While squat, rectangular sound bases have existed for just as long as long, rectangular sound bars, bases have taken a lot longer to gain popularity. Yet in the last 12 months we've seen the category expand significantly, with established speaker brands like PSB now getting into the act.
The PSB VS21 is a handsome sound base that has the single aim of making your TV sound better. It certainly does -- making TVs sound better isn't difficult for any decent external speaker -- and it's certainly well-made.
However, there there are two main issues with this speaker: cost and size. The PSB is outperformed by models half its price, and the unit's small size means it can't be paired with expensive TVs. Theand , for example, cost hundreds less, offer better performance, and are able to hold much larger televisions.
The PSB VS21 is part of a new breed of TV speaker that goes a step beyond the "dinky" plastic speakers of old and veers into "proper" hi-fi territory. The PSB looks similar to the well-established, which is also made of MDF and covered with a black-ash wrap.
Unlike most of the models available at the price, or less, the PSB is unusually small at only 21.5 inches across, 3.5 inches tall and 13 inches deep. PSB initially said the speaker would support TVs with screen sizes up to 60 inches, but the company has now changed its recommendation to "up to 88 pounds."
We tried four different TVs of different sizes, and even the 40-inchpoked out over the sides (bad). If you have a Vizio of recent vintage -- such as the we tried -- you're on safer ground but definitely measure your stand first: you want at least an inch around each edge of the base.
The front of the unit boasts a large glossy display, but despite the massive amount of real estate, it sports only a series of colored LEDs whose color schemes might require a look at the manual to decipher. No informative alpha-numeric characters here!
Unusually and frustratingly, the PSB offers no controls of any kind -- not even a power switch. If you lose the remote control, you are out of luck. The remote itself is basic though attractive. You may need to check the manual to work out how to use some of its functions -- for instance, the Setup button doesn't work unless you hold it down for five seconds. Why? Who knows?
The PSB V21 is a stereo sound base that offers a three-way speaker configuration: 1-inch soft dome tweeters, 2-inch midrange drivers and 4-inch bass units mounted underneath. The company claims it's capable of a 55Hz to 23kHz response, and if you want more bass than that, it offers a subwoofer output.
The PSB comes with a number of different modes such as Stereo (Normal), Dialogue (Enhanced Dialogue Clarity), WideSound (Expanded Soundstage), and WideSound Plus. There's also no tone controls to speak of. Some equalization is involved with the sound modes -- especially with the crisper-sounding wide modes -- but the unit does have an on/off switch for the subwoofer output.