The "soundbar" business must be booming, or at least manufacturers are banking on it doing so, as just about everyone has come out with one if not several offerings. The gambit seems logical: jam a bunch of audio transducers into an enclosure which tucks in under the typical display panel, usually with a separate small subwoofer, offering better-than-built-in sound. Onkyo is a big name in consumer AV, best known perhaps for their much lauded Surround Sound Receivers. The subject of the current review is their latest take on this mass market soundbar segment: The LS-B50, part of their "EnvisionCinema" line of products.
Don't you often wonder why expensive televisions are sold with speakers that sound like they're made of tissue paper and powered by a cell phone? No matter what the price of the set, it always seems that sound quality receives little of the design budget. This results in predictable audio quality – tinny, prone to distortion, and adequate only for the most basic of dialogue. The good news is that there ARE alternatives! Pinnacle Speakers offers an array of high quality powered sound bars, surround speakers, subwoofers, and in-wall/in-ceiling speakers that can bring your television's sound to life!
When I was asked to review the Atlantic Technology PB-235 Powered Soundbar, I jumped at the chance since this would be a new product category for me. I had never spent any length of time auditioning such a unit either for professional or personal use. It wasn't for lack of desire; rather, I just wasn't ever in the market nor asked to review one. This product category has grown in recent years as more and more companies have jumped into the arena. I was excited to see how Atlantic Technology's offering would fare, considering how good their home theater speakers are (I reviewed the 8200e system a few years ago). So when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it.
There is no question that soundbars are a "hot item" for home theater enthusiasts. The soundbar category grew a whopping 68% over all of 2012, with a monumental surge in Q4 2012 alone. Unit sales for Q4 versus Q3 were up 158%, even better, the category of soundbars with a companion subwoofer increased 126% in 2012 versus the prior year. This according a new report from Quixel Research. I can't think of any major speaker manufacturer that does not offer at least one soundbar in their line up.