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Boston Acoustics TVee One review: The TVee One is a natural upgrade to your TV sound

The Boston Acoustics TVee One is a natural-sounding upgrade to your current TV's audio that costs considerably less than its competitors.

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Ty Pendlebury
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Ty Pendlebury

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Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

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If you haven't come across one before, the sound stand is the next generation beyond the sound bar: it lets you place your TV on top, resulting in a sleeker look and avoiding the problem of your sound bar blocking your TV's remote sensor.

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7.8

Boston Acoustics TVee One

The Good

The Boston Acoustics TVee One sits under your TV and offers natural sound with both music and movies. There's built-in Bluetooth connection for wireless audio streaming. And the speaker's lightweight and simple design makes it easy to install.

The Bad

There's no built-in subwoofer, nor the ability to add one later, so action movies aren't as impactful as they are via its rivals. Its lightweight design make it feel less sturdy than its competitors. The front panel display is indecipherable. And the remote's squishy buttons are annoying.

The Bottom Line

The Boston Acoustics TVee One natural-sounding upgrade to your current TV's sound that costs considerably less than its competitors.

The Boston Acoustics TVee One ($200 street in the States and £224 in the UK; pricing in Australia is currently unavailable) is one of the most affordable sound stands on the market. While it is missing some advanced features that competitors offer, such as HDMI connectivity or the option to add a subwoofer, it does offer natural sound quality that gets loud enough to fill a small room. Like the Sony HT-XT1 ($300 street), it sounds nearly as good with movies as it does with music, as long as you don't try to overextend its capabilities. The Boston Acoustic TVee One may not be our favorite overall pick, but it offers a lot of value if you're on a budget and can find it for around $200.

Design

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Sarah Tew/CNET

When measured strictly against rivals, the TVee seems a little small and light. For starters, it lacks the integrated subwoofer of competitors like the Onkyo LS-T10 , as well as design flourishes such as the glass top of the Sony HT-XT1 . It doesn't help that it feels a little insubstantial, coming at 9 pounds, while the Onkyo isa beefy 19.2 pounds. However, despite the lightweight feel, Boston Acoustics claims the TVee One will support 50-inch TVs weighing up to 60 pounds. As far as dimensions are concerned, the speaker measures 2.63 inches high by 23.56 inches wide and 14 inches deep.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The top of the unit is positively festooned with buttons, especially compared with its peers. There are a total of eight in all, and include volume, power and input selection. Also on the top of the unit is a helpful "+" sign which helps you center your TV.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Often the most disappointing aspect of a piece of budget equipment is the remote, and Boston Acoustics lives up to expectations in this regard. It's the size of a credit card and features a series of too-rubbery buttons, but at least the volume buttons are placed in a semilogical fashion, which makes them usable in the dark.

Features

This is a stereo home audio system and includes two 5-inch woofers and two tweeters. Both are forward firing, and there's no attempt at faux-surround jiggery-pokery like you'll find on Onkyo's LS-T10. Despite the absence of a subwoofer, the company says the TVee One is capable of getting as deep as 40Hz.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The speaker includes five different listening modes, including the usual Music and Movies settings in addition to a low-level Night mode. Unfortunately there aren't dedicated indicators for each mode; it instead relies on lighting up the existing eight buttons in strange and arcane combinations. Unless you have a manual -- or a degree in Egyptology -- it's impossible to know which mode "Bluetooth plus mute" signifies, for example. (It's Music, if you're curious).

Unlike the HDMI-friendly Sony HT-XT1 , the Boston Acoustics is a little more conservative in terms of the connectivity it offers. In order of the device's preference, you get digital optical, digital coaxial, and analog. Like other sound bars, the idea is to connect your TV's audio output directly to the TVee One, and use your TV to switch between devices. Unusually, the analog input comes with a three-position switch that enables you to attenuate the incoming signal if it's too loud or even distorting.

Lastly, the Boston offers a Bluetooth connection for wireless music from a smartphone or tablet, but note that the better-sounding aptX codec isn't supported.

Performance

Given its diminutive proportions and weight, I wasn't expecting much from this unit, especially compared to the more-solid feeling Onkyo. Not only was I wrong, but their fortunes were reversed: the Onkyo was the poorest performer of the three units I looked at, and the Boston Acoustics was almost the best.

Compared to the Sony HT-XT1 , the Boston Acoustics TVee had a more natural sound with movies, being less cupped in the midrange and more open sounding. With "Mission Impossible III" in the Oppo BDP-105 and connected by optical cable, incidental sounds like breaking glass and road noise were easier to hear on the Boston Acoustics. The flipside was that it missed the larger Sony unit's low-end heft, made possible by the HT-XT1's built-in "subwoofer."

In music mode, the speaker did a good job of communicating songs with a natural and balanced sound, and this was the case with anything from rock to acoustic music, and even dance. The Sony, while good with music, didn't have the directness of the Boston Acoustics. But if you primarily like dance music or hip-hop, the Sony would probably suit you better.

In terms of volume, the TVee will achieve a higher volume than your TV, but don't expect to start a party with it. While there's no level indicator on the unit, at roughly two-thirds of the maximum volume the bass drops out completely -- presumably to prevent overt distortion -- and the midrange and treble get a little hard. In terms of level, though, it doesn't increase that much, instead giving the impression of a louder sound. The Sony, on other hand, could get quite loud without distorting or changing the sound at all.

Conclusion

While it might not seem like much when you get it out of the box, the Boston Acoustics TVee One offers a noticeable improvement on the sound from your television. It's easy to hook up, and its sonics are very good for the price. Music performance is also surprisingly good, and the Bluetooth connection offers some flexibility. It has its faults, including the rubbery remote and inscrutable "display," but given the TVee's sonic benefits these quibbles are easy to overlook. The Sony HT-XT1 is still the best of the bunch, but the TVee One is a particularly good deal, especially if you find it offered at a steep discount.

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7.8

Boston Acoustics TVee One

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Sound 7Value 9