We've seen oodles of soundbars and a heap of surround-sound speaker systems in our time, but this is the first time we've seen a soundbar with surround-sound speakers in the same kit. With the Radius HD, Monitor Audio has taken a bold new approach to the problem of reducing living room clutter by combining three speakers into one.
The soundbar is actually three, fully featured speakers. There are three sets of bindings on the back to grab sound for the left, right and centre channels. The idea is to provide a compact but high-quality sound, with minimal clutter. This will also appeal to people with wall-mounted TVs, as it can be fixed to the wall underneath.
The rear-channel speakers -- called Radius 45HD -- are tiny little cubes. The same high-quality gold speaker bindings are present here too. If you're a fan of epic volume, you'll be relieved to learn these speakers protect themselves from being over-driven, which should prevent you from damaging them with too much power.
All of the speakers are finished in a lovely piano black, which should work in any lounge with almost any AV system. They have a heft to them that implies quality and everything about them feels like it will last a long time. The bindings feel sturdy, and should conduct signals with minimal degradation.
We love the subwoofer, known as the 360HD. It weighs enough to drown a whale and has all the inputs and controls we've come to expect from a high-quality subwoofer. There's even a switch that toggles between music and movie settings, to tailor the response to those different types of input.
If you're interested, and you should be, the Radius 45HD satellite speakers cost around £160 a pair. The Radius 360HD subwoofer costs around £390. Finally, the centre and front stereo bar -- called the Radius one HD -- costs £450. A total of £1,000, for the mathematically challenged.
While this isn't the cheapest system, it does have the advantage that you can build it up over time. For example, you could just start with the soundbar, and add the surround speakers and subwoofer later. Likewise, once you've built the 5.1 system, you could add two more surrounds for full 7.1. We like flexibility, so this whole system really appeals to us.
The 'soundbar' element of the Monitor Audio system is really just an all-in-one centre speaker with left and right channels built in. This is a proper discrete system, rather than some 'virtual' surround-sound system.