (speaker powered)
  • Finishes: Black, White and Walnut

Fans of the Q Acoustics brand will feel right at home with the M20s, as the design is very reminiscent of the brand’s old 3020i bookshelf speakers.

However, on this model, the grilles cannot be removed for some reason, which we found to be a shame. However, they look attractive enough with the covers in place that most users won’t be put off.

pocket lintQ Acoustics M20 HD 16 review photo

The other key difference is that these speakers are powered, whereas the 3020i speakers require a separate amplifier.

This means that one of the units has a built-in amplifier and also has a small control panel on the top with volume controls and a multifunctional power button.

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We are testing the white version, which we think will go very well with many modern living rooms, but the M20s are also available in walnut or black to match other decor.

They have a very clean, minimalist aesthetic, with smooth rounded corners and just a thin strip of aluminum to break up the single-color chassis.

pocket lintQ Acoustics M20 HD 3 review photo

The speakers come with a power cord, some basic speaker cables, foam earplugs, and an infrared remote control.

They are also marketed as wireless, but the reality is that they benefit from Bluetooth source connectivity.

You’ll still need to connect them to mains, as well as connect the left and right with good old speaker cable.

The speaker terminals have a nice low-profile design, and the large surface area makes installing speaker wire a breeze. There’s also support for banana plugs, if you want a quick-swap solution.

pocket lintQ Acoustics M20 HD 20 review photo

The included remote control works effectively and is easy to operate. It would have been nice if the color matched the speakers, but a black remote seems to be provided with all models.

Still, it’s easily on par with active-speaker remotes at twice the cost and offers plenty of convenience.

sound performance

  • Tweeter: 22mm (0.87 inches)
  • Mid Bass Driver: 125mm (4.92in)
  • Frequency response: 55Hz – 22kHz
  • Max power: 2x65w

In a nutshell, the Q Acoustics M20 HD speakers sound excellent, especially given their relatively affordable price.

Performance is easily on par with some speakers we’ve tested at twice the price, making them a compelling value proposition.

pocket lintQ Acoustics M20 HD review photo 1

The sound is detailed and spacious with a good level of warmth that makes music feel rich and engaging. At lower volumes, we felt the speakers lacked a bit of low-end growl, but turning them up a notch delivered the fullness we were looking for.

Vocals have plenty of presence and there’s some warmth in the mids that allows for clarity without sibilance.

This feature is beneficial when watching TV or movies, allowing you to hear dialogue clearly, with a pleasant, natural tone.


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pocket lintQ Acoustics M20 HD 4 review photo

Also helpful is the width of the soundstage, which is equally effective for listening to music and watching content.

not at the level of Dolby Atmos systems, of course, but there’s a definite directionality that matches the action on screen. This also means that the M20s are quite effective as playmates.

To all but the most analytical ears, the M20s produce a sound that is hard to fault. We have loved hearing from you over the past few weeks and will miss you dearly when you have to return.

Features and connectivity

  • Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD and low latency support
  • USB (24-bit/192kHz support)
  • Digital optical (24-bit/192 kHz support)
  • Stereo RCA and 3.5mm

Many of the speakers we tested here at Pocket-lint are packed with smart features, app support and streaming functionality, but the Q Acoustics M20 takes a very different approach.

You’ll benefit from Bluetooth 5.0 as your only wireless connection, and this is complemented by a host of wired connections.

pocket lintQ Acoustics M20 HD 8 review photo

The fact is, these speakers are for the kind of consumer who places a high value on audio fidelity, and even in 2022, that’s best achieved with wired connections.

The variety of ports on offer means you’ll have no problem connecting the speakers to a PC, Mac or TV, as well as more serious Hi-Fi equipment like a CD player or turntable (with a pre-amp).

Of course, streaming over Bluetooth is the easiest option for mobile devices, and support for aptX HD means you’ll get decent quality from compatible devices.

Still, as we mentioned, for serious audiophiles, cables are the way to go.

pocket lintQ Acoustics M20 HD 12 review photo

The M20s also feature a subwoofer output, so if you want some extra bass, it’s easy to add a subwoofer to your setup.

We particularly recommend that you look into it if you are using the speakers to watch movies or play games.

However, for listening to music, the 125mm driver can provide enough bass to satisfy most ears.

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To remember

The Q Acoustics M20 HD speakers far exceed their price when it comes to audio quality, and they look beautiful, too. If you can live without the modern conveniences of smart speakers, you’ll get unmatched sound for your money.

Written by Luke Baker. Edited by Conor Allison.

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