Looking Good, Sounding Great (Part 1) : Q Acoustics Q7000i 5.1, Bowers & Wilkins MT-50, Canton Movie 1050

3/9/2013 9:07:46 AM

Superb sound is the icing on the home cinema cake and if your speaker’s kook stunning too, you’ve got a real winner…

In test

B & W MT-50

Stunning Award winner

Canton Movie 1050

A great-looking system

Monitor Audio MASS

Small, powerful, impressive

Q Acoustics Q7000i 5.1

Refined, elegant and focused

Q Acoustics Q7000i 5.1

Who wouldn’t want their very own cinema a in their home? The luxury of not having to queue for tickets, enjoying your own food instead of overpriced snacks and most importantly, enjoying and blockbuster film from the comfort of your own sofa.

You may have the perfect television set picked and your room prepared, but what about that final, all-important element? Yes, we’re talking about the sound. Any film’s soundtrack deserves a great speaker package, and you want the most enveloping and thrilling performance to place you right in the middle of the film’s action.

Over the next few pages, you’ll find four fantastic-looking and equally attractively priced style speaker packages from B & W, Monitor Audio, Canton and Q Acoustics. We reckon it’s going to be an exciting test, so turn the page to see which system won us over…

Bowers & Wilkins MT-50

Price: $1,700

Bowers & Wilkins MT-50

Bowers & Wilkins MT-50

If you picked up our Awards 2012 issue last month (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?) you’ll have been us rave about the excellent Bowers & Wilkins MT-50 speaker package.

It’s certain one of the more immediately impressive speaker packages we’ve tested at this price. From the build quality and finish of the M-1 satellites to the overall performance, this is a speaker package that feels and sounds as if it might cost much more.

Effects are pretty special

With its multiple superheroes clashing on personalities and superpowers, a Blu-ray of Marvel Avengers Assemble is a promising way to start this test. The film’s 7.1 DTS Master HD soundtrack hosts plenty of explosive action scenes peppered with Joss Whedon’s signature witty dialogue; it’s a daunting test for any system, and the MT-50 handles it with admirable deftness. Surround effects are steered across the room with effortless ease: when Thor’s hammer makes that momentous contact with Captain America’s shield, the resulting sonic reverberations spread across the room in near-tangible ripples.

The level of detail and openness of the MT-50 is splendid. The system is able to relay the depth of distances and changes in atmosphere with startling accuracy. Along with a deft touch with quieter scenes, there’s no lacking in confidence when delivering large-scale dynamic shifts. In fact, the Monitor Audio MASS is the only other system in this test that gets close to the level of power and scale on display here. But even compared with that talented rival, the MT-50 delivers an extra layer of subtlety and insight that keeps you captivated by the film you’re watching.

The five identical and flexible M-1 satellite speakers astound with their crisply attacking and clear sound. That’s great for films but it also means they are superb with dialogue and vocals in stereo music as well. These satellites have been upgraded to incorporate technology taken from B&W’s high-end speakers (the Nautilus and the PM1). The ASW608 subwoofer can’t compete with the superb B&W PV1 (not much can), but it does a fine job and integrates nicely with the satellites.

This is a svelte-looking package as well with the compact, curved cabinets making them easy to position close to the walls, and the high-quality finish of the speakers is complemented by a very sturdy build.

At $1,700 the MT-50 is the priciest system in this test, but we definitely think it’s worth every rupee of its asking price. This is a stunning speaker package.

Sub’s size belies its power

The ASW608 subwoofer rounds up the MT-50 package and is a surprisingly diminutive box compared with the others in this test (26 x 26 x 33cm). But don’t be fooled – this is a nimble, precise unit that’s fast enough to keep up with the talented satellites. It also has two EQ settings movies and music. We do wish it could go a little bit deeper, but it packs a powerful punch and is great if space is limited.

The ASW608 subwoofer rounds up the MT-50 package

The ASW608 subwoofer rounds up the MT-50 package

Rating: 5 stars

For: Great integration; superb detail; crisp and insightful sound; agile sub; good with stereo music; sturdy, attractive build

Against: Compact sub trades depth for agility

Verdict: Wraps up all-round sonic excellence with good looks in a value-for-money package


Bowers & Wilkins MT-50

·         Price: $1,700

·         Rating: 5 stars


·         Sensitivity: 85db/w/m

·         Power handling: 100W

·         Dimensions (hwd): F/R 25 x 11 x 16cm, Center: 11 x 25 x 16cm


·         Power: 200W

·         Driver: 20cm

·         Type: sealed

·         Inputs: 2

·         Dimensions (hwd): 26 x 26 x 33cm

Canton Movie 1050

Price: $1,365

Canton Movie 1050

Canton Movie 1050

Of these four style speaker packages, this Canton Movie 1050 is the only one we haven’t heard before. We’ve always excited when we pit new products against old favorites, and straight out of the box the Canton’s first impression is favorable.

While all-the-speaker packages in this test can be described as compact, the German loudspeaker company has pushed the design brief the furthest of all, with rear standmounters and a center-channel speaker that are positively tiny. It’s also the only maker here offering floorstanders at the front very sleek and slender ones at that. The whole thing looks stylish in either of the black or white finishes available.

A constant tonal balance

Each speaker contains a 15mm aluminum tweeter and an 8cm aluminum mid/bass driver, with the front floor standers using no fewer than four of the larger units, two each side of the tweeter. The floor standers come with their own circular plinth, and if you want dedicated stands for the rears (the LS 90.2), they cost extra.

Play J J Abrams’ Star Trek and the Canton package has a lot to sing about. It good at handling the challenging dynamics, and delivers and powerful sound proportionate to its size, despite such disparity in the size and arrangement of the five speakers, there’s a consistent tonal balance. The midrange shines with dialogue that’s direct and easy to hear, but the floor standers have a slightly shorty quality to their sound that draws a disproportionate amount of attention and gives an overemphasis on foreground noise. As a result, there’s a lack of cohesion to the sound, and the rear speakers struggle to communicate background and surround noises effectively.

The top end of the 5.1 soundtrack shimmers brilliantly, but it’s at the expense of conviction and depth at the middle to low frequencies, the biggest weakness of the Canton package is the forward-firing 20cm-driver active subwoofer. While it certainly rumbles deep, it’s fairly unwieldy bass lines lack the agility to drive the rest of the system with enthusiasm.

Against the cheaper Monitor Audio and Q Acoustics systems in this test, the Canton isn’t quite as adept at conveying the great expanses of outer space surrounding the starships in Star Trek. The sound field ends up feeling rather congested.

Play some Pet Shop Boys and you’ll find the sound is dynamic, although individual instruments can get lost in the whole.

The Canton Movie 1050 is a mixed bag. We like the look of it but it doesn’t quite hold up next to its more talented rivals.

Take time to tweak

The Canton subwoofer is no slouch, but its limitations become clear alongside the other subs in this test. What’s more, it needs a fair bit of tweaking before it performs at its best. Play around with the crossover and volume level controls on the rear panel to get the right balance and integration with the rest of the system. It’s quite tricky and might take a while, but get the fine-tuning right and you’ll hear a marked improvement.

The Canton subwoofer is no slouch

The Canton subwoofer is no slouch

Rating: 3 stars

For: Sleek and slim build; stylish looks; good dynamics; good tonal balance

Against: Not the most refined; lack of cohesion; imprecise subwoofer

Verdict: A great-looking system, but it doesn’t really impress in outright performance


Canon Movie 1050

·         Price: $1,365

·         Rating: 3 stars


·         Sensitivity: 84db/w/m

·         Power: 100/120W (front)

·         Dimensions (hwd): front 103 x 9 x 10cm, center and rear: 9 x 22 x 10cm

Subwoofer (ported)

·         Power: 120W

·         Driver: 20cm

·         Inputs: 2

·         Dimensions: 41 x 24 x 42cm

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