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Samsung Q990D review: the best Dolby Atmos soundbar, and now perfect for PS5 and Xbox Series X, too
8:00 pm | May 4, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Two minute review

The Samsung HW-Q990D follows in the footsteps of one of the best soundbars in recent years, the Samsung HW-Q990C, but adds gaming features including 4K 120Hz and VRR pass-through, along with a more refined and controlled sound profile. 

Filled to the brim with features, the Q990D offers plenty of settings for those who like to experiment. AI enhancements including Adaptive Sound and SpaceFit allow the Q990D to analyze sources and the viewing environment to create the best possible experience. Alongside these, the new gaming features enable users to get the most from their PS5 or Xbox Series X. And for those with a Samsung TV, there’s also Q-Symphony and a wireless Dolby Atmos option.

Carrying 22 speakers across four units, with an 11.1.4 channel configuration, the Q990D confirms Samsung's continued domination of the soundbar market, especially when it comes to immersive Dolby Atmos sound. But, it’s not just immersive sound where it succeeds, as bass levels are punchy yet refined and trebles and mids can breathe easy over the bass.  The Q990D also serves as an excellent music streaming option whether over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with its wide soundstage giving every aspect of a song the space it needs.

Although on the bulkier side, the Q990D feels every bit its premium price thanks to its solid build quality, and it has a sleek, modern look. The main soundbar’s size may be an issue for some and its front LED display is not the most user-friendly, but for many, it will beat the mess of cables you get with a wired home theater setup.

With a variety of control options including a supplied remote and the Samsung SmartThings app, the Q990D is easy to use and tailor settings to how you like. Initial setup is a breeze, making it simple to get great sound. 

The Q990D may be a premium soundbar, and there are cheaper options such as last year’s Samsung Q990C and this year’s Samsung HW-Q930D, but neither of those carries the full range of features or the performance found in the Q990D. Although pricey, it delivers the best Dolby Atmos soundbar experience you can get today. 

Samsung HW-Q990D soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers

The Samsung HW-Q990D comprises a soundbar, subwoofer and two surrounds, with 11.1.4 channels across 22 speakers. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Price & release date

  • Release date - March 2024 
  • Price - $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$1,995 

The Samsung HW-Q990D is Samsung’s flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar for 2024. Released at $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$1,995, the Q990D is a premium soundbar package.

For context, that’s roughly $400 more than the JBL Bar 1300X, an older soundbar that includes wireless rear speakers and a powerful subwoofer, but is roughly $500 more than the most widely available Sonos home theater package, which features the Sonos Arc, Sonos Sub (Gen 3) and a pair of Sonos Era 100s as rears.

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Specs

Samsung HW-Q990D in front of the Samsung S95D

The Samsung HW-Q990D (connected to the Samsung S95D TV) now has gaming features including 120Hz and VRR. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Features

  • 11.1.4 speaker channels 
  • HDMI 2.1 with 4K 120Hz support  
  • Wireless Dolby Atmos  

The Samsung Q990D has many of  the same features as its impressive predecessor, the Samsung HW-Q990C, including 11.1.4 speaker channels and 22 speakers spread across the four units (soundbar, subwoofer and two rear speakers).

One new feature is HDMI 2.1 ports for gaming, with both HDMI inputs supporting 4K120Hz and VRR. Both HDMI ports also pass through HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR formats.

Supported sound formats include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Dolby 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD. 

The Q990D is stacked with sound-enhancing features including Adaptive Sound, which analyzes what you’re watching and intelligently adjusts audio levels; SpaceFit Sound Pro, which analyzes your environment and tunes the Q990D’s audio output for the space; and Game Mode Pro, which tailors directional sound to optimal levels when gaming.

Wi-Fi streaming on the Q990D supports hi-res audio formats including ALAC, FLAC and WAV and also Dolby Atmos music tracks found on streaming services such as Apple Music and Tidal. Speaking of streaming, there is also Spotify and Tidal Connect support. 

There are some Samsung-exclusive enhancements alongside these features (meaning they only work with compatible Samsung TVs). The first is Q-Symphony, where the Q990D works with the speakers of a Samsung TV to boost sound even further. The next is wireless Dolby Atmos, where a Samsung TV can stream Dolby Atmos soundtracks - albeit a compressed version - to the Q990D.

Last is Tap Sound, where you tap your Samsung smartphone on the Q990D and it starts playing the music you’re streaming. 

Control options include a hardware remote control and the Samsung SmartThings app. With the app, you can make EQ adjustments, activate voice and bass enhancement, and select Night Mode, which adjusts the sound to a suitable level for late-night viewing or listening. The app also isn’t just for the Q990D, but can control any compatible Samsung product.

  • Features score: 5 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D main bar

The Samsung HW-Q990D main soundbar  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Performance

  • Exceptional immersive sound
  • Powerful, yet detailed audio 
  • Impressive gaming performance 

For years, Samsung’s flagship soundbars have continually impressed, serving as a pinnacle of what a soundbar-based home theater audio system is capable of, and the Q990D continues this trend. 

With 22 speakers across the four units, including four height channels, in an 11.1.4 channel configuration, the Q990D creates an outstanding immersive experience, with expert reproduction of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks and real surround sound.

Watching Star Wars: A New Hope on Disney Plus, the final attack and ensuing space battle involving the Death Star was every bit as cinematic as it should be. As X-Wings and Tie Fighters shot across the screen from every angle, the direction of the soaring engines glided across the speakers impeccably and John Williams’ iconic score in the rear speakers kept the tension high without drowning out other effects. Dialogue was crisp and clear, cutting through the densely packed mix of engines, lasers and music. Watching this, I truly felt like I was in the cockpit, as the iconic screech of the Tie Fighter passed over my head. 

Although immersive sound is where the Q990D succeeded the most,  bass levels from the weighty subwoofer also impressed. The rumble of the Batmobile’s engine in The Batman during the Penguin car chase sounded meaty with plenty of low-end punch. On previous Q990 generations, the bass could get carried away on occasion, but the Q990D’s bass feels more nuanced and controlled - dynamic but without overwhelming the rest of the mix.

Even when watching movies with a stereo soundtrack such as The Amazing Spider-Man on DVD, the Q990D boosted the sound through upmixing and gave more oomph to every fight sequence and web swing through NYC. 

Other parts of the audio mix are well-balanced on the Q990D. High notes come across without being too shrill whilst mids sit comfortably where they should in the mix, with everything combining to create a full, detailed sound. 

Although it’s not as impressive with music as with movies, the Q990D is still a triumph. When I streamed tracks from Tidal and Spotify in uncompressed hi-res and compressed formats respectively, the Q990D did a good job of balancing instruments and handled every genre well. Listening to Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World, the bass and drums sounded punchy, and the trebles of the synths and guitars sliced through evenly.

Listening to Dolby Atmos music tracks via Tidal, the Q990D again showed its prowess. Thelonius Monk’s Monk’s Dream (Take 8) spread out across the Q990D’s speakers, with every instrument given equal room to breathe - from the twinkling piano to the bright sax and the warm bass notes. 

Sometimes the mix would sound forced on these Dolby Atmos tracks, with some instruments pushing a little too hard. But the Q990D generally continued to shine and even tracks streamed over lower quality Bluetooth sounded good. 

The Q990D was connected to a Samsung S95D TV during my testing, with Samsung-centric features such as Q Symphony available. And while this did provide an extra layer to the sound, adding a greater sense of space and power, the Q990D gave a great cinematic experience without it. 

As for gaming performance, when playing Battlefield V with an Xbox Series X, gaming was smooth, as switching between targets felt easy and the action suitably pacy. 

The most surprising element of the Q990D’s gaming performance was the low 9.2ms input lag time, meaning its HDMI pass-through didn’t add any latency. For those needing 4K 120Hz, VRR and low input lag for their console, the Q990D can provide. 

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D front display

The Samsung HW-Q990D's front display isn't the easiest to read... (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Design

  • Solid, premium design 
  • Front display isn’t easiest to read
  • Slightly wider than a 55-inch TV  

The Q990D comprises four units: a soundbar, subwoofer and two rear speakers. The subwoofer is sizable and hefty, but its wireless connection allows it to be placed anywhere in the room (as long as there’s a mains socket nearby to plug in for power). The rear speakers, meanwhile, have a compact yet sleek design. 

The soundbar itself measures 1309.0 x 595.0 x 277.0 mm, making it slightly longer than a 55-inch TV (which roughly measures 1200mm). At 595mm, it isn’t the tallest soundbar, but could still cut off the bottom of a lot of TVs. The soundbar is also weighty, although that demonstrates its premium quality. 

The soundbar and rear speakers sport a gray/navy matte finish that gives them a minimalist, modern appearance. A mesh grille on the soundbar’s front makes it quite difficult to see what input you’re using and other information provided on the front panel LED display, however.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D supplied remote

The Samsung HW-Q990D can be controlled with the above supplied remote, the Samsung SmartThings app or your TV remote via HDMI-CEC. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Setup & usability

  • HDMI eARC connection to TV
  • Wireless connection between units  
  • Remote or SmartThings app for control  

With four separate, wireless units, setting up the Q990D seems like it would be daunting, but the Q990D makes setup almost effortless. Once all units are plugged in and the soundbar is connected to the TV by HDMI eARC, the subwoofer and rear speakers connect by simply pressing a button on the back and you’re ready to go.

You can either use the supplied remote or the Samsung SmartThings app for control, with adjustments for boosting voice, bass and more. The Q990D can also be controlled via the TV remote using HDMI-CEC. Finally, there are control buttons and an LED display on top of the soundbar. 

For those looking to optimize audio based on their room’s layout, there is also the SpaceFit Pro calibration system, which can be performed during initial setup or on the fly using the SmartThings app. 

  • Setup & usability score: 4.5 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D soundbar

The Samsung HW-Q990D is pricey, but you get an entire Atmos experience across four units. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Value

  • Premium price 
  • Best home theater soundbar option
  • Samsung Q990C still available   

Priced at $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$1,995, the Q990D is a premium soundbar. And although its features and excellent all-around performance justify the price, it is no doubt going to push some people’s budgets.

The Samsung HW-Q990C, the Q990D’s predecessor, is still available and sells at a reduced price that’s only going to fall further - I’ve seen it selling for roughly $400 / £600 cheaper than the Q990D. It does miss out on the Q990D’s gaming features, but if they’re not relevant to you, the Q990C is fine. Another option is the Samsung HW-Q930D, the step-down model from the Q990D which comes with fewer channels and features. 

Still, in terms of features and performance, the Q990D offers a Dolby Atmos home theater experience no other soundbar can offer. To beat it, you’d need to look at full AV setups that don’t allow for the same tidy installation or ease of use.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Should I buy the Samsung HW-Q990D?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Also consider

How I tested the Samsung HW-Q990D

Samsung HW-Q990D in front of TV

(Image credit: Future)
  • Connected to the Samsung S95D 
  • Tested with variety of sources 
  • Both surround sound and stereo sound tested

To test the Samsung HW-Q990D soundbar, I connected it to the Samsung S95D - the flagship 2024 OLED TV from Samsung. The majority of testing was done with Q-Symphony and any other Samsung-centric features turned off to see how the Q990D would fare if connected to sets from other brands. 

After some run-in time, I selected reference scenes from both streaming and 4K Blu-ray to test spatial sound, mainly Dolby Atmos. I then used lower-resolution sources such as DVD to test the Q990D on its handling of non-surround movie audio. I analyzed the Q990D's spatial sound but also bass, trebles, mids, and dialogue clarity. 

After this, I streamed music through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to test the Q990D's music playback quality. I played hi-res audio and Atmos music tracks from Tidal and lossy quality tracks via Bluetooth from Spotify. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: May 2024
Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650: big brightness from a compact projector
10:00 pm | February 1, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Theater Projectors Televisions | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650: one-minute review

The Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 is a recent mid-range entrant on the ultra short throw projector scene, and it strikes a reasonable balance of performance and features. Its key strength is the brightness delivered by its laser light source combined with Epson’s 3LCD technology. Even when viewing in a bright room, the Epson LS650 is able to provide clear visuals for all sorts of content, making it a more viable option than many other examples of the best ultra short throw projectors for those who don’t have an easy way to dim their viewing space. The potent built-in speaker system is also a good match for the large image the projector can produce. 

There’s a regrettable lack of HDMI ports, with just two, and that limitation is further compounded by an unreliable – verging on faulty – Android TV system for streaming that will more or less require you to use an external video source for most viewing. But for simple home theaters, the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 is mostly up to the task, and the brightness it provides for the price will make it a reasonable choice for many people.

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 review: price and release date

  • Release date: November 2023
  • MSRP: $2,799 (around £2,195 / AU$4,165)

The Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 is available now for $2,799 (around £2,195 / AU$4,165), though Its price had previously seen discounts to as low as $2,499 during the 2023 holiday selling season. 

Epson LS650 Android TV interface on screen

Navigating streaming apps using the Epson LS650's Android TV system is painfully slow, making an external streaming stick a must-have option (Image credit: Future)

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 review: Specs

Epson LS650 cllose up showing built-in speakers

The Epson LS650 has powerful built-in speakers for a compact projector (Image credit: Future)

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 review: design and features

  • Sluggish, almost useless Android TV system
  • Good speakers in a convenient, if bland, design
  • Just two HDMI ports can be limiting

The Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 is the smaller sibling to the Epson LS800 I tested last year, and in many ways it behaves as such. It’s smaller and lighter, and boasts lower brightness. Fortunately it’s still very bright, and it has powerful speakers that can easily pass muster in a 200-square-foot room. The design is a bit less elegant than the LS800’s, though, with the LS650 looking more like a piece of utilitarian technology. Both black and white color options are available.

Despite its reduced width compared to its big brother, the Epson LS650 has a deep design that may require extra space on a media stand. Even then, with the projector’s 0.26:1 throw ratio, the LS650 may need to sit around a foot out from your wall or screen to deliver the large image it’s best suited to. Wherever you set it, getting it into focus is quick and easy with a dial along the right side of the chassis. There’s a cover for that dial, too, so once it’s in position you can keep it protected from accidental adjustments.

The rear of the projector has only two HDMI 2.0 ports, with one also serving up eARC for connections to an audio system. If you plan to use eARC, it leaves you with just one free port, and that may mean a lot of juggling of connections if you have game consoles, streaming sticks, or any other media sources. Optical digital is an alternative for audio output, but it doesn’t serve up all the audio quality advantages of HDMI eARC. 

While the Epson LS650 uses Android TV for streaming and navigating system menus, it should only be relied on for the latter. There’s generally a delay after startup before the system is responsive, and navigating streaming apps is painfully slow. From there, I found that it invariably runs into an issue where the video begins to sputter terribly and occasionally freeze entirely. The issue was basically non-stop until playback stops, and there’s no quick out as the system’s responsiveness takes a dive in this scenario. Plan on pairing this projector with a separate streaming stick.

  • Design and features score: 3/5

Epson LS650 showing Avatar 2 on screen

The Epson LS650 puts out a bright image with good contrast, though its colors lack some vibrancy (Image credit: Future)

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 review: picture quality

  • Brightness is a match for well-lit rooms
  • Color could use improvement

Like the LS800, the Epson LS650 is exceptionally bright. It may not be as bright as the higher-tier model, but it’s much brighter than a lot of its ultra short throw projector competition. This gives it a considerable leg up when it comes to viewing in rooms with overhead lights or with daylight spilling in through the windows. Darker content doesn’t hold up as well to the daylight, but bright cartoons and sitcoms display wonderfully even in a bright room thanks to the Epson LS650’s powerful laser light source.

The Expanse is a show that basks in the darkness. There are a great many scenes that not only take place in the black of space but the show also has a moody aesthetic that casts a lot of images in darker tones. Thanks to the Epson LS650’s high brightness, even those dark scenes benefitted from high contrast that made them easy to watch without needing to completely black out my room.

The Epson LS650’s brightness does come with a cost, though. It may beat many of the triple-laser competitors it goes up against in terms of light output, but its color is not as rich as on some triple-laser DLP systems like the Hisense PX2-Pro. Plenty of content doesn’t feel left behind, such as sitcoms and non-HDR shows and movies, but when it comes to 4K content with HDR that takes advantage of wider color gamuts, the LS650 simply doesn’t reach as far to render vibrant colors. A prime example was Avatar: The Way of Water’s Na’vi, which came through with just a little less poignancy than on the Hisense PX2-Pro.

Another cost to the brightness is fan noise. The Epson LS650 is plenty bright even without maxing out, but when pushing the brightness above about 80%, the projector kicks its fans into high gear, with an accompanying whiney sound. Short of watching shows with consistent, booming music, you’re going to hear the fans running with the projector at max brightness.

Ultimately, the Epson LS650 delivers a good visual presentation, but it falls short of being excellent. A number of controls are provided to adjust the image, though the settings aren’t quite as convenient as many others, especially with only a small handful of presets. For instance, there’s no specific Game picture mode, so it can take a bit of time and guesswork to adjust settings such that input latency is minimized. There’s also no Filmmaker Mode – a disappointing omission for movie buffs – though the Cinema preset is mainly free of processing that would add artificial-looking enhancement to the image. 

  • Picture quality score: 4/5

Epson LS650 rear panel ports

With just two HDMI 2.0 inputs, one with eARC, the Epson L650 comes up short on ports (Image credit: Future)

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 review: value

  • Price is good for projector this bright
  • Squares up reasonably against competition

For its $2,799 price, the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 is offering a good value. Thanks to its high brightness and respectable picture quality, it manages to serve as an alternative to bigger-screen 80- to 100-inch TVs, many of which command a price premium above the LS650. The limited HDMI ports and bad Android TV implementation hurt the LS650’s value a bit here by making the system less flexible and convenient, but it’s still a strong option.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Epson LS650 remote control

The Epson LS650's remote control (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650?

Epson L650 top surface showing laser light engine

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if… 

Also consider...

Epson LS800
The Epson LS800 uses a 3LCD laser light source to beam a stunningly bright 4,000 lumens image and it also has good built-in sound. It costs more than the Epson LS650, but it provides three HDMI ports to the LS650's two and its image is even brighter than what you get with the smaller Epson.

Here's our full Epson LS800 review

Epson LS650 focus dial

The LS650's handy focus dial (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650

  • Tested at home in multiple, real-world viewing conditions
  • Presented the display with a variety of media and formats
  • I have tested numerous projectors and displays over the last half-decade

I tested the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS650 at home, in real-world conditions. This saw it faced with ambient light coming in from numerous windows, in-room lighting, as well as ambient noise that the projector’s speaker system had to overcome. The projector was tested both on a bare, white wall and with an Akia Screens CineWhite screen. It was presented with streamed content, HDR and non-HDR, and console gameplay. 

My testing evaluates the projector’s performance with respect to its price and competition from other models I and colleagues at TechRadar have tested.

I have been testing projectors since 2021 and displays for even longer. 

First reviewed: January 2024

PSB Alpha iQ speakers review: an all-in-one wireless hi-fi wonder
11:00 pm | December 17, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Speakers | Tags: | Comments: Off

PSB Alpha iQ: One-minute review

The Alpha iQ from Canada’s PSB Speakers is the company’s first active-streaming model: a very compact bookshelf design that nevertheless produces superb sound with surprising dynamic and bass abilities. Like other examples of the best wireless speakers, On-board Wi-Fi, USB, and aptx HD Bluetooth give users plenty of streaming options, and it uses the BluOS ecosystem for multiroom playback and control. 

The BluOS Controller iOS/Android app (MacOS and Windows versions are also available) used by the Alpha iQ is highly capable but occasionally quirky to navigate, though AirPlay and Roon (the Alpha iQ is “Roon Ready”) provide further streaming options. The iQ also has a turntable-ready phono input and an HDMI eARC port for the best TVs, so connection flexibility here is excellent.

Listeners who value accurate, true-to-life musical sound will be well pleased, though those seeking maximum head-bang-per-buck may be disappointed. Nonetheless, the Alpha iQs are more than ready to fill any up to solidly medium-sized room with convincing levels of lifelike musical sound. 

PSB Alpha iQ wireless speakers

(Image credit: Future)

PSB Alpha iQ review: Price & release date

  • Released September 2022
  • Priced at $1,299 / £1,099

The PSB Alpha iQ was released in September 2022 and is available in the US, UK, Europe and directly from the PSB Speakers website. At the time this review posted, the price for the Alpha iQ had dropped to $999 in the US. 

PSB Alpha iQ review: Specs

PSB Alpha iQ wireless speakers back views

Hardwired connection options include HDMI eARC, MM phono, 3.5mm analog and a subwoofer output (Image credit: Future)

PSB Alpha iQ review: Features

  • Powered speaker pair
  • HDMI eARC and phono inputs
  • BluOS app used for setup and control

The Alpha iQ’s two speakers are not identical, though each builds in a pair of amplifiers, of 30 and 60 watts respectively, for the tweeter and woofer. But the “secondary” speaker has no rear-panel features at all beyond an IEC power-cord socket and a pinhole reset-button access. All connections are on the main speaker, which can be assigned left or right status at setup, while the secondary speaker receives a digital signal wirelessly from its mate. (I could not find official word on the Alpha iQ’s internal or inter-speaker resolution, but believe it to be 24-bit/192 kHz.) The crossovers, driver EQ, and smart limiting are DSP-based. 

Inputs on the main speaker include HDMI eARC, phono (moving-magnet cartridges only), an optical digital audio port, and a 3.5-inch stereo minijack input. Other connections include a subwoofer output, Ethernet network port, a USB port, and an AC power input.

A small play/pause/skip touch-panel is handsomely set into the main speaker’s top panel. No remote control is provided, as it is presumed that the BluOS app will serve as the primary user interface. This puts the BluOS app, which bakes in access to every major streaming service (and quite a few more) and is also required for installation and setup, front and center.

The new BluOS 4.0 app that’s used for streaming and control of the Alpha iQs proved a very worthwhile update – really, an overall re-design. Where I found the previous BluOS version to be occasionally confusing, and needlessly (I thought) complicated, 4.0 proved simpler, smoother, and altogether more logically laid out and organized.

That said, this is a review of the Alpha iQ speakers not of the BluOS app, so I’ll be brief. The new BluOS app’s Home Screen shows your most-used sources or services, recent stations, and a quintet of icons across the bottom to select Favorites, Music (streaming services, inputs, or network “shares”), Players (you might have multiple BluSound speakers or components in different rooms), and a Search panel.

Navigation is fairly straightforward – much more so, in my view, than the earlier versions of the app. A “now playing” bar across the bottom, which shows the current player, track and scrolling title data, a mini album-art panel, and play/pause and volume buttons. This last is a two-step process; you must first touch the Volume icon, which switches to a volume slider that you can then adjust.

  • Features score: 5/5

PSB Alpha iQ wireless speakers app screens

Screenshots of the BluOS app used to control streaming and speaker setup (Image credit: Future)

PSB Alpha iQ review: Sound quality

  • Natural sound balance
  • Stable and precise stereo imaging
  • Finite level and bass extension

The PSB Alpha iQs scored highly when it came to sound quality. Both male and female vocals were consistently natural and projected well out into the listening space. The little Alphas also went to about 45 Hz or so with honest tonality and definition. For example, on a track like Bonnie Bramlett’s rendition of the standard “Cry Me a River,” the low “F” in the bass guitar (about 44 Hz) was solid, but the low “C” below it was audibly a bit lighter when compared directly to a much larger, fuller-range speaker. 

Classical chamber music and small-combo jazz were unmitigated delights, and even orchestral recordings (Stravinsky) and reference-grade rock (Steely Dan) sounded suitably big, balanced, and impressively detailed and defined, with tight, stable stereo imaging, and plenty of output. Volume, however, was finite: when asked for more, the Alpha iQs simply failed to increase loudness, while their onboard “smart” limiting and equalization forestalled any audible distortion.

Connecting a powered subwoofer to the Alpha iQ's sub output automatically applies a high-pass filter at 80 Hz, which achieves two advantages. First, it extends system response downwards to the capability of the sub; second, it removes the burden of reproducing deep bass from the little Alpha iQs, yielding a significant gain in overall clean level. 

With my everyday subwoofer connected, the Alpha iQs became the crux of a full-range, full-level system, one that proved entirely capable of delivering a big, demanding recording like Charles Ives’ “A Concord Symphony” (the “Concord” piano sonata brilliantly orchestrated by the late Henry Brant) with visceral impact, breadth, and deep, reverberant, symphonic-bass-drum thwacks.

Imaging was fairly “tight.” By that I mean it didn’t expand much beyond the speakers or deliver an exaggerated illusion of front-to-back depth, but it was very precise in locating instruments and voices on the soundstage, and in projecting centered voices or soloists well out into the room. 

Partly inspired by this trait, I tried the Alpha iQs for a bit as desktop speakers. Despite the fact that they’re a little big for such deployment, they sounded terrific up close this way, with generally fine accuracy and a more dramatic, close-in stereo effect. But the PSBs suffered a bit from a more blousy mid-bass and slightly congested vocal range, likely due to sonic reflections from the desk and computer monitor screen surfaces. The lack of any DSP equalization for such placement, as many similar designs incorporate, was a missed opportunity here.

I briefly used the HDMI eARC input to confirm operation with my Sony OLED TV, which worked as expected. I also spun a few LPs from my classic Rega Planar turntable with its equally classic Shure V-15III moving magnet cartridge doing the honors, and this sounded as excellent as I expected. And as already mentioned, connecting my compact sub to the Alpha iQ’s subwoofer output transformed the little PSBs into a full-blown, full-range, high-end experience.

  • Sound quality score: 5/5

PSB Alpha iQ wireless speakers close up of top surface

Top panel controls for volume adjustment (Image credit: Future)

PSB Alpha iQ review: Design

  • Compact bookshelf design
  • Blue, orange, yellow, black or white matte lacquer finishes
  • 2-way “tweeter under” configuration

The PSB Alpha iQ speakers are compact-bookshelf size and borderline small enough for desktop use. They are available in blue, orange, yellow, black or white matte lacquer finishes. My black pair showed first-rate fit and finish and attention to detail. 

The Alpha iQs have an unusual, “tweeter-under” design, meant to be located “upside-down” with the 4-inch woofer above the 0,75-inch tweeter to direct the “in-phase lobe” (i.e. the best-balanced sound) to the listener’s ears. With a multi-color LED integrated into the tweeter, and slim bright-work accent rings around each driver, it’s a very handsome rig. The cabinets are vented by rear-panel ports (the rear panel and front baffle are aluminum, while speaker’s top, bottom, and sides are the usual MDF wood-composite). 

  • Design score: 4/5

PSB Alpha iQ review: Value

  • Pricier than similar options
  • Can accommodate both analog and streamed sources
  • Added value if already in BluOS ecosystem

The PSB Alpha iQs are relatively pricey compared to similar options such as the SVS Prime Wireless Pro ($899.99) and Elac Debut ConneX ($399.98). Both the PSB and SVS feature an array of digital and analog inputs for connecting external sources, including HDMI ARC for a TV connection, and the SVS also features DTS Play-Fi for high-res multiroom streaming.

Where the PSB shows its value is in its excellent BluOS streaming and control app, wide-ranging connectivity, and great overall sound quality. The compact wireless streaming speakers category is a competitive one, however, with basic streaming-only options from brands like Sonos and Apple eating up much of the pie, so the ultimate value of the Alpha iQs will primarily lie in how sold you are on the BluOS app and ecosystem.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

PSB Alpha iQ wireless speakers on table with turntable

(Image credit: PSB)

Should you buy the PSB Alpha iQ?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

PSB Alpha iQ review: Also consider

PSB Alpha iQ wireless speakers

(Image credit: Future)

PSB Alpha iQ review: How I tested

  • Tested with music streamed via BluOS app from Qobuz, Tidal and other services
  • Auditioned in same studio as several compared speakers and in “desktop audio” setup
  • Tested over several weeks, listened to for more than 20 hours hours total

I had the PSB iQ pair for well over a month, and used them for casual music and TV audio for a week-plus before critical auditions. I played music via BluOS from Qobuz, Tidal, Apple Music/Classical, and my own local music file library, including both high-resolution and standard-rez/lossless sources. I also (briefly) streamed via Bluetooth from my iPhone XS and (also briefly) LPs from a decades-old but still-capable Rega Planar turntable.

I had several active and passive speakers, including my long-term Energy Veritas 2.2 monitors, SVS Prime Wireless, and KEF LS-60 in the same studio for direct comparison.

You can read TechRadar's review guarantee here.

  • First reviewed: December 2023
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: a Sonos Beam alternative with surprisingly big sound
2:00 pm | November 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar: two-minute review

The HT-S2000 is Sony's entry-level 3.1-channel soundbar. Initially priced at $499 /  £449 / AU$695, it’s a compact, all-in-one model with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, with the height effects in both immersive soundtrack formats delivered using virtual processing. 

Sony’s design for the HT-S2000 uses five speakers: three for the left, right and center channels as well as two dedicated woofers for the bass. Connections include HDMI (with eARC/ARC) and optical digital audio inputs. There’s also a USB type-A port to play music on connected USB drives. Unlike some of the best soundbars, the HT-S2000 doesn’t support music streaming using Wi-Fi or AirPlay, though its Bluetooth 5.2 support will let you play music wirelessly from a phone. For those looking to expand their soundbar’s capabilities in the future, the HT-S2000 can also be paired with Sony’s optional wireless surround speakers and subwoofers.

Sony’s soundbar has solid build quality and a sleek, no-nonsense look. It’s easy to set up, and Sony provides its own Home Entertainment app to help with that task – it also lets you tweak the sound for your specific installation. There are a range of Sound EQ modes, including automatic volume levelling, that can be accessed using either the app of Sony’s bundled remote control. The HT-S2000 also features Sony’s proprietary Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing, both of which work to enhance the level of audio immersion coming from the soundbar’s basic 3.1-channel speaker array.

The HT-S2000’s overall performance is great for the price. It delivers dialogue that sounds consistently clear even when pushed to a high level, and bass output is better-than average for an all-in-one soundbar. Sony’s proprietary processing allows for the height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks to extend beyond and above the screen boundaries of a TV the soundbar is connected to and there’s also a notably good surround sound ‘wrap-around’ effect when the S-Force Pro Front Surround feature is active.

When it was first released, the HT-S2000 wasn’t the strongest value as it lacked features found in some of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars selling for the same price, such as up-firing speakers and built-in Wi-Fi for lossless music streaming. But the HT-S2000 has since widely dropped in price to $349 / £299, making it a much more compelling value, especially given its performance.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand

Sony's soundbar is a good fit for TVs with a 55-inch (shown here) or a 65-inch screen size. (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: price and release date

  • Released in March 2023
  • $499 / £449 / AU$695

Sony’s HT-S2000 soundbar was released in March 2023 at an initial price of $499 /  £449 / AU$695. Its price has since dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, though it’s still selling for AU$695 in Australia.

In the Sony 2023 soundbar lineup, the HT-S2000 sits below the HT-A2000, another 3.1-channel model that adds Wi-Fi streaming along with Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2 support.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: features

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support
  • HDMI and optical digital connections
  • Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing

The HT-S2000 is a 3.1-channel soundbar with support for the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio formats, which it delivers using virtual processing. It doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi for streaming, though you can stream music to it over a Bluetooth wireless connection.

Two Sony audio processing features found on the HT-S2000 are Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround. The first helps to elevate sound effects, music and dialogue to screen level or even above where they will sound more natural. The second provides a virtual ‘wrap-around’ so that surround effects sound like they are coming from the sides of the room.

Connection options on the HT-S2000 are basic. It has an HDMI-eARC port for connecting to a TV, an optical digital audio input, and a USB type-A port that can be used to play music files stored on a USB drive. Like other soundbars from brands including Sonos, Bose, Samsung, and LG, the HT-S2000 can be expanded by adding Sony’s wireless surround sound speakers and subwoofers.

  • Features score: 4/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on white background

The soundbar's top-mounted controls (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: sound quality

  • Very good dialogue clarity
  • Spacious virtual surround 
  • Sounds good with music

 A key benefit of the Sony soundbar is its handling of dialogue in movies and TV shows. Watching a few dialogue-heavy scenes from Top Gun: Maverick, voices sounded clean, and I could push the volume to relatively high levels without it sounding edgy. For comparison’s sake, I swapped out the Sony with a 2.1-channel model and found dialogue in the same Top Gun: Maverick scene to be significantly less clean-sounding. The comparison demonstrated the advantage to using a soundbar like the HT-S2000 with a dedicated center-channel speaker, which is a feature that 2.1-channel soundbars lack.

Skipping ahead to the aerial dogfight scene in Top Gun: Maverick, Sony's soundbar sorted the dialogue, music (The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again) and sound effects in an impressively clear manner. There was also a decent amount of bass, which enhanced the sound of drums in the music and added definition to the trajectory of the fighter jets. The soundbar’s virtual processing made height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks like Top Gun exceed the height of my TV’s screen. And while the presentation wasn’t as expansive as what I’ve experienced with soundbars featuring dedicated Atmos speakers, it still had a satisfying level of immersion.

Music also sounded surprisingly good on the HT-S2000, especially given its low price. It’s possible to listen to plain stereo with the soundbar’s virtual processing disabled, but pressing the Sound Field button on the remote control adds a level of spaciousness that enhances the stereo separation without making voices and instruments sound unnatural. Equally important, it elevates the presentation in the vertical dimension so that the sound doesn’t appear to be coming from a horizontal bar located beneath your TV’s screen.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on white background

Ports on the HT-S2000's left and right sides enhance the soundbar's bass output. (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: design

  • Compact design
  • Above-average build quality 
  • Alphanumeric front-panel display

The HT-S2000 has a compact, all-in-one soundbar, measuring 31.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches high and 5.25 inches deep. Build quality is a cut above most budget soundbars, with the Sony’s sturdy black plastic cabinet fronted by a metal mesh grille. Ports located on the soundbar’s left and right sides allow for enhanced bass output, while its X-Balanced Speaker Unit design physically aligns the 3.25 x 1.8-inch drivers and 3.75 x 1.8 woofers to reduce distortion.

Capacitive controls on the HT-S2000’s top surface let you adjust volume and connect with Bluetooth devices, and there’s also a small remote with additional controls to switch inputs, select sound EQ modes, and adjust the bass level. Sony’s soundbar conveniently provides visual feedback to remote control commands via its alphameric front panel display. That feature is one you don’t regularly find on lower-cost soundbars, and it’s a superior option to basic LED lights.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar inputs

Inputs include HDMI and optical digital connections (Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: usability and setup

  • HDMI eARC/ARC connection to TV
  • App-based setup 
  • No voice assistant support

The HT-S2000’s single HDMI input makes the setup process simple. Just connect it to a TV’s HDMI eARC (or ARC) port, select that input on the soundbar, and you’re ready to roll. Another option is to use the soundbar’s optical digital input, but that connection type doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or the HDMI-CEC control that lets you adjust the soundbar’s volume level using the TV’s remote control.

Sony’s Home Entertainment control app duplicates all the functions of the soundbar’s hardware remote and also provides a range of setup options for initial installation and performance. The latter includes an A/V sync adjustment, automatic volume level adjustment, and DTS Virtual:X to enhance basic stereo or mono soundtracks.

The soundbar’s alphanumeric front panel display makes using it super-easy as you don’t have to rely on a sequence of flashing LEDs to let you know what input or sound mode is selected. There’s no voice assistant support as on some other soundbars in the HT-S2000’s price range such as the Bose Smart Soundbar, but that’s not a feature I imagine most users will rely on, especially when using their TV’s remote control for volume adjustment.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar remote control held in hand

Sony's remote is larger than the ones provided with some other soundbars and has clearly marked control buttons (Image credit: Future)
  • Usability and setup score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: value

  • Affordable price
  • Very good performance for the money 
  • Lacks Wi-Fi and AirPlay streaming options

At its initial $499 /  £449 / AU$695 price, the Sony HT-S2000’s overall value proposition was just average. It faced very strong competition from the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), another all-in-one soundbar with virtual Dolby Atmos processing, and one with a built-in Wi-Fi for app-based control and audio streaming. Another competitor was the Bose Smart Soundbar 600, which provides upfiring drivers to deliver height effects in Atmos soundtracks and also features built-in Wi-Fi for streaming.

At the time of writing, however, the HT-S2000’s price has widely dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, making it a much better value given its overall performance and features. Being able to stream uncompressed music directly to the Sonos or Bose from a phone using Wi-Fi or using AirPlay does boost the value of both, but many people mainly use their soundbar for TV audio and are okay with a lesser quality Bluetooth option for their occasional music streaming. For those folks, the HT-S2000 will be the perfect entry-level soundbar.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand with Netflix Black Mirror menu in background

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: Also consider

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar

  • Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
  • Break-in time allowed before critical listening
  • Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks

I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from my iPhone via Bluetooth and the Tidal app on the Apple TV 4K. I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks. 

The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, and a sense of spaciousness with the soundbar's surround mode engaged. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.

Having reviewed many soundbars in the same room over the years, I have a reference sound standard that the Sony HT-S2000 was compared to. For further comparison, I also used an Amazon Fire TV Soundbar, switching between the two compact models on identical movie clips and music tracks.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: November 12, 2023
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: a cheap, basic soundbar with benefits
3:00 pm | October 7, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar: two-minute review

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is the company’s first soundbar, and as with other Amazon-branded products, it arrives at a competitive price point  of just $119. It's currently only available in the US, though. Amazon’s offering is about as basic as a soundbar gets. It has a 2.0-channel speaker array and both HDMI and optical digital ports for a TV hookup, along with Bluetooth for music streaming.

There are many features found on the best soundbars that Amazon could have added to its model to make it a more compelling option – built-in Wi-Fi, for example. That specific feature would have given Fire TV users the ability to create a wireless, voice-controlled ‘Alexa Home Theater’ as they can with the company’s Echo wireless speakers. As it stands, even though Amazon claims its soundbar is ‘designed to work with Fire TV’, there are no specific Fire TV-related features. This is a cheap, basic soundbar that works with any TV featuring an HDMI eARC/ARC or optical digital connection.

Amazon’s soundbar has a compact design, and its build quality is good for the price. It provides Movie, Music and dialogue-boosting EQ modes, all selectable using the supplied remote control. There’s also DTS:Virtual X processing to expand the sound for movies and TV shows with surround-encoded soundtracks.

Sound quality is surprisingly good for the cost. Music sounds decent enough when played at reasonable levels. Eeven though bass is limited, movie soundtracks are strongly enhanced when the virtual processing is enabled, with the sound expanding well beyond the confines of the soundbar and TV screen. Dialogue is for the most part clear, though male voices can sound too heavy with the bar’s Bass setting, which is otherwise optimized for movie playback.

An advantage to the Fire TV Soundbar is that it’s easy to set up and use. If you're simply looking for a basic, low-cost soundbar to improve upon your TV’s built-in speakers that you can just set and forget, it will do the trick. As for value, you can find other equally good options for around the same price, so Amazon’s first real home theater audio offering isn’t exactly setting the budget soundbar space on fire. But that situation could change come Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday, when the Fire TV Soundbar is likely to see the same deep discounts that other Amazon-branded products typically get.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar on TV stand with TV in background

Amazon's compact soundbar is a good fit for TVs with a 55-inch (shown here) or smaller screen. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: price and release date

  •  Released in September 2023 
  •  Priced at $119
  • Limited to the US

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar was released in September 2023 and is priced at $119. At present, it’s only available in the US.

Amazon appears to have designed its first soundbar as a basic, low-cost audio upgrade for its Fire TV lineup, but it can also be used with any TV. At just $119, its price competition includes cheap, off-brand soundbars as well as the Roku Streambar, a higher spec offering with built-in streaming capabilities.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: features

  • Dolby Audio and DTS:Virtual X processing
  • HDMI and optical digital connections
  • Bluetooth wireless streaming

Amazon’s soundbar is about as basic as soundbars get, with a 2.0 speaker array and HDMI and optical digital audio ports for connecting to a TV. There is no built-in Wi-Fi to enable audio streaming from phones or tablets using AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, though Bluetooth wireless streaming is supported.

At $119, you wouldn’t expect a soundbar to have Dolby Atmos support, even of the virtualized type, and the Fire TV Soundbar not surprisingly doesn’t. What it does support is Dolby Audio, which here ends up being 2-channel Dolby Digital with sound processing to enhance detail and normalize volume levels when switching between TV channels or sources.

Along with Dolby Audio, the Fire TV Soundbar has DTS:Virtual X processing and Movies, Music and Dialogue EQ modes.

  • Features score: 3/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar top panel controls

The soundbar's top-mounted controls (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: sound quality

  • Good overall dialogue clarity
  • Spacious virtual surround
  • Light on bass

When I first plugged in the Fire TV Soundbar, I was happy to note that it provided a strong sound quality boost over the built-in speakers of the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED TV I connected it to. Dialogue clarity received an immediate boost, and there was a spaciousness and heft to the sound that wasn’t there previously.

Watching scenes from the sci-fi film District 9, the interviews dispersed throughout the action sounded full-bodied, and so did the comments from Vikus as he wandered around the alien compound. With the Surround mode switched off, effects in the movie’s soundtrack were constricted, but when I switched it on, helicopters and machine gun fire sounds expanded beyond the TV’s screen and there was a naturalistic sense of ambience.

When I next watched a scene from Top Gun: Maverick where Maverick is disciplined by Rear Admiral Chester ‘Hammer’ Cain, I found that the dialogue, while mostly clear, was too bass-heavy, with a ‘boomy’ quality. Checking the soundbar’s Bass setting, the medium option was selected, so I dialed it back to low. The effect of that change was to thin out the overall balance of the sound, so I decided to switch back to medium and live with too-boomy dialogue.

For comparison’s sake I swapped out Amazon’s soundbar with a Sony HTS2000 soundbar ($500 / £449 / around AU$788), a 3.1-channel model with virtual Dolby Atmos processing, and found dialogue in the same Top Gun: Maverick scene to be significantly cleaner-sounding with the Sony’s medium bass level selected. The comparison demonstrated the advantage to using a soundbar with a dedicated center-channel speaker, which is a feature that 2.0-channel models like the Fire TV Soundbar lack.

Otherwise, I was impressed with how effectively the Fire TV soundbar’s DTS:Virtual X processing widened the soundscape on Top Gun: Maverick and other movies, and did so without negatively affecting other elements in the audio mix such as music and dialogue. Bass was one area where I found the Amazon bar to be lacking, especially in comparison to the much more expensive Sony model. But given the Amazon’s compact design, the amount of bass it did deliver was actually better than expected.

I don’t expect music to sound great on budget soundbars and the Amazon Fire TV soundbar didn’t do much to change my mind. That being said, when I streamed Endless Time by The Weather Station using the Tidal app on the Omni QLED TV, the song’s simple Joni Mitchell-like piano and vocal presentation sounded smooth and natural. There was also a good sense of spaciousness with the Surround mode enabled. Other, more dynamic music I played sounded a bit harsh and congested with the volume pushed to a high level, though it was comparatively fine with the volume dialed back to a normal listening level.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: design

  • Compact design
  • Remote control included
  • Front-panel LED indicator lights

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is a lightweight and highly compact design, measuring just 24-inches wide by 2.5-inches high and 3.5-inches deep. Its black plastic cabinet has rounded edges and is fronted by a black mesh grille. A row of control buttons are located on the top surface that let you adjust volume, select inputs, pair the soundbar with Bluetooth devices, and power it on and off. 

An equally compact remote control is packaged with buttons to adjust volume, switch inputs as well as select the EQ, bass and virtual surround sound modes. Remote commands trigger a sequence of LEDs on the soundbar's front, with one to three lights indicating the volume level range, for example. There’s also voice confirmation when selecting EQ modes, with a robot-like (not Alexa) voice telling you if Dialogue, Music, or Movie mode is selected.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar back panel inputs

Inputs include HDMI and optical digital connections (Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: usability and setup

  • HDMI eARC/ARC connection to TV
  • Easy Bluetooth pairing 
  • No alphanumeric front panel display

Given the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar’s basic design, setup poses no challenges. You simply connect it to your TV’s HDMI eARC/ARC port or optical digital output, and Amazon even gives you an HDMI cable to speed things along. Once an HDMI connection is made, you can use your TV’s remote control to adjust volume instead of the one supplied with the soundbar.

Pairing a Bluetooth device like a phone is equally simple. You just press the Bluetooth button on the soundbar’s control strip and a blue LED starts pulsing to indicate it’s in pairing mode. You then check the Bluetooth setup menu on your phone or tablet, select the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar, and you’re ready to stream.

Audio features such as EQ modes, bass level, and surround sound can be easily accessed from the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar’s remote control. A drawback to inexpensive soundbars like this one, however, is having to rely on LED light sequences instead of an alphanumeric display (or a control app) to make adjustments. But these proved easy enough to work with on the Fire TV Soundbar and having voice confirmation when switching EQ modes made things that much easier.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar remote control in hand

Amazon's small remote provides all the controls you'll need, but the soundbar's volume can also be adjusted with your TV's remote when it's connected to an HDMI eARC/ARC port. (Image credit: Future)
  • Usability and setup score: 4/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: value

  • Good overall value 
  • Faces strong budget competition
  • Look for Prime Day and Black Friday discounts

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is one of the least expensive options on the market, although you can also buy a 2.0-channel model from Sony or a 2.1-channel system with a wireless subwoofer from Vizio for even less than the $119 Amazon is charging here. And spending a bit more will get you the Roku Streambar, a model with the Roku streaming platform built-in that can be expanded with the company’s wireless surround speakers and subwoofer.

Nevertheless, given its good design and decent overall sound, Amazon’s soundbar ranks fairly high for value. You’d have to step up to the $500 range to get reliably better performance, along with extras like Dolby Atmos support via virtual processing or upward-firing speakers. And while I strongly feel that better sound is worth extra money, not everyone wants to spend that much to improve their TV’s built-in audio. For those who instead think around $100 is the right price, the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is a solid budget-bar option.

While Amazon’s soundbar is a good deal at its current price, the company typically offers substantial cost reductions on its Fire TV products both on Prime Day and during the Black Friday sales. Should the Fire TV soundbar get a 25% or better price cut during either of those events, which I expect it will, its overall value will get a strong boost.

  • Value score: 4/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar close up

The Fire TV soundbar has smooth, rounded edges and a mesh front panel grille. Build quality is good given the low price. (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: Also consider

Amazon Fire TV soundbar on TV stand with Fire TV in background

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar

  • Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
  • Break-in time allowed before critical listening
  • Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks

I tested the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from Tidal via an Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED TV as sources. I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks. 

The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, and a sense of spaciousness with the soundbar's surround mode engaged. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.

Having reviewed many soundbars in the same room over the years, I have a reference sound standard that the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar was compared to. For further comparison, I also used a Sony HT-S2000 all-in-one soundbar, switching between the two compact models on identical movie clips and music tracks.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: October 5, 2023
LG B3 review: LG’s cheapest OLED TV packs a lot of performance
3:00 pm | October 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

LG B3: Two-minute review

The LG B3 continues a trend that LG has followed for years by providing a great-quality, more affordable OLED TV choice. Upon its release in April 2023, the LG B3 was not the best value set on the market, being roughly $100 cheaper than the step-up entry in LG’s 2023 OLED range, the LG C3, but with clear reduction in features and performance. Since then, B3 prices have dropped to a more reasonable level, putting space between it and more mid-range OLEDs.

Although the LG B3 does not feature the Micro Lens Array tech adopted by the LG G3, or even the Evo panel in the LG C3, its picture quality is nothing short of superb – something you’d expect from an OLED TV. Vibrant colors, deep black levels and great contrast mean the B3 has a picture that surprisingly rivals the C3 and even holds its own against the G3, which is one of the best TVs available in 2023. 

Sound quality is one of the weaker parts of the LG B3. The 2.0 speaker system doesn’t create the same quality sound to match the excellent picture quality even on Cinema Mode, which gives decent enough audio performance. This is a TV that  could almost benefit from a sound upgrade via one of the best soundbars

Gaming performance is another area where LG’s entry-level OLED TV shines. Thanks to excellent picture quality, smooth motion processing and an extremely useful Game Optimizer feature, the B3 is certainly a TV that gamers should consider if they want OLED gaming on a budget. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t come with HDMI 2.1 across all four HDMI ports. 

For smart TV software, the LG B3 uses webOS 23, which has seen an upgrade from last year’s webOS 22. The result is a neater home menu, more customization options and a Quick Cards feature that allows for quicker and easier navigation of apps if you need. 

When it comes to design, the LG B3 has a sleek design with an extremely slim bezel  for an “all-picture” look. Unfortunately, the stand supplied with the B3, although a nice color, is made of a cheap-feeling plastic material when other TVs like the C3 come with a more substantial stand. 

The LG B3 may not have the features and picture brightness of TVs like the LG G3 or Samsung S95C, but it’s hard to argue against what it does provide for its current price. Although other TVs may offer better sound, such as the Sony A80L or Samsung S90C, or more extensive gaming features, such as the LG C3, the B3 lets people experience OLED on a smaller budget and could certainly be one of the best 4K TVs released in 2023.

For this review, I tested the 55-inch version of the LG B3.

LG B3 TV with green butterfly on screen

Detail levels on the LG B3 rival TVs much more premium than it (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Prices and release date

  •  Released April 2023 
  •  From $1,299/£1,199/AU$3,145 for the 55-inch 
  •  Up to $2,199/£3,099/$AU6,495 for the 77-inch  

The LG B3 is the most widely available entry-level TV in LG’s OLED range (with the A3 not available in several major territories). At the time of its release in April 2023, prices ranged from $1,699/£1,799/$AU3,415 for the 55-inch, $2,399/£2,699/AU$4,095 for the 65-inch and $3,299/£3,799/AU$6,495 for the 77-inch. Sadly, this meant that the B3 was only on average $100 less than the more premium LG C3, leaving people without a real ‘entry-level’ option.

Thankfully at the time of writing, several months after release, prices for the LG B3 have dropped and currently sit around $1,299 for the 55-inch, $1,499 for the 65-inch and $2,199 for the 77-inch, which puts it at a much more competitive price with other entry-level OLEDs like the Sony A80L.  (It’s worth noting that in the UK and Australia, the price for the 77-inch is significantly higher at £3,099/$AU6,495.)

LG B3 review: Specs

LG B3 TV with peacock feather on screen

Contrast is impressive on the B3 (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Features

  •  Alpha 7 Gen6 processor 
  •  Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support 
  •  Two HDMI 2.1 ports for gaming  

The LG B3 may not be as well kitted out as LG's higher-end C3 and G3 models, but it does still carry a lot of the same features that those TVs do.

As other OLED TVs evolve, the LG B3 still features a standard white-OLED (W-OLED) panel as opposed to the C3’s Evo panel, which adds to the overall brightness. The G3 also features micro-lens-array technology to further enhance the brightness up to 70%. The LG B3 does however support Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG formats, but like all LG TVs doesn't support HDR10+. 

For gaming, the LG B3 has two HDMI 2.1 ports with support for 120Hz Dolby Vision gaming, VRR, ALLM, Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync. It also has the same Game Optimizer and game bar featured in the C3 and G3. although its Alpha 7 Gen6 processor won't be as powerful as the Alpha 9 Gen6 processor found in the C3 and G3, the B3 is still packing some very good performance for both movies and gaming. 

The B3 features a 2.0 audio system and Dolby Atmos support, though without height speakers it can’t  deliver Dolby Atmos effects at their full potential. While its speaker system isn’t as comprehensive as the ones in the C3 and G3, the B3 still supports a lot of the same audio features such as LG Sound Sync and AI Sound Pro sound mode to upmix sound to 5.1.2 when selected.

The LG B3 also comes installed with LG’s latest smart software, web OS23. One of the biggest updates to webOS23 is the addition of a Quick Cards system, which sorts apps into different categories such as Movies, Sport, Music and so on. These can be customized to allow for quicker navigation of your most used apps. The home menu has also been slimmed down to two pages as opposed to the four found in last year’s web OS22 and features less intrusive ads and recommendations.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

LG B3 TV with Star Wars Ahsoka on screen

Textures and details like skin look natural and life-like on the B3 (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Picture quality

  •  Punchy and vibrant color 
  •  Natural quality to picture  
  •  Great black levels  

Starting with some numbers, the LG B3’s peak HDR brightness measured on a 10% window hit 619 nits in Filmmaker mode and 649 nits in Standard mode. That’s an improvement on its predecessor the LG B2 but lower than the LG C3 which we measured at 830 nits in Filmmaker mode, though this is to be expected given the C3’s brighter Evo panel. On a full 100% window, the B3 hit 133 nits in Filmmaker mode, which is a respectable result considering its peak brightness. 

Measured again using HDR Filmmaker picture mode, the LG B3’s average color Delta-E was around 1.3, which is a surprisingly fantastic result. (The Delta-E value indicates the difference between a test pattern and what is actually shown on the TV’s screen, with a number below three considered to be an undetectable margin of error.) Average grayscale Delta-E values came to 1.4, which is another excellent result. DCI-P3 coverage (which is the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) was measured at 98% and BT.2020 was 73.14%, both of which are great results and actually match  the more premium LG G3. 

When I tested it in our lab, I expected the LG B3 to struggle with the harsh overhead lights in terms of reflections as it uses a standard W-OLED panel and not the MLA technology or Evo panel in the LG G3 or LG C3. Although there were some reflections in darker scenes, I was surprised to find the B3 fared better than expected and my general viewing experience wasn’t too badly hindered. 

Testing the out-of-the-box preset picture modes, the LG B3 had a brilliant picture. When first viewing in Standard mode, colors were dynamic and punchy and stood out on the screen. There was also a good deal of brightness to rival the effect of the overhead lights in our testing lab. Black levels and shadows weren’t quite as well-defined but were still good. However, once I settled on Filmmaker mode, the overall picture quality improved, with deeper black levels and a more natural look, whilst still maintaining punchy colors. 

First watching scenes from John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, both of which are set in a nightclub, the pulsing colors of the lights were vibrant and contrasted well with the shadows within the scene when the lights flashed off. Blacks were deep but still had great levels of detail. This was especially obvious in Wick’s black suit, the textures of which you could see despite the overall dark scene. 

To test Dolby Vision when watching in the B3’s Dolby Vision Cinema Home picture mode, I watched some scenes from Star Wars: Ahsoka. Contrast here was again impressive, with lightsabers almost jumping out of the screen against the darker backgrounds, regardless of color. The most noticeable thing when watching Ahsoka was just how natural and true-to-life textures and skin tones looked. 

For motion testing, I used the opening scene from John Wick: Chapter 2 where John Wick pursues a motorcycle. During the chase, Wick’s car drifts around a corner and the camera quickly swipes from left to right. The B3 did a great job of processing this fast-paced scene, with the quick, panning shots looking fluid as the car and motorcycle weaved in and around traffic. 

Using the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray to test professional demonstration content, the B3 did a remarkable job. Night scenes within cities looked crisp, with the lights of the skyscrapers standing out from the black backgrounds. Colors were also dynamic within scenes of nature, with bright blue skies seeming natural against the rocky landscape below. One thing that became apparent however was that the B3 did impart a cooler color bias during snow demo scenes, with the white taking on a blue-ish tint. But this didn’t detract too much from the superb quality of the picture and it can be adjusted for in picture settings. 

  • Picture Quality score: 4.5/5

LG B3 OLED with music menu on screen

The music Quick Card - part of webOS 23, though music won't sound the best on the B3's lacking sound system  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Sound quality

  •  2.0 speaker system  
  •  Decent bass levels 
  •  Speech lacking a bit overall 

The LG B3 features a 2.0 speaker setup outputting 20W of power per channel, with support for Dolby Atmos. With no upward-firing speakers, LG uses its AI Sound Pro sound mode to upmix the 2.0 configuration to a 5.1.2 output in order to try and get the best out of the B3's speakers. 

In Standard sound mode, bass levels were good but sadly everything else was lacking. Speech in particular was a bit lost in the overall mix, with trebles sounding a little scratchy and brash at times. Dolby Atmos effects within this mode were almost non-existent. However, when changed to Cinema sound mode the overall sound was definitely improved, with bass, treble and mid levels being balanced to create a better overall sound. Speech was still a little lacking, but greatly improved from Standard mode. 

As mentioned above, the B3 does feature an AI Sound Pro feature that will upmix the sound to 5.1.2 configuration and although through it Dolby Atmos effects were more apparent and treble and speech levels slightly enhanced, bass took a massive hit. Playing Top Gun: Maverick through both Cinema and AI Sound Pro, I found the most balanced overall sound to be through Cinema, as the rumble I expected from the jet engines was lost in AI Sound Pro. 

The B3's sound quality is probably one of its weakest parts. Although it has better built-in sound than a lot of other TVs, the B3 is definitely lacking compared to other OLED sets like the LG C3, Sony A80L and Samsung S90C. Admittedly, these TVs cost more for better built-in sound, so it might be worth investing in a soundbar with the money you would save.

  •  Sound Quality score: 3.5/5 

LG B3 TV stand

The LG B3's stand looks nice but sadly is a bit cheap feeling  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Design

  •  Slim, attractive bezel  
  •  Nice-looking but cheap-feeling stand 
  •  LG Magic Remote supplied  

The B3 features a surprisingly thin profile and a slim bezel at the top of its screen, running to about halfway down. However, the bottom half of the TV does bulk out and although this is noticeable from the back and sides, it doesn’t stop the TV from having an attractive design when viewed from the front.  

LG designed the B3 to primarily be on a stand, which is centrally located on the TV. With a dark gray finish, its design is simple yet effective. Unfortunately, compared to its more premium models like the C3 and G3, the stand is a plastic material as opposed to metal. This makes it feel a little cheaper and with the B3 priced as it is (which is mentioned above) this is a real shame. However, unlike the G3, the B3 does come supplied with its stand.

LG’s Magic Remote that’s supplied with the B3 is as great as ever. It has a nice balance and solid quality to it, with plenty of app shortcut buttons and an easy-to-follow button layout. The central wheel is a nice way to navigate menus and the pointer allows you to explore screens without having to press arrows, but you may take some time getting the hang of this.

  •  Design score: 4/5 

LG B3 with Quick Card menu on screen

The LG Quick Card menu which can be edited to suit your needs (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Smart TV and menus

  •  webOS 23 re-design for tidier home menu
  •  Quick Cards feature categorizes apps
  •  No hands-free voice control like the LG C3 and G3 

The LG B3 comes installed with the latest iteration of LG’s own smart software, webOS 23. This has been streamlined compared to last year's software, webOS 22, by limiting the amount of ads and recommendations on its home page, making for a much neater look. 

Quick Cards are probably the biggest feature introduced on webOS 23’s menu system, with the ability to categorize apps by genre such as Music, Game, Movie and so on, meaning you can easily navigate to the type of apps you like. There are plenty of customization options as well, enabling you to organize your apps into these Quick Cards as you see fit. 

The Quick Menus featured in webOS 23 are also a welcome inclusion. Pressing the gear icon on the remote will bring up a pop-up menu in the corner of the screen that enables you to quickly change settings like picture mode, sleep timer, OLED pixel brightness and so on. 

Thanks to the B3’s Alpha 7 Gen6 processor, navigating the smart TV software and menus feels seamless and easy, with no pauses or stuttering. The B3 does feature voice control capabilities while pressing the mic button on the remote, but not the new hands-free voice control found in the C3 and G3.

  •  Smart TV and menus score: 4.5/5 

LG B3 with game menu and battlefield v on display

The LG B3 comes with LG's Game Optimizer and menu, which tailors the gaming experience depending on what you're playing (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Gaming

  •  4K, Dolby Vision gaming support 
  •  Game Optimizer mode for better gaming performance 
  •  Only two HDMI 2.1 ports 

Much like the other OLEDs available in LGs’ 2023 range, the B3 comes with a great selection of gaming features, including 4K 120Hz Dolby Vision support, VRR, ALLM, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync capabilities and a Game optimizer mode to get the best settings for your gaming experience. 

Using the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester measuring at 60Hz, the LG B3 yielded a respectable result of 12.6ms. However, when turning on its Boost mode, found in the Game Optimizer, the result improved to 9.2ms, which is not only an excellent result but the same as I measured in the higher-end LG G3.  

The LG B3 does an excellent job in terms of gaming performance. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, with Game Optimizer mode turned on to remove any annoying picture settings like judder reduction that would hinder the game, the B3 handled graphically intense moments well. During an ambush mission in a forest, quick targeting was made easy and wide, with panning shots from one side of the screen to the other feeling seamless. 

With the Game Menu in webOS 23, there were plenty of settings to tweak to get the best possible picture including black level and even a game genre setting, which when I switched it to First-Person Shooter (FPS) automatically adjusted colors and motion settings to suit Battlefield V. After doing this, details within the picture were crisp, colors were vivid and black levels and shadow detail were superb. 

Despite brilliant overall gaming performance, the LG B3 sadly does only come with two HDMI 2.1 ports, as opposed to the four you would find on some of the best gaming TVs. Those with both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and a soundbar they hope to run through eARC (one of the two HDMI 2.1 ports) may have to seek out alternative options like the LG C3 or Samsung S90C for example. However, looking past this, the LG B3 still offers excellent gaming features and performance. 

  •  Gaming score: 4.5/5 

LG Magic Remote on brown TV stand

The LG B3 comes with LG's Magic Remote  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Value

  •  Cheaper alternative to the LG C3 
  •  Picture quality comparable to higher-end sets 
  •  Fairly priced after discounts for what features you get 

As the most widely available ‘entry-level’ OLED in LG’s range, the B3 wasn’t going to offer as many features in terms of gaming and performance as its more premium counterparts, the C3 and G3, which meant that it needed to hit a good price for those looking for a good value OLED.

At the time of its release in April 2023, the B3 was only roughly $100 cheaper than the LG C3, which comes with the superior Alpha 9 Gen 6 processor, brighter Evo panel and four HDMI 2.1 ports, meaning the B3 did not provide this cheaper alternative that should have been offered.

However, since its release, the LG B3 has seen fairly large discounts and now sits roughly $200-300 cheaper than the C3, which is a much more reasonable price and enables people to think about any soundbars or accessories they could get with the B3 with the money saved. It is worth noting, however, that at the time of writing there is quite a large disparity in prices between the US and other territories for the 77-inch model, with it being much better value in the US. 

Although there is some disparity in prices, it’s hard to argue against the B3 in terms of value, as you are getting a fantastic performing OLED TV with picture quality that in many ways rivals its more premium counterparts, for a now more reduced price.

  • Value score: 4.5/5  

LG B3 with bright image of hot spring on screen

The B3 has vibrant colors that rival some higher-end sets (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the LG B3

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

HP Omen laptop displaying Calman Portrait Displays calibration software hooked up to Murideo 8K test pattern generator

Testing equipment we use for our tests from Murideo and Calman - in this instance connected to the Panasonic MZ2000 (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the LG B3

  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Display's Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

After running in the TV for a couple of days, displaying SDR content from live TV, I tested various picture modes on the LG B3 including Standard, Cinema, and Filmmaker mode through a variety of SDR and HDR sources from 4K Blu-rays to streaming and also through an Xbox Series X.

After choosing the best picture mode, Filmmaker, I tested the LG B3's picture thoroughly using Disney Plus for 4K Dolby Vision HDR content, the Xbox Series X for gaming, 4K Blu-ray for HDR content and SDR content through live tv and Full HD on ITVX and BBC iPlayer.  

When it came time to take measurements of the B3, I used Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. Using this, I measured peak brightness on a 10% window and 100% window in both SDR and HDR. I then recorded the Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for color accuracy, grayscale and gamma again using Calman. I then measured the color space looking at DCI-P3 and BT.2020 coverage. For all tests, I used the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator.

Finally, to measure input lag for gaming, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester.

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: huge Dolby Atmos from a compact soundbar
1:01 am | August 31, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini: Two-minute review

The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini arrives as the smallest, most affordable member of what is now a three-strong family of Sennheiser Ambeo soundbars. What it lacks in stature, though, it makes up for in asking price – this is not an especially budget-conscious option, especially when you consider how much the best of its size-comparable rivals cost.

The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini goes a long way to justifying its asking price even before you hear it, though. Its six-driver speaker array is powered by 250 watts, has the grunt to reach down to a claimed 43Hz at the bottom of the frequency range without a subwoofer, and is subject to some very thorough virtualization technology in an effort to extract a true sense of Dolby Atmos spatial audio from a soundbar with no dedicated upfiring drivers. And all this is concealed inside a discreet, well-made cabinet that’s never going to draw attention to itself.

And there’s the choice of control options. Between the Smart Control app, the full-size remote control handset, built-in Amazon Alexa voice-control and some integrated touch controls, you’re not short of options here – and they’re all beautifully realized and eminently usable in a way that not all of the best soundbars manage.

Performance, though, is where a product like this lives or dies – and in almost every respect, the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini is alive and kicking. Literally kicking where bass response is concerned; the amount of drive and punch it can summon is remarkable given the compact proportions of its cabinet. It creates a big, open soundstage, piles on the details at every point, and is able to project dialogue to the front without it ever sounding remote or estranged. 

It’s even pretty adept at generating an impression of spatial audio from 5.1 or even two-channel movie content when Dolby Atmos isn't available, although trying to pretend a stereo music file consists of 12 channels proves a bridge too far.

Only the rather modest sensation of true "height" to its soundstage prevents the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini waltzing off with full marks. Or, rather, it’s the combination of this slight reticence along with pricing that suggests it should nail every area that holds it back just a little. If it sounded just a little taller, or if it were just a little less expensive, the Ambeo Mini would be approaching "no-brainer" status. As it is, if you have a TV of 40 inches to 55 inches, and the budget, it should be a seriously tempting option.

As it is, you've got an interesting choice of small subwoofer-free soundbars between this, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 if you want great fidelity for a lower price (and an even less wide size), or the Bose Smart Soundbar 600 if you want real Dolby Atmos height from a small soundbar, though without the bass of the Ambeo. 

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini on a glass TV stand, under a 48-inch TV

Here's how the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini looks under a 48-inch TV. (Image credit: Future)

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Price & release date

  • Release date: 1 September 2023
  • Price: $799 / £699 / AU$1,299

The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini is on sale across the world from 1st September 2023. In the United Kingdom it sells for £699, while in the United States the going rate is $799. Customers in Australia will need to part with AU$1299 to acquire one.

Yes, this is the most affordable of Sennheiser’s three-strong Ambeo range of soundbars – but that’s not the same thing as being fully affordable, not really. This pricing puts the Ambeo Mini notably above the likes of the compact Sonos Beam Gen 2 or Bose Smart Soundbar 600, and pushes it nearly into competition with the likes of the Sonos Arc, which is much bigger and even better equipped for spatial sound. But if you wanted big, you probably wouldn't be looking at the Mini, right?

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Specs

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini logo close up

Lighting on the Ambeo Mini's tell-tale sign can be switched off in the app. (Image credit: Future)

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Features

  • 250 watts, 43Hz - 20kHz frequency response
  • 7.1.4-channel virtualized sound
  • Only one HDMI port

It’s not, strictly speaking, a feature but more of an ambition: the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini intends to create an impression of 7.1.4 -channel spatial audio using just six speaker drivers and a whole lot of complicated virtualization technology developed in conjunction with Fraunhofer. And that means every worthwhile spatial audio standard out there, too – the Ambeo Mini is compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, MPEG-H and 360 Reality Audio.

Two of the six drivers are upward-facing 102mm (four-inch) bass drivers that offer low-frequency extension down to a claimed 43Hz. The other four are 38mm (1.5-inch) full-range affairs – there is one at either end of the chassis, positioned to create some sonic width, and two more fire forwards. All six drivers are made of cellulose, and all six contribute to the virtualized "top" effects that ought to allow the Ambeo Mini to create a sensation of height to its presentation. 

Class D amplification supplies the power, and there’s a total of 250 watts on tap. Sennheiser isn’t saying exactly how it’s divided, but then again, Sonos doesn’t even like to say how much power is on board its soundbars, so I guess we should be grateful for any information that Sennheiser supplies…

As far as connectivity is concerned, the Ambeo Mini has ample wireless options, and just the essentials as far as physical connections go. An HDMI eARC and a USB-A slot sit alongside a power socket, a ‘reset’ button and a ‘setup’ button in a recess on the rear of the chassis – and that's it in terms of the physical stuff. The lack of HDMI passthrough may conceivably be a deal-breaker for some people, especially as quite a few similarly priced alternatives include it – and the kinds of smaller TV that this is aimed at are more likely to have fewer HDMI ports.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 (with SBC and AAC codec compatibility) cover off the bulk of the wireless stuff, and there is compatibility with UPnP, the Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. The last couple mean that the Ambeo Mini can easily become part of a multi-room audio system.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini speaker grille close-up at the ends

Perforations in the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini's frame for speaker drivers are just about visible all the way around under the cloth. (Image credit: Future)

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Audio performance

  • Remarkable low-frequency presence and control
  • Sound is far bigger than the product’s physical dimensions
  • Not the most spatial of spatial audio presentations

The Ambeo Mini wastes no time in calibrating itself to your specific environment, and once it’s done so there are numerous positives about the way it goes about churning out the sound of movies and music alike.

It goes without saying that the best results come from the best sources – and when given the Dolby Atmos soundtrack to a UHD 4K Blu-ray disc of Dune to deal with, you’ll quite quickly forget the "mini" aspect of the Ambeo Mini and concentrate on the mightiness of its presentation.

Most immediately, its low-frequency punch and presence is almost startling. 43Hz is deep, sure – but the bass the Sennheiser generates is so solid, so controlled and so full of variation that it sounds even deeper, somehow. Sennheiser is pleased with the fact that you can connect as many as four optional wireless Ambeo subwoofers to the Mini (and in our experience with the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus, using three subs can be an amazing time), but unless you are setting up your soundbar in a big, vaulted space I’d seriously question whether you need even one, let alone four.

Mid-range fidelity is impressive – the center channel of audio information is always the most critical, and the Ambeo Mini delivers it with authority, packing voices with detail and character. It projects well, even when the low end is strutting its stuff, and is able to retain plenty of information about tone and texture even when the soundtrack is at its most bullish. And despite the lack of dedicated tweeters here, the Sennheiser has ample bite and brilliance at the top of the frequency range, along with the requisite levels of detail. 

The whole of the frequency range hands together well and, although the Ambeo Mini is undoubtedly working its socks off to create what says is a facsimile of 12 channels of information using just six drivers, there’s a coherence to the way it delivers the Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The soundstage it creates is way bigger than the soundbar from which it emanates, and long-travel effects move around the stage in pretty convincing fashion.

What there isn’t a huge amount of, though, is sonic height to the sound. Yes, the Sennheiser can put sound upwards with reasonable success – but even when accompanying a 48-inch OLED TV (for which the Ambeo Mini is the perfect size to fit between its feet), sound never really gets above the television’s top bezel. This slight lack of upward projection will be familiar to anyone who’s heard the (similarly sized, much more affordable) Sonos Beam Gen 2.

In every other respect, though, the Ambeo Mini has the better of the size-comparable Sonos. It’s more dynamic, and able to make you jump when the hissed exposition switches suddenly to almighty action sequence. It’s more open, able to create greater width across the front of the soundstage and position effects more precisely. And it’s more punchy, too. Quite a lot more punchy.

Watching soccer highlights over streaming, Sennheiser’s Ambeo virtualization technology does impressive work in hacking even a mild sensation of spatial audio from a stereo source. The stage is still big, detail levels are still high, and the "smack" as boot addresses ball is profound. Switch off the Ambeo processing and the sensation of scale pretty much disappears – although this is still a fuller and more enjoyable sound than most TVs have a hope of delivering by themselves.

Using Tidal Connect to stream a Dolby Atmos file of You Ain’t No Celebrity by Jungle featuring Roots Manuva lets the Ambeo Mini once again demonstrate its powers of resolution, of even-handed frequency response, of prodigious low-end presence and control, and of simple scale. The sound is open and well-separated, but unified and focused at the same time – and the virtualization technology does good work in summoning up authentic width and a degree of height to the sound. 

Use Bluetooth to stream a two-channel file of Grouper’s Alien Observer and the Ambeo technology can’t prevent a little vagueness creeping into the presentation as it attempts to open the recording up and out as much as possible. Ultimately, it’s better – or, more accurately, more convincing – to leave stereo music unvirtualized. You miss out on sheer size, but the sound has greater accuracy. 

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini connections

The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini's connections are well-recessed in the back. (Image credit: Future)

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Design

  • Mostly plastic and cloth construction
  • Slightly wider than Sonos Beam
  • Suitable for TVs of 40 inches and up

If you’re even remotely familiar with Sennheiser’s recent Ambeo Plus soundbar or the Sonos Beam Gen 2, you already have a good idea of what the Ambeo Mini is like in terms of design.

In its cloth-wrapped plastic construction and its slanted top panel, the Ambeo Mini looks just like – hey! – a miniature version of the Ambeo Plus. And its dimensions are very similar to those of the Sonos Gen 2, though it's slightly wider and slightly shorter, both of which are fine in our book.

As you might imagine, the quality of build and finish here is basically impeccable. Everything is put together flawlessly, and the Ambeo Mini is made from materials that are durable and even quite tactile. There’s nothing luxurious about the Ambeo Mini, and it’s hard to make a product as functional as a soundbar stand out in design terms… but nevertheless there’s something quite appealing about its combination of discretion and purposefulness. 

Some may wish for more than one choice of finish, of course – but Sennheiser has long been of the opinion that Henry "any color you like as long as it’s black" Ford was onto something.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini app, showing control options for volume and lighting levels, and the calibration tool

The Sennheiser app makes accessing all kinds of options really friendly. (Image credit: Sennheiser)

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Setup & usability

  • Automatic room calibration
  • Voice, app and remote control 
  • Numerous listening modes

Credit where credit is due: Sennheiser has made setting up the Ambeo Mini about as straightforward and painless as is realistically possible. 

Put the soundbar in position. Make your power connection and hook the HDMI eARC socket to the corresponding connection on your TV – and you’re all set. Then it’s simply a question of opening the Smart Control app and letting the automatic room calibration routine do its thing. A fairly brief selection of test tones plays while the app assures you that all is well, and then the Ambeo Mini is optimized for the position in which it finds itself. And it’s easy to recalibrate should the need arise.

Once the Ambeo Mini is set up, controlling it is equally straightforward no matter which of the numerous interaction options you prefer. The control app itself is typically Sennheiser, in as much as it’s flawlessly realized, clear and logical, and covers every realistic eventuality. 

As well as the ability to switch the Ambeo virtualization technology on or off, there are six EQ settings (from "adaptive" to "neutral" via "music" and "movie"), a "night mode" that squashes dynamic response and "voice enhancement" that pushes the center channel information forward. Input selection, software updates and all the rest are available here too.

There’s a brief selection of capacitive touch controls on the slanted top of the soundbar which cover most major functions – and there’s a mute button to disable the four in-built mics. As well as calibration, these mics handle voice control, so if you want to use your Ambeo Mini simply by talking to it, Amazon Alexa is built in and Google Assistant is also available if you’ve appropriate speakers on a common network.

Or you may prefer the old-school charms of a remote-control handset. The wand supplied with the Ambeo Mini is tactile and angular, and covers more-or-less everything in terms of day-to-day control of the soundbar. Its labels could be larger, sure, and some backlighting wouldn’t go amiss… but it’s fair to say that some more expensive soundbars are supplied with much less satisfactory remote controls. 

  • Setup & usability: 5/5

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini front cloth close-up

The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini hides a lot of power behind its cloth outside. (Image credit: Future)

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Value

  • Big, authoritative sound with no need for a subwoofer
  • Exemplary build and finish, great control options
  • Cannot help but seem just a little too expensive

The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini seems just a little expensive. A small part of that is down to the sheer size of the product – because for all that it is beautifully built and finished from materials that seem durable, and has several well-realized control options, perceived wisdom is that soundbars this small don’t cost this much money and/or soundbars costing this much money are bigger than this. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with paying a premium price for a more manageably sized soundbar, especially if you don’t have that big a room to fill with sound and if you don't want a separate subwoofer – but it still needs to outperform more affordable alternatives in every department. 

As it is, though, the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini outperforms its more affordable alternatives in almost every department – if it could just summon a little more sonic height when it's doing its Ambeo thing, the value for money here would be excellent. Instead, it's merely good value – which is not a problem at all, if it's within your budget.

  • Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Also consider

How I tested the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini

  • Tested for over a week
  • Tested with Blu-ray and streaming
  • Reviewed in a standard living space

The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini has been positioned between the feet of a 48-inchin Philips OLED TV for over a week, and it’s been used for at least a few hours every day – some of that is critical listening, some is simply sitting down in front of the TV to unwind. The room is open-plan, which means side boundaries are fairly distant, but the ceiling is not especially high – so the fact the Ambeo Mini can create plenty of sonic width is particularly commendable, while the relative lack of sonic height isn’t. 

Content of all kinds has been through the Sennheiser, from native uncompressed Dolby Atmos tracks via a UHD 4K Blu-ray player, to more compressed Atmos from Netflix and Disney Plus. Music has come in high-end form from Tidal Connect, and I've watched broadcast TV or streaming services for standard stereo viewing.

Samsung S90C review: a brighter OLED TV for a lower price
7:45 pm | August 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung S90C: Two-minute review

Despite some pre-launch mystery about how the Samsung S90C QD-OLED model would differentiate itself from the more expensive Samsung S95C QD-OLED model, it turns out the cheaper option has absolutely nothing to be shy about.

The Samsung S90C sets your pulse racing right away by boasting an insanely thin panel design, at least at its edges. It gets chunkier in its mid section, due to it not shipping with the external connections box the S95C gets, but I still think some people will actually prefer the cheaper model’s design overall.

Its connectivity impressively supports full 4K 120Hz and variable refresh rate gaming graphics across all four of its HDMIs, while its smart TV system carries all the streaming services anyone could want. The smart interface still feels convoluted to use, though, despite some refinements from its 2022 appearance.

It’s clear as soon as you start watching it that the S90C is not as bright as the S95C models at the same size. In fact, it’s around 20% less bright, comparing our measurements here to what we saw in our Samsung S95C review. Once you’ve got to grips with that, though, you start to realise that this is pretty much the only way its pictures fall short of those of its more expensive sibling. In fact, I can imagine some home theater fans perhaps preferring the S90Cs slightly gentler but arguably more consistent-feeling images, assuming you have control of the ambient light. And it's still brighter than almost all the other best OLED TVs, including big hitters such as the LG C3.

We tested the 55-inch version of the S95C, and note that while it comes in 65-inch and 77-inch versions that are also QD-OLED, it actually uses WOLED technology (aka, 'regular' OLED, of the kind of you find in the LG C3 or Sony A80L) rather than QD-OLED for the 83-inch version – so you shouldn’t take this review as representative of the 83-inch version's performance. That model will almost certainly be much less bright.

While the S90C’s sound is more unequivocally a step down from that of the S95C models, finally, it’s still a healthy improvement on the sound quality of its 2022 QD-OLED predecessor, the Samsung S95B. And better, again, than most mid-range TVs – though the Sony A80L is a strong competitor there.

Samsung S90C viewed at an angle on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Price & release date

  • Release date: May 2023
  • Officially priced from: $1,899 / £1,999 / AU$3,299

The Samsung S90C is specifically designed to offer a more affordable route into Samsung’s exciting new QD-OLED TV technology – so its price really matters. At the time of writing, the 55-inch version we tested is available for £1,799 in the UK, $1,599 in the US and $3,299 in Australia – prices that make it majorly cheaper than the S95C, with enough left over for a very nice soundbar. I’ll talk more about its value later, but on principle those savings look substantial enough to, as billed, make the S90C a potential option for a whole different market to the S95C – especially because, as you can see, it's available for even cheaper than its official price.

There are 65 and 77-inch QD-OLED versions of the S90C available too, which at the time of writing cost $2,099 / £2,499 / AU$4,299 and $3,199 / £3,599 / AU$6,799 respectively. The new 83-inch addition to the S90C range with a regular OLED panel  rather than QD-OLED has been announced for the US priced at $4,999.

The 55, 65 and 77-inch S90Cs have been available pretty much everywhere in the world since May 2023, with the new 83-inch launching in July 2023 in the US, but no word on a launch elsewhere just yet.

Samsung S90C review: Specs

Samsung S90C viewed from the rear

The Samsung S90C packs a lot of tech into that sleek frame. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Features

  • 4K quantum dot OLED panel
  • Object Tracking Sound audio system
  • HDMI 2.1 with 4K 120Hz and VRR on all HDMI ports

The crucial thing about the Samsung S90C is that it is a quantum dot OLED TV. This new take on OLED technology, designed by Samsung, sees blue light pushed through layers of quantum dots to create other colors. This approach removes the pure white component that appears in traditional OLED construction, potentially resulting in richer, more accurate colors, especially in the brightest parts of the picture – and potentially brighter images.

For this second generation of QD-OLED, Samsung has improved the filtering in the screen to reduce the potential for ambient light to affect black levels; tweaked the organic materials it uses and improved the panel’s efficiency to boost brightness without increasing energy use; and improved the way the software monitors the activity of all the screen’s pixels to further boost contrast and extend the panel’s effective life span.

The S90C gets the same, upgraded version of Samsung’s Neural Quantum 4K processor that the flagship S95C QD-OLED TVs get in 2023, which uses the combined learning of 20 neural networks to introduce multiple 'AI'-based refinements to the way the TV treats incoming sources – including, in particular, supposedly better upscaling of HD and SD content to the screen’s native 4K resolution.

There is one significant way in which the S90C differs from the S95C, though: brightness. We’ve long known that this would be the case without it being clear just how substantial the difference would be, but now that we can measure it, it's significant – but the S90C is still brighter than most of the competition, as we'll explain in the next section.

This is probably a good point to say once more that while the 55, 65 and 77-inch S90C TVs are QD-OLED models, the 83-inch model uses more ‘traditional’ WOLED technology. Based on our previous experience with the panel Samsung must be using for the 83-inch version, you should expect that model to be significantly less bright.

The S90C’s connectivity is excellent, with all four of its HDMIs proving capable of handling almost everything today’s cutting-edge gamers could want, including 4K 120Hz or 144Hz, and VRR. We’ll come back to this in more detail in the dedicated Gaming section later.

The HDMIs also support the HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats - but not the popular Dolby Vision system. Dolby Vision content will therefore play as HDR10, without the extra scene by scene picture information that’s the format’s big selling point. HDR10+ also provides extra scene by scene picture data, but sources that support this format are less numerous than Dolby Vision ones, so it's a real shame that Samsung doesn't include it.

The S90C’s audio system isn’t as cutting edge as its pictures, but its 40W, 2.1-channel configuration is supported by Samsung’s innovative object tracking sound (OTS) system, which uses clever processing and speaker placement to help sound effects and dialogue appear to be coming from the correct onscreen area.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Samsung S90C viewed from a high angle on a table

The S90C does great when viewed from an angle, as well as straight on. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Picture quality

  • Stunning brightness and contrast
  • Gorgeously rich, pure colors
  • Impressive sharpness and detailing

Now that we’ve been able to actually measure the brightness of both the S90C, it turns out to hit just under 1,100 nits of light on a white HDR window filling 10% of an otherwise black screen. In comparison, the S95C get up to around 1,400 nits. 

That means the S90C is around 20% less bright – a significant difference for sure, though given the price difference it’s worth saying that the S90C is also around 20% brighter on the 10% HDR window than the best ‘regular’ OLED TVs such as the LG C3, which it's very close to in price.

Dedicated followers of TV fashion will likely know that LG has introduced another new type of OLED technology in its latest LG G3 series that uses a Micro Lens Array to achieve a brightness level up there with the S95C. So the S90C is around 20% less bright than the LG G3, too. But again, it’s also significantly cheaper.

So yes, the bad news is that the 300 nits or so of brightness the S90C misses out on versus the S95C is definitely noticeable. Especially when viewing bright images that fill pretty much the entire screen rather than images that contain a mixture of light and dark. This is no more than we’d expect given that we’ve seen much smaller differences than 300 nits deliver visually obvious disparities in brightness you can clearly see with the naked eye.

However, I can actually see some home theater fans, especially those fond of watching films in darkened room settings, potentially preferring the slightly gentler, less explosively dynamic look of the S90C’s pictures to those of the blazingly intense S95C.

And as I said, it's noticeably brighter than the ‘regular’ OLED TVs that its price puts it in more direct competition with. It's up to 300 nits brighter on the 10% white HDR window test (depending on which regular OLED rival you’re talking about). And as I’ve already said, that’s more than enough of a difference to deliver a benefit that’s clear to the naked eye. The S90C’s brightness advantage with an HDR window covering the entire screen, meanwhile, versus a model such as LG’s C3, is also not far off 30%.

All of which means that whatever you’re watching, be it a dark scene with bright highlights or something that’s consistently bright right across the screen, the S90C looks brighter than any of its closest (by price) OLED rivals… and, frustratingly, than the 83-inch model of the S90C too, most likely.

Along with giving its pictures a more HDR ‘feel’, this brightness advantage feeds into the S90C’s colors, giving them a purity in the lightest parts of the picture that’s a joy to behold. Especially as the brightness of their tones doesn’t come at the expense of subtle tonal blends and shifts, helping images generally, as well as specific objects within the image, enjoy a sense of depth, three-dimensionality and density that goes beyond mere sharpness. 

That’s not to say core sharpness isn’t still impressive in its own right, though. This has long been a strength of Samsung TVs, and if anything it’s actually improved over previous generations by the latest Neural Quantum 4K processor – especially as this processor seems to have become much smarter about discerning between ‘real’ picture information and noise when dealing with incoming sources. That's true particularly for sub-4K sources that have to be run through the S90C’s excellent upscaling engine. 

In fact, the longer I watched the S90C, the more I became aware of just how much cleaner, more natural and generally more refined its pictures were compared with last year’s S95B QD-OLED debutante. 

The only exception to this is motion. As we’ve seen for a few years now, the S90C’s default motion options (adjusted in its ‘picture clarity’ menus) are really quite a mess, smoothing 24p movie images too much, and throwing up distracting amounts of flickering and haloing noise around moving objects.

Fortunately, you can fix this up pretty tidily by simply turning motion processing off or, if that results in 24p pictures that look a little too juddery for your tastes, choosing a Custom setting for the Picture Clarity feature and adjusting the de-judder and de-blur elements to level three or four.

With so much great ‘new stuff’ to talk about, I haven’t yet mentioned that the S90C also delivers the traditional OLED goods where black levels are concerned. Dark scenes benefit from black tones that look rich, consistent and pretty much completely free of any low-contrast grayness. This outstanding black level performance is far, far less likely to be impacted by high levels of ambient light than it would have been on last year’s S95B, too.

The S90C’s improved general level of control and refinement compared with its QD-OLED predecessor can be seen, too, in its excellent handling of shadow detail during dark scenes. There’s precious little sign of the black crush that could occasionally impact the S95B in some of its presets.

One last strength of the S90C is that it joins other OLED technologies in being watchable from almost any viewing position – handy if some members of your household routinely have to watch TV from a steep angle. 

My only real complaint about the S90C aside from the (fixable) motion issues I mentioned earlier is that while its Dynamic picture preset is too full-on out of the box, looking a little gaudy and over-sharpened, the other presets, even Samsung’s usually reliable Standard one, can leave colors looking a little faded – exactly the opposite of what we might expect from a QD-OLED screen. 

You can up the color intensity using the provided color adjustments, but it seems odd that you should have to on a TV that’s so clever and refined without assistance in so many other ways.

  • Picture quality score: 5/5

Samsung S90C corner, viewed in a close up

Speakers around the edges of the S90C help to offer bigger sound than most thin TVs manage. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Sound quality

  • 2.1-channel OTS system
  • 40W of total power
  • Sounds better than the S95B, worse than the S95C

While last year’s S95B debut for QD-OLED made a strong picture case, its flimsy audio felt like an afterthought. Happily, despite sharing a nearly identical design, the S90C sounds much better. 

Samsung’s Object Tracking System plays a definite part in this, despite it not having as much hardware support (in terms of power and speaker numbers) as the OTS systems on more high-end Samsung TVs. While dialogue and object placement isn’t quite as crisp and precise as it is with the S95C, it’s still good enough to create a busy and involving soundstage that’s capable of getting decent value out of Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

The S90C handles trebles well too, enjoying a nicely rounded tone that doesn’t become harsh or dominant even with the most shrill effects. Best of all, the S90C handles power and dynamic range much better than the S95B, enabling it to shift up far more gears with big, escalating action and horror movie moments than its predecessor, which tended to collapse in on itself under duress. 

The S90C’s bass depths are limited and low frequency sounds don’t seem to project as well from the TV’s bodywork as its mid-range and treble sounds, leaving them occasionally sounding a bit ‘chuffy’ under sustained pressure. That said, bass is actually handled much more effectively than it was on the S95B, with both more clarity and much less propensity for the bass driver to descend into distracting buzzing and crackling distortions.

It’s worth adding, too, that the S90C sounds better than LG’s C3 and G3 OLED TVs.

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Samsung S90C feet shown close up

The one design disappointment of the S90C? The feet. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Design

  • Ultra-thin profile at the edges
  • Built-in connections and processing
  • No visible speakers

The S90C looks very different to its step-up S95C sibling, but extremely similar to last year’s S95B – and personally I actually think some might prefer the S90C's design, thanks to the incredible slimness of the screen at its outer edges. This is so thin, in fact, that it feels like it’s escaped from an episode of The Jetsons.

The S90C’s build quality isn’t as substantial as that of the S95C, though, and while the S95C models are quite a bit deeper at their edges than the S90C, they’re actually thinner overall once you’ve taken into account that a central section of the S90C’s rear is substantially deeper than its edges.

The reason for the S90C’s chunky bit is that the cheaper model doesn’t carry an external connections/processing box. Its four HDMIs, two USBs, Ethernet port, RF input and optical digital audio output are all located on the back of the TV. While cable haters might see this as another reason to step up to the S95C range, experience shows that dropping the external connections box is likely responsible for a decent chunk of the price gap between Samsung’s two 2023 QD-OLED series.

The only bum note in the S90C’s design is its feet. These look and feel cheap and plasticky for a TV that is still, after all, quite a premium product. They do at least attach fairly close together rather than under the TV’s corners, though, meaning the TV can sit comfortably on a piece of furniture that narrower than its frame.

Note that the 83-inch S90C features a completely different design to the other sizes of S90C, thanks to both the demands of its large screen and its use of WOLED rather than QD-OLED technology.

  • Design score: 4/5

Samsung S90C showing the Tizen menu

The Samsung S90C's Tizen has a lot of great apps on it, but it could be easier to navigate. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Smart TV & menus

  • Samsung’s own Tizen-based Eden smart interface
  • All the main streaming services are covered
  • Extensive voice control support

Samsung introduced a major revamp to its Tizen-based ‘Eden’ smart TV interface last year, in particular switching from a compact home menu overlaid over just a small section of the screen to a fullscreen home page. 

Issues with unhelpful choices of what content was presented on this new home page and some unintuitive menu navigation choices made this new system feel like a step back from its more streamlined predecessor, alas – and some of those unhelpful changes continue through to the S90C’s smart interface too. 

Samsung has, though, made better choices over what appears where on the home screen, and there are one or two helpful navigation refinements. Plus the S90C’s built-in voice recognition and control options are so comprehensive that with a bit of practice you can actually use voice commands to sidestep the menus for much of what you need.

  • Smart TV & menus score 3.5/5

Samsung S90C on a table showing the Gaming Hub

The Samsung S90C is fantastic for gaming. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Gaming

  • 4K 120Hz support on all HDMIs
  • Variable refresh rate support
  • Dedicated Gaming Bar and Hub interfaces

The S90C is a fantastic gaming TV. For starters, it carries (almost) all the features most gamers with the latest consoles or premium gaming PCs could want. Namely support for 4K 120Hz or 144Hz pictures, variable refresh rates, and automatic low latency mode switching whenever a game source is detected. The VRR support includes AMD FreeSync, too, and you can monitor and adjust your gaming signals via a dedicated Game Bar onscreen menu system.  

The options here include adjustments for raising the brightness of just the dark areas of the picture to make it easier to see lurking enemies; a superimposed target reticle in the middle of the screen; multiple options for trading input lag (the time the screen takes to render image data) against motion smoothness; the ability to magnify games’ mini-maps, regardless of where they appear on the screen; and even support for the ultra-wide 21:9 and 32:9 aspect ratios now available as options with some PC titles. 

Input lag is outstanding too, measuring just 9.2ms with a 1080p 60Hz feed in its fastest input lag setting, in our testing.

The one thing missing from the S90C’s gaming features is Dolby Vision support. So if you own an Xbox Series X, you’ll have to accept that games will only appear in standard HDR10. The screen is, though, compatible with the HGiG system, where your console can be set to ‘match’ the abilities of your TV, delivering the optimal HDR output accordingly without the TV’s own dynamic tone mapping features having to get involved.

The S90C’s wide-ranging gaming features are backed up by a truly spectacular graphics performance. The screen’s extra brightness over similarly priced rivals really counts with gaming graphics, while motion is fantastically handled with both 60Hz, 120Hz and variable refresh rate titles. Sharpness and detailing does consistently superb justice to today’s ultra high resolution graphics too, and the TV feels fantastically responsive for a screen that’s giving you such a big and beautiful gaming experience.

While the S90C’s gaming images aren’t as outright spectacular as those of Samsung’s much brighter S95C, I would argue that they’re actually more consistent and therefore immersive than those of its flagship siblings – though if you're gaming during the day, much like with sports viewing, absolutely brightness is an advantage for beating reflections.

One last useful gaming feature of the S90C is its Gaming Hub, a dedicated menu in its smart interface that pulls together all the available gaming inputs and online gaming services.

  • Gaming score: 4.5/5

Samsung S90C remote held in a hand

The S90C offers a simple remote you can use for the most common operations. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung S90C review: Value

  • Excellent value for what’s on offer
  • Makes QD-OLED a true mid-range OLED option
  • Much cheaper than S95C and LG G3

At the time of writing, the 55-inch Samsung S90C costs only $100 more than LG’s equivalent 55-inch C3 model, and the boost you get in both brightness and sound quality compared to that TV feel more than worth the extra outlay.

Looking upwards to Samsung’s S95C and LG’s MLA-sporting G3, and you can save enough by buying this TV instead of those to add one of the best soundbars or best 4K Blu-ray players to your setup.

The 83-inch S90C costs more or less the same as the 83-inch LG C3 series, which seems appropriate given that this particular screen size uses WOLED technology like the C3, rather than QD-OLED technology.

The second-generation of QD-OLED TVs has proved emphatically that the technology is here to stay, with even this year’s cheapest S90C QD-OLED models managing to deliver substantial improvements over the technology’s already impressive 2022 debut.

The S90C is around a fifth less bright than its dazzling S95C flagship QD-OLED siblings, but it retains a distinct brightness advantage against ‘regular’ mid-range OLED rivals that feeds into ultra-vibrant colors, especially in very bright areas. 

There are times, in fact, where the S90C arguably retains a touch more consistency and balance than its more expensive, much more explosively punchy S95C siblings.

The S90C’s sound is better than that of its LG OLED rivals too, if that matters to you - though it falls some way short sonically of the S95C in this department.

Put simply, it probably offers the most complete overall image of anything in the same bracket as it.

  • Value score: 5/5

Samsung S90C ports

The sleek design of the S90C gets a bit more practical once you get into the ports… (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung S90C?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Samsung S90C review: Also consider

How I tested the Samsung S90C

Majority Sierra Plus review: a cheap Dolby Atmos soundbar that’s big and (partly) clever
5:34 pm | March 9, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Majority Sierra Plus: Two-minute review

With the Sierra Plus, affordable audio brand Majority has (mostly) decided to go big. Big on specification, big on sound, big on the size of the soundbar that’s accompanied by a wireless subwoofer. In fact, one of the few ways the MAjority Sierra Plus isn’t big is in regards to the asking price. Here’s a 2.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos soundbar and subwoofer system for comfortably under £250 / $280, challenging the best cheap soundbars around for specs.

Setup is straightforward. The Majority Sierra Plus' control options are few but well-implemented. Wireless connectivity between soundbar and subwoofer is solid and stable. Once you’ve established where the two elements of the system are going to be positioned (and, in the case of the soundbar, made sure it doesn’t block a portion of your TV screen), it’s simple in the extreme to get up and running.

And where outright scale of sound is concerned, the Majority is a high achiever. There’s width and a suggestion of height to its sound, robust and well-controlled contributions from the soundbar, and a level of midrange communication and fidelity that’s almost as unexpected as it is welcome. 

Treble reproduction is a concern, though - it sounds as if it belongs to another system entirely. And while the subwoofer doesn’t drone, it doesn’t add a whole lot of detail to your listening experience. And these negative traits are given greater emphasis if you decide to switch from listening to movies to listening to music.

If you want a hint of Dolby Atmos at this sort of money, it’s difficult to suggest too  many viable alternatives among the best soundbars. But we'd encourage people to look to the Sony HT-G700 and Samsung HW-Q700B (when they're on deals) for better overall Dolby Atmos sound without spending tons more.

Majority Sierra Plus soundbar in a living room

(Image credit: Future)

Majority Sierra Plus review: Price & release date

  • $269 / £229 (around AU$410)
  • Released in the middle of 2022

The Majority Sierra Plus Dolby Atmos soundbar/wireless subwoofer system is on sale now, and will cost your around $269 / £229, depending on current offers. That makes it about AU$410 in Australia, though its availability there seems limited at best.

This, it hardly needs stating, is a very aggressive price for a Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar that’s accompanied by a wireless subwoofer. Certainly it’s possible to spend more than this without even getting a sniff of spatial audio. So is the Majority Sierra Plus that most unusual of things: an authentic bargain?

Majority Sierra Plus review: Specs

Majority Sierra Plus close-up on the buttons

(Image credit: Future)

Majority Sierra Plus review: Features

  • 2x HDMI passthrough ports are great for the price
  • HDMI ARC doesn't support lossless Dolby Atmos 
  • No center channel, no DTS support

It’s important to keep your expectations realistic when considering the features and specification of the Sierra Plus. Don’t forget how much (or, more accurately, how little) Majority is asking for this system and you shouldn’t go far wrong.

The soundbar is where all the physical inputs and wireless connectivity live – the subwoofer just has a power lead (and not a long one, it’s worth noting) and a button to initiate pairing with the soundbar in the unlikely event that the process doesn’t happen automatically.

There’s an HDMI ARC socket, a pair of HDMI 2.0 4K HDR pass-throughs, a digital optical input, USB slot and a 3.5mm analogue input, all in a little recess at the rear of the soundbar’s cabinet. Wireless stuff, meanwhile, is restricted to Bluetooth 4.2 with SBC and AAC codec compatibility. 

At this sort of money, the HDMI pass-throughs are a fairly unusual and very welcome provision – certainly they’ll keep the number of connections to your TV down to a minimum. HDMI ARC, meanwhile, is good for dealing with the lossy form of Dolby Atmos that’s used by the likes of Disney Plus and Netflix – but owners of the best 4K Blu-ray players won’t be able to access the lossless version their machines deal in. That requires an HDMI eARC input. There's also no DTS support.

No matter how you get your audio on board, though, it’s delivered to you by a complement of six drivers in the soundbar plus another in the subwoofer. Facing out from the front of the soundbar in a ‘left/right’ arrangement there are four 57mm (fairly) full-range drivers, two at either end – each pair is reinforced by what Majority calls an ‘airport’ but what looks to me very much like a bass reflex port. 

On the top of the soundbar are a couple more of these drivers, angled up and out in an effort to create some of that sonic height that’s the reason we all got excited by Dolby Atmos in the first place. The subwoofer’s side-firing driver is bolstered by a forward-facing reflex port. 

Majority suggests there’s a total of 400 watts of Class D power doing the amplification business – there’s no indication of how that total is divided, though.

  • Features score: 4/5

Majority Sierra Plus subwoofer viewed from the side

(Image credit: Future)

Majority Sierra Plus review: Sound quality

  • Impressively wide sound, with some height
  • Big, with well-integrated bass
  • Weak treble, and not very dynamic

There’s two ways of looking (or, more correctly, listening) to the Majority Sierra Plus. The first is to admire the scale and forceful nature of its sound, look again at the amount you spent on it, and think ‘job done’. The second, naturally, is to go beyond the simple shock and awe of the system’s presentation and consider every element of its performance.

In addition to the horizontal projection of its sound, the Majority also manages to extract a mild, but definite, sensation of height from an appropriate soundtrack too (and given that this is a 2.1.2 -channel system with ‘only’ an HDMI ARC input, a stream of Black Widow via Disney+ will do just fine). The vertical effect is curtailed, sure, and nothing like as pronounced as the width that’s on offer here – but it’s there, for sure. Which already puts the Sierra Plus ahead of any number of price-comparable alternatives. 

There’s reasonable consistency to the tonal balance of the system from the midrange on down – quite often in products of this type, at this sort of money, the subwoofer can be heard doing its own thing, but the subwoofer here has a decent relationship with the soundbar. 

The handover between the two is achieved without alarms, and while the sub doesn’t have the variation or detail levels of the soundbar, it’s not quite as blunt an instrument as some alternatives. The bass stuff may not be the most varied, but it hits with determination and it’s controlled pretty well. Certainly the Majority doesn’t default to the droning some rival designs indulge in.

The midrange projects well, and carries enough detail to make dialogue sound characterful – there’s enough space around a speaker’s voice to allow them to communicate fully, even if they’re whispering. There’s good balance and poise to midrange information, a very pleasant kind of naturalness that makes voices both convincing and easy to follow.

It’s a different story at the top of the frequency range. The soundbar has no dedicated tweeters, remember, and treble contrives to sound edgy and insubstantial. This is a trait that is only compounded by increases in volume – so not only do top-end sounds seem unnatural, they don’t relate to what’s going on beneath them in the slightest.

Despite its ability to sound big and bold, though, there’s not a huge amount of dynamic subtlety to the Sierra Plus. Rather than go from ‘quiet’ to ‘loud’ it tends to prefer going from ‘loud’ to ‘louder still’ – and the result is a distinct lack of light and shade. Everything occurs at a very similar level of intensity, and consequently the overall presentation lacks drama.

As far as music is concerned, the Majority is somewhat out of its (already quite constricted) comfort zone. The subwoofer’s lack of insight is thrown into sharp relief by a listen to Chic’s Le Freak, and it relates to the soundbar with a fair bit less positivity than before. Rhythmic expression is no better than average, and the strange remoteness of the treble seems more pronounced too.

  • Sound quality score: 3/5

Majority Sierra Plus ports

(Image credit: Future)

Majority Sierra Plus review: Design

  • Suitable for TVs of 48 inches and up
  • Quite tall – be careful with low-slung TVs
  • Well-made and finished

If the quantity of raw materials your money buys you is important, you’ll be delighted by the Majority Sierra Plus – because your money buys you plenty. Be warned that the soundbar is tall enough to get in the way of the bottom of your TV screen if it has a low stand, and its width means it's suitable for TVs of 48 inches and up. Majority provides some basic wall-mounting equipment in the packaging. 

The subwoofer is a little more manageable, but bear in mind its power cable is hard-wired, so even though it connects wirelessly to the soundbar, its 1m-long power cable will dictate where in your room it ends up. 

Despite the ‘quantity-of-stuff-to-price’ ratio, though, there are no obvious compromises to the way the Sierra Plus is built or finished. The plastics and metal grilles of the soundbar look and feel fine, and are fitted together perfectly well. The subwoofer is the usual ‘vinyl wrap over MDF’, naturally – but, again, it’s constructed with obvious care and seems ready to last for ages.

  • Design score: 4/5

Majority Sierra Plus remote on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Majority Sierra Plus review: Usability and setup

  • Always-on display
  • Remote to change modes
  • Wireless subwoofer connected was seamless

There’s a quite assertive display behind the front grille of the soundbar letting you know what’s going on in terms of volume – and it’s on whether you like it or not. It will also give you some indication of input selection and the type of audio information it’s dealing with, but only swiftly, before it’s back to volume-level information.

As far as affecting volume level, selecting input and all the rest of it, there are some rubbery buttons on the top of the soundbar that deal with the basics, and a remote control handset that covers everything. 

Unlike a lot of products of this type and at this sort of money, the Majority’s remote control is quite robust and tactile, and it’s of a decent size, too. It lets you examine the four EQ presets, finesse bass and treble response, mute the system and so on.

We found that the soundbar and sub connected immediately, without any hassle.

  • Usability and setup score: 4/5

Majority Sierra Plus subwoofer viewed from above

(Image credit: Future)

Majority Sierra Plus review: Value

  • Upfiring speakers and HDMI passthrough for a low price
  • Sound fidelity can be beaten at this kind of price

As we’ve said all along, it depends how you look at it. There’s plenty of stuff here for your money, and in some ways there’s plenty of performance here too – certainly you’re unlikely to confuse the sound of the Sierra Plus to that of your unassisted television. 

There are shortcomings where the sound quality is concerned, though – and while Majority’s determination to offer a taste of Dolby Atmos at this price is to be commended, it’s safe to say you can get a more convincing (although admittedly smaller) sound for the same money elsewhere.

So if you want Atmos for a low price and some HDMI passthrough ports as a great bonus, it's incredible value. If you want a focus on sound quality, you can do better. On balance, we'll call it good value.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Majority Sierra Plus?

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Majority Sierra Plus review: Also consider

  • First reviewed: March 2023
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: the Dolby Atmos soundbar goes deluxe
7:43 pm | January 24, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre: One-minute review

Bang & Olufsen clearly set out to make a statement with the Beosound Theatre Dolby Atmos soundbar. It’s gloriously over-engineered, with a level of design finesse the category hasn’t seen before. It’s also a formidable performer. The driver array includes a sublime coaxial center, two oversized woofers, and side and height drivers that build an immense wall of sound.

We think the Beosound Theatre sets a new audio benchmark for the soundbar category, pushing past what any of the best soundbars we've heard so far can do from a single unit. It’s related to B&O's Beosound Stage soundbar, but when it comes to power and profundity, this is a much bigger brother. 

However, it’s quite the commitment. Both in terms of price – it'll set you back an eye-watering $6,890 / £5,590 / AU$11,860 – and weight, at a huge 18kg. The design is unmistakably B&O. The iconic Scandinavian design, which on our review sample includes a dramatic slatted wooden grille (there’s also a less expensive fabric grille option available), and slick glass touch panel, which illuminates when you approach.

With 12 power amplifiers onboard, it has quite the sonic arsenal at its disposal. As a standalone music speaker, it’s surprisingly effective, and when it comes to movie blockbusters it delivers action hard and fast. But it can't deliver rear sound without adding extra separate speakers (and extra expense).

If you want the biggest, clearest sound from a single-unit soundbar, nothing else does it quite this well, as you'd hope for the price. But if you need a one-box soundbar with Dolby Atmos for a more affordable price, consider the Sonos Arc, Sony HT-A7000 or Devialet Dione (in ascending price order), all of which still deliver big sound. Just not quite as big.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Price and release date

  • Costs from $6,890 / £5,590 / AU$11,860
  • Released October 2022

The price you’ll pay for the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre varies according to the finish you opt for. In its most inexpensive guise, with a fabric grille, you can expect to pay $6,890 / £5,590 / AU$11,860. However, upgrade the finish to Silver Oak or Gold Tone, and the price escalates to $7,990 / £6,390 / AU$13,650.

We don't need to tell you that's incredibly expensive, even by the standards of other premium soundbars. For example, the Samsung HW-Q990B, one of our top, high-end soundbar picks cost $1,899 / £1,599 / AU$2,199 at launch. Sure the Beosound Theatre may outperform it in some ways, but it's still an incredible ask for boosting the sound on your TV.

A close up of the rear of the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre Dolby Atmos soundbar

There’s generous HDMI provision on off here to add local sources, such as a Blu-ray player and set top box. (Image credit: Future/TechRadar)

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Features

  • Upgradable design
  • Dolby Atmos sand HDMI 2.1 support
  • Auto-calibration microphone

There’s no dedicated remote control supplied in the box with the Beosound Theatre. Instead, you’re directed to the accompanying app. Some people are bound to love the fact you don't need to mess about with a remote, others might feel shortchanged for the price – this is the same deal as you get with Sonos soundbars, and we have no issue with it.

The app has a variety of sound presets to choose from, including TV, Music, Movie, Game and (dynamically compressed) Night. It also facilitates Spotify Connect, Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 support.

One key feature of the Beosound Theatre is its modular design. Longevity was a key requirement in its design, and virtually any part of the soundbar can be swapped out for a replacement or upgrade. This includes the processor and the HDMI interface board, so any changes to broadcast specs or standards can theoretically be accommodated.

It’s compatible with Dolby Atmos, TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, and 7.1 PCM sources, but not DTS:X. It seems a little ridiculous to miss the latter off at this price, but here we are.

Connectivity on the rear comprises four HDMI ports – one of which is the eARC port that connects to the TV. Frustratingly, this is also the only one that supports 4K 120Hz, meaning that you can't actually pass-through 4K 120Hz from the other three HDMI ports. But you do get regular 4K HDR passthrough, at least.

There’s also the provision to connect the Theatre to other Beosound speakers. Indeed, as many as 16 can be connected: eight using Wireless Powerlink, and eight Powerlink.

There are four Ethernet sockets towards this purpose, although one is specifically for connecting to LG TVs and controlling the whole setup using the B&O app.

The soundbar comes with a calibration microphone to help tune the sound for your room – and it's not limited to just one 'sweet spot', usefully. You can tune for a whole seating area, which is not something you tend to get from soundbars.

  • Features score: 4/5

A close up of the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre Dolby Atmos soundbar speaker system

The speaker array on offer within the B&O Besound Theatre soundbar is classified as 7.1.4, but take that with a pinch of salt. (Image credit: Future/TechRadar)

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Sound quality

  • Wide spatial soundstage
  • Incredible dynamics
  • A high performer with both movies and music

The Beosound Theatre provides a hugely entertaining listen. High frequencies are detail rich, there’s a smooth, fulsome mid-range and underpinning both is a bass attack capable of flattening your recliner. The speaker array is classified as 7.1.4, but take that with a pinch of salt. 

Despite the price tag, this is not a replacement for a high-end AV receiver system. It’s something altogether different. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Theatre is its bass handling. This all-in-one slams like a battalion of subwoofers. It can drop seriously deep, and is capable of quite startling dynamics. Those two forward facing  6.5-inch woofers know how to pressure load a room.

But the bar is also capable of remarkable mid-range clarity. That center-mounted coaxial driver is beautifully articulate, not just with movie dialogue, which is always easy to follow no matter how busy the soundstage, but also music.

Stereo music sources can be upmixed to make full use of the expansive driver array, which is worth doing. With all cones at play, the soundstage is preternaturally wide and spacious. Significantly there’s no overt sweet spot – you won’t have to commandeer the prime spot on the sofa every time you want to listen to Tidal streams. Volume is prodigious too. There’s more than enough power on tap to pump the volume in a large listening space.

Of course, movies are the Beosound Theatre’s raison d'etre, and it doesn’t disappoint when the lights dim. The bar has a ball with Bond’s pirouetting Aston Martin from No Time to Die. The machine-gun headlights sound fast and fierce.

But blockbusters in particular reveal an Achilles' heel. The Beosound Theatre doesn’t offer a full 360 degree soundstage from Dolby Atmos sources. Even with those angled side speakers, there’s no sense of Dolby Atmos in the round. For that, you’ll really need to add additional rear speakers.

This isn’t a criticism particular to this B&O as all soundbars need to use additional speakers to convincingly deliver a full surround experience, and we're not knocking the B&O for not being able to break the laws of physics. We're judging it here as a one-box soundbar, not a surround system. But it still means that if you want this, you'd need to add more B&O speakers to your package.

What you're presented with from the bar alone, though, is a masterful sonic canvas that looms before you for games and music.

However, we found a curious issue with the accuracy of sound placement in games – they don't match what's on-screen as well as in movies. This will only really be an issue for serious shooter fans, and odds are those people will use a headset (or different screen) anyway, so we don't think it holds the Theatre back for 99% of its buyers.

  • Sound Quality score: 5/5

A close up of the grille design on the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre Dolby Atmos soundbar

The Beosound Theatre soundbar we're reviewing here features a slatted oak wood grille, but there are several other options to pick from, which vary in price. (Image credit: Future/TechRadar)

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Design

  • Iconic Scandi-style design
  • Multiple stand options
  • Weighs 18kg

It seems entirely appropriate that a flagship soundbar should take its design cues from a ship. B&O describes the soundbar’s shiny exterior as a hull, which rather cleverly disguises some of the bulk. Another cute design trick is the central TV mounting plate. This allows virtually any TV to be secured to the bar, effectively obscuring the rear 50 per cent of the build.

The Theatre can be partnered with any screen brand or size, most typically 55, 65 or 77 inches. Bang & Olufsen works closely with LG, and stylistically, that would be the TV of choice – perhaps the new lighterweight LG C3. The aluminium wings – which fix left and right, and can be changed to accommodate different screen sizes – are an inspired element.

The top of the bar is wrapped in acoustic fabric. The cheapest (!) finish extends this to the front grille. The Beosound Theatre soundbar I tested features a slatted oak wood grille. 

Behind the grille are 12 speaker drivers: two 6.5-inch woofers and that coaxial centre, which comprises a 1-inch tweeter mounted in front of a 5.25-inch midranger. There’s also two 3-inch mid-range drivers, four 2.5-inch drivers and two 1-inch tweeters. The total power output for this array is 800W; 100 watts power the two bass drivers, with 60W going to each of the remaining 10 drivers.

One unintended consequence of the touch glass control up top is that it’s highly reflective, and always reflects what’s on the screen above. Depending on your angle, this could be a small frustration.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Value

  • Impeccable build quality
  • High-end performance
  • Lacking some (niche) features

There’s no dodging that huge price tag, particularly if you go for the full Scandi finish. That said, the Beosound Theatre is a remarkable piece of kit that sounds fantastic.

Does it deliver a performance commensurate with its price? That’s more difficult to say. What you’re buying here is so much more than the noise it makes.

Industrial design is outstanding. There’s not a millimeter of spare space beneath the hood (which goes some way to explaining its weight), yet an insistence on modular construction means it can always be repaired or upgraded. This isn’t so much a soundbar as an heirloom, if B&O lives up to the promise there.

It also uniquely dovetails with the larger B&O ecosystem. Which means if you’ve already bought into the brand, there’s more aspects of control and integration that can be unlocked.

But it's disappointing that it lacks DTS:X, and that none of the three input ports for passthrough to the TV are HDMI 2.1 compliant – for this price, we don't expect to want for any established soundbar features.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

A close-up of the grille design on the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre Dolby Atmos soundbar

The Beosound Theatre looks unlike any other soundbar on the market and you can make it your own with a range of different finishes to choose from.  (Image credit: Future/TechRadar)

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Should I buy it?

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