One of the best-looking models around, but is there more here than flash styling? Yes, actually
Roth is a soundbase debutante, and takes to the stage with the impressively-specced Neo 6.2 SoundCore. The name’s a bit of a mouthful but those numbers relate to the number of speaker drivers on board – six full-rangers and two downward-firing subs.
Roth has livened up the soundbase design with a snazzy silver finish that forms a striking contrast with the black cloth grille. It has a faintly retro feel that I rather like. An all-black version is available if that’s a better match for your TV. A silver strip on the corner plays host to standby, source and volume keys.
Annoyingly there’s no LED readout on the front, just a small light that glows different colours and blinks whenever you adjust volume. It’s barely visible from the sofa and doesn’t make life easy when you want to tweak the bass and treble.
At 93mm high, this is a sizable proposition. Yet it feels supremely sturdy, too, happily supporting my 55in TV. Roth says it's designed to accommodate screens from 32in to 60in.
The SoundCore excels when it comes to connectivity. The rear panel plays host to four HDMI inputs, the most I've ever seen on a soundbase speaker, and one ARC-compatible output. They passthrough 3D and 4K signals, too, making this an ideal switcher for your home cinema kit.
If you’d rather use your TV as the hub, you can hook it up to the Roth’s optical input or use the ARC connection. And with coaxial, analogue phono and 3.5mm minijack inputs, adding other source equipment is simple. There’s even a subwoofer output should you wish to bolster the bass performance.
On the wireless side you’ll find Bluetooth with CD-quality aptX streaming and NFC one-touch pairing of Android devices.
The six full-range drivers are supplied with 10W each, while the subs get 20W. Audio jiggery pokery comes courtesy of Sonic Emotion processing, which creates a ‘3D sound image’. This comes in three flavours – Music, Movie and News.
Too many soundbases throw cheap, nasty bubble-button remotes in the box, but not Roth. It’s gone all-out on a slender, weighty zapper with a brushed silver finish and chunky, clearly-labelled rubber buttons. Nice.
So far so good, but the Roth is a bit of a mixed bag sonically. On the positive side, it delivers a lively, attacking sound that brings the breathless action fare of Pacific Rim to life. Monster claws rip into metal with a forceful crunch and the sound of toppling buildings is rich and forceful. Thankfully it plays these sounds without making you wince, only straining when you push the volume beyond sensible listening levels.
Dialogue has no trouble fighting its way through the cacophony and the SoundCore's full-range drivers dig out more detail than I was expecting – although the lack of dedicated tweeters ultimately means it’s not quite as insightful as the Canton DM 75. The Movie flavour of the Roth's Sonic Emotion processing is worth activating. I found it brought an open feel to the soundstage, moving effects with greater width and making everything sound fuller.
We’d be toasting a major triumph right about now but for one crucial drawback – an underwhelming bass output. Although the sound of the Roth is deeper and punchier than practically every TV on the market, the built-in woofers don’t quite hit the spot when playing the bass-heavy battle scenes of the Guillermo del Toro sci-fi. The stomping footsteps and big explosions lack depth and impact compared with other 'bases we’ve looked at.
The result is a slightly unbalanced sound, where mids and treble are too prominent. You can try levelling it up with the tone controls but even with bass on full whack there still isn’t enough weight to truly satisfy.
It’s worth noting, however, that Roth deliberately tuned the Neo in this way to avoid booming and bass fatigue, while endowing it with a subwoofer output to pacify bass fiends. But given that the whole point of a soundbase is to boost TV sound without extra cost and clutter, we doubt many buyers will be keen to exercise this option.
On the plus side, having been tuned for 24/7 listening, the Roth works a treat with TV material, bringing extra presence to everything from the news to football matches.
The Neo is a valiant effort from Roth, offering a stylish design, loads of sockets and generous features, but unless you’re willing to add a subwoofer you might find its audio performance somewhat underwhelming.
Roth Neo 6.2 SoundCore
Price: £350 Approx
Highs: Attractive silver design; four HDMI inputs; lots of features; loud, lively sound with good detail; luxurious remote
Lows: Not enough bass extension; no front LED display
Drive units: 6 x full-range; 2 x subwoofers
Connections: 4 x HDMI inputs; HDMI output (ARC); optical digital input; coaxial digital input; analogue stereo input; 3.5mm minijack input; subwoofer output
Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD MA: No/No
Separate sub: No
Remote control: Yes
650(w) x 350(h) x 93(d)mm
Features: Bluetooth with aptX; NFC device pairing; Sonic Emotion 3D DSP; Music, Movie and News presets; 3D and 4K passthrough
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