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Q Acoustics M4 review: An excellent soundbar that's great value for money

Christopher Minasians Richard Easton
3 May 2018
Q Acoustics Media 4
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
329
inc VAT

The Q Acoustics M4 is great value where it comes to sound quality even if it’s not the most stylish soundbar

Pros 
Easy setup
Excellent sound quality
Cons 
Bulky design
Cheap-feeling remote control
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Q Acoustics might not be a household name but the 10-year-old British audio company already has a strong reputation in the Hi-Fi community. It’s these Hi-Fi credentials that Q Acoustics claims it has applied to its Media 4 soundbar.

READ NEXT: The best soundbars of 2017 – our pick of the best TV speakers

Q Acoustics M4 review: Build quality and design

The large soundbar certainly cuts an imposing figure, measuring 1,000 x 90 x 142mm, which is as wide as my reference 42in television. Its height is also significant and if you choose to use the anti-vibration feet, which Q Acoustic recommends you do, as this adds another 20mm. This is so there is some clearance for the down-firing subwoofer.

With the feet attached, it meant the top of the M4 was level with the bottom of my reference television screen. So depending on your seated height or the height of your television stand, it could possibly obstruct the bottom of the screen. Of course, this won’t be a problem if your television is wall-mounted.

You can also wall-mount the M4 as well, and thoughtfully the bracket and screws are included. The M4 has a trapezoidal shape, which allows for enough clearance for neater cabling if wall-mounted. The M4 weighs 4.9kg so you’ll need to make sure your walls are able to support the load.

If you choose to place the M4 on your AV stand, you’ll want to place the soundbar as far forwards as you can, preferably right against the front edge of your television cabinet or shelf. This is to prevent sound reflecting off the surrounding furniture.

The M4 is deeper than most soundbars, which has some benefits as it means a larger speaker cabinet with more air to move, creating a fuller sound. One of the issues already with flatscreen televisions is the limited space for the speakers, which is why the sound quality is so often poor.

Q Acoustics M4 review: Connectivity

In terms of connections, you have the choice of an optical connection, 3.5mm auxiliary or RCA phono. There’s no HDMI ARC or HDMI passthrough. You also have the option of connecting a wireless Bluetooth device and there’s support for the less-lossy aptX codec if your device is compatible. The M4 also has NFC for quickly pairing a device over Bluetooth. Finally, there’s a subwoofer output if you want to connect a separate subwoofer.

Q Acoustics Media 4 ports

A small, basic remote control is included. It feels a little cheap and its small size means it could be easily lost. You do have the option of controlling the M4 using remote controls for satellite or cable boxes through IR learning and both Sky and Virgin Media remote controls are compatible.

Q Acoustics M4 review: Sound quality

The M4 is a 2.1 system with left and right channels and a dedicated subwoofer. Each stereo channel has 25W of power with 50W delivered through the subwoofer. The left and right channels use Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) drive units that are designed to more evenly disperse the sound rather than fall afoul of the traditional directionality of speaker drivers.

Typically, with hi-fi stereo separate speakers, there’s a distinct ‘sweet spot’ where you get the best audio experience. It means that speaker placement is paramount. For obvious reasons, you don’t have quite such flexibility with the placement of a soundbar. With BMR drivers, however, the sound is dispersed 180 degrees both horizontally and vertically, meaning in theory you should have a consistent experience regardless of your room position.

When listening to music this certainly felt like it was the case as there wasn’t the usual drop off in mid and treble frequencies as you move towards the sides. Music sounded nicely rich and full for a significantly wider cone than is often evident.

Q Acoustics Media 4 remote

When it comes to the all-important movie and television audio, the Media 4 isn’t as fully-featured where it comes to sound modes when compared to its competitors. Q Acoustics says this is an intentional design choice. Instead, it has prioritised sound quality over any sound processing, so you won’t find any features such as simulated surround sound. There aren’t even any preset EQs for different sound modes such as Movies or Sport.

Regardless, the sound when watching an action-packed movie, such as Avatar or Transformers, wasn’t lacking in impact or clarity. The wide dispersion of sound again helped to make the audio more cinematic. Even though there’s an optional subwoofer output, chances are you won’t feel the need to use it as the subwoofer delivered the lower frequencies with assuredly.

Q Acoustics M4 review: Verdict

The lack of any real settings means the M4 is really more of a plug-and-play soundbar compared to many rivals, something which might not appeal to everyone - certainly not those that like to tinker with settings.

For those who do want a more hands-off approach, it’s well configured for audio out of the box and delivers on its promised simplicity better than Bose’s Solo 5 soundbar. It’s equally capable for both movies and music and its sound quality surpasses many competitors available for a higher price.

It’s not the most attractive-looking soundbar available and its remote control, in particular, feels a little cheap, but it’s great value overall in terms of audio performance from a traditional soundbar. For a little more money you can get a slightly better soundbar: see our best soundbar round-up for more details.

Hardware
Speakers2.1
RMS power output100W
Subwoofer option50W (included)
Rear speaker optionN/A
Dimensions1,000x90x142mm
Weight4.9kg
Ports
Audio inputsOptical S/PDIF, 3.5mm, phono
NetworkingBluetooth 4.0
NFCYes
Buying information
Price including VAT£329
WarrantyOne year RTB
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.qacoustics.co.uk
Part codeMedia 4

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