Soundbars/Soundbases

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Adrian Justins  |  Jul 26, 2013  |  0 comments

Dinkier than a corgi dog and looking less refined than a crate of raw sugar beet, in soundbar country the SBM1W is more Margate than Monte Carlo – and with just 40W of power, plus the 20W wired subwoofer, in home cinema terms the SB1MW is almost an irrelevance. But many of us have second screens that need a sonic supplement, a role well suited to the SBM1, especially as it manages to exceed expectations. For a start, unlike models costing twice as much (eg from Orbitsound and Samsung), it has both optical and coaxial digital inputs, making it well suited for hooking up, say, a screen and a Blu-ray deck. And, in addition to stereo phonos and a 3.5mm line-in, it can accept compressed audio wirelessly streamed over Bluetooth.

Danny Phillips  |  Jul 24, 2013  |  0 comments

The LED-inspired move towards wafer-thin TV screens means there’s no room inside their cabinets for powerful speakers. The result? Weedy, strained sound quality. Little wonder, then, that sales of soundbars have gone through the roof and audio brands are falling over themselves to get a slice of the pie. One such brand is Bowers & Wilkins, which in 2009 launched the Panorama – an expensive, luxurious soundbar that delivered stunning sound quality but lacked crucial HDMI connections.

Adrian Justins  |  Jun 27, 2013  |  0 comments

The solidly built Lounge is without doubt one of the biggest soundbars ever made, and with its Italian cashmere jacket, certainly one of the most surprisingly clad. While designed to make an impact thanks to its maximalist proportions, it has a minimalist approach to connectivity, with a solitary input (for optical or analogue line-in) complemented by AirPlay, Android and Windows wireless streaming. There is just one function button, which gently pulses various colours according to its status.

Steve May  |  Jun 03, 2013  |  0 comments

Having effectively modernised hi-fi, the wireless titan that is Sonos has set its sights on the booming soundbar business, and seemingly almost by default, finds itself a home cinema player, too. But can the brand really replicate its audio success in the world of TV and multichannel audio?

Mark Craven  |  May 29, 2013  |  0 comments

Towards the end of 2012, data analyst GfK released its figures for the consumer electronics soundbar market in the UK. The numbers were extraordinary. Sales had rocketed by 172 per cent in a year, with value up by 120 per cent. Eight out of ten of those sold were supplied with a matching subwoofer, around half offered some form of multimedia hookup (a built-in dock or wireless streaming) and 70 per cent retailed between £100 and £300. The reason is simple - slimline designer TVs have become renowned for their less-than-brilliant sonic prowess.

Adrian Justins  |  May 28, 2013  |  0 comments

The JBL SB200 is a chunky beast of a lozenge, and at 11cm tall it may obscure the bottom edge of your TV's picture if sat just in front of the screen. Mounting on a separate shelf may be needed or it can be wall-mounted via a supplied bracket. A slider switch is provided for setting the EQ to whichever mounting position you choose.

Adrian Justins  |  Mar 06, 2013  |  0 comments

Samsung's HW-E450 is a classic soundbar design with its electronics, full-range drivers and tweeters built in to the main 'bar, complemented by a wireless subwoofer. The soundbar itself is long and thin, meaning it can happily sit in front of a tabletop-mounted screen without affecting the viewing area, or fixed to a wall.

Adrian Justins  |  Dec 22, 2012  |  0 comments

You’ve got to admire Roth Audio for taking a risk with the name of its soundbar. It assumes, I guess, that customers will infer that no sub is required, not that the performance is worse than zero. Probably nobody cares, so long as it sounds cool. And taking care of low-end are dual built-in ‘Ultra Bass’ drivers, which complement six other drive units– including two side-firing drivers for an enhanced stereo effect. Power comes courtesy of a 64W amp, with Roth Audio’s proprietary Fractal Expansion processing promising the holy grail of surround sound.

Anton van Beek  |  Dec 01, 2012  |  0 comments

The YHT-S401 seemingly has a lot going for it, including Yamaha’s rich heritage in soundbars and a comprehensive specification that makes a mockery of the similarly-priced Bose Solo. The YHT-S401 boasts four HDMI sockets, a headphone jack, FM aerial input and a USB input. No simple booster for your TV’s sonics here, we’re talking HD audio decoding for Blu-ray discs and streaming of MP3 and WMA files from USB flash drives, plus iPod and smartphone compatibility. In a perfect world we’d also be talking about Bluetooth and AirPlay, but you don’t need to be the taxman who studies Google’s annual return to know you don’t always get what you want. 

Adrian Justins  |  Nov 30, 2012  |  0 comments
 

From a standing start in 2008, Orbitsound has made quite an impact in the soundbar market, and the T9 reviewed here offers a more affordable and compact alternative to its well-received T12. It's aimed equally at movie enthusiasts seeking an affordable TV audio upgrade and, thanks to its top-mounted iPod dock, the generation of music fans who want somewhere to berth their iDevice. 

Adrian Justins  |  Nov 24, 2012  |  0 comments

The Bose Solo is more of a soundbox than a soundbar, having been designed by Bose to sit underneath your screen rather than in front of it. This cunning approach, where the TV stand is plonked on top of the unit, eliminates the problem of the soundbar encroaching on the screen (or the remote control receiver at the very least), which can happen with shallow stands and/or tall 'bars. From a distance the box looks like a PVR or deck, upon which one would never dream of placing a TV.

Steve May  |  Nov 07, 2012  |  0 comments

It’s a curious irony that soundbars have been shrinking. Originally created to compensate for the thin audio produced by slim TVs, today’s mainstream models are now almost as thin as the screens they aim to support. Boston Acoustics’ TVee Model 30 is different – a heavyweight enclosure weighing 3kg and running almost 1m wide.

Steve May  |  Aug 25, 2012  |  0 comments

It was probably inevitable that the increasingly popular single-piece soundbar and the booming 2.1 audio market would collide. The result is a hybrid audio solution built around soundbars that can transform, Autobot-style, into traditional left/right loudspeakers.

Adrian Justins  |  Aug 05, 2012  |  0 comments

Bose has to be different. You can’t call the Cinemate 1SR a soundbar, it’s a sound array. Likewise, the sub is not a sub, it’s an Acoustimass module. Bose is also coy about giving out technical specifications, so I know not what the power output is of either component. What I do know is that the ‘array’ has five drivers and connects by cable, or wirelessly, to the Acoustimass module.

Danny Phillips  |  Jul 15, 2012  |  0 comments

Orbitsound is a relatively new company with only one thing on its mind – making speakers. Its product range runs to soundbars and iPod speakers. And that’s it. With that in mind, you’d expect its T12v3 soundbar and sub combo to be more than a match for rival products from brands with other things on their minds.

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