Adrian Justins is pleasantly surprised by Toshiba's budget soundbar and subwoofer combo
Dinkier than a corgi dog and looking less refined than a crate of raw sugar beet, in soundbar country the SBM1W is more Margate than Monte Carlo – and with just 40W of power, plus the 20W wired subwoofer, in home cinema terms the SB1MW is almost an irrelevance. But many of us have second screens that need a sonic supplement, a role well suited to the SBM1, especially as it manages to exceed expectations. For a start, unlike models costing twice as much (eg from Orbitsound and Samsung), it has both optical and coaxial digital inputs, making it well suited for hooking up, say, a screen and a Blu-ray deck. And, in addition to stereo phonos and a 3.5mm line-in, it can accept compressed audio wirelessly streamed over Bluetooth.
The bar can’t be wall-mounted but it does fit easily in front of most screens with a switch to compensate for off-centered positioning. Operation using the small remote or the basic onboard controls is slightly hampered by the lack of display and ambiguous nature of the status LED. There are four DSP modes to play with.
Performance is superior to regular built-in TV speakers and is consistently decent from all types of sources, including daytime TV, movies, music and sport. During the assault on the big tree in Avatar dialogue lacks a bit of detail, but the tonal balance is good, especially the integration with the subwoofer. Less cacophonous soundtracks have a pleasing clarity, although the soundfield is narrower than wider bars. This affects music more than TV and movies, when you’re more likely to sit off axis. Despite this, Toshiba's gizmo is worthy of your consideration.
Price: £150 Approx
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