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Sandstrom S42SWLH13 review

A great-looking soundbar with plenty of connections and a decent sonic performance Tested at £150

Our Verdict

A great-looking soundbar with plenty of connections and a decent sonic performance

For

  • Prominent speech
  • Decent integtation
  • Decent authority
  • Lovely design
  • Wealth of connections

Against

  • Slightly hard treble
  • Tubby bass

You may not have heard of Sandstrøm before. Supposedly pronounced ‘sand-streum’, it is a recent brand belonging to the Dixons retail group, sold exclusively at Currys and PC World.

The brand appears to aim at Scandinavian-inspired design and any sense of exoticism that might evoke.

Design

The snappily named S42SWLH13 (we can’t help but think that something like ‘Stång’ would sound better) is the first system we’ve received from the brand.

We’re not sure quite how Scandinavian the design is, but it sure looks lovely. We’re used to blocky behemoths of soundbars that at best look acceptable.

This one, on the other hand, looks nice enough that we might actually want to show it off. The bar is sleek, tapering gently from its centre with barely a right angle in sight.

Its drivers are on full display, with silver rings contrasting nicely with the glossy black bodywork.

The whole thing sits atop a silver stand, which can be removed should you prefer to wall-mount the unit. Even the wireless external subwoofer and hand-sized remote control unit have nicely smoothed edges.

Connectivity

It’s a strong first impression, then. And we’re even more impressed when we peek behind the unit to find a veritable smorgasbord of connections.

We would expect a £150 soundbar to have three inputs at most. Not here.

There are six hard-wire inputs: analogue stereo, 3.5mm, optical and coaxial digital and two HDMI. You even get an HDMI output.

There’s also Bluetooth streaming for wireless music and – the cherry on top – near-field communication (NFC) for easy pairing.

The only issue here is that the connectors all point down, which makes plugging in more than a little fiddly if your cables aren’t particularly flexible.

To assist with this, an L-shaped HDMI connector is included in the box.

Sound

When we get things up and running, the Sandstrøm’s performance is decent for the money. It’s tonally balanced enough to allow detail at the top, solidity in the midrange and authority at the bottom.

Speech is prominent and well- defined, and the integration between soundbar and subwoofer is decent.

The bad news: the treble is a little hard, provoked without great difficulty by clashing swords or shattering glass; the bass could do with more definition; and the sense of scale isn’t the greatest we’ve heard – although it’s definitely wider than the sound of your telly.

Overall, though, we’re fairly satisfied with the sound this unit produces. It’s not a class-leading performance, but it’s certainly capable enough for the money, as long as you don’t expect cinema-quality sound.

Verdict

Our first experience with a Sandstrøm system is a happy one. Any flaws are outweighed by plenty of advantages.

Cheap, cheerful, stylish and seriously well connected, the S42SWLH13 offers very good value for money.

MORE: Best soundbars to buy in 2014

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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