Editors' note: The rating of the Boston Acoustics TVee Model Two has been changed since publication to better reflect its value compared to competing home theater systems.
It may be blasphemy in the home-theater world, but the fact is that the large majority of people will never get a surround speaker system. And even those who have a decent stereo system usually won't connect it to their video equipment. That leaves most people listening to all of their video-based devices (DVD players, cable/satellite boxes, game consoles, and the like) through the TV's speakers--which are rarely notable for their high fidelity, loudness, or dynamic range. It's no surprise, then, that a cottage industry has sprung up for dedicated TV speakers. Following in the successful footsteps of a trio of Zvox models is the Boston Acoustics TVee Model Two ($400).
Boston, of course, is no stranger to high-end sound, but the Model Two isn't designed as a home theater in a box or an iPod speaker or virtual surround speaker system. No, the TVee Model Two's mission is to simply produce better TV sound. And thanks to the system's wireless subwoofer, it sounds bigger and weightier than we thought it would. Yes, you still have to plug the wireless sub into an AC wall outlet, but that's the extent of its wiring requirements. The soundbar hooks up to your cable box or directly to your TV's audio outputs. The TVee's prime directive is simplicity and it succeeds on that front.
As stated, the Model Two is a two-part system--speaker "soundbar" and a small wireless subwoofer. The product is available in two colors: midnight with onyx grille (otherwise known as gray/black) and mist with silver grille (iPod-style white/silver). Boston also offers six additional optional color grilles to "customize" the look of your TVee. The slender soundbar is one of the more unobtrusive single-speaker sound systems we've seen. It's 31 inches wide, 3.75 inches high, and 4 inches deep, so it will look great partnered with most flat-panel displays.
The review sample's grey plastic cabinet feels sturdy, and the backside's keyhole slots facilitate wall mounting. The front top edge of the speaker has Power, Mute, and volume Up/Down buttons; a small green LED flashes as you raise or lower the volume (though there's no visual indication of the volume level). The speaker doesn't come with a remote control, but it can be programmed to work with your TV or cable box's remote, as well as any standard universal remote control. Don't worry, programming the device to work with another remote is a snap to set up and took us under 5 minutes. We used a Samsung TV's remote to control the TVee Model Two's volume.
When we removed the grille, we spotted four 2.5-inch midrange drivers and two 0.5-inch tweeters spaced at the ends of the speaker. The subwoofer has a down-firing 6-inch woofer and the total system power is specified at 100 watts.
Your connectivity options are limited to a pair of analog RCA stereo inputs on the backside of the speaker, keeping in line with the idea that this is strictly an external TV speaker. You can connect a single device--such as a cable box--to the single audio input, or--if your TV has multiple audio inputs and a line level output, you can connect the Boston's input to the TV's audio output, so it will substitute for the television's internal speakers no matter which attached device you're watching. Otherwise, you'll need a switcher of some sort, such as an AV receiver.