Pioneer SBX-N700 Network AV soundbar review:

Pioneer SBX-N700 Network AV soundbar

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Typical Price: $599.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Astonishing level of media support. Solid bass. Useful on-screen display.

The Bad Sound quality could be slight better for the price. Sub-woofer default quite loud.

The Bottom Line The Pioneer SBX-N700 provides solid sound quality, extraordinary network capabilities and Bluetooth support, all at a very attractive price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.9 Overall

Pioneer's SBX-N700 is, despite the fairly low price, the company's top of the line model in this field. It takes the wise course of providing both soundbar and subwoofer, which of course connect wirelessly (indeed, they are pre-paired). There's also a surprisingly well endowed remote control.

The soundbar has four speaker drivers: a pair of 66mm midrange tweeters firing forwards and two 77mm midrange woofers firing downwards. Or do they? We'll see about that later.

As it comes you can install the unit on a wall using the keyhole slots at the back, or just mount it in front of your TV on the entertainment unit.

The subwoofer has a 165mm driver with a surprising 150 watts to drive it.

Now here's where things get interesting. The unit has a HDMI output, but no HDMI inputs. It has two optical digital audio inputs at the back, and an analogue stereo 3.5mm input and USB socket on the front. Between these is an alphanumeric display. There are two other connections at the back: Ethernet and an output for an infrared remote control repeater, which is included with the unit. Actually, there are two IR repeaters built into the back as well, so if the unit is blocking your TV's IR receiver, then these will probably do the trick. But you can use the plug-in one if that doesn't work. Or feed it to a Blu-ray player hidden away in the entertainment unit.

The Ethernet socket may not be required in your home because it also supports WiFi. And WiFi direct in case you want to feed something from your WiFi device but lack the necessary network. And Miracast, so that many modern Android phones can feed HD video and audio to the unit.

Did I miss anything? Oh, of course, the unit also supports Bluetooth. Only one device at a time, but that device need not be a music source — it can also be Bluetooth speakers or headphones. The latter would be useful for nighttime listening.

The purpose of the HDMI output is two-fold. First, because it is Audio Return Channel enabled, it also acts as an input for sound from the TV. Second, it allows your TV to show the unit's full-function, nicely-styled on screen display.

Note, you will need a TV with two HDMI inputs if you want to use a Blu-ray player or some such, three if you want to add a games console, and so on. Without a HDMI input on this unit, it can't pass through video from a different source.

(Credit: Pioneer)

In Use

My goodness, sometimes it's hard not to be dazzled by a proliferation of functions into inappropriate judgements. This unit is loaded with functions, just about all of them being things that I think are both valuable and quite astonishing in a AU$600 system.

We will get to the basic function of this unit — as a decent reproducer of sound for your TV — shortly. But first let us check out those features.

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