Big Picture Big Sound

Pioneer Introduces New Powered Speaker Bar Designed by Andrew Jones

By Rachel Cericola

We've talked a lot about TV audio -- and how bad it can be. Despite those big, beautiful images, most HDTVs don't really sound all that great. An easy, compact fix can be found via a simple soundbar system.

Soundbars pack better audio into one or two pieces. Of course, this option can't really replace a full-blown speaker setup, but that doesn't mean there aren't manufacturers out there trying. The latest comes from Pioneer Electronics and legendary speaker engineer Andrew Jones. The company just announced the SP-SB23W Speaker Bar system, which boasts full-range sound from a small, attractive audio package.

Pioneer has certainly packed a lot of goodies inside this unit's composite wood curved cabinet. First up are the soundbar's six individual speakers, which includes four custom 3-inch woofers and two 1-inch soft dome tweeters. Each of the woofers has a vented pole piece for better bass, while the tweeters include a custom waveguide enclosure for better sensitivity and controlled dispersion of high frequencies.


It's also important to note that Pioneer has included six individual amplifiers to power each one of these drivers. Those certainly pack a nice punch, cranking out up to 28 watts of power each.

To add a little oomph into the room, the Speaker Bar comes with a matching wireless subwoofer, which has a 6.5-inch driver and a built-in 50-watt amplifier. If you want a little less oomph, Pioneer has made it easy to adjust the sub's output level, via the included remote.

Other features include Dolby Digital recording, an active crossover network, and built-in Bluetooth connectivity for wirelessly streaming music from a smartphone or tablet right to the soundbar. The Sound Bar even has three sound modes, so you can tweak for music, movies and dialogue.

Of course, it also looks very nice. The Sound Bar has a composite wood cabinet, which can resist unwanted resonance and has an RF molded curved enclosure that's made for reproducing the best audio possible.

"Pioneer created a similar speaker bar in the late 90's for conventional television sets and now we're building the best sounding speaker bar for today's flat panel televisions," said Chris Walker, director of AV marketing and product planning for Pioneer's home electronics division. "Unlike most offerings, the new Speaker Bar is made of composite wood, a far superior material that makes a significant difference when it comes to sound quality."

Pioneer will ship the Speaker Bar this fall with an optical cable and everything needed for wall mounting. The company has listed the product with an MSRP of $399.


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