Q Acoustics M40 Review: A Superb Sounding Mini All-In-One Tower

BRITISH AUDIO BRAND Q Acoustics has a fine history of producing great-sounding speakers with impressive value. WIRED heaped praise on the bookshelf-sized powered M20 HD, and with the new M40, the company has double-downed on the versatility of the all-in-one audio system with a unique mini-floorstanding design. And while the stumpy stereo form factor has caused some head-scratching, there’s also no denying their foot-tapping and head-banging qualities.

Measuring 10 x 28 x 11.7 inches and weighing 26 pounds (12 kilograms) each, the M40 are not small, but they are positively Lilliputian compared to most traditional floorstanding designs. The brand calls them “micro towers,” which, aside from giving us Spinal Tap Stonehenge flashbacks, is a perfect description.

Yes, we’re a little perplexed as to where to position them, but with Bluetooth 5.0 streaming, optical, analog, and USB connectivity, plus 200 watts of Class D amplification, they’re versatile and sound sensational.

Easy Does It

As with most “powered” stereo speakers, such as the M20 and KEF LSX II, there’s one active speaker housing the brains—amplification and connectivity—while the second is a passive cabinet that receives the amplified sound.

To start listening, simply plug in the active speaker, connect the wire to the binding posts on each (a 13-foot wire is included in the box), and fire up Bluetooth pairing from the remote or basic onboard controls. There’s no app to download, no Wi-Fi, no passwords, no room-calibration whizzbangery … no fuss at all. It’s refreshingly simple, but also frustratingly basic, depending on your audio and streaming preferences.

Internally, each cabinet has a decoupled tweeter above Q Acoustics’s new Continuous Curved Cone (C3) driver. This was first used on the brand’s more expensive 5000 series speakers, and combines the bass performance of a traditional straight cone with the high/midrange control and fidelity of a flared cone.

They have a classic curved Q Acoustic styling, and are available in black, white, and walnut. They’re nicely finished, with a fixed grille and chrome-effect edging, and it’s good to have proper floor spikes (with rubber covers if needed) included. They don’t scream luxury, but they do make an attractive statement.

Quality Sound

Despite not having Wi-Fi connectivity—and therefore lacking the dizzying heights of the highest of the high resolutions—the M40s still sound wonderful, with Bluetooth proving more than capable. It’s compatible with aptX HD and aptX Low Latency technology (up to 24 bit/48 kHz), plus SBC and AAC.

Streaming from a mix of AAC files from Apple Music on the iPhone 15 Pro, and both Qobuz and Spotify using the aptX compatible Sony Xperia 1 V, I was thoroughly entertained by the M40s. They’re balanced and surprisingly punchy, with a delicious low-end that I genuinely didn’t expect.

Working through my Family Playlist, it’s blatant that these speakers don’t discriminate. Like the perfect wedding DJ, they’re happy if the audience is happy. The Prodigy’s classic dance-floor filler/emptier (delete depending on how old you were in 1994) “Your Love” bounces and rumbles with bags of energy, while Olivia Rodrigo’s ”Vampire” soars confidently, with impressive control, even at the sort of volume a 10-year-old daughter demands.

From classical to classic rock, via electronica and acoustic, I’ve yet to be disappointed by the M40’s warm, accessible performance. Plugging my laptop in via USB port (maximum 24 bit/192 kHz via Qobuz) added more depth to the playback compared to standard Bluetooth streaming, but I imagine most owners will be delighted however they’re choosing to listen.

As further reference, I positioned the M40s side-by-side with the similarly priced Q Acoustics 3050i analog floorstanding speakers. These were powered by the Sonos Amp with audio streamed wirelessly. I was surprised by how well the M40 HD kept up while streaming “just” aptX Bluetooth. Yes, they lacked the same full-bodied presence, but that’s hardly surprising given the 40-inch cabinet height (12 inches taller, and considerably wider) and twin 165-mm drivers.

They didn’t, however, feel underwhelming. And while $999 isn’t chump change, given the added cost of an amplifier, streamer, CD player, etc., and considerable size savings, they offer solid value for money.

Competition Time

Not to be confused with something like the loan-inducing, KEF LS60 Wireless floorstanding speakers, but if you do want the added tech of Wi-Fi, EQ settings, app-based remote control, and hi-res streaming, the WIRED Recommended KEF LSX II LT could be worth a look. It costs about the same and sounds dreamy, but lacks the ability to command a good-size room.

The M40s sound great, look good, and sonically punch well above their size, but the lack of smart features could be alienating to many potential buyers. Bluetooth sounds good here (especially aptX), and I imagine many people won’t think to demand more.

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