We’re well used to reading nonsensical product promotion around these parts, but claiming that buying the KitSound Ovation is somehow a tribute to Charlie Chaplin (as their website does) has to be one of the strangest and least appropriate.
The link between a soundbar and the greatest star of silent cinema is never explained: presumably because there is none.
The Ovation design isn’t much more impressive than the rhetoric. It’s short by soundbar standards, making it easy to find a home below or in front of your TV.
But it’s finished in the glossy-black plastic that used to adorn entry-level Samsung TVs a few years ago.
The input panel on the back seems equally cheap looking, but it does have HDMI connections alongside the optical and aux-in inputs – a rare treat at this price.
There’s Bluetooth for your portable music too.
A word of warning on placement: unlike the identically-priced Pioneer SBX-300, the Ovation doesn’t have feet that raise it above your TV’s pedestal stand or an IR repeater to ensure remote commands still reach your flatscreen.
Neither are real problems of course, but worth bearing in mind.
More after the break
The big question is whether the Ovation sounds better than your TV? It does; miles better.
The HDMI output isn’t ARC-compatible so you need to connect your display via optical if you have it, or stereo analogue if you haven’t.
Compared to weedy flatscreen drivers this is expansive, weighty, clear and capable of far greater volume.
Voices are projected so that you should never again miss vital dialogue and there’s enough punch to give movie explosions expression.
There are three equalizer options: Music, Movie and Night. We recommend leaving it at the first of those – Movie adds some nasty processing while doing nothing to enhance film sound, and the Ovation is unlikely to ever produce the neighbour-annoying volume that would really necessitate the Night mode.
The Ovation is more powerful than TV speakers, but it’s still dynamically pretty flat compared to other soundbars and soundbases.
Your programmes and movies are louder and weightier, but they’re not much more dramatic.
The KitSound should be judged on what your expectations are: if you want to boost your TV’s sound while spending as little as possible, this will serve you well.
It’s also a better option than the identically priced but weedier-sounding Pioneer SBX-300. But if you are in any way serious about sound quality, it’s worth spending a little bit more and going for the Philips HTL5120 (£250).
You’ll appreciate it much more in the long run.