An affordable, versatile system that will change the way you think about soundbars.
SuperCinema 3D Array ($999)
+ (6) 4.5-in mid-bass drivers; (3) HFVr folded ribbon tweeters; 49 x 4.75 x 2.75 in; 20 lb
+ (2) 4.5-in mid/bass drivers; HFVr folded ribbon tweeter; 12 x 4.75 x 2.75 in; 5 lb
ForceField 3 ($500)
+ 8-in woofer and 9.6 x 11.4-in passive radiator; 1,000-watt class D amplifier; sub/LFe input; speaker-level inputs and outputs; wireless adapter input; crossover and volume level controls; auto on/off; 11.4 x 15.75 x 11.5 in; 26 lb
Say what you want about soundbars, but the category counts as one of the more active areas of speaker design. Sure, many products pumped out over the last few years are low-end ones designed to be sold as accessories for flat-panel TVs. But plenty of serious speaker companies have also gotten into the game, and the performance of the resulting products, while not yet at a level to make audiophiles toss out their tower speakers en masse, has proven more than sufficient for casual home theater use, as well as for background music listening.
One brand that recently muscled its way onto the scene is GoldenEar Technology, which debuted its new SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. The company’s demo created something of a buzz, not because of anything particularly new about the soundbar’s design — the SC3DA is for the most part a basic, passive model containing left, center, and right speakers that’s meant to be hooked up to an external amplifier — but because GoldenEar principal Sandy Gross chose to demo it using stereo music instead of the over-the-top action movie clips that many companies use to show off their soundbars. It could not be denied: Music played over the SC3DA sounded really good. I wanted to hear more.
One thing that’s not so basic about the SC3DA is its use of an interaural crosstalk cancellation circuit (GoldenEar calls it “3D Array technology”) to broaden the sound field. What happens inside the SC3DA is that drivers located at the bar’s outer edges emit inverted L/R “cancellation signals” covering the 100- to 8,000- Hz range that serve to minimize the bleeding of sound from the right-channel drivers to your left ear and vice versa. The result: improved imaging and focus and expanded soundstage width.
Beyond that, the SC3DA houses its 3-channel array of mid-bass drivers and HFVR “folded ribbon” tweeters — the same type found throughout the company’s speaker line — in a 2.9-inch-deep, 49-inch-wide slab of extruded aluminum coated with a gloss-black finish. A black mesh speaker grille is affixed to the soundbar’s front panel via magnets. You shouldn’t feel any need to remove this, though, since the company voiced the SC3DA for grille-on playback.
GoldenEar packages the SC3DA with its ForceField 3 subwoofer and a pair of SuperSat 3 speakers (for surrounds) as the 3D Array Ultra High-Performance SoundBar System. The subwoofer (its trapezoidal shape reminds me of a Chunky candy bar) houses an 8-inch driver powered by a 1,000-watt Class D amp and includes a 9.6 x 11.4-inch “quadratic infrasonic” passive radiator. It also sports a set of soft, oversize feet that serve to couple it firmly against a hard floor, and to also provide ample clearance between the floor and the sub’s downfiring passive radiator.
The SuperSat 3, which has a similarly curved cabinet and the same 2.7-inch depth as the SuperCinema 3D Array, sports a pair of 4.5-inch mid-bass drivers and a slightly larger version of the HFVR tweeter than the one used in the soundbar. The matching $149/pair stands that GoldenEar makes for the SuperSat 3s measure in at 46 inches high — enough elevation to let the speakers serve for surround-channel use in situations where wall mounting isn’t an option.
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