M24 and M25 Powered Speakers Review
Company & Product Overview
While today’s review is on Peachtree’s latest products, we felt like it would be fun to go over a little bit of history.
It was around 11 years ago that our founder, Leon Shaw, was walking to a restaurant at an electronics trade show with some good friends. They revealed that for the last few weeks, they had been mapping out a new company and planning on leaving their industry jobs to get to work on a venture that would become Peachtree Audio.
About a year later, David Solomon and Jim Spainhour dropped by our Raleigh store with their first product: a new integrated amp called the Decco. When we hooked it up, we felt it sounded like it should sell for at least 5 times its modest price. Right then, Audio Advice became one of the very first Peachtree Audio dealers.
What was unique about this little integrated amp, beyond the fact that it sounded so good, was the fact that it was a pioneer in the computer music realm. It seems hard to believe, but it was only ten years ago, also during 2007, that the iPhone was first introduced.
That very first Decco had a great DAC built in. The team at Peachtree back then had (and still does today) some really good sets of ears to compare various DAC technologies and come up with a combination that sounds really great.
The revolutionary thing about the Decco was that you could access the DAC in several different ways. There was a Toslink or optical digital input, which was very popular then and still today, and a coax or RCA digital input, which again is still popular today. But the part that made it one of the best amps for computer music was its USB input. This meant you could run a cable right out of your computer where all your music was stored and take advantage of the great DAC inside the Decco.
This all leads us up to the subject of today’s review, the M24 and M25 powered speakers. We see a lot of similarities between these speakers and the first Decco. The Decco was a new way to look at an integrated amplifier in a market where tons of integrated amps already existed, and the M24 and M25 speakers are a fresh new approach to the recently very crowded powered speaker category.
Comparing the M24 and M25
The M24 and M25 are nearly identical, including nearly all of the same features, inputs, and outputs. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to refer to the M24 throughout this review, but before we get started, let’s take a second to discuss the differences between the two speakers.
First, the M24 has a slightly smaller cabinet, standing about 9” tall, 5 ½” wide, and 8 1/1” deep. The M25 is almost 10 ½” tall, 6 ¾” wide, and 9” deep.
The M24 has a 4" woofer while the M25 uses a 5 ¼” woofer. In our testing, the M25 reaches deeper into the bass and has the ability to fill up a bigger room. The M24 seems to be about the perfect size for a desktop computer speaker, while the M25 could be used as the heart of a full stereo system.
Design & Build Quality
The Peachtree M24 speakers are beautiful and will feel right at home on your desk or living room side table. The M24 available in gloss black or a beautiful real bamboo and comes with removable grills.
We think the bamboo version actually looks great with the grill off, plus it gives you quick access to the controls on the front. As we’ve come to expect from Peachtree, the build quality is impeccable, especially when you consider their modest price.
The M24 features a 1” silk dome tweeter and custom-designed woofers using a special fiberglass cone material. The rear ported speaker design enhances the bass and allows you to get some decent punch for bookshelf speakers.
Peachtree felt that while there were lots of powered speakers on the market, none of them addressed all of the needs of today’s music lover. Many offered very good sound, but with limited connectivity, while some of the ones with lots of inputs missed the boat on sound. Peachtree’s extensive experience in both amplifier and speaker design results in the M24 being an outstanding product.
All of the connections, DAC, and amplifier are contained in the right speaker. To set them up, simply plug it into AC power and run the included speaker wire over to the left speaker. Plug in or select a source, and you’re ready to go!
On the right speaker, you will also find some basic controls on the front, including a dual purpose knob. Rotate it to adjust volume or push it in and you can click through the various inputs that we’ll discuss next.
There is a little window on the left side of the speaker with different colored lights that indicate which input you are on. Our only complaint here is that the knob does feel a little less solid than we’d like, but considering the price and the fact that it comes with a remote (which we’ll discuss below), this is only a minor gripe.
Features & Technology
We will start out with a turntable. With most powered speakers, you need a separate phono stage and more cables, but the M24 has a built-in MM phono stage! You can connect your turntable directly to the speakers and you are ready to go!
If you are not going to use a turntable with the M24, you can flick a switch on the back, and change the phono input into a standard aux input for more flexibility.
Connecting to streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal is simple with the M24. If you are streaming from your phone or tablet, simply pair it to the speakers via Bluetooth.
Maybe you have a streaming device already like a Sonos Connect or something similar with a digital out. Well, the M24 has a fiber optic digital input so you can connect directly and take advantage of the great DAC inside the M24. If you want to improve the sound from your TV, simply take the optical out from your TV and connect it to the M24!
The M24 also works great as desktop speakers! They have a USB connection on the back for computer audio (just like the original Decco) and can handle 24/96 Hi-Res audio files from the computer. In fact, the Toslink DAC input can play those Hi-Res files back as well!
You will also find a USB charging port on the back -- great for keeping your phone charged while at your desk or while streaming music.
While the M24 sounds good on their own, sometimes you may want a little more bass. Luckily, the M24 includes a sub-out on the back, so you can connect any subwoofer you wish with ease.
A small, simple remote comes with the M24 and makes everything easy to control. You can change inputs, control the volume, and skip tracks, all from the remote. Believe it or not, the remote also comes with tone controls, allowing you to tweak the bass and treble. When you want to put everything back, there is a “flat” button to return the bass and treble to neutral.
While the flexibility and inputs on the M24 are great, it would all be for naught if there was not also some first-class tech inside. The M-series speakers are deeper than you would expect, considering its other dimensions. This allows it to have a small visual face, while still having a decent-sized cabinet. This, combined with the rear-port allows the M24 to produce great bass for its size.
Powered speakers like the M24, by definition, have the amplifier built directly into the speaker cabinets. When the manufacturer knows the exact amplifier and speakers used, it gives them a huge advantage, allowing the manufacturer to save money while perfectly matching the amp and speakers. Peachtree used both their amplifier and speaker expertise when building the M24.
Another great piece of tech inside the M24 is the Hi-Res Audio DAC. It comes from the same technology used in their great new integrated amps in the Nova series. You’ll be able through the USB or Digital inputs decode audio files that are 24/96. This is quite unique for sub-$400/pr powered speakers!
We were lucky enough to have an early production pair of these speakers at an event in our Raleigh and Charlotte showrooms this spring. Our customers were just amazed by the sound quality for the size and price. In fact, we took pre-orders for several pairs right there on the spot, months before they were released.
When we finally got our very own pair, at first we were underwhelmed by the sound. After a day or two of break-in, however, they had our attention again. While these are great desktop speakers, you may find yourself distracted from work, kicking back to enjoy the music.
The best word we can think to describe their sound is FUN. They have that great sensation we always look for in a speaker, allowing the music to flow through without over-emphasizing any aspect over another. The top end is pure and sweet and the bottom does not try to push the bass beyond its capabilities. All-in-all, it’s a very natural sound -- pure and clean with lots of detail. It was super easy to hear the bass tonality on, for example, Chicago’s “I’m a Man”.
Over the course of our listening, we tested out tunes from Jimi Hendrix, The Avett Brothers, Rolling Stones, Chicago, Led Zeppelin, Stephen Stills, the Beatles, Adhesive Wombat, and Mark Ronson. No matter what was playing, we found the M24 really got you involved in the music. They have a tendency to make you want to stop what you are doing, turn them up and just listen, which is about as good a compliment as you can pay any speaker.
Some of the old Zeppelin and Stones tracks had a bit of an edgy top end and a lean bottom end. This is the first powered desktop speaker we have tested that lets you fix this with the easy-to-use tone controls on the remote. Dip the treble a bit, click up the bass, and you can turn that nasty sounding recording of great music you love into something that is fun to listen to again.
We will say that they sounded best in a near-field listening set up where you are within 3-6 ft of them. In playing around, an equilateral triangle produced the best stereo image. This is another area they excel in; if you set them up right and get in between them, the voices (if mixed to the center) will be dead center.
There is one little quirk that once you figure out is no big deal, and it only applies when using Bluetooth, but you have two volume controls to deal with. We discovered you should turn the volume knob on the speaker all the way up, then use the controls on your phone. If you do not, you might find you have the phone turned wide open and you still don’t have much volume. Of course with any source directly connected to the M24, you only have the one volume control on the unit.
We have also tested other powered desktop speakers that could ultimately produce more output in terms of sheer volume. The Peachtree M24 plays very loud, but may not be the best choice for a really large room. However, at your desk or in a small to medium sized space, they are just fantastic. The Peachtree M25 would be a better choice in a larger space as it as more output capability with its larger cabinet and woofer.
To sum things up from a performance standpoint, we don’t think you’ll find a better speaker at this price point. The M24 is extremely musical and we love the fine tuning aspect available with the simple-to-use bass/treble controls.
If you are looking for a great desktop speaker or are in search of a great pair of small speakers to pair with a turntable, the Peachtree M24 must be on your list! With their built-in phono stage, USB DAC, digital input, and Bluetooth streaming, you can get music to them any way you can imagine. Their sound is extremely musical, but more importantly, just downright fun to listen to.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
The M24 is one of the best sounding desktop speakers we have ever tested. They are warm, rich and silky, along with just being a ton of fun to listen to! Stretch their musical muscle even more with the built-in tone controls.
Phono Stage Included
Not only do they have a built-in MM phono stage, you also get digital, USB, and a DAC built in capable of 24/96 Hi-Res Audio
Enjoy the convenience of streaming anything from your phone or tablet to the M24.