The speakers built into our televisions have never really sounded very good. With the exception of the gargantuan rear projection TV cabinets we enjoyed in the ‘80s and ‘90’s, built-in TV speakers have always been small, underpowered and just plain lame sounding. Home theater systems bring the big sound your big picture deserves, but they are often bulky, expensive and complicated. A soundbar provides big sound in a slim, attractive package, but they are also expensive and most don’t come with a subwoofer. The folks at Boston Acoustics have recognized that some of us just want better sound than our TV can provide without sacrificing a lot of space and money so therefore came up with the Tvee Model 20 – a replacement for their popular TVee 2. Armed with a wireless subwoofer, this two channel soundbar solution promises to offer hassle-free big sound at a very affordable $299 price tag.
Out of the Box
The Tvee 20 system arrived packed in a single box. Inside, we found the 3-3/4” x 31” x 4” soundbar, 9 ½” x 10 ½” x 11” subwoofer, two AC cables, a 3 foot pair of RCA cables and a user manual. Simple.
Features and Design
As we set up the Tvee Model 20, we were struck by the recurring theme of simplicity. The soundbar includes 2 keyhole style mounts and is light enough (8.4 lbs) to be mounted to drywall with the use of a couple of drywall anchors. The recessed rear panel of the soundbar holds a power switch, trim switch, wireless channel selector and a stereo rca input.
The wireless subwoofer need only be plugged into the wall and set to the same wireless channel as the soundbar. A multi-color LED lets you know when it’s linked with the sounbar and a volume control allows for the bass level to be adjusted to your preference.
The soundbar uses two 1 ½” x 6” drivers in a ported cabinet, a change from the previous four driver configuration used by the Tvee 2. This approach allows for better off-axis listening and should reduce “dead spots” where sound is out of phase. The subwoofer uses a 6” down-firing driver, also in a ported cabinet. The power rating for each amplifier is not given, though Boston Acoustics claims a total system power of 100 watts.
The soundbar gets its signal from a TV, cable or satellite box or any other line level signal). Our display offers the option of having a variable or fixed level signal through the RCA connections and for grins we tested both. We found that synching the Tvee 20 with our remote was easy enough, but took advantage of our displays ability to determine the volume level. Users will want to turn their TV speakers down or off entirely so as not to interfere with the output of the Tvee 20.
The Tvee 20 only offers one input, but that’s part of its appeal as a simple, straightforward product with one job: reproduce the sound from your TV and make it sound great. However connecting it directly to your TV means that any device connected to your TV can be played through the Tvee 20. For our review, we used an LG Blu-Ray player, Xbox360 and an iPod touch as sources in addition to television content that included satellite radio, high-def movies and good old standard cable channels.
The TVee 20 cleverly detects an input signal and will power itself up when you turn on your TV. There’s no need to turn it on beforehand. It will also automatically shut off roughly 20 seconds after it stops receiving a signal. We noticed that the subwoofer followed suit in powering up or down as needed.
The only quirk worth mentioning is the overly bright LED light on the subwoofer’s rear panel. It’s clear and bright enough to light up the lower portion of the wall it was sitting next to in our testing lab. If placed in a bedroom, you may be getting a little night-light out of the deal as well.