Harman Kardon SB16 offers compact, cinematic sound

Home theater fanatics will often tell you that life isn’t worth living without 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound—handled, of course, by painstakingly-calibrated, top-flight satellite speakers strategically placed around a room. However, people who actually live in homes will often tell you home theaters aren’t worth having if it means tripping over cables and having ugly speakers occupying every important point visual point in a room. Reaching for compromise, Harman has just rolled out its new Harman Kardon SB16 soundbar, which is designed to bring cinematic audio to living room flat-screen televisions without all the fuss and clutter of surround systems.

“To design an elegant technological solution that is convenient to use and can operate seamlessly within its environment is one of the biggest goals that drive us,” said Harman consumer division president David Slump, in a statement. “The brand-new Harman Kardon SB 16 is proof of our continual passion for this goal.”

The SB 16 consists of six 3-inch midrange drivers split into left and right groupings of three; each side also sports a 3/4-inch dome tweeter. The soundbar features a two channel 25-watt amplifier and frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 Khz with total harmonic distortion of less than 0.07 percent when both channels are driven at the same time. The soundbar is only a two-channel stereo system (obviously), but Harman has rolled in a 3D “virtual speaker surround mode” that offers a more-immersive experience without additional speakers, and the soundbar features an EQ switch to adjust bass response depending whether the soundbar is mounted on a tabletop surface or a wall. The SB 16 also comes with a 100-watt wireless subwoofer with a 10-inch driver and a ported enclosure. The soundbar is programmable so it can obey a television’s power, sound, and source commands, and the subwoofer has an automatic standby mode that wakes up when it detects an audio signal.

The Harman Kardon SB 16 is available now in black for a suggested retail price of $599.99.

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