When you’re as music-mad as I am, audio tech really matters. I want the best smart speakers so I can stream sounds while I shower; the best true wireless earbuds so every street has a soundtrack; and all kinds of amplifiers so I can play too many guitars too loud too often. But what I want most of all, and I think you should want too, is a great pair of stereo speakers on either side of my screen when I'm working. Those other options just aren't the same. So I’m very excited about the newly launched Q Acoustics M20 smart speakers, which appear to have been made exactly for me.
If you don’t have decent speakers, you’re missing out. That’s not just an opinion: it’s science. Sound is all about moving air around, and no matter how beautifully engineered the speakers in my M1 MacBook Pro (2020) are, they simply can’t shift as much air as the 125mm bass/mid drivers in the Q Acoustics M20. And they definitely can’t go anywhere near as loud: these speakers are powered by a 130-watt amp.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the convenience of my Amazon Echos and if you want my Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch earbuds you’ll have to fight me for them. But if you don’t have a decent set of speakers you’re only hearing music when you could be feeling it too. And these look like a very decent set of speakers for a good price.
Let’s talk about tech, baby
Q Acoustics have won tons of awards – including the coveted T3 Award – for their products' sound quality, but these speakers are exciting from a tech point of view too. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 for better connections – older Bluetooth, as you’ve probably discovered, can be flaky sometimes – and aptX HD for streaming hi-res audio up to 24-bit and 48KHz.
Even higher quality is possible with a USB-to-computer connection: that enables you to go up to 24-bit/192KHz. And there’s built-in digital signal processing that can shape the sound to compensate for any kind of placement, so you can eliminate unwanted booms if the speakers are close to a wall or in a corner.
Unlike my Mac, there are plenty of connections here too – so my PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X can connect to it alongside TVs, set-top boxes and any other audio source. A dedicated subwoofer out is the icing on the audio cake.
At £399/€499/$599, they're not super-cheap, but they're not expensive by any means either – our list of the best multi-room Wi-Fi speakers contains much more expensive options. And I’ve spent considerably more on my collection of Amazon Echos, which simply aren’t in the same league. Music brings so much joy for such a long time that investing in audio kit isn’t an expense: really, it’s self-care.