Monoprice sets a new low price for Dolby Atmos soundbars

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 soundbar
Monoprice

Monoprice, the electronics retailer known for its exceptionally low prices on audio/video accessories like HDMI cables, wall mounts, and headphones, also produces several speakers, including soundbars. Its latest model, the $450 SB-600 — a 5.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos setup — is a first for the company and it boasts one of the cheapest prices we’ve ever seen for a discrete Atmos package.

Monoprice has flirted with Dolby Atmos in the past, but its previous efforts have been virtual Dolby Atmos designs, which use algorithms instead of dedicated upward-firing speakers to produce Atmos’ signature overhead sounds.

The SB-600 strives for a more authentic Atmos experience by placing two upward-firing drivers into the soundbar, alongside the usual left-, right-, and center-channel drivers. An 8-inch wireless subwoofer provides the deep, rumbling low-end, while a pair of powered, wireless surround speakers fill out the surround left and right channels.

This configuration is hardly unusual. We’ve seen similar designs from LG, Samsung, and Vizio. What makes the Monoprice SB-600 stand out is its very low price. Right now, if you want a 5.1.2 soundbar system with wireless surround speakers, you’re probably looking at spending well north of $700.

If those wireless surrounds aren’t a top priority, the Vizio SB36512-F6 has similar specs, for $150 less.

With the SB-600, $450 get you the soundbar, wireless subwoofer, wireless surrounds, dedicated remote control, wall-mounting hardware, and all of the cables you need to get the system connected to your TV.

There’s also a decent set of inputs. Two HDMI inputs and a dedicated HDMI ARC/eARC port is very generous. Many much more expensive units like the $799 Sonos Arc don’t have any HDMI inputs at all. Those inputs can passthrough 4K video, HDR, and Dolby Vision.

You also get a digital coax, digital optical, and 3.5mm analog inputs for connecting a variety of audio devices, plus a USB port for playing MP3 files from an external storage device. There are no Wi-Fi features like AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, but you do get Bluetooth 4.2 for streaming audio from phones and tablets.

The surrounds, which connect to the main soundbar wirelessly, still require their own power cords and a 2.5mm umbilical cable to connect the left and right sides to each other (presumably only one of the speakers actually contains the wireless receiver). This still gives you greater placement options than if the surrounds were wired into the subwoofer, but it’s not quite as elegant as JBL’s take on wireless surrounds.

On paper, this sounds like a pretty sweet setup, but the real question is how does it sound in real life? Until we get our hands on a review unit, we’ll remain cautiously optimistic. We’ve only reviewed one Monoprice soundbar in the past and, though it was priced very aggressively, it failed to wow us.

A deeper look at the SB-600’s hardware specs shows details like single 15-watt drivers in each of the surround speakers, which probably means they’ll only be able to offer a small amount of immersion when compared to more robust systems.

Still, we may yet be pleasantly surprised. Monoprice’s other products have often found themselves the objects of high praise for their exceptional value — and the SB-600 may be one of these.

Correction: This article originally referred to the Monoprice SB-600 as the cheapest discrete Dolby Atmos soundbar available, but it is actually the cheapest model that comes equipped with wireless surrounds. Discrete Atmos models with wired surrounds (like the Vizio SB36512-F6 mentioned above) may be less expensive than the SB-600.

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