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Pioneer SP-SB23W Andrew Jones Series Bluetooth Sound Bar and Subwoofer System (Black Ash)
  • neweggOwned For: less than 1 day

1 out of 5 eggs Defective BlueTooth, very good sound, unattractive and bulky 10/11/2013

This review is from: Pioneer SP-SB23W Andrew Jones Series Bluetooth Sound Bar and Subwoofer System (Black Ash)

Pros: Very good sound quality both for movies and music. Does not create 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, but no sound bar does.

The wireless sub-woofer won't break windows or rattle teeth but it does have enough punch and fidelity to meet the needs of anyone over the age of 30.

Cons: ALERT! Do not buy this unit until the manufacturer, Pioneer, fixes a defect in the BlueTooth function, which in current units generates only mono sound, not stereo. Check the Pioneer website to determine whether/when the defect is remedied, and make sure that if you purchase a unit it has correctly-functioning stereo BlueTooth and a generous written return policy.

I went to a big box store and gave this Pioneer/Andrew Jones sound bar a thorough ears- and eyes-on test, making sure all the other nearby sound systems and TVs were turned off as I did my listening. While I was prepared to purchase it on the spot, I am sorry to say I had to return home empty-handed.

Over the past two years I have read about, listened to and carefully evaluated almost every mid-price (under $700) sound bar available in the U.S., and I find that the sound quality of this Pioneer offering is near the top of the bunch for both movies and music. While the small wireless sub-woofer won't loosen your fillings or shatter any windows, it has quite enough punch and fidelity to meet TV/movie/music listening requirements for anyone over age 30.

The system lacks an HDMI connection and currently has only a mono as opposed to a stereo BlueTooth function, a manufacturing and/or design defect that is acknowledged on the Pioneer website.

Even if Pioneer is able to fix the broken BlueTooth function in subsequent production runs, the total deal-breaker for me is that this Pioneer sound bar is unattractive and bulky, combining a fairly neutral grille stuck to the front of the bar with a homely, plastic wood-grain surface covering the rest of the bar and the sub-woofer enclosure. As an acoustic engineer Andrew Jones apparently is talented enough to create Pioneer speakers that sell for many thousands of dollars--I sure hope those look a lot better than this one. On its website Pioneer says that the enclosures of the bar and subwoofer are a wood composite (pressed wood chips), which may help improve sound quality compared to metal or plastic. However, the wood composite could in fact have been clad in a more attractive surface such as plain black plastic or metal without all the fakey and funky wood grain, which Pioneer calls "black vinyl ash." Unfortunately, the decision-makers at Pioneer thought fake wood grain would look attractive--wrong!

Other Thoughts: The bar is unusually bulky compared to many other sound bar systems, perhaps to allow the thick wood composite enclosure to provide sufficient internal space for the 4 three-inch woofers, 2 tweeters and their individual speaker amps. However, if you attempt to set this chunky bar in front of a large-screen TV with today's typical short stand, the bar will obscure the lower 1 or 2 inches of the screen and block the TV's IR control. True, you could put a thick book or board under the TV stand to raise the lower edge of the TV above the top of the sound bar, but this is a kludgey (and potentially unstable) solution.

If your room situation permits you could also choose to mount your TV on a wall with the bar beneath it, but this will only tend to focus attention on the unattractive looks and bulkiness of the fake-wood-grain bar. Worse yet, the bar measures just over 4 inches high and more than 4.7 inches from front to back, so it will stand out from the wall about 2 or 3 inches beyond most of today's thin TVs, creating a visually jarring combination of sleek TV with cumbersome sound bar.

Because sound bars are meant to be placed prominently in front of or below TVs, they need to be good-looking, a requirement this Pioneer bar sadly does not meet. The sort-of good news is that if you raise your TV stand and put the bar just below and in front of it, and do all of your TV viewing in a dark room, you won't be able to see much of the sound bar at all (except during daylight hours or when the lights are on), and you can hide the equally unsightly wireless sub-woofer under a table or behind a chair or sofa.

Bottom line: IMHO, the malfunctioning BlueTooth and unattractive/bulky design make this nice-sounding system a non-starter. One can only hope that Pioneer will make a version 2 that fixes the BlueTooth and gives the unit a face-lift.


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Display Name: Anonymous

Date Joined: 10/11/13

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