If you are looking for a budget sound bar that has room-filling sound, the LG NB3530A may surprise you like it did me. Its a great value and can be had for under $200 at some warehouse and online...
Simple Bluetooth Connectivity, Great Powerful Sound, Full-Featured Remote, Stylish Black Piano Appearance, Wireless Sub, Great Value
Limited inputs, Remote Does Not Control ipod via Bluetooth, Weak Simulated Surround Processing
If you are looking for a budget sound bar that has room-filling sound, the LG NB3530A may surprise you like it did me. Its a great value and can be had for under $200 at some warehouse and online retailers.
The sound bar is 37-7/16" wide. It features 4 - 1 3/4" midrange woofers and 2 - 1" dome tweeters. The speakers on the bar are exposed which could be a problem if you have little ones running around the house and if your sound bar is low enough for them to access. The soundbar has a lighted display which shows current input and volume level. This is a feature I really like. The bar also features some control touch buttons above the display. The soundbar can auto power on and off when connected to a HDTV digital optical output which is a really nice feature.
The sub-woofer box is 7"W x 14-5/16"H x 12-7/16"D and features a 5" side firing driver with a bass-reflex port on the front. The sound bar is rated at 160 watts, while the sub-woofer is rated at 140 watts for a total system power of 300 watts.
The sound bar features 2 optical digital audio inputs, a 3.5mm input for portable devices, a USB port which supports mp3 and wma files, and Bluetooth connectivity to smart phones, ipods etc. There are no HDMI inputs, so that means no decoding of lossless formats of Blu-Ray and HDMI device switching. This limitation was not a deal-breaker for me since the sound bar was not being used in my dedicated theater room. Playing Blu-Ray movies through optical input will downmix the lossless audio to the legacy formats. Most bargain sound bars do not feature HDMI inputs.
The sound bar is capable of decoding the following digital formats through the optical inputs: Dolby Digital
The sound bar produces a great front soundstage with very clear dialogue from TV programs. With Blu-Ray and DVD sources, again the dialogue is very clear and crisp and the sub-woofer adds plenty of thump to the movie soundtracks. With music sources, vocals are very clear and pronounced and bass is deep and pounding. With 300W of power, there is plenty of volume to listen throughout the house. The sub-woofer performs very well considering its compact size. The sound bar features a number of surround sound modes to enhance the listening experience. I tested each mode and I found most modes demonstrated little difference and none of them really produced a simulated 3D surround sound effect. The surround sound modes are more like EQ settings with some modes boosting bass and treble.
Surround Sound Modes: Loudness
I use the LG soundbar's Bluetooth connection with my 5th generation ipod touch. The Bluetooth was very simple to connect and had great range. I could actually put the ipod in a charging dock in the next room without signal interruption. I could not get the LG sound bar remote to control the ipod's music files via Bluetooth. I had great success with streaming Pandora and XM/Sirius Satellite Radio to the sound bar.
The soundbar's remote is fully-featured and is not credit card-sized like most budget soundbars. It fits in my hand nicely and features main volume and sub-woofer volume controls. The remote has TV control buttons that are programmable to different brands. The remote also features a number pad, input, surround sound mode, stop, play/pause, forward, reverse, and repeat buttons. The remote works very well and does not have to be pointed directly at the bar to work.
What you get with the soundbar: The LG soundbar comes with everything you need to get started. An optical cable with toslink connections, the remote, 2 AAA batteries to power the remote, and wall mounting bracket. I found the power cord to the bar itself to be quite short. It could be a limiting factor when wall mounting the soundbar. I didn't have a problem with my setup by putting the soundbar on my TV stand.
In closing, I am very happy with this soundbar and its features. Surprisingly, I use it a lot more for listening to music than I intended especially when I am cleaning main level of the house, cooking in the kitchen or doing laundry. The major selling points of this soundbar versus the other brands I compared were the Bluetooth connectivity, the wireless sub, 300W of power and the full-featured remote control all for under $200.