Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro review: '80s icon makes a comeback with a hard-hitting 5.1 sound bar

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The Good The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro gives you powerful sound with true surround performance and clear dialog. The provision of 4K-compatible HDMI ports enhances your connectivity options.

The Bad The surround speakers' minimum volume is set too high, which detracts from the immersion. The different sound modes are easy to accidentally engage, which can result in poor performance.

The Bottom Line The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro sound bar offers a good mix of features, including dedicated surround speakers and 4K HDMI compatibility, and gives a hearty performance.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Nakamichi was a big name in hi-fi in the 80s, mainly for its high-tech tape decks. If you're too young to remember those, they played rectangular "cassette tapes" that stored music on magnetic strips passed between two miniature reels.

As MiniDisc, CDs, MP3s and streaming music successively replaced cassettes, the company's fortunes faded. Now the Nakamichi brand has been brought back to life and, after changing hands, its newest product is a sound bar, the Shockwafe Pro. And yes, that's the way it's actually spelled.

While it may not offer the latest cutting-edge tech -- Wi-Fi and Dolby Atmos, for example -- the Nakamichi does have bombastic performance on its side, and even sounds acceptable with music. It gives a natural sound with movies that's bolstered by the performance of that huge sub. We still like the Vizio SB4551-D5 better than the Shockwafe overall, but the Nakamichi is a worthy competitor.

Design and features

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Shockwafe is a 5.1-channel sound bar with support for 4K video sources. It has a number of connectivity selections, including HDMI with Dolby Digital and DTS decoders. Though you may also see it advertised as a 7.1 sound bar, it only decodes 5.1 streams and not Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio.

This 45.5-inch sound bar boasts five discrete drivers across the front, which are joined by two wired rears and a wireless sub. While most seven-channel systems include two sets of rears, the Shockwafe uses angled drivers on the main unit in place of the left and right surround.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The system's rears connect by a set of included wires to the large subwoofer. While the wires will stretch across a standard size living room, it probably makes more sense to put the sub behind the couch. The sub features an 8-inch driver and is tough to hide: It measures 7.9 inches long by 12.3 inches wide and 16.7 inches high.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Nakamichi comes with a number of connection options including two 4K-compatible HDMI inputs and one ARC output, optical and coaxial digital and a 3.5 auxiliary. The system does have a USB port but it's only used for firmware updates.

While Nakamichi's main competitor, the Vizio SB4551-D5, includes Wi-Fi streaming in the form of Chromecast built-in (aka Google Cast), the Nakamichi makes do with Bluetooth 3.0. We really prefer having the option of Cast, which has better audio quality and features (such as a multiroom option) than Bluetooth.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The sound bar includes a backlit remote with its own LCD readout. That's handy as there's no display on the TV or the unit itself, save for some LED dots on the latter.

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