If you have a modern flatscreen TV, you know that the built-in speakers leave a whole lot to be desired. There’s only so much you can do with acoustics inside of a thin TV enclosure, and the sound typically suffers from being thin and uninspiring. There are lots of ways you can upgrade your TV’s sound with satellite speakers, soundbars, and the like, but satellites take up space around the room, and often require wiring, and soundbars are generally not very exciting unless you have an external subwoofer connected. The Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase aims to improve your TV’s sound without taking up much space, and with better overall sound quality than standalone soundbars.
The trick is that the M2 Soundbase has a deep enclosure that allows for better sound reproduction and imaging than skinny soundbars, and generally offers up better low-end without the need for a subwoofer. It’s not going to shake your walls, but it does offer a substantial upgrade over built-in TV speakers, and is well-priced too. It’s got a pair of full-range wide-dispersion drivers rated at 20 watts each, along with a low-frequency driver rated at 40 watts.
The M2 Soundbase measures in at 21.7″ (w) x 13.3″ (d) x 3.66″ (h), and is designed to sit underneath your TV set – either directly beneath it, or insider of a media cabinet on a shelf. It’s able to support the weight of TVs up to 55 pounds – or most of today’s TVs 60″ diagonal or under. Keep in mind that it will only work in this way if your TV has a center stand and not legs at either end as some models do. You’ll also want to make sure the entire stand can fit on top of the Soundbase and not hang off the edges before you buy. There are special equalization settings, depending on whether you’re placing the Soundbase under your TV or in a media cabinet.
Connecting the M2 Soundbase is easy – it’s got inputs for digital optical, RCA and Mini analog stereo, as well as HDMI, if your TV has an HDMI ARC output. It also offers Bluetooth wireless connectivity, so you can use it with your smartphone to listen to music. I conducted all of my testing via optical and Bluetooth audio sources. Keep in mind that the M2 doesn’t have Dolby or DTS support, so you need to set your devices to playback in 2.0 stereo, or you’ll hear nothing.
I listened to a variety of movie and TV content, and the speaker definitely adds a good amount of volume and depth compared to a TV’s built-in speakers. It’s got good dynamic range, and listening to dialogue at low or high volumes is easy on the ears. I was pleasantly surprised by the M2’s imaging and ability to project a much wider soundstage than its size would lead you to believe. While it doesn’t support true surround sound, there’s some psychoacoustic stuff going on that provides an expansive sense of space. An equalization mode called “MoviEQ” worked well to add some oomph to movie and video game content as well. Mids and highs are crisp and clean, though the low end is a bit lacking below about 100hz. There’s no earth-rattling bass here, and since there’s no subwoofer output, you can’t add it either. But if bass boom isn’t a big deal to you, it’s pushes out more than enough volume to offer a satisfying listening experience.
One thing I did notice is some distortion of low frequencies when played at high volume levels – especially with smooth sounds like the bowing of a cello. For more typical sounds like drums and movie sound effects, the distortion isn’t perceptible. Also, depending on the construction of your TV, you might get some buzzing or other vibrations from the TV’s stand itself. The Vizio display I tested with has a gloss plastic cover on its stand that the M2 rattled a bit. That said, it wasn’t bothersome, and only turned up in my low-frequency sweep tests, and not in real-world listening conditions.
While the M2 is first and foremost designed for accompanying video content, it’s also a very solid Bluetooth speaker, and listening to a wide variety of music, I was very pleased with the overall audio quality. It definitely offers room-filling sound, and the aforementioned wide soundstage enhances the music listening experience.
To sum things up, Q Acoustics has done a good job with the M2 Soundbase. It feels solid and substantial for the price, adds some great volume and dynamic range to your TV viewing experience, and doesn’t take up much space. You’ll need to have the right kind of TV or media stand to use it properly though, and I do wish it had a subwoofer output for those of us who prefer a little more boom with our movies. The M2 Soundbase is available now direct from Q Acoustics for $349.99.