3D not withstanding, it seems that the biggest boom in the home electronics market in recent years is the soundbar. Just about everybody makes one. And to be honest, they’re such simple contraptions that it’s hard to pick one over another. Connections are generally minimal, the feature set seems pretty well standardized, and let’s face it: the soundbar, despite its popularity, is always seen as second fiddle to a full-blown surround sound system.
So, really, what sets one soundbar apart from another? In the case of Tvee Model 25, at least, the answer is sound quality.
Stop making that face. It’s true: the Tvee 25 sounds good! As good as a roomful of GoldenEar speakers and an Anthem MRX 700 receiver? Well, no. A helluva lot better than your TV speakers, or a comparably priced ($350) sound system could ever hope to? You betcha! And with very little effort, to boot.
The Tvee 25 comes with a pretty standard complement of soundbar inputs: stereo RCA ins, as well as an optical input (with an included optical cable — a nice touch). The optical input is even tucked away within a little recess and positioned laterally, which keeps the cable out of the way (and un-crimped) should you decide to wall-mount the soundbar. If you’ve only got one source, such as a TiVo or other cable box, or maybe a Blu-ray player, setup involves no more than plugging said source into the back, making sure the wireless subwoofer and soundbar are on the same wireless channel (of which there are four, in case you want to install Tvee 25s throughout the house), and teaching the device the volume controls for your TV. (There’s no included remote, but you honestly don’t need one.)
If you’ve got two or more sources, it’s easy enough to run them through your TV, and connect its optical out to the Tvee 25 — just make sure you disable your TV’s speakers if you do so.
In faux-surround mode, the Tvee 25 packs ample punch, despite the minuscule size of its wireless subwoofer. But perhaps most impressive is its crystal-clear dialogue clarity. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the unit’s pair of 1-½ x 6-inch drivers does better justice to voices than many larger (and much more expensive) dedicated center channels that have come and gone from my secondary home theater system.
There’s also a dedicated music mode, which to my ears seems to disengage the surround processing and roll off the treble a little. And again, I don’t think you’ll find yourself saying, “Who needs a pair of B&W 802s when I’ve got this puppy!” But music is surprisingly enjoyable via the Tvee 25: rich and well-balanced in a way you wouldn’t expect it to be, so long as you don’t get too squirrelly with the volume controls.
If you’re really into listening to music, especially via your iPhone, you might want to take a look at upgrading to Boston Acoustics’ Tvee 30 model, which not only ups the driver count and power ratings, but also adds Bluetooth functionality for streaming music. But if movies and TV are your main concern, and you’re looking for a sweet-sounding little setup without the complications (and price) of a full-blown surround system, the Tvee 25 is a startling — and startlingly simple — little overachiever, perfect for apartment living, or for a bedroom AV system if you’ve already been spoiled by a dedicated surround sound setup in another room and just can’t bear to listen to the sound of your tinny TV speakers.