I consider myself a bit of an audiophile, but in the words of Krusty the Clown, “I’m a lazy, lazy man,” so the ease of installation and use of a good sound bar is hard to resist.
In addition to being a lazy, lazy man, I also rent a tiny apartment, and landlords don’t take kindly to people drilling holes in their walls anyway. When I saw Toshiba’s Mini 3D Sound Bar at IFA in Berlin, I immediately set out to get one.
As a bonus, the Toshiba Mini 3D Sound Bar uses Sonic Emotion 3D sound. I’m a big fan of the technology, and it was in the last sound bar I reviewed, a really nice piece of equipment from AudioSource. But to be honest, the AudioSource sound bar just sat on my floor the whole time I had it. I couldn’t mount it on the wall, and it was too tall to sit on the TV stand. To recap: great sound bar, but not perfect for my setup, and convenient set up is the reason you get a sound bar
I plopped the sound bar down in front of my TV on the stand, connected my red and white RCA cable to the back of the sound bar, connected the other end into the TV, and plugged in the sound bar. The subwoofer doesn’t need its own power source, there’s just one cable connecting it to the sound bar. The subwoofer is bigger, but it’s easy to tuck it away on the floor. It’s just a solid black cube with rounded edges. And that’s it. So long crappy built-in TV speakers!
The Sonic Emotion 3D sound is great. There’s a button on the remote that you can use to turn the 3D sound processing on and off. Turn 3D sound off, and it sounds like a junky computer speaker is shooting sound straight ahead. Turn 3D sound on, and you can almost see the sound waves widening to the length of the TV. I don’t know why you would ever turn 3D off, but it’s a fun little exercise. Sonic Emotion 3D sound creates what they call a sound field, meaning you can move around the room and still get the balanced surround sound effect, because there is no one “sweet spot.”
On the back you’ve got an optical connection, coaxial, aux in, and line in, so you can connect the sound barin a variety of ways. But my favorite feature of all is the Bluetooth connectivity. Press the Bluetooth button once on the middle of the remote, and the single light on the sound bar turns from green to blue. I opened Bluetooth on my phone and connected to the sound bar, and my music was playing and sounding brilliant within moments.
There are three audio modes on the remote — movie, music, and game — each offering a slightly different mix. To my ear it sounds like movie mode, which gives you less bass and clearer dialogue, is the base setting. Music mode turns up the bass a little for a fuller, more robost sound, perfect for rock tunes especially, and game mode really blasts the bass for that extra oomph when the baddies are gunning for you. The system says it delivers a total peak power of 90 watts, and when you crank it up just a little bit on any mode, you get a nice boost of bass, while voices remain clear.
The only drawback I can think of is that I wasn’t able to program my Comcast remote to work with it. Perhaps a code is coming, but as of writing this, I couldn’t find it. I had to use the small remote to raise or lower the volume. Not the worst thing in the world, but the tiny remote kept getting lost in the couch. If you already have an inexpensive universal remote, this shouldn’t be a problem. (I’ll share another moment of brutal honesty, and hopefully my editor Dennis Burger won’t read this part — I rubber banded it to my Comcast remote. It fit nicely in the groove above the battery case. I don’t mind, and problem solved.) [Editor's note: we seriously need to get you a real remote control--dB]
I said the Bluetooth was my favorite feature, but the best part of the whole deal is the price: $179.99. You could easily pay that amount for any Bluetooth speaker, but how many of those are made to produce home theater quality audio for your TV? I don’t know of any. And Sonic Emotion 3D sound is a real performance booster that takes this unit above, beyond, and around your basic sound bar.
Pick one up immediately when it hits stores this fall and give it to anyone you know who is still using their built-in TV speakers. That goes double for your college students, apartment-dwellers, and general technophobes. Give the gift of audio in a form that anyone can use.