Soundbars/Soundbases

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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.

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.

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