We’ve been saying it for years – flatscreens don’t sound that good; hence the recent influx of soundbars (and now their sister devices, soundbases).
And now manufacturers are beginning to produce better-performing, fuller-featured and nicer-sounding devices. But that’s not the case with the Pioneer SBX-300, which isn’t a patch on its rivals – even at the wallet-friendly price of £150.
This is a shame, because the SBX-300 is a well-designed soundbar.
There are feet at either end of the base that raises the body so it can neatly straddle your TV’s pedestal stand – and if they don’t offer enough clearance, there are simple, easily-attached extensions included in the box.
There’s also a bundled IR repeater to relay your TV remote’s commands if its sensor is blocked and you will find two slots in the back too, so that wall mounting is simple: stick two screws in your wall and hook the soundbar on.
The SBX-300 doesn’t have any HDMI connections, but most buyers will be perfectly happy with the two optical, one coaxial and single 3.5mm analogue inputs that are neatly tucked into a recess on the back.
When we turned the SBX-300 on, it’s louder, fuller-bodied, more spacious and clearer – so what’s not to like?
You’ll soon discover its lack of weight and a zingy treble; the latter is a slightly annoying effect.
Even with the Subwoofer at the maximum, there’s a distinct lack of weight and depth to sound.
Then there’s the sibilant treble, which has an annoying hardness.
You won’t notice this so much with movies, but get the right – or perhaps more aptly “wrong” – track and you will hear the cymbals stick out to completely ruin the overall delivery.
Movies and TV are the primary purpose of a device such as the Pioneer, but Bluetooth onboard means that music should be part of its scope too – but it simply doesn’t sound good enough.
The lack of weight from the SBX-300 remains an issue when testing movies, although the spaciousness it delivers makes for a pleasingly immersive experience.
Dialogue is projected clearly, and there is enough punch and dynamics meaning your films are always easy to follow and engaging.
Avoid the Surround mode, however – it adds poor, audible processing that fails to make the soundstage any more expansive.
Are we being hard on the Pioneer? Sure we are – here’s a device that offers to improve your TV’s sound for just £150 and it does just that, but the quality of the competition means it isn’t enough.