I got my new M2s and QS8s today, purchased in part with the trade-in of my VP150.
Upon un-boxing them my first impression was how much nicer the new Black Oak finish looks compared to the old one. Ok for a minute I just thought my old speakers were dirty but quickly realized the new finish is really that much nicer looking. It brings out the simulated grain much more and despite the slight silver undertone in the “grain” the colour actually appears blacker in a well lit room. Later testing showed that the are no more reflective and maybe even a little less (I think because of the “grain”) than the older finish when used in a dark room near a big bright screen.
My second impression was how much nicer the magnetic grills are. Hopefully no more broken grills for me. My order also included two replacement grills for a QS8 I “drop-tested” once to often. I’ve also broken pegs off two M80s when I kicked them waling by and my EP500 when it kicked me (well that’s what it felt like anyway). My grills stay on so I can care less what the drivers look like but they are the all silver ones.
The reason for getting a pair of M2s and QS8s was to try them out as rear speakers for a 9.2 setup and also try the M2s as wides for a 9.2 configuration. But first I wanted to hear what the M2s really sounded like before relegating them to secondary duties.
Using my switch I hooked up both the M22s and M2s (upside-down on top of the M22s). I quickly realized I direct A/B comparison wasn’t possible with my switch since the M22s played 2dB higher than the M2s with the same signal. I sat about 6 feet away with my ear level between the tweeters of the M22s and M2s.
I listened to a selection of material in direct mode and couldn’t tell them apart from the high end down to around 60-80Hz. Below that the M22s had a fuller sounding soundstage making it easier to hear where the drums and bass guitar were in well mastered recordings. Other than that the speakers sounded identical when one pair was compared with the other. In both cases most of what I listened to sound like it had enough bass to be satisfying and only sounded anemic when I switched to “stereo” mode bringing the EP500 in at 80Hz. The one big exception was the various EBM I demoed which just didn’t have the thump it should have, which was to be expected since most none of the floor-standers I demoed except for the M80s did either.
however, would be quite satisfied to listen to both the M22s and M2s for most of the other music I own.
I then rewired so the same signal went to a left M2 and a right M22 using that mismatched pair for 2ch mono. By sitting of center toward the M2 I found the even point for the SPL. This was the best test for the difference in sound between the two speakers. I was quite shocked to find that the M2 sound noticeably better than the M22. (I switched sides to make sure it wasn’t a bad ear on one side
). The difference was that the bass (drums in particular) were much sharper and clearer on the M2 while sounding “muffled or drawn out” on the M22. My best guess is that the slightly lower FR of the M22 was exciting a room mode that the M2 was not. I semi-confermed that because of the boomy bass from the EP500 when I had put that in the mix. (note: my bass is boomy again because Sean picked up the spare cable he’d left with his subs which I was using to extend my to the best sub location in my room and haven’t re-run the AS-EQ1 again for the new location or just bought a new cable). A more sure way to test this will be to take the speakers outside for a demo but it was to late as neighbors were already coming home by then.
Next was the rear speaker tryouts. Again I wired both the M2s and the QS8s with my switch but this time had to place them side-by-side due to the QS8s design. I went symmetrical M2-QS8-QS8-M2 because that would better represent the rear soundstage than M2-QS8-M2-QS8. Both speaker pairs were about 5 feet behind my seating near the back wall dividing the wall into 3rds. Again I couldn’t do a direct A/B comparison because the QS8s played about 4dB higher than the M2s with the same signal.
I’m not sure what changed (v3?) from the last time I demoed my M22s and QS8s against each other but this time the QS8s were the clear winners. I was so stunned I redid the test substituting the M22s for the M2s and got the same results. Using the QS8 rears created a much more enveloping rear soundstage than either the M2 or M22s for ambient sounds. Discreet sounds, like arrows flying past, sounded seamless with the QS8s whereas with the M2/M22s there was a clear transition as the sound panned to the rears.
Finally I demoed the M2s against the M22s as wide speakers. I’ll keep this one simple. They sounded exactly alike.
To summarize, the various things I’ve found in my room (13x21x8-12vaulted) seating 15 feet back with speakers at the DSX recommended angles the is following:
Best mains = M80s L/C/R (haven’t tried the VP180 but know I prefer identical speakers no matter how good the horizontal center is)
Best surrounds, rears, and heights = QS8s.
Best wides = M2s. (perfect timbre match to the M22s and M80s above 80Hz and less expensive than them)