As impressive as the picture is on the latest generation of flatscreen TVs, the built-in speakers often sound like they were stripped from a clock radio.
If you don’t want to go all-out on a surround system — and its many speakers, wires and cables — then a 2.1 soundbar system like Boston Acoustics TVee Model 20 can be a nice compromise, giving you solid sound without eating up much space in your living room.
When we first hooked up the system (in a snappy five minutes), the sharpness and fullness of the sound was a major contrast to the built-in speaker on our 50-inch Sony Bravia. Watching live music performances, the TVee Model 20 showed off even more dynamic range, and brought out lots of nice detail in the music.
Despite the enhancements, background noises would sometimes overwhelm the dialogue, especially in action movies and live sports. With these programs, you need to adjust the trim setting to its lowest position to create a better balance. The soundbar doesn’t have bass and treble controls, but you can adjust the speaker-subwoofer balance using the sub’s volume knob.
The Model 20 is comprised of a 31 x 3.75 x 4-inch soundbar with dual 1.5 x 6-inch drivers; and a 6-inch, down-firing, powered subwoofer, which is about 10 inches high and a foot wide. The system uses a 2.4 GHz wireless signal to send audio to the subwoofer, which you can put anywhere in the room (though it sounds best when placed within 6 to 8 feet of the bar).
There’s no remote control included with the TVee Model 20, but you can easily pair your TV or cable remote to the system. And really who wants another remote to gobble up batteries, add clutter to a coffee table, and lose in the folds of a couch anyway? The system uses RCA stereo inputs (no digital options) and you can either output from your DVR/cable box or from an AV receiver. When you do the former, the soundbar will take over for your TV’s speaker.
This speakerbar is no substitute for the immersive sonic experience of a 5.1 surround sound system, but it is a significant upgrade from your TV’s internal speaker. You’ll most likely want to stick this system in smaller rooms where the sub can make an impact and the bar can fill the space with rich audio.