|Ratings + Specs|
Power (soundbar/subwoofer combined):
The most expensive system in this group is the TVee Model 30. For $600, you expect something pretty nice, and this impressive-looking system doesn’t disappoint. It also has the biggest soundbar; maybe that’s good, and maybe that’s bad.
With the punched-metal grille removed, you can see that there are three speaker channels — left, center, and right. (The other soundbars in this group all contain just two speaker channels.) Each channel consists of a tweeter and midrange driver, and each has a dedicated port. A vertical column of control buttons is located on the far-right side. (Sorry, lefties.) Four LED indicators show the soundbar’s status. At this price point, I was surprised that there wasn’t an alphanumeric display; it’s a pain trying to remember the meaning of which color LED, and whether or not it is blinking.
Around back are analog stereo and optical digital inputs. (I was mightily surprised that the TVee Model 30 lacks HDMI jacks.) A switch selects one of three trim levels to adjust input sensitivity. Another selects one of four wireless channels. Yet another switch, labeled DSP Control, lets you optimize the soundbar’s output for either table or wall placement. A second analog input jack on the right side is convenient for plugging in a portable player. The soundbar has two large keyholes in back that allow for wall mounting, and when it’s installed this way, its two soft rubber feet can be removed.
Less visibly, the soundbar also offers Bluetooth connectivity; this makes it easy to input signals from an iPhone/iPad/touch or Android smartphone. The system can be switched between a Movie and a Music mode. Music mode is essentially stereo playback with a little center channel thrown in, while Movie punches up the center channel level, thus increasing dialogue intelligibility and increasing ambience. (There is no bypass mode available.)
Unlike the other systems in our group, the TVee Model 30 doesn’t come with a remote control. Instead, the soundbar is designed to learn the commands of one of your existing remotes. I guess that’s good, because it means one less remote in your coffee-table collection.
Although the system’s soundbar is the biggest in our group, its wireless subwoofer is among the smallest. The driver fires through a front-facing metal grille. On the back panel, there is a channel selector switch and a potentiometer for adjusting volume. The cabinet’s feet are packaged separately and can be applied to the cabinet for either horizontal or vertical orientation.
Long Road Out of Eden by the Eagles proved to be a good music choice to demonstrate the sonic strengths and weaknesses of these systems. Not surprisingly given its premium price, this system provided the best sound quality of the group by a wide margin. Reproduction was natural, transparent, and free of artifacts or any obvious distortion.
On “No More Cloudy Days,” the snare drum and cymbals were correctly crisp but not harsh. Lead and backup vocals sounded smooth as silk, with detailed reproduction of the reverberation. Likewise, guitars and keyboards were reproduced with lifelike presence, as was the saxophone solo.
The system’s subwoofer was wonderfully musical: On “Fast Company,” the floor toms and kick drum sounded big and round and had plenty of punch. Even better, a merging of lower and upper ranges on the soundbar and subwoofer avoided any hint of a gap. The system held together nicely at louder levels with minimal audible stress, although I sometimes found myself wishing the subwoofer had a bit more relative volume available.
The Bluetooth connection worked as advertised. And as with any Bluetooth connection, audio fidelity was good but not great.
I checked out several movies and ultimately picked Inception as my reference flick. When the street explodes in Chapter 3’s café scene, the various sound effects were cleanly conveyed. Moreover, the system imparted a terrific sense of ambience, with a sound field that encompassed the front of my room. Thededicated center channel speaker really paid off, providing highly intelligible dialogue throughout the film, especially when the Movie mode was selected.
If sound quality is your priority, and cost isn’t, then this Boston Acoustics system is the best of the bunch. There is no mistaking good sound, and this system provided it generously. Beyond its fidelity, the real perk of this system is its dedicated center channel. Particularly when it comes to movies, a 3.1 system such as this one will always be superior to a 2.1 system. Still, I was shocked by its lack of an HDMI or USB input and a front-panel display. It should also provide a way to control subwoofer level independently from a remote. At this price point, these are no-brainers. Bu, every system is built to a budget, and if I have to choose between fidelity and features, I’ll pick fidelity any day.