Soundbars/Soundbases

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Mark Craven  |  Sep 29, 2014  |  0 comments

A few years ago the idea of a speakerbase was just a twinkle in the eye of a Bose engineer. But since the American audio brand, with its Bose Solo TV, popularised the notion of a soundbar that sits under your TV, rather than in front of it, and therefore provides greater cabinet space for larger drivers, plenty of other companies have had a pop, including high-end marques like Speakercraft and Canton and mass-market corps such as Panasonic, Sony and LG. 

Adrian Justins  |  Sep 19, 2014  |  0 comments

Focal, with its fine heritage in high-end speaker design, made the decision to join the soundbar club probably after it saw how successful Bose and B&W were doing at the premium end of the market. But neither the Bose Cinemate 1SR or B&W Panorama 2 have external subwoofer options and only the latter has the HDMI inputs that Focal’s Dimension offers. 

Adrian Justins  |  Aug 03, 2014  |  0 comments
Aesthetic flair was clearly not near the top of the priority list when Q Acoustics set about imagining its new Media 4 soundbar. Put bluntly, it is as attractive as Boris Johnson in a leotard, and at over 10cm high (including the feet) and 14cm deep, there’s no chance of simply sticking it in front of a contemporary screen slouching low on its stand. 
Adrian Justins  |  Jul 16, 2014  |  0 comments

Up close it looks a bit like an MDF project your dad knocked together in the 1980s but, given the price tag, Maxell's MXSP-SB3000 has an awful lot going for it in terms of its spec. Its size and strength mean it will accommodate huge TVs up to 80kg in weight and its rear panel boasts three HDMI inputs, an HDMI ARC, digital optical audio, coaxial audio and various analogue variants. The icing on the input cake is aptX-compatible Bluetooth audio streaming. Power output comprises 100W for the built-in sub and 30W each for its two full-range drivers. 

Adrian Justins  |  Jul 11, 2014  |  0 comments

The Canton DM 50’s design and build are sturdy and unassuming, especially in its black livery (a white option is also on sale). It can bear a 40kg load and has dimensions of 54 x 30cm. There are no HDMI inputs so hi-res BD audio cannot be decoded but digital optical and coaxial inputs provide a pathway for PCM signals with Dolby Digital decoding and DTS TruSurround playback. Wireless Bluetooth audio is compatible with the CD-quality apt-X codec.

Adrian Justins  |  Jul 11, 2014  |  0 comments

With a footprint of 46 x 28cm the Panasonic SC-HTE80 looks (colour differences aside) like a slightly shrunken version of the Canton DM 50, with largely unadorned surfaces and a dot matrix display hidden behind the cheese-grater grille across the front. Build quality is similar, too, but its smaller capacity can only withstand a maximum 30kg.

Adrian Justins  |  Jul 11, 2014  |  0 comments

In terms of size the 70cm-wide Onkyo LS-T10 is one of the bigger soundbase speakers around, making it more likely to accommodate screens in excess of 40in than any of its rivals if shoehorning in between tabletop and TV is a prerequisite. Its large capacity provides space for a six-channel class D amp with six full-range drivers complementing the separately powered, downward-firing 21W sub. Inputs are recessed on the rear and comprise both variants of digital audio and a 3.5mm line-in. 

Adrian Justins  |  Jul 11, 2014  |  0 comments

The aptly-named Cambridge Audio Minx TV is minimalist in several senses, with an absence of controls and displays on its body and a form factor that’s not much larger than a briefcase. It has, however, been stress-tested to support televisions up to 30kg, so its meagre 49cm width could prove the main limiting factor in terms of logistics.

Adrian Justins  |  Jul 11, 2014  |  0 comments

The Orbitsound SB60 stands out from the crowd somewhat as a soundbase speaker with a glossy finish. This runs the risk of incurring scuff marks or scratches and adds to the cost. Handled with care though, it does look the part. For added interior design flexibility it is supplied with interchangeable black and silver grilles. Orbitsound says every screen up to 42in on the market will fit on its 60cm x 30cm footprint. 

Danny Phillips  |  Apr 25, 2014  |  0 comments

Most soundbars are focused on sound quality, but Pioneer's SBX-N500 is a little more ambitious. Yes, it packs 140W of muscle for beefing up movies, but it’s also blessed with the sort of multimedia and networking talents that put some full-sized systems to shame, let alone soundbars.

John Archer  |  Feb 11, 2014  |  0 comments

Every now and then a product comes our way that makes us wonder how its maker can possibly be earning any money on it. The Sandstrom S47S13 is one of those products.

Adrian Justins  |  Feb 01, 2014  |  0 comments

If square speaker drivers existed then Sony would have certainly used them for the HT-ST7, a soundbar that’s got more hard edges than Jason Statham and more angles than a protractor factory. Even the remote control is a perfect oblong with triangular shaped buttons. And with substantial dimensions and considerable heft to both bar and subwoofer (not pictured) there is nothing subtle about the HT-ST7’s look.

Danny Phillips  |  Jan 01, 2014  |  0 comments

The vast majority of soundbars on the market are of the budget persuasion, marketed as simple, cost-effective upgrades for lacklustre TV speakers. Sometimes you get a soundbar that’s cut from a different cloth, taking a more refined approach to design and sound quality. The ASB-2 from Monitor Audio is one of those.

Steve May  |  Oct 11, 2013  |  0 comments

The soundbar market is making quite a noise these days. The compact convenience of these sonic slivers has proved a big hit with telly addicts eager to compensate for the rubbish audio offered by most superslim TVs. The latest maker to sound off with one is specialty hi-fi outfit SpeakerCraft, better known for its high-performance in-wall architectural loudspeakers. Only the brand’s CS3 isn’t exactly a sound bar, it’s more an audio pedestal. 

Danny Phillips  |  Aug 21, 2013  |  0 comments

Soundbars are currently home cinema’s hero products and the HTL5120 is a fine example of the genre. The design is more luxurious than the price tag suggests, with silky black cloth, brushed silver panels and curvy gloss-black ports at both ends. It can be installed on the wall or tabletop, with an orientation sensor switching the sound to suit its position.

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