In a recent news piece, Home Theater Review publisher Jerry Del Colliano mentioned a trend in the AV industry that would be hard to deny. Through the advance of technology, AV components now offer what would have been best-in-class performance not long ago, for a far more reasonable cost. Loudspeakers are no exception to that trend, thanks to advancements in material sciences, leading to better driver performance, cabinet design, etc. Piggybacking onto that trend is another that is just as undeniable: consumers demand value, not just performance in absolute. Direct-to-consumer brands like SVS and Outlaw Audio have garnered great success with fabulous-sounding products at reasonable prices. Premium AV brands are vigorously defending their turf with value offerings of their own. Consider that a Krell AV preamp can now be had at a previously unheard-of price or that Anthem AV's top-of-the-line receiver can now be had for under $2,000.
In the same breath, brands traditionally not thought of in the specialty AV audio space like Boston Acoustics have been encroaching into higher-end audio territory. With its new M Series speakers, this brand is proving to be a formidable player in the space. The series includes three floor-standing speakers: the M250 ($1,500 per pair), the flagship M350 ($2,500 per pair), and the M340 ($2,000 per pair), which is the subject of this review.
For CD and Blu-ray sources, I used my reference Oppo BDP-105, connected via Blue Jeans balanced XLR interconnects to my Parasound Halo JC2-BP preamp. From there, the signal was fed from my Parasound unit to two Crown XLS-2500 professional amplifiers, also via Blue Jeans balanced XLR cables. Monoprice 10-gauge speaker wire transmitted the amplified signal from the Crowns to the Boston Acoustics M340 speakers. I placed the speakers in roughly the same optimum placement where my reference Salk Signature Soundscape 12 floor-standers normally reside.
The M340 speakers were very easy to handle out of the box, weighing in at 46.3 pounds each. I was able to easily maneuver them into position single-handedly, which is not possible with many of the larger floor-standing speakers today. The ultra-slim profile - less than nine inches wide, not quite 12 inches deep, and a moderately tall 40 inches high - gave them a very unobtrusive footprint in our living room, which unsurprisingly garnered comments from my wife about why my reference speakers had to be so big. The M340 stands on a small pedestal base supported by metal pillars similar to the design on quite a few high-end speakers I've seen. The speakers have a high-gloss piano-black finish, and the cabinet is made of MDF, which is consistent with speakers in this price range. Overall, the construction was sleek and professionally done.
Each M340 includes a one-inch EWB (which stands for extended wide bandwidth) tweeter, responsible for all frequencies from the 3.1-kHz crossover point on up. One 4.5-inch midrange driver covers from 390 Hz to 3.1kHz. And instead of one large woofer to cover the bass, an array of four 4.5-inch woofers handles all the bass frequencies down to a rated bass response of 45 Hz.
Continue on to Page 2 for the Performance, the Competition and Comparison, the Downside, and the Conclusion . . .