When it comes to choosing a wireless music system, it's a good idea to look to established audio companies that already have a heritage of building their own loudspeakers. After all, a loudspeaker will have the biggest influence on the sound characteristics of a music system's performance, and if you want the best sound quality for your favorite tunes, it really does pay to start by looking at systems from speaker specialists first.
Q Acoustics is one such audio specialist with considerable know-how when it comes to designing passive loudspeakers for all kinds of price points. So you can bet that it knows the best kind of amplification system to build into a music system to drive its own loudspeakers without compromising on performance. I've known the U.K. brand since it launched in 2006 (and no, this isn't sponsored editorial for Q Acoustics), so I know you're in safe hands when it comes to achieving great sound at a competitive price.
With today's music listeners mainly looking to stream tunes from a mobile device as conveniently as possible, many will think of portable designs such as our best Bluetooth speakers when it comes to choosing a music system for the home. But these single-unit designs aren't always the best for getting room-filling sound or making the most of your musical connection.
Sure, many Bluetooth speakers punch well above their weight and produce a far bigger sound than their diminutive dimensions might suggest. My time with the Anker Soundcore 3 proved this very point, but for a more musical experience I recommend taking a closer look at the Q Acoustics M20 wireless music system ($699 on Amazon, $499 on sale).
This traditional-looking pair of speakers was launched in late 2021, and although we haven't given the setup a full review in Tom's Guide just yet, I've been spending a lot of time listening to the speaker system over the past year as part of my desktop music setup at home.
The configuration is perhaps a little unusual when compared to some active speaker designs out there. The Q Acoustics M20 is available in black, white, or wood wrap finishes. It costs $699 / £439/ AU$899 and is essentially one powered speaker partnered with a passive speaker that can be placed either side of the TV, a desktop computer, on speaker stands, or on a table top.
It supports Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD for wireless streaming (there’s no Wi-Fi for Apple AirPlay 2 or Spotify Connect support), and there’s a digital optical input and USB port for wired digital connections and up to 24-bit/192kHz audio. It does have a pair of analog RCA inputs for adding a music streamer, turntable with built-in phono preamp, or CD player, too.
Always in the right the place
The twin speaker system has one main speaker with all the amplification and controls built in. The second passive speaker is tethered to the main speaker via a long run of speaker cable. It’s easy to set up the M20 so that its always performing correctly no matter where it is in the room.
In addition to being able to designate the powered speaker as either the left or right channel (to make accessing mains power as simple as possible), there’s also an EQ switch to let the system know if each speaker is positioned in a corner, against a wall or in free space so its digital sound processing can work its magic and optimize the audio performance for its placement.
There's no system app to tinker with EQ settings, but nevertheless the system has room-filling capabilities that belie the dimensions of the compact stereo speakers. Q Acoustics knows a lot about speaker cabinet design, and has applied the same principles to ensure these speakers are entirely distortion-free and tuned to deliver a balanced frequency output for high quality sound.
Vocals are a particular strength and listening to a variety of ranges demonstrates the care with which the company has gone about the sound design for this setup. Distortions are low so that all you get to hear is the natural sound of the performance projecting out from the speakers, right at center of the stereo soundstage.
In fact, stereo imaging is a real strength, and with the M20 hooked up to my TV screen, my TV's sound got a significant boost. Dialogue sounded more intelligible, and there was a real sense of space and dimension as sounds panned across the screen. It brought a more immersive sense to soundscapes, too. You don’t get format handling for the likes of Dolby Atmos soundtracks, but the great stereo TV sound should be enough to please most and makes a great additional option for the best TV sound upgrades I've tested.
The M20's core duties have mainly been as part of my desktop setup though, either streaming from my Apple Music and Tidal playlist over Bluetooth from my iPhone 12 Pro. Music playback performance has been good enough to keep my desktop listening habit satisfied, filling my home office with the sound of my favorite tunes whenever I felt the need. The hi-res support via USB has been a welcome bonus, too.
Although I'm not into gaming, I really can appreciate how the Q Acoustics M20 system could easily become a big part of a setup to boost the overall gaming experience. Whatever your Bluetooth speaker needs, the M20 is one of the most versatile and attractive systems I've experienced at the price, and brings a big boost to home audio for a relatively small outlay.
Check back for my complete review coming soon.
Next: Money no object? Check out 5 luxury music systems that deliver great sound in style.