CE Week is underway in NYC, and no sooner had we plunked some change in the parking meter than Pioneer had unveiled a new series of Elite A/V receivers and its new SP-SB23W Speaker Bar. With so many sound bars being released lately, it’s kind of hard to get excited; we’re just not seeing a ton of innovation in this product category. But this one is different. When Pioneer told us that the Speaker Bar had received Andrew Jones’ treatment and would retail for just $400, out ears perked up.
Andrew Jones is best known for his super-expensive TAD loudspeaker series for Pioneer, but in recent years he has focused on designing affordable speaker systems such as the recently reviewed SP-PK52FS 5.1 system which earned our “Editor’s Choice” award. Not only does this system over-achieve in every possible way, it’s also remarkably affordable at only $550.
Unlike the vast majority of sound bars which are made out of plastic, Pioneer decided to use wood composite for the SP-SB23W, just as it did with the SP-PK52FS system. The wood composite isn’t just for aesthetics – it is intended to minimize unwanted resonance.
The SP-SB23W features six individual drivers: four custom 3-inch woofers, and two 1-inch soft dome tweeters. The arrangement of the drivers is intended to produce a wide dispersion pattern, enabling open, more spacious stereo imaging, even in larger-sized rooms.
Pioneer says sound bar’s woofers feature a vented pole piece to achieve improved bass response while its 1-inch soft-dome tweeters are encased in a custom “wave guide” enclosure for increased output sensitivity and controlled dispersion of high-frequencies.
Each of the six drivers has its own 28-watt Class ‘D’ amplifier and are complemented by a matching active crossover network for increased sound quality. Utilizing an active crossover enabled Andrew Jones to use higher order filter points to achieve improved audio transitions between the woofers and the tweeters, supposedly resulting in improved speaker response, vocals quality and off-axis listening.
The Speaker Bar includes a matching wireless subwoofer featuring a 6.5-inch driver tuned to 42 Hz (-10 dB) to provide low bass frequencies. The subwoofer is powered by a built-in 50 Watt amplifier. For and the sub’s output level can be adjusted from the the included Speaker Bar remote.
Pioneer had built three modes into the Speaker Bar, including movies, music, and dialogue. Dialogue mode is designed for late-night viewing when you want to hear more a film’s dialogue and less of its “loud” sections filled with explosions and gunfire.
The Speaker Bar is also Bluetooth-enabled from music streaming and you can program any of your existing remotes to control the SP-SB23W’s features.
Pioneer with be shipping the SP-SB23W starting in the fall and will include an optical cable and mounting hardware in the package.
If the SP-SB23W offers the same level of performance as its slightly more expensive brethren, it’s going to flip the entry-level segment of the soundbar category on its head and make the folks at Vizio, Samsung, and Polk Audio very unhappy.