“Straightforward to make use of and fairly reasonably priced, the SB-600 does not let Atmos actually shine.”

Straightforward setup

Clear dialogue

Beneficiant variety of inputs

Semi-wireless encompass audio system

Distracting show

Mediocre Dolby Atmos

Poor midrange sound high quality

For these seeking to get a extra immersive TV expertise, Dolby Atmos soundbars are a tempting improve. Boasting a better, extra handy setup than wiring up a room with an A/V receiver and a bunch of discrete audio system, soundbars simply make quite a lot of sense.

However Dolby Atmos soundbars are usually expensive affairs due to the additional audio system and drivers required to get the complete 3D impact that makes Atmos value having.

Monoprice is trying to do one thing about that with its very reasonably priced ($450) SB-600 soundbar. Has it succeeded in creating an Atmos expertise for everybody?

Let’s have a look.

What’s within the field?

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Monoprice contains every part that you must get arrange with the SB-600. Within the field, you’ll discover the principle soundbar, a wi-fi subwoofer, a pair of semi-wireless encompass audio system (extra on these later), a distant, energy cables, HDMI and analog cables, wall-mounting , and printed directions.

The one factor chances are you’ll want to purchase is an optical cable within the occasion your TV doesn’t assist HDMI ARC.

The SB-600 field and packaging may be very sustainable so far as soundbars go. It’s principally plain cardboard, save for 3 foam inserts that defend the soundbar, and a bunch of poly baggage.

Design

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The SB-600, like quite a lot of Monoprice’s merchandise, has a bare-bones vibe. The primary soundbar is an easy, black enclosure with a perforated metallic grille. At 40 inches extensive and three inches in peak, it ought to match properly below most TVs with out blocking any of the underside portion of the image. Aside from the small Monoprice and Dolby Atmos badges and the 4 management buttons on prime, it’s a really clear look.

This may be a really perfect state of affairs — soundbars ought to undoubtedly not name consideration to themselves — have been it not for the brilliant LED show that hides behind the grille. It lets you understand which supply you’re utilizing (HDMI 1, 2, ARC, and many others.) and even supposing the directions say the show will mechanically dim after 10 seconds, our assessment unit stayed shiny all the time the system was in use, creating an undesirable visible distraction.

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The eight-inch wi-fi subwoofer is a nondescript black field, and at 16.5 inches tall, it’s on par with quite a lot of different wi-fi subwoofers on this class. The encompass audio system are tiny — in regards to the measurement of a thick paperback novel.

I like that Monoprice contains wall-mounting with the SB-600, however the brackets which are meant for the encompass audio system level them straight out from the wall. In case your TV room occurs to have aspect partitions situated a good distance from the seating space, this isn’t an issue. However for those who don’t, there’s no technique to pivot the audio system in order that they’re aimed toward viewers’ heads and never on the entrance of the room.

The included distant is straightforward however efficient, supplying you with entry to all the SB-600’s settings and modes in a logical, easy-to-use structure. It’s not backlit, which can make it extra awkward to make use of in a darkened room, however that’s an apparent function to eradicate for those who’re making an attempt to maintain the worth as little as doable.

Setup and configuration

Not like quite a lot of soundbars within the $700 to $2,000 vary, the SB-600 doesn’t have any Wi-FI connectivity. That’s a little bit of a disadvantage for issues like high-quality streaming music, but it surely positive simplifies the setup.

One thing that beats quite a lot of different soundbars is the SB-600’s beneficiant complement of ports.

When you’ve related the principle soundbar to energy and to your TV through HDMI, and positioned/plugged within the subwoofer, all you must do is discover a dwelling for the encompass audio system.

Technically, these items are wi-fi — they don’t must be tethered to the wi-fi sub or the soundbar — however they’re not utterly wire-free. The proper speaker must be plugged into energy through its AC adapter, and it additionally must be related to the left speaker through an included 13-foot analog cable.

It’s straightforward sufficient — I had no hassle hiding that cable behind our sofa which is pushed up in opposition to the wall, however I can see this being extra of a problem in different conditions. Nonetheless, it’s higher than the standard encompass association required by reasonably priced encompass soundbars: Wiring each audio system to the subwoofer, one thing that’s messier and fewer versatile by way of placement.

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

One thing else that beats quite a lot of different soundbars is the SB-600’s beneficiant complement of ports. You get two HDMI inputs, one HDMI ARC output, an optical enter, a coaxial digital enter, an analog jack, and a USB port for MP3 music playback. There’s additionally a Bluetooth connection for wi-fi music streaming.

That’s fairly respectable — many soundbars solely have a single HDMI ARC port, which implies you’ll find yourself sacrificing an HDMI port in your TV, with no technique to acquire that port again with out using an HDMI switcher. These two HDMI ports are additionally 4K HDR-compatible and assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient, so that you gained’t have to fret about getting the highest-quality sign to your TV.

Sound high quality

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In case you’re shifting out of your TV’s built-in (and doubtless horrible) audio system, the SB-600 shall be an enormous step up. Between the principle soundbar’s six drivers, the wi-fi sub, and the surrounds, you get a method higher sense of immersion than a TV can provide, with very clear sound that may additionally get very loud if you want.

Dialogue sounds clear and crisp. When you’ve got hassle making out speech, the SB-600 will help.

However the SB-600 suffers from two distinct drawbacks. First, it lacks an honest midrange. Even after enjoying with the built-in EQ modes (film, music, dialogue, sports activities) and altering the bass and treble ranges, I couldn’t get the system to really feel full and heat.

My guess is that there’s just too massive of a spot between the goal frequencies of the soundbars’ drivers and what the sub is able to. It may well ship massive, boomy bass, in addition to shiny highs, however that center vary feels decidedly hole.

On the constructive aspect, dialogue sounds clear and crisp — the soundbar’s middle channel very a lot favors increased frequencies. When you’ve got hassle making out speech, the SB-600 will help.

However the draw back is that you just lose among the sonic nuances, particularly in films with very dynamic soundtracks (assume Marvel, DC, and Star Wars flicks).

Second, as Dolby Atmos methods go, you’re not going to be blown away by the peak channel results.

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

I threw a ton of Dolby Atmos materials on the SB-600, from Disney+ titles like Iron Man 2 and Physician Unusual to Dolby Atmos Music tracks from Tidal HiFi, plus Dolby Atmos demonstration movies from my LG TV. I discovered that, basically, the system delivered good encompass efficiency, however that further dimension provided by Atmos was a bit hit-and-miss.

It ended up being most noticeable — and gratifying — when listening to Atmos Music. Tracks by The Weeknd and Put up Malone had a extremely expansive soundstage that crammed the room.

Films, alternatively, lacked that overhead dimension that Atmos is thought for.

As Dolby Atmos methods go, you’re not going to be blown away by the SB-600’s peak channel results.

Bluetooth audio was acceptable, but it surely’s instantly obvious that Monoprice hasn’t made this mode an enormous precedence. Figuring out what the system can do when supplied with a Dolby Atmos music stream, it’s a bit disappointing that the SB-600 can’t do a greater job of upscaling common stereo right into a extra immersive combine. All the audio system are energetic when listening through Bluetooth, however the sound lacks the expansiveness I used to be anticipating.

Controls and usefulness

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

I actually like that while you begin a brand new stream, whether or not it’s from the TV or one other related gadget, the LED show tells you what sort of a sign it’s getting. It’d say Dolby Atmos, Dolby Encompass, or PCM, which is a useful affirmation of your supply materials.

However that show will be difficult to learn. It solely exhibits a handful of characters at a time, so most messages find yourself scrolling — you’ll want to concentrate as a result of it’s going to solely present you the sound format when switching to a brand new enter.

As I discussed above, the show’s always-on mode was a bit annoying at occasions.

One other odd quirk: In case you set your most well-liked ranges for bass and treble, these are reset while you change from one EQ mode to a different.

Our take

The Monoprice SB-600 is an honest encompass soundbar with numerous inputs and an easy setup due to its wi-fi sub and principally wi-fi encompass audio system. Nonetheless, a lackluster Dolby Atmos efficiency and a hollowness within the midranges hold it from incomes our full endorsement.

Is there a greater different?

For lots much less cash, the $300 Vizio M-Sequence 5.1 soundbar could not have the SB-600’s devoted peak drivers or wi-fi surrounds, however its virtualized Dolby Atmos results are nonetheless noticeable and it offers a a lot better stability of frequencies.

For a notably higher Dolby Atmos expertise, the Vizio SB36512-F6 affords glorious Atmos sound for a similar value because the SB-600.

How lengthy will it final?

Monoprices merchandise aren’t fancy, however they’re well-built, and the SB-600 ought to final for a few years. It comes with a one-year guarantee.

Must you purchase it?

The SB-600’s predominant benefits are its glorious set of inputs and its semi-wireless encompass audio system. However except these options are super-important to you, I believe you’ll be happier with a Vizio mannequin for a similar or much less cash.

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