So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
AAD M Series
Fantastic movie sound on a budget
- Detailed highs, incredibly smooth mid-range, tight bass
- Somewhat uninspiring styling
AAD’s M Series surround sound home theatre offers great sound quality for movies at an affordable price. The speakers are quite light and easy to set up, although their styling is more conservative than impressive.
Price$ 1,495.00 (AUD)
AAD's M Series home theatre system is relatively small by home entertainment standards — compared to JBL's gargantuan ES900 Cinepack, for example — but it's still able to deliver crisp and measured sound for movies and occasional music listening. Our only gripe is the system's slightly boring looks, which echo its budget price point.
AAD is a company that sits somewhat in the shadow of bigger names like JBL and its ilk. Despite this, the company still produces some fantastic home entertainment products. The M Series range of speakers is no exception, boasting some solid specifications despite an impressively low price. On top of that, the set's sound is perfectly suited to movies, with crisp and accurate mid-range as well as impressive highs and consistent bass.
The M Series bundle retails for $1495, with that price netting a fully-featured 5.1 system; quite an achievement considering that this price is around the benchmark for a pre-built home-theatre-in-a-box with inferior satellite speakers. AAD's floor-standing front speakers are the M-5T model, based around two 5in woofers and a 1in tweeter. These are naturally the most powerful speakers in the system and are rated at a respectable 150 Watts per channel. Taking up surround duties are the M-5X bookshelf mini monitors, packing a single 5in woofer and 1in tweeter into a significantly smaller chassis. Dialogue is admirably handled by the M-5C — a centre channel speaker with the same setup as the floor-standing M-5Ts. Coming up last and lowest in the frequency ranges is the M-10S: a 10in forward-firing subwoofer rated at 110 Watts.
All of these speakers have the same styling — veneer sides with a rendered grey front. The speaker drivers and their surrounds seem of a notably high quality, but the veneer finish looks fake and detracts from the aesthetics of the product. This is further reinforced by the light grey fabric covers on the speakers that make them seem cheap and tacky. We found them far more impressive with the covers removed, but the light-coloured veneer still looked slightly shoddy.
When it comes down to sound quality, however, there's nothing cheap about the M Series bundle. As a surround sound set it's entirely intended for movies (the two M-5T floor-standers are suited to a music setup, without the distraction of surround sound) so we got straight into it with a run through of The Matrix.
We noticed straight away that dialogue was prominent and impressively clear. This is most likely thanks to the matched tweeter and woofer pairs in all of the speakers, allowing for a more accurate and immersive surround sound experience. Other mid-range sound was equally exciting — gunfire in The Matrix's well-known lobby scene was sharp and perfectly accurate with no untoward emphasis towards bass or treble.
The system's capability for surround sound was also put to the test with the pod race scene of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. This scene features a lot of low-frequency surround so it's always a strenuous test for speakers. The M Series setup performed admirably, faithfully reproducing positional audio with great clarity and an even volume spread.
All the speakers in the M Series set have identical tweeter drivers; the end result of this is crisp high notes that stretch incredibly high into the frequency range. All the speakers are rated to an unrealistic 45,000Hz — unreachable by the vast majority of music sources and even the human ear. AAD's reasoning is that these inaudible notes nonetheless shore up audible frequencies, allowing for richer and clearer treble. Whatever it's done has worked, since the treble from the M Series is some of the best we've heard.
Bass is accurate, but we didn't find it had the right level of boom for a full movie experience. The subwoofer is possibly suited slightly towards analytical music listening rather than lively movie watching, but it still does provide a much-appreciated low-frequency kick to the system.
As a budget setup, the M Series speaker bundle excels for watching movies and accurately reproducing sound. For the price of a pre-built home theatre system using cheap plastic satellite speakers and a poor quality subwoofer the AAD M Series offers so much more. If you're looking for a speaker setup around this price point, have a serious look at this AAD bundle.
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