Harman Kardon SB 30
Slim, elegant, and packed with 13 speakers, Harman Kardon’s SB 30 sound bar ($800) delivers a deceptively wide soundstage for such a small package. Like the Vizio, this soundbar comes with a wireless sub that automatically pairs upon power up.
But the real show-stoppers are the six 2-inch drivers, seven 1-inch tweeters, and 11 amplifiers — all of which work together to produce big, theater-worthy sound. The SB 30 handled even abrupt dynamic shifts with ease and finesse. Bass remained tight and well controlled, midrange was smooth, and voices were always detailed, managing to remain distinct and defined even with a swelling musical score and the crunch of robotic body parts in the background. While the SB 30 uses a digital steering technology (similar to that found in Yamaha’s offering) for its pseudo surround, it wasn’t quite as immersive as the YSP-2200. There is some directionality to the sound, but I never felt enveloped, even after experimenting with the various room modes. The soundbar also lacked the detail and natural ease of the Motion Vision when playing 2-channel music.
get-gadget Small footprint means plenty of placement options. Switch the subwoofer’s wireless channels if you run into any interference (I didn’t). Dolby Volume keeps sound levels consistent when switching sources. Adjustable beam function lets you tailor the sound for small, medium, and large rooms.
TIRED Confusing multi-colored lights are the only indication of what mode you’re in. Even in dedicated 2-channel listening mode, highs could be shrill and grating.
All photos by Greg Broom/get-gadget