Majority are still a fairly new brand on the market looking to make a name for themselves in the audio game. No small task. Just type speakers into Amazon and you’ll be bombarded by an array of offerings that go from the absurdly cheap to the absurdly expensive. So today I’m taking a look at Majority’s latest offering; a pair of active bookshelf speakers boasting bluetooth, USB playback support and more, all for around £70.
The speakers themselves are of the bookshelf variety, making them them a reasonably chunky 22.3 x 13.7 x 17.9 cm and weighing in at around 3.8kg for both speakers. These are black wooden cabinets with shiny black plastic fronts. Majority don’t list the wood these speakers are made of anywhere that I could find, and no amount of poking allowed me to discern the exact nature of the wood, either. Assuming it even is wood. It could just be a covering over something else. Still, it seems like Majority have given the internals a decently thick shell and the resonance was fine, so I’m not going to worry about it too much. Would I love the speakers to have been made of birch plywood? Of course! But the theme of this review is really keeping expectations in check due to the £70 asking price.
Speaking of wood, though, Majority claims to plant a tree whenever you buy their products. They do this via Ecologi, and at the time of writing have allegedly planted just over 400,000 trees. Very nice. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a major selling point, but if you do decide to buy a set of the Majority D40 speakers then it’s a lovely bonus.
There’s not a whole lot to say about the look and feel of the Majority D40 speakers. The black finish looks nice enough, but I personally would have preferred them without the plastic on the front. And some colour options, including natural wood, could have been great. The built quality seems reasonable. They feel strong. Some better noise isolation feet would have been great to help reduce vibrations if you have them on a desk. Many other speakers on the market come with little pads to help do just that while also angling the speakers slightly upward. Again, though, £70 price tag. We have to keep it real.
You also get a 36-month warranty with the speakers, so that’s excellent.
Setting up is a doddle. I mean, they’re speakers, not Hadron colliders, after all. You plug one speaker into the other, hook up the power cable, chuck the included batteries into the remote and off you guy. In case you like to get all down and dirty with the details, the cable between speakers is approximately 153cm long, and the power cord is approximately 146c. In the box you get a set of RCA cables and a regular stereo cable. We’ll get to the connection options later. The only hiccup is that there’s no indication of which speaker is left and which is right.
The D40s come packaged with a small remote control that does pretty much everything you could want except grant magical wishes. Or make a cup of tea. The remote is small and light, not giving an impression of high quality. However, it does its job perfectly fine. It does seem to take a second to wake itself up, but once it does you can adjust the volume, swap sources, fiddle with the bass and treble, and play/pause/skip as needed. A friendly female voice announces what source you currently have selected, handy for anyone that might need it but potentially annoying for others since this feature can’t be turned off. She yells at you when you turn the speakers on, too. Chill out, disembodied lady.
There’s a separate chime sound that plays whenever you turn the speakers off, too. That’s fine, but it’s quite loud and doesn’t match itself to the speaker volume. Imagine yourself at 3am with the speakers on the lowest volume setting so as not to disturb anyone else, and as you turn them off a loud chime echoes through the house like you’ve just turned on a TV and forgot you left the volume at “holy shit, my ears!”
Bass and treble adjustment is a little problematic, though, because there’s no indication of the current levels. It’s not a huge issue but if you’ve found the right settings for movies and different ones for your music then it makes getting back to those settings a pain in the ass, unless you can remember the exact amount of clicks you need. This is especially problematic because the speakers don’t retain your settings once turned off, so if you like to switch off your electronics overnight or when not in use you’ll need to constantly readjust everything.
There are a few physical controls on one of the speakers where the headphone port is. These, though, only let you change the mode, skip tracks, pause/play and…well, that’s it. There are no physical volume buttons, which is surprising.
The Majority D40s are active speakers, meaning you plug them into the wall and get rewarded with 60w of audio power aimed at your eardrums. You can get a respectable volume out of the D40s if you crank them up to max. It isn’t going to shake your foundations, but it should be enough to get your neighbors banging on the walls and threatening to kick your door down. Most importantly, distortion at the top-end of the D40s range is impressively mild. You typically expect a fair loss of detail as you ramp up the sound, but the D40s managed to maintain a solid level of clarity.
The good news is that the D40s do not immediately blast you with concentrated bass designed to piss off Godzilla. The trend of boosting bass to extreme levels is nothing short of odious, and the amount of songs that get turned into fuzzy messes because of boosted bass levels is too damn high. The D40s are more subtle and keep the bass to respectable levels that add punch but don’t obliterate all the detail. Of course, you can ramp the bass up if you like, but the range is still quite tame, especially since these speakers don’t come with a separate subwoofer. You could always consider adding one, if you’d like.
The rest of the sound range could best be described as good. Maybe that comes across as underwhelming, but keep in mind the D40s can be bought for around £70 and for that sort of price we can’t expect incredible audio. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted the D40s to blow me away and complete dominate that price-range, but that’s simply not the case. But that wouldn’t stop me recommending them, because you’re getting solid audio for the cash. The tweeters don’t deliver those soaring, crisp highs, the bass won’t rattle your very soul, the mids won’t make movie dialogue pop. No, but when you watch a film, play a game or listen to some music you’re going to be happy with the quality you’re hearing.
For testing, I went through a variety of stuff. I listened to stuff like Nightwish, Green Day, Ozzy Osbourne, Pink Floyd, Guns & Roses, Satriani and more. I fired up a bunch of movies, and played a heap of online shooters where picking up on footsteps, gunfire and reloads can be hugely beneficial. I found I was picking up plenty of small audio details that can get lost in other speakers, but obviously not as much as I might with a great pair of headphones or expensive speakers. Positional audio in games and movies wasn’t great, but that’s expected. If you want that you need to invest in good headphones or a surround sound system. However, they still offered up enough positional cues to figure out where noises were coming from.
Majority win some extra points for all the connection options they’ve bestowed on the D40s. There’s Bluetooth so that you can hook up your phone, computer or whatever via the magic of wireless technology. The speakers are running Bluetooth 5.0 and the connection quality is good, and the operational range is fine. Nothing special. And, of course, like all Bluetooth you will have the occasional hiccup that forces you to reconnect your device.
Then there’s a standard auxillary 3.5mm connection, plus an optical connection. On top of that, there’s a USB slot so that you can insert up to a 64GB drive and there’s an SD card slot. I honestly can’t imagine those last two are going to be major selling points, but there’s going to be a few people out there who’re going to love having those inputs available. Keep in mind that due to the lack of display, the speakers will not let you move through folders and such on your drive.
And finally, there’s a headphone output. Y’know, for headphones. Obviously.
One weird flaw is that if you hook up something like a TV via the optical connection, the speaker default back to Bluetooth mode once the source signal is turned off. That means when you fire the TV back up you have to remember to switch the source back over to optical. They really should default back to the last active source.
I would have loved it if the Majority D40 speakers were capable of automatically swapping over to an active source. For example, if they’re hooked up to a PC via the aux cable and bluetooth it would be great if they could automatically change to the aux input if sound is detected from the PC. However, given the relatively low price-tag, it’s hardly surprising that they don’t have that feature.
It’s also a little surprising that the speakers don’t have an automatic sleep timer – they’ll simply stay on as long as they have power. In fairness, though, sleep timers can and do cause problems for some setups. Considering the voice that yells at you when the speakers turn off, however, maybe it’s a good thing. Can you imagine forgetting to turn the speakers off, going to bed and then being jolted awake 10-minutes later by a voice informing you that they’re turning off now?
The speaker market is a cluttered mess, especially in the sub-£100 market. And just about everyone you ask is going to recommend something different because nobody can try them all. There’s too damn many. And while I’ve been around music all my life and played instruments and hung around sound engineers and musicians, I’m far from an expert on excellent sound quality. Take everything I say, then, with a pinch of salt and member of a dash of pepper – the Majority D40 speakers didn’t absolutely blow me away like I hoped they might. I can’t claim they’re the best speakers for their cost.
What I can say is that based on my time with them, the Majority D40s were strong. They’ve got a solid build quality, a good range of connection options and the audio felt punchy and clear across the board. If you love your music, movies and games and have the cash to spare, then you should spend that extra cash. However, in the sub-£100 price range I think the D40s hold their own and certainly dominate the numerous generic brand offerings on the market. Majority are still a relatively new company on the block, so hopefully they’ll only go from strength to strength. With just a few more changes, the D40s could become the sub-£100 kings.