Soundbars are nothing new and with the advent of large flat panel displays, many consumers are looking for better sound to accompany their beautiful picture. Unfortunately, many of the displays on the market leave much to be desired with little room available for speakers in the panel itself. The result is thin sounding audio quality that lacks the impact larger speakers can offer. Soundbars are specifically designed to complement flat panels, greatly improving the overall experience of watching TV shows and movies. Boston Acoustics® has recently introduced a 3.1-channel virtual surround sound speaker system called the TVee Model 30 (MAP: $599.99).
Perfectly sized for televisions 40 inches and larger, the TVee Model 30 is an advanced TV enhancement system that uses a slim soundbar and matching wireless subwoofer to deliver powerful, room-filling sound. The system is self-powered and does not require a separate receiver or amplifier for operation. This new versatile compact speaker is designed
to work with a wide range of applications and not only provides great sound for your television, but is also optimized for music playback as well. The Bluetooth (v2.1 + EDR, A2DP v1.2) interface allows for music streaming and lets consumers connect their iPhone, iPod Touch, smartphone, media player, computer or any other Bluetooth enabled device to the speaker. This is a powerful feature that is handy when playing your music collection or simply streaming from services such as Pandora.
The Model 30 soundbar has three 3.5-inch Fiber Ceramic Copolymer Material (FCCM) mid-bass drivers and three 3/4-inch Dome Tweeters partitioned into three distinct speaker enclosures that are adequately spaced to provide good channel separation. The ported design produces substantial bass output from a relatively small enclosure.
The controls to operate the TVee are located on the right side of the
unit. The Power button takes the unit out of standby with the power indicator going from red to green. Volume Up/Down buttons provide a digitally stepped volume level and
the Mute button instantly silences the audio regardless of the level setting.
The Music/TV button changes the sound pattern to better focus the
dialogue when watching movies or better separation when listening to music. The Music/TV LED displays green for music mode and orange for movie mode. The Input button cycles
through Bluetooth, analog and digital audio inputs. The input indicator displays green (optical),
red (analog), or blue (Bluetooth). The indicators are a little cryptic, but they do the job.
While the TVee Model 30 does not include a wireless infrared (IR) remote control, it has the ability to learn commands from an existing remote using three simple steps. Volume Up/Down, Mute, Input Select, and Music/Movie commands can be captured and stored into the unit's memory. Programming is easy with visual feedback provided by the front indicators. The IR performance may vary depending on whether or not you install the cover. During our testing the IR remote worked perfectly with the cover removed, but it soon became apparent that the IR signal was attenuated once the cover was placed back on the main soundbar. It may have been better if a hole was placed in the cover to allow for the IR signal to pass through to the sensor. We had good success programming the unit with our Mitsubishi TV remote. However, the literature does mention that there are some IR protocols that cannot be programmed on this unit.
The soundbar can be mounted above or below a TV, or rest on any flat surface. A mounting template is provided on the shipping box to aid in the installation. The integrated keyhole wall mounts on the back of the unit eliminate the need for separate mounting brackets and simplify installation. The removable rubber feet allow it to be placed safely on any surface without slipping, but does add some additional height to the unit. The large 40-pound shipping box contains the TVee Model 30 soundbar, speaker grille, wireless subwoofer, detachable power cord, analog RCA cable, digital optical cable, owner's manual, and quick start guide.
There are two panels on the back of the soundbar. The main panel is for the power input jack and power switch, wireless ID setting switch, and the DSP (Digital Signal Processing) controlled placement switch (based on table or wall mounting). The electronics including the wireless systems (Bluetooth and subwoofer) and the power amplifiers for the front channels are held in this part of
the unit. The 24VDC/3.4 amp power adapter provides substantial power to the soundbar.
The other panel on the back of the unit has the two channel RCA analog inputs as well as an optical (toslink) input. The 3-position Trim Level switch (used for the analog inputs only) is intended to provide the user with the ability to reduce the audio level if needed to prevent distortion. The switch should be set to 1 (maximum gain) unless there is an issue with distortion. This will give users the best audio performance. The soundbar also includes a 3.5mm jack on the side that is designed to work with any standard media players with a wired output. When a cable is plugged into the Aux Input, the rear
panel analog audio input is disabled and the Aux Input overrides the RCA connections. The Input Mode light will illuminate red to indicate the analog input is selected.
The TVee Model 30 includes a wireless subwoofer unit based on 5.8 GHz frequency hopping technology. We used channel 1 for all of our testing without any issues. No wires are required to run this unit except for the main power connection. The wireless signal is sent from the main soundbar to the subwoofer on one
of four selectable wireless channels. This allows for multiple systems
to be used in close proximity without interference. The indicator light just above the level control illuminates green when the subwoofer is active and red when it goes into standby mode. The volume level is
set using the control on the back, allowing the user to match the bass
level with the front soundbar. Acoustics and placement can have a significant impact on bass levels,
so the level control helps dial in the best performance. We set the level nominally in the middle and this
provided us with a well matched system. The subwoofer can be placed either vertically or horizontally, while still providing powerful bass performance and offering maximum placement flexibility.
The 17-pound subwoofer enclosure measures 14-3/8” x 6-5/16” x 15-9/16” (HxWxD). Internally, the 7-inch FCCM subwoofer resides in a sealed enclosure and is then placed into a tuned bandpass enclosure with a 10-inch long flared port. The port has smooth edges to prevent noise when air passes through the opening. All of this is hidden within the unit with the port barely visible through the front grill.
According to the literature, this subwoofer features BassTrac, a proprietary Boston-designed circuit that tracks low frequencies and prevents audible amplifier distortion. The concept behind the BassTrac technology is that it doesn't merely chop off the tops of the distortion-inducing signal peaks, but instead preserves the waveform's original shape so the fidelity of the signal is maintained without distortion. The result is all the bass with none of the distortion.
The display that accompanied the TVee Model 30 Soundbar for this review was a Mitsubishi LT-52148 52-inch LCD television. The better-than-average audio quality on this display is likely due to the larger depth of this older model. As new thin flat panels roll out, it becomes ever so challenging to keep the audio quality up to par.
Our tests included audio from our Dish Network Joey and Roku (Netflix) streaming unit. As we listened to a variety of material, the benefit of the TVee Model 30 became quite clear with a huge increase in dynamic range and frequency reproduction. Dialogue was crystal clear and the overall impact of watching movies was greatly enhanced. What we found was the compressed audio we were used hearing on this display was only desirable during late night viewing where limited dynamic range is actually preferred.
The Boston Acoustics® TVee Model 30 Soundbar is a clever design that includes core features that benefit customers who want a simple, yet effective audio system for their flat panel. The audio quality is excellent for the price point and is very easy to set up and configure. Bluetooth from your smartphone, tablet, or other compatible media device will allow you to stream audio with ease. Even wired media players are supported with a simple side connection. Boston Acoustics® backs their system with a limited one-year warranty. If you have been looking to upgrade the sound quality of your mediocre sounding flat panel, you will not be disappointed with the sound quality offered by the TVee Model 30.