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(Pocket-lint) - British manufacturer Q Acoustics has a rich heritage when it comes to producing top-tier speakers for Hi-Fi systems.

With the M20 HD speakers, the company promises an easy, one-box solution for music listening, TV, movies and gaming.

Thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0 and no additional amplifiers required, we're hoping for that signature Q Acoustics sound without the hassle that often comes with traditional Hi-Fi systems. 

Over the last 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 deliver remarkable sound quality - especially given their reasonable price point. If you're looking for a set of powered stereo speakers, these should be high on your list.

They're equally capable for music listening or used as a soundbar alternative. They might be a fantastic addition to a gaming PC setup, too, provided you have the space to accommodate them (they're fairly sizable compared to normal PC speakers).

The M20s don't offer anything in the realm of smart features or multi-room support, instead choosing purely to focus on the basics. You get a wide array of wired connections that allow for connecting to almost any source, plus the convenience of Bluetooth when you need it.

Q Acoustics has valued sound above all else, and that's resulted in some superb sounding speakers at a great price, so long as you're willing to forego the modern bells and whistles.

Q Acoustics M20 HD review: Low on smarts, big on sound

Q Acoustics M20 HD

4.5 stars - Pocket-lint recommended
For
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Minimal and attractive design
  • Great connectivity options
  • Excellent value for the 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: 5.1kg (passive speaker); 5.5kg (powered speaker)
  • Finishes: Black, White and Walnut
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Fans of the Q Acoustics brand will feel right at home with M20s, as the design is very reminiscent of the brand's longstanding 3020i bookshelf speakers.

However, on this model, the grilles aren't removable for some reason, which we thought was a shame. They look attractive enough with the covers in place, though, so most users won't be deterred.

Pocket-lint Q Acoustics M20 HD review photo 16

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

This means one of the units has an amplifier built-in, and it also has a small control panel on the top with volume controls and a multi-functional power button.

We're testing the white version, which we think will blend in quite nicely with a lot of modern living rooms, but the M20s are also available in walnut or black to match other decors.

They have a very clean and minimal aesthetic, with soft rounded corners and only a thin aluminium strip to break up the otherwise single-colour chassis.

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The speakers come supplied with a power cable, some basic speaker wire, foam bungs and an infra-red remote.

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

You'll still need to connect them to the mains, as well as connect the left and right with good old-fashioned speaker wire.

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

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The included remote works effectively and is easy to operate. It would have been nice if the colour was matched to the speakers, but it appears that a black remote is provided with all models.

Regardless, it's easily on par with remotes provided with active speakers at twice the cost and offers plenty of convenience.

Sound performance

  • Tweeter: 22mm (0.87 in)
  • Mid-Bass Driver: 125mm (4.92 in)
  • Frequency response: 55Hz - 22kHz
  • Peak Power: 2 x 65w

Simply put, the Q Acoustics M20 HD speakers sound superb - especially given their relatively affordable price point.

The performance is easily on par with some speakers that we've tested at double the price, making them a compelling value proposition.

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

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

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

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

It's not at the level of Dolby Atmos systems, of course, but there is defined directionality that matches the action on screen. This also means that the M20s are quite effective as a gaming companion.

To all but the most analytical set of ears, the M20s produce a sound that's hard to fault. We've loved listening to them over the past few weeks and will very much miss them when they have to go back.

Features and connectivity

  • Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD and Low Latency support
  • USB (24bit/192kHz compatibility)
  • Digital optical (24bit/192kHz compatibility)
  • Stereo RCA and 3.5mm

Many of the speakers that we test here at Pocket-lint are packed with smart features, app support and streaming functionality, but the Q Acoustics M20s take a very different approach.

You'll benefit from Bluetooth 5.0 as your only wireless connection, and this is supplemented with an abundance of wired connections.

Pocket-lint Q Acoustics M20 HD review photo 8

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

The array of ports on offer means that you'll have no issue 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, Bluetooth streaming is the most hassle-free option for mobile devices, and the aptX HD support means that you'll be getting decent quality from supported devices.

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

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The M20s also feature a subwoofer output, so if you're craving some additional bass, it's easy to add a sub to your set-up. 

We'd particularly recommend looking into it if you're using the speakers for movie-watching or gaming.

For music listening, though, the 125mm driver can provide enough low end to satisfy most ears.

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To recap

The Q Acoustics M20 HD speakers punch well above their price point when it comes to audio quality, and they look lovely, too. If you can live without the modern conveniences of smart speakers, you'll get some unbeatable sound for your money.

Writing by Luke Baker. Editing by Conor Allison.
Sections Speakers