Over the past few years, soundbars (aka, surround-sound bars) have become popular devices for delivering sound in the home. They are wide, but only a few centimetres tall and deep. Their usefulness is clear: with modern panel TVs, they fit in both visually and physically.
And, of course, they sound much better than any TV's built-in speakers.
One such is the Boston Acoustics TVee 26. This deals with one of the major problems with soundbars: weakness in the bass. It comes with a compact subwoofer that connects wirelessly to the bar in the 2.4GHz radio spectrum.
This unit operates in stereo and surround modes. The latter applies digital processing to the sound to give it the sense of surround sound.
The soundbar has amplifiers built in for its two 51x127mm speakers (they are shaped like rectangles with round ends). The company labels these HHRT drivers, which stands for Hyperbolic High Rigidity Transducer. Presumably, the shape of the cones is designed to allow the drivers to withstand the accelerations involved in sound reproduction in order to reduce distortion.
The subwoofer is a very lightweight unit, bass-reflex loaded, with its smallish 165mm driver firing downwards. There are no input sockets, so it relies entirely upon its wireless connection to the soundbar.
A simple credit card-sized remote is provided, but you can readily train the unit to respond to a different remote control, such as your TV's. Many modern TVs allow you to switch off their internal speakers in a menu, so their remotes' volume controls can control the soundbar instead.
There are three inputs to the soundbar: two 3.5mm analogue inputs and one optical digital audio input. All are on the back, so you may want to leave the supplied 3.5mm cable plugged in for convenient use with your MP3 player.
The subwoofer and soundbar performed their handshake and connection within seconds after being switched on, requiring no intervention. If they do lose their connection, pairing buttons on both units allow it to be re-established.
Generally, you will use the optical input with a modern TV. Plug your Blu-ray player into the TV, and the TV into this unit's optical input. This input didn't support DTS, but it worked with both Dolby Digital (including the 5.1-channel version) and PCM. Indeed, it worked with 96kHz, 24-bit PCM, although we doubt you're going to realise a noticeable improvement in sound quality from that.