Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase Review Page 2

War for the Planet of the Apes stepped up the dynamic demands with battle and crowd scenes. They may not have sounded huge, but they were dense and involving. Effects such as a waterfall and an avalanche were the only moments when I missed true encoded and decoded surround — though the avalanche was dynamically full enough to demonstrate the virtue of upgraded sound versus the TV’s internal noise-makers.

I did a lot of Netflix bingeing while the M2 was hooked up. A highlight was Babylon Berlin, a TV drama set in the city’s colorful, violent, 1920s era (and the most expensive series ever made in a language other than English). I could get through only one episode before dumping the stilted English-dubbed soundtrack for the more dramatically intact German original. Cabaret-style songs written by Bryan Ferry and an imaginatively orchestrated score — including nervous fluttering clarinets, a detuned piano, and a violin/theremin duet — showed the soundbase’s ability to deliver sophisticated music with a full palette of tone colors.

Go Retro
I raided my now-retro CD library for Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 with Claudio Abbado conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. I flipped between the MoviEQ and off modes just long enough to confirm my feeling that the former was more impressive but brighter. Certain string-section passages in the first movement became strident, though only for a few seconds (I partially blamed the 1981 digital recording), and reeds had a zingy resonance. With the M2 shorn of its slightly exaggerating effects, the soundbase’s modest stereo separation became more apparent — after all, as mentioned above, the enclosure is fewer than 22 inches wide. However, the BMR drivers were aces at dispersion. I could sit anywhere in the room, including well off to the side, and the tonal balance would remain more or less intact. The upside of limited width was greater density, with decays embedded in the recording clearly present and closely tied to the instrumental images.

The M2 had its finest moments with the Rolling Stones classic Beggars Banquet (CD). Its voicing seemed perfect for “Sympathy for the Devil,” giving Mick Jagger’s lead vocal a natural upfront clarity, and making the “hoo” backing vocals almost confrontational. The percussion was crisp and tasty, and the down-firing bass driver kept the prominent bass line chugging along. Even the M2’s minimal stereo separation didn’t prevent this track from bounding out of the cabinet’s confines as vital as ever. Somehow, it sounded huge. I didn’t expect to be this forcefully entertained by a soundbase.

Bassist Ron Carter teamed up with pianist Mal Waldron and multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy for his debut solo album, Where?, which I accessed on the Galaxy Tab through Tidal’s CD-quality lossless streaming. This had the virtue of not piling any additional compression onto that inherent in Bluetooth transmissions. The bandleader’s string bass was reasonably full and coherent. A good external subwoofer might have enlarged it, but the musical sense came across with no undue plumping. When Carter picked up his bow, the BMR drivers delivered it with a good bite. Dolphy’s alto sax, bass clarinet, and flute were timbrally vivid and true, and once again, I was struck at how well the flat drivers held up when I moved out of the sweet spot.

If you want to rest your TV on something that sounds great, the Q Acoustics M2 soundbase is an excellent choice, with performance that is remarkably fine-tuned for its price. The placement settings also make it eligible to live in a large or small cabinet with more satisfying results than likely otherwise. Because I have access to an excellent monitor-based surround system, I usually don’t get attached to this kind of product. But I spent a lot more time with the M2 than I had to. You may interpret that as a vote of confidence.

Mark Fleischmann is the author of Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Video and Audio Systems, now available in both print and Kindle editions.

Q Acoustics