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Cambridge Audio TV5 review: Sound base needs sounder bass

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The Good The affordable Cambridge Audio TV5 exhibited well-defined, natural-sounding dialog. Its remote control is a cut above, and the optical digital and Bluetooth connectivity options should satisfy most buyers.

The Bad The sound lacks bass punch, and can tend to be too bright with music, especially at volume. Lacks both Dolby and DTS processors, bass or treble controls, or controls on the unit itself.

The Bottom Line The Cambridge Audio TV5 sound base produces detailed, natural sound, but comes up short on features and lacks the bass impact of competitors.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Sound bar or sound base? This is probably the question you need to ask yourself if you're in the market to upgrade your TV's audio capabilities without adding a bunch of additional speakers.

The sound base is a compelling design choice if your TV has a pedestal stand to support one, although it's a bit less elegant when paired with TVs that have feet on the ends, rather than a pedestal in the middle. Soundbases like the Cambridge TV5 are "all-in-one," with no separate subwoofer to set up, and they also don't block your TV's infrared port.

Despite a lack of features compared with its competition -- the Yamaha SRT-1000 , and, in the US, the Pioneer SP-SB03 --the plucky Cambridge does offer solid sound quality and ease of use. It's convenient, relatively affordable and simple to set up. Its main failing is an inability to match the bass impact of competing sound bases.

The Cambridge Audio TV5 is available for $399 in the United States and £299 in the UK. Australian availability is yet to be confirmed, but it's been spotted online for a hefty AU$649.

Design

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There are two models in Cambridge Audio's TV lineup: the TV2 ($299) and the TV5 ($399), and they're almost identical in terms of features. The TV5 is a little bigger and offers dual 6.5-inch "subwoofers" instead of just one.

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The TV5's composite wood cabinet measures 28.5 inches wide and 13.4 inches deep, which enables it to support televisions up to 66 pounds. While the speaker is relatively large, the manual suggests that if your TV's base doesn't fit on top you should move the speaker to "a lower shelf of your TV rack." Also, you may want to buy a TV rack.

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The remote control is a cut above most at this level, with a whiff of the LG Magic Motion control about its tapering shape. All of the functions are easily accessible and it's easy to use.

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Features

The TV5 is a 2.1-channel sound base that features two 2.25-inch Balanced Mode Radiators in addition to the aforementioned subs. Cambridge Audio's proprietary radiators are a hybrid of standard woofers and flat panel speakers that, due to their wide frequency response, don't require a separate tweeter.

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