I was mightily impressed by the performance of Q Acoustics’ M2 sound base. As a follow-up act, the manufacturer sent me its entry-level M3 soundbar. The M3 shares the same pedigree and it, too delivers a phenomenal sonic performance that will satisfy even demanding audiophiles and cineastes working with modest budgets.

The M3 is a sleek, smartly designed speaker that can rest on a piece of furniture or mount to the wall. The integrated metal stand performs double-duty for both installations, requiring no special hardware should you choose to hang it.

While most soundbars are rectangular or cylindrical, the Q Acoustics M3 has a sculpted and tapered design that makes the M3 a superb design accent to any television.

Front view of the Q Acoustics M3 sound bar. Q Acoustics

Front view of the Q Acoustics M3 soundbar.

The M3 sports a 100x150mm dual voice coil subwoofer to support the low end, and 58mm balanced mode radiator drivers to handle the midrange and high frequencies. While the driver specs are the same as the Q Acoustics M2, I found that the M3 had more punch and dynamics than the M2 in my room and setup.

Simple setup

Unpacking and getting the M3 playing took just a few minutes. I connected it to my TV via HDMI and to my Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player via Toslink optical. I placed the M3 on a table in front of my HDTV in exactly the same location where I had tested out the M2.

You’ll find there are lots of similarities between the M2’s and M3’s feature set. I would point you to my review of the M2 since many of the features, functions, and accessories are identical. The M3 sports audio inputs via HDMI ARC, Toslink optical, Bluetooth, and two analog audio inputs. Just note that in order to use the HDMI audio return channel (ARC), which sends audio back from your TV to the soundbar, you typically need to activate HDMI CEC on your TV.

Intelligent automation

The M3 automates lots of simple tasks. That’s a good thing because I didn’t like using the remote control. The half-credit card sized remote is cheap and very difficult to make out in dim lighting environments. The circular buttons are all the same size and shape in a vertical array. If you have the lights turned down while watching any TV programming, you’ll need to memorize each button’s function and then orient yourself by counting the number of buttons with your finger. While this type of remote is unfortunately typical at this price point, consumers should still be getting a better value.

Poor remote control aside, Q Acoustics calls the M3’s preamp features IPA for intelligent pre-amplifier. The M3’s IPA will automatically switch to an active audio source. When two sources are active at the same time, the M3 prioritizes certain inputs over others. That’s pretty smart.

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