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Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25 review: Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25
6.4

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25

The Good

The <b>Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25</b> sound bar has better-than-average sonics with a petite wireless subwoofer that won't dominate the living room. It's easy to mount on a wall and it includes a minijack input for making a quick connection to a smartphone or other portable gadget.

The Bad

The TVee Model 25's styling is on the boring side, even if you like an understated look. It also doesn't include a remote control, so you'll need a TV remote to control it, which doesn't always work smoothly. The Model 25's relatively tall height can also block your TV's remote sensor if you don't plan on wall-mounting it. And the $350 street price is hard to justify when many solid options are available for $100 less.

The Bottom Line

The Boston Acoustic TVee Model 25 is a competent, but unexceptional, sound bar with some design flaws that make it not quite worth its premium price tag.

When Boston Acoustics first came out with its TVee line of sound bars, its modest pricing and focus on simplicity were a welcome addition to a market filled with overpriced models. A few generations later, the TVee Model 25 faces a much different set of competitors: tons of cheap sound bars that are good enough if you just want something that sounds better than your TV. That's essentially the rub with the TVee Model 25, which is an all-around decent sound bar with better-than-average sound quality (and some design flaws), but its $350 street price seems out of sync with the market. If you find it at a discount, the Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25 offers up pretty solid sonics for its size; otherwise you'll get a better value elsewhere.

Design: Just a basic gray sound bar
We don't need a sound bar to wow us with its style, but the TVee Model 25 is bland even to our taste. It's unexciting in just about every respect, from its matte gray finish to the close-to-cubical subwoofer. The only thing that stands out is that the front panel is relatively tall and thin, extending beyond the rectangular base behind it. That might be a nifty look if you're planning on wall-mounting the Model 25, but if you're placing it in front of a TV, that extra height (it's 4.44 inches tall) may end up blocking your TV's remote control sensor. It's worth breaking out a ruler to see if this would be a problem with your TV.

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25 side view
The flared front panel of the TVee Model 25 might look cool, but it makes it more likely to block your TV's remote sensor.

The front panel also has a row of buttons on its right side for controlling the TVee Model 25 when the remote goes missing. You'll notice there's no display on the front panel, so you won't get much visual feedback as you make adjustments. That's too bad, as most sound bars have finally started including front-panel displays for volume and input selection.

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25 side view
Keyhole slots on the back of the TVee Model 25 make it easy to wall-mount.

If you're going to wall-mount TVee Model 25, there are keyhole slots on its rear panel. There's also a "location" switch on the back that you'll need to set to Wall or Table to optimize the speakers' equalization for either placement scenario.

For connectivity it has a stereo analog input, minijack input, and optical digital audio input on the rear panel. That's not much, so plan on connecting your gear directly to your TV and connecting the TV's audio output to the sound bar. You'll be using your TV to switch between devices and you'll only have one cable running to the sound bar.

Setup: Supply your own remote
The TVee Model 25 system doesn't need speaker calibration, but since it doesn't come with a remote, you'll need to program your TV's remote to control the sound bar. You'll need to go through the same tedious process to program volume up/down, mute, input selection, music/movie surround modes, and power on/off. It's a hassle, but we got all of the functions working.

You'll also have to explore your TV's setup menus to turn off its internal speakers, although that can reveal the drawback of using a TV's remote codes to program the TVee Model 25. Some HDTVs will display a message like "TV speaker disabled" every time you adjust the volume on the TVee Model 25. You can't blame HDTV manufacturers for the error code (it's useful feedback if you're pressing volume up and wondering why the volume isn't changing), but it's a very annoying problem for sound bars without remotes. The Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25 isn't the only sound bar with this problem, but you should be aware of the flaw before purchasing.

You'll also need to pair the wireless subwoofer by selecting the same wireless ID number (1, 2, 3, or 4) on the sub and sound bar. The sub has its own volume control knob on its rear panel, which permits finer tuning of the sub and sound bar bass balance than systems with just a few subwoofer volume settings. That's nice, but it also means you can't adjust the subwoofer from the remote, which is nice if you like to make adjustments on the fly. We recommend placing the sub within 4 or 5 feet of the sound bar to get the best possible sound.

Performance
The TVee Model 25 didn't need any fine-tuning, so right from the start movies sounded spacious, dialogue was clear, and there was a satisfyingly rich tonal balance. The subwoofer may not be the sort that'll shake the foundation of your house, but we were impressed with how well it blended with the sound bar.

The lush orchestrations on Yes' "Symphonic Live" Blu-ray sounded sweet, and were nicely integrated with the music of vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, and guitarist Steve Howe. The TVee Model 25 sound bar is strictly a two-channel speaker, but we found the Movie mode created a large, wide-open soundstage. Once we were involved in watching the concert it was easy to forget we were listening to a sound bar system. It was more like a small hi-fi.

Action-heavy films with lots of soft-to-loud dynamics sounded mildly compressed, but that's a common failing of sound bar systems in the TVee Model 25's price class. The system maintained its composure when we turned up the volume on Will Ferrell's "Talladega Nights" Blu-ray. True, the thundering roar of the big Nascar engines was shortchanged compared with what we heard from the much more expensive and larger JBL SB 300 sound bar/subwoofer system. The JBL can also play louder than the TVee Model 25, but the Boston sound bar handily trounced the (now discontinued) Monoprice sound bar in every dimension of audio performance.

The TVee Model 25 sounded fine with CDs of Duke Ellington's big-band jazz and Gillian Welch's vocal and banjo folk tunes. Hard rock produced more audible strain from the speaker. That's not unusual; few sound bar speakers excel with rock. The TVee Model 25 was at its best with movies.

Conclusion
The Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25 actually sounds pretty good for its size, but its design flaws and high price make it tough to recommend over competing products. We'd suggest checking out some of our other top sound bar picks before deciding whether to get the TVee Model 25.

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25
6.4

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 6Performance 7