Canton CD 90 SB review: Canton CD 90 SB

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Sleek 40-inch-wide sound bar speaker complements flat screen displays; contains left, center, and right two-way speakers; sounds good even on music; wall-mount bracket included; can be used without a subwoofer.

The Bad You still need to buy an AV receiver; strictly left-, center-, right-channel sound; not even a hint of room-filling surround.

The Bottom Line Canton's unique three-channel CD 90 SB sound bar combines good looks with above-average sound quality for music and movies.

Editors' Top Picks

Everyone likes surround sound, but everyone also hates the extra wires and speakers required in a typical home theater system. That's where the niche of sound bars come in, promising faux-surround sound from just a single long speaker. Yes, the claims are too good to be true, but for many people it's good enough.

Canton's new CD 90 SB ($650 suggested retail price) is a different kind of sound bar. At first glance the sleek design doesn't look so different than sound bars from Polk, Definitive Technology, or Zvox, but the CD 90 SB is, essentially, a three-channel speaker. Canton doesn't claim it's any sort of single-speaker surround system. Peek through the perforated metal grille and you'll see the CD 90 SB's left, center, and right speakers arrayed across its front baffle. And unlike most single-speaker surround systems, the CD 90 SB isn't self-powered, so you have to hook it up to an AV receiver. That may be one of the reasons this Canton sounds better than your average sound bar, and it's right up there with the very best sounding ones for music.

Design and features
We liked the CD 90 SB's clean design. It's a sleek 39.9-inch-long bar, coming in at 3.5 inches high and just under 4 inches deep. It's available in silver or black brushed aluminum, with matching perforated metal grilles. The CD 90 SB comes with a metal wall mount bracket and small rubber pads for buyers who prefer shelf mounting. The rubber pads are better than nothing, but we would have preferred a more substantial cradle, like the ones included on the Polk Audio SurroundBar 360.


The included wall mount makes it easy to stick under a wall-mounted HDTV, but remember you'll still need to run speaker wire to it.

Fit and finish standards are high, and the extruded aluminum cabinet feels remarkably inert. The Canton CD 90 SB contains three--Left, Center, and Right--speaker channels, internally isolated from each other. All three speakers are two-way designs; the left and right channels each use a 0.5-inch aluminum dome tweeter and a 3-inch aluminum woofer; the center channel section features two 3-inch aluminum woofers flanking a single 0.5-inch tweeter. The speaker's backside is fitted with three pairs of all-metal spring connectors that accept bare wire ends, or wires terminated with pins or spades; banana plugs won't fit. As much as we liked the exterior design, we found the recessed speaker connector frustrating to deal with.


The recessed spring connectors don't work with banana plugs and can be difficult to work with.

Our review sample didn't come with an owner's manual, just a small sheet that listed the CD 90 SB's specifications. That's unfortunate, as we expect that a product this expensive should at least have some basic setup and usage guidelines. Lacking setup information, we plunged ahead, experimenting by treating the speakers as either "Large" and "Small" in our receiver's setup menus. For "Small," we set the Denon AVR 1909's bass management's subwoofer crossover at 80Hz and also 100Hz. But we preferred the CD 90 SB's sound when we treated it as a "Large" speaker, so that's how we listened to the speaker. (A passive filter circuit blocks unwanted low-frequency signals that might otherwise damage the CD 90 SB's drivers or produce distortion.)

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Color silver
  • Speaker System Type Audio bar
  • Speaker Type Sound bar
  • Amplification Type passive
  • Connectivity Technology wired
  • Crossover Channel Qty 2-way
  • Sensitivity 85 dB
About The Author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.