Looking Good, Sounding Great (Part 2) : Monitor Audio MASS, Q Acoustics Q7000

3/9/2013 9:07:51 AM

Price: $1,213

With such a quick router from First Test to 2012 Award-winner, it’s hardly a surprise that we’d feature the Monitor Audio MASS system in this test.

We made quite a big deal of sense of scale offered by this compact system, and we’re still staggered by the powerful sound delivered by the small MASS 10 satellites. While we were initially musing over the look of the five identical speakers, with their contrasting silver-brushed aluminum end caps and curved cabinets, we’re rather taken with them now.

Underneath the matte black cloth finish, the tweeter and driver cones are fashioned from Monitor Audio’s trademark C-Cam (Ceramic-Coated Aluminum/Magnesium) material, which aims for a consistent dispersion of sound.

And much like the B&W MT-50, you’ll hardly notice the speakers’ physical presence at all once you put a film on – you’ll be far too busy enjoying the MASS’s powerful and friendly sound.

Monitor Audio MASS

A truly involving sound

There’s a reason this Monitor Audio system knocked the Q Acoustics Q7000 off its perch at the sub-1lac price point at this year’s Awards. While both offer a crisp and clear sound with great attention to detail, it’s the MASS’s ability to deliver a much more open and engulfing sound that gives in the edge. The Thor vs Iron Man vs Captain American fight scene in Avengers is a chaotic arrangement of loud crashes and wallops interspersed with snappy one-liner and the MASS system has all the control and speed needed to deliver each punch and crash with excitement.

The W200 subwoofer deserves a mention – it may be a hefty accompaniment to such small speakers, but the power and agility of the two 25cm side-firing drivers are a central part of the MASS’s cohesive and well-timed sound.

Surround effects are easy to pick out as well, with Iron Man and the Chitauri whizzing about the room seamlessly via the wonderfully integrated MASS 10 satellites. We’d say the MASS’s talent are second only to those of the B&W MT-50 system, the differences being that the B&W offers more insight, and manages to eke out that last layer of subtlety when it comes to shifting dynamics. It’s this that makes it distinct from this Monitor Audio rival

Both the B&W package and this Monitor Audio score top marks. And there’s no question that they both deserve it. Nevertheless, there is the price difference to consider. For the moment, let’s just say that both are superbly talented systems that we’d happily buy in an instant.

Cohesive design, big sound

We like the almost-hidden-away inlaid back panel of the MASS’s subwoofer – it mimics the style of the hidden speaker terminals on the similarly finished M-1 satellites. The comparatively massive sub comes with three presets: we’d skip both the bass-heavy ‘Impact’ and the more subtle ‘Music’ modes. And keep it switched to the somewhere in between ‘Movie’ mode to get the best results with film soundtracks.

MASS’s subwoofer

MASS’s subwoofer

Rating: 5 stars

For: Exciting and dynamic; impressive scale and power; strong and agile; good detail; compact and well build; great price

Against: A slight bias towards the mid-range

Verdict: Small but powerful, the MASS impresses with a detailed yet substantial sound


Monitor Audio Mass

·         Price: $1,213

·         Rating: 5 stars


·         Sensitivity: 84db/w/m

·         Power handling: 100W

·         Dimensions (hwd): F/R 22 x 13 x 13cm, center: 13 x 22 x 13cm


·         Power: 220W

·         Driver: 25cm

·         Type: sealed

·         Inputs: 1

·         Dimensions (hwd): 42 x 38 x 38cm

Q Acoustics Q7000

Price: $1,090

A Acoustics has a great record in producing musical, confident and affordable speaker, and this Q7000 5.1 home cinema system is one of the products that helps that reputation. It ran away with a 2011 Product of the Year.

Q Acoustics Q7000

Q Acoustics Q7000

It’s a tidy system, with five identical satellites finished in a sleek glossy black (or white) shell, each housing a pair of 7.5cm coated-paper mid/bass drivers that are placed either side of a 25mm ring radiator tweeter.

The Q7000 is a refined-sounding package, and it seems to take particular care with dialogue. Take the scene when we’re first introduced to Black Widow in Avengers, and you’ll find the voices clear and full of character. There’s also a smooth elegance to the surround sound even in quitter scenes.

Integration and timing

As the scene continues, the Q7000 proves itself to be a well-integrated system, with the punchy and well-paced subwoofer comfortably keeping in time with the rest of the system.

Compared with the Canton Movie 1050, the Q7000 appears noticeably more organized and controlled: the separation and clarity of all the elements clearly mark the Q Acoustics as offering a much more desirable package.

That said, the Q7000 doesn’t quite convey the feeling of space and openness as well as either the B&W MT-50 or the Monitor Audio MASS. Extended and varied listening reveals that it’s not quite as far reaching in terms of scale and power.

It might be more expensive than the Q7000, but the MASS system is a clear step above in outright power and performance. Surround effects are handled with more authority and confidence, while the Q7000 feels dainty in comparison. There’s steady progression of dynamic shifts, but the Q Acoustics system does start to strain at higher volumes: the top end begins to run out of breathing space and becomes a bit too aggressive as a results.

Even after a year we still have a soft spot for the Q7000, which provides a much more interesting and engulfing sound than the Canton package. However, the MASS is a far more exciting listen and the Q7000 ultimately loses a star in this battle.

Let’s not forget that this package won our Product of the Year Award in 2011, and there are still plenty of good reasons to buy it – not least its design and build quality. It’s just that, with the appearance of the MASS and MT-50, the Q7000 has been overtaken. It remains a good, if not the best, style speaker package at this price point.

Easy positioning

The subwoofer has an interesting design: the speaker terminals and the 25cm paper cone driver are both hidden behind the side panel, which is held in position by a single bold. This is primarily for aesthetic reasons – it gives the box a smart, clean look that’s in keeping with that of the satellites but it also means the unit is less fussy about where it is positioned in a room. Another bonus is that helps keep the wiring tucked away.

The subwoofer has an interesting design

The subwoofer has an interesting design

Rating: 4 stars

For: refined and elegant; focused, attacking sound; build and finish; price

Against: The best of its rivals are stronger in terms of outright scale and atmosphere

Verdict: The Q7000 is still an attractive buy, but falls slightly short on power and detail


Q Acoustics Q7000

·         Price: $1,090

·         Rating: 4 stars


·         Sensitivity: 85db/w/m

·         Power handling: 100W

·         Dimensions (hwd): F/R 24 x 10 x 16cm, center: 10 x 24 x 16cm


·         Power: 250W

·         Driver: 25cm

·         Type: sealed

·         Inputs: 2

·         Dimensions (hwd): 37 x 51 x 22cm

Test verdict

The winner: B&W MT-50…

Our four contenders show that competition is particularly fierce towards the upper end of the style speaker market. That makes the achievement of the excellent B&W MT-50 package all the more impressive

All four style speaker package in this test stay true to their billing: they are well-designed, great-looking compact systems that wouldn’t look out of place in any room. And if you’re setting up your very first home cinema system or even upgrading your existing one – this is a highly competitive and attractive price point to set your sights on.

The Monitor Audio MASS system has already piped the Q Acoustics Q7000 5.1 package to grab the Best Buy Award at the sub-1las price mark. And although you can find the Q7000 for a bit less if you shop around, the MASS system is a much more exciting experience.

The Canton Movie 1050 threw an unknown quantity into the mix – it seemed as if it could give the other three systems a run for their money, but if falters due to the limitations in its sonic composure.

And then there were two

So it ultimately came down to a battle between the Monitor Audio MASS and the B&W MT-50. We’ve hailed both systems for their power, superb surround sound and dynamic range, so surely the $1700 price difference seals it? No. While the MASS is a great package for its price, it just can’t match the MT-50. The B&W set-up really is sublime in its integration, detail and ability to place you right in the middle of the action. In fact, its performance is miles ahead of its asking price. It’s a captivating, stunning product.

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