The First 7.1 Channel Soundbar Performs Well, But Cannot Stand Up To Real 5.1 Surround Speakers!
Feb 27, 2011
I’ve always had some reservations whenever I’ve heard the hype as to how great a soundbar would look, sound and enhance a cinematic experience. Hey, the idea of not having to run wires around your living room is a great idea. Bose has done a sweet job with their 2.1 surround sound system; but honestly, I really don’t think ANY 2.1 or soundbar (even a 7.1 system) can compare with a great 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound system.
I have a 5.1 system that works with my 50” inch plasma TV and I was quite happy with it. But then I took a chance with this soundbar when I saw it offered in amazon’s vine program. Please keep in mind that no single unit, any soundbar will be able to compare with a 1000 watt 5.1 digital surround system; regardless how good a soundbar is in ‘bouncing’ sounds off your room. But hey, I decided to try it out with a 7.1 receiver. Note: you will need a receiver and while it doesn’t exactly need it according to its specs, a subwoofer would improve the FS-7.0’s experience. You really don’t need to use the matching Atlantic subwoofer, so I used my Yamaha one.
Appearance: The FS-7.0 system looks very ‘spiffy’. I really liked its finish and it matches the black glossy look of my new 3D plasma screen. It was packed quite well and I was impressed with the presentation. It actually puts the other soundbars I’ve seen by other manufacturers in Best Buy to shame. It is a little heavier than expected, at 30+ pounds I was quick to assume that it had great quality since most soundbars weigh less than 20 pounds. I guess having mass sometimes equates quality but then again, it doesn’t work the same with plasma screens, lighter may prove to be more advanced but I guess with speakers, mass equals weight in sound volume? It can also be wall mountable but I have issues about hanging expensive plasma screens let alone an $ 800 soundbar. So let’s just put it on the stand. It is 42 inches long! (just like my katana blades)
Set Up: You have to read the manual when you are setting up the FS-7.0. You have to measure the distances between the walls and the room itself, you also need to program the delay. Well, I figured I’d try it but my living room is shaped in a weird way, so I decided to use the receiver’s maximum setting. Don’t worry, I have a feeling that this soundbar would work better in the bedroom so I will fill you in once we get to the performance side.
This unit does accept all current sound formats as long as your receiver has a decoder: Dolby Digital 7.1 and 5.1, Pro Logic, Dolby Digital EX, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS-Discrete, DTS Neo, Dvd audio and SACD audio. Hey, I was impressed that it was able to decode Dolby Digital EX and DTS Neo; those were pluses.
Take note: Read the manual. This is not a plug and play kind of deal. Automatic set ups doesn’t work with the FS-7.0.
Performance: Please take note that I have limited experience with soundbars, I’ve only heard one in a friend’s house but I was impressed how this thing managed to generate a virtual surround system. I tried to use it without the woofer (just to see how it does), and it wasn’t so bad. Granted the sub-woofer added more ‘punch’ and ‘kick’; it made it sound much fuller but someone not as meticulous as me would be happy with its performance. The additional voice coils/speakers on the side helps the virtual surround effects. I’ve noticed that some of the speakers were leaned a little back, but I am not engineer so I wouldn’t know the purpose of that design. I tried to manually tweak the settings, but the max setting of the receiver worked better as I could tell. However, the soundbar lacked the ‘punch’ of surround effects and I truly preferred my older system.
It does have a solid sound and I have to admit that it would make a fresh extra set of speakers. I’ve decided to use it in the bedroom, and it does sound a lot better in an enclosed space. It does a great job enhancing the speakers on the 42” HDTV, and I have to admit, it works real well if you really don’t like running wires in the house or apartment. It is a lot better than having no surround at all.
Back of the unit to wire the speakers from the receiver.
Bottom Line: I liked the FS-7.0 and while it may be one of the best soundbars in the market today, I cannot say that it would be recommended to audiophiles and home theater fanatics. It is great for home use; it looks cool, it sounds good, and honestly it sure eliminates the pain of running wires around the room. It all depends on what you want and what you need. Myself, I run wires across the room and I want real 5.1 sound effects. Surround systems (HTIAB) can also be a lot cheaper than this thing, but as I’ve said, it all depends on where, how and what you want to use it for. (It would be perfect for simple HDTV channel viewing but lacks with movies).
If you want a real theater experience, this soundbar would fall short, but if you just want something for your home, it may fit perfectly for your needs. Hey, it does have a solid sound, and it does an acceptable job replicating surround sound effects. However, no soundbar beats smartly positioned speakers all around the room. No matter how good a soundbar is, it will fall short and it would be unfair to compare it to a real 5.1 or 7.1 system. But comparing this to other soundbars, it performs well and matches up to the ones I’ve seen from Polk audio and Samsung. It is the first 7.1 soundbar, it is a little expensive than the usual soundbar, but it is good for what it is; a soundbar that performs real well.
Is it worth the price? Hey it all depends on what you want and what you need.
Recommended! Performance as in generating surround effects: 3.5/5 Overall Sound quality: 4/5 Style: 4.5/5 Ease of use and set up: 4/5 Bang for the buck: 3.5/5 Overall: 4/5
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