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CNET First Look
Sound bar packs super sonics, low-profile looksThe SpeakerCraft CS3 is a handsome, excellent-sounding sound bar that's well worth its lofty price.
Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET and we are taking a look at the SpeakerCraft CS3. This is a high-end sound bar that's currently selling for around $600. The SpeakerCraft uses a pedestal design which means it's designed to sit under your TV rather than in front of it. That gives you a really nice look as a sound bar tends to just blend in with your TV cabinet. Plus, it avoids the problem that some sound bars have of blocking the TV's remote sensor. The CS3 is also well-designed, otherwise, with nicely curved edges on the front and a nifty removable speaker grill that's held on by magnets. Underneath the grill, you can see the CS3 has quite a few drivers including 2 1-inch tweeters and 4 3-inch midrange drivers plus there are 2 subwoofers on the bottom. The one thing you'll notice that isn't on the front panel is any sort of display. So, you're not gonna get any kind of visual feedback when you're adjusting the volume which can be a little annoying. Unfortunately, the included remote is pretty lousy. It's just a tiny, cheap-feeling remote with mushy buttons and a confusing layout. Now, you can always get around that by using a good universal remote, but you really do expect better on a product this expensive. On the back, there's just a few inputs- 1 optical, 1 coaxial and an analog input. That's not much, but it's really not an issue since you can connect all your devices directly to your TV and then connect your TV's audio output right to the CS3. The real standout feature is built-in Bluetooth connectivity. That makes it possible to wirelessly stream music from just about any Smart phone, any iPad and many other tablets. You'd think that Bluetooth would be a standard feature in sound bars by now but it's frequently missing especially from high-end models. So, it's nice to see it here. Now, as much as I like the way pedestal sound bars look, they generally don't sound as good as systems with the separate subwoofer, but the SpeakerCraft CS3 is an exception as it's one of the best sounding sound bars we've reviewed even with its pedestal design. Resident Audio File, Steven Guttenberg, listened to this system and he was really impressed at how well it handled both high-impact action movies and to channel music which most sound bars struggle with. It's not quite as good as Atlantic Technology's PB-235, but it is pretty close and this looks a heck of a lot better. The real sticking point with the CS3 is the price. Budget-minded shoppers will do better with the $300 ZVOX Z-Base 420 which has a very similar design, but it doesn't quite sound or look as good and it's also worth pointing out that at $600, you can get much better sound with a cheap AV receiver and some separate tower speakers. But the SpeakerCraft CS3 is for those that want a simpler, unobtrusive home audio system that still delivers excellent sonics. And, on those counts, it's a real winner. You'll have to play a lot for this combination of talents, but the SpeakerCraft CS3 is a worthwhile investment for a great looking sound bar that'll serve you well for years. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the SpeakerCraft CS3.