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Official Soundmatters/Aperion Slimstage owners's thread

post #1 of 187
Thread Starter 
I wanted to start this thread as a place where people who own this sound bar or have tried it out can post.

A little history, I've owned for four years two mainstage hd soundbars (one for the front channels, the other in the rear) along with a substage 100 subwoofer. This worked well until one of the sound bars had a malfunction out of warranty. I contacted sound matters and they offered to either fix it for a price or sell me a slimstage 30 at a significant discount. About a year ago I purchased the slimstage 40 from soundmatters and put that as the front speaker with the functioning mainstage Hd to the rear.

Aperion this year has begun selling the slimstage 30, with the option of also buying it with one of their subwoofers. It has raised the visibility of the slimstage soundbar and there are several reviews if you google aperion soundbar.

Before giving a more complete review, I will briefly list the major advantages/disadvantages of the soundmatters/aperion slimstage unit.

Advantages

1. well-built--the slimstage 30 is 16.5 pounds, with some serious iron in its speakers.
2. bass--it gives off very good bass for a soundbar, and is excellent when mated with a subwoofer.
3. range--its frequency drops to 55 Hz which allows for a good range of from high to low.
4. power--140 watts--these are real watts, rated at 103db at 1m.
5. Overall sound--very good, robust--I don't use it by itself so I can't comment on its surround ability by itself or compared to other units.
6. Has ability to utilize rear speaker(s), although not wireless
7. Has an equalizer and other tools to customize sound.
8. Through Aperion you have a 30 day trial with free shipping both ways, I believe.

Disadvantages

1. Cost--it's not cheap by any means
2. No HDMI inputs--while it has two optical and one coaxial digital inputs, it does not have HDMI.
3. No lossless codecs--because of it not having HDMI, it can decode DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM 2.0, but it cannot decode the lossless codecs Dolby True HD or DTS HD-MA. However, considering that blind testing of high quality systems brings into question whether one could delineate between high bit lossy and lossless codecs this is not a major disadvantage.
4. Sub is not wireless--For some this is a big deal.
5. No test mode for it to customize its sound on its own. You have to experiment yourself.
6. Any use of rear speakers is not wireless.

The soundmatters version and the Aperion version have some minor differences. Supposedly Aperion asked for some voicing changes, but overall the two units seem to be almost identical.

The slimstage is a huge upgrade over the mainstage HD which I liked. Together with a subwoofer I feel like I am getting very reasonable surround sound, and faithful reproduction of sound. It is plenty loud without having distortion. Some wouldn't want to have wires, which I can understand. By itself, I think it's still a very strong performer, but I really like the use of two units together. Watching movies like The Dark Knight, Blackhawk Down, Quantum of Solace (opening chase scene) are amazingly fun. TV sound is good, but not exceptional. But then again, that's more of a garbage in, garbage out situation. I don't listen to music with the system, but I would imagine given its strong bass and mid-range that music would sound great with it.
post #2 of 187
How do you mount/use the Slimstage? I have a corner media stand that is really just a two door cabinet that slides back into the corner.

The TV I have (NX810) doesn't look like it would clear the Slimstage if I just set it in front. Any ideas? Also, you note that the TV audio is not great. What makes great TV audio? That's what I'm looking for...
post #3 of 187
Thread Starter 
I know it has a mounting bracket, but mine sits on my wooden enclosure in front of the tv. I would look at the installation instructions for ideas.

Regarding tv sound, it's more of a garbage in/garbage out issue. It sounds very good with well-done surround sound of sporting events and movies like on HBO. However, it's not going to magically make poor quality audio on some tv shows sound great. You can control the center channel volume so dialog should not be a problem. But, for example, a bad sounding commercial is going to sound like a bad sounding commercial.
post #4 of 187
Cool thanks for starting this thread benjammin I'll monitor it and help out with any questions too.

A couple things:

You can use our Zona Wireless Speakers by connecting the transmitter to the surround pre-out of the SLIMstage.

You can also use our HAL wireless transmitter to create a wireless connection to any active sub with RCA inputs.

We spent a considerable amount of time re-voicing our version of the SLIMstage, which mostly involved programming different EQ settings in the DSP stage.

It comes with both a wall mount and feet that you can sit the soundbar on and will allow you to slightly angle it up or down.

Hope that helps!
post #5 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hicks View Post

We spent a considerable amount of time re-voicing our version of the SLIMstage, which mostly involved programming different EQ settings in the DSP stage.

Hi Jason - Just trying to understand -- you modified the DSP since aperion started selling it? Just wondering if anything changed from the original slimstage sold by soundmatters to the one aperion is now selling? Unless I got my slimstage history wrong

Brian
post #6 of 187
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hicks View Post

Cool thanks for starting this thread benjammin I'll monitor it and help out with any questions too.

A couple things:

You can use our Zona Wireless Speakers by connecting the transmitter to the surround pre-out of the SLIMstage.

You can also use our HAL wireless transmitter to create a wireless connection to any active sub with RCA inputs.

We spent a considerable amount of time re-voicing our version of the SLIMstage, which mostly involved programming different EQ settings in the DSP stage.

It comes with both a wall mount and feet that you can sit the soundbar on and will allow you to slightly angle it up or down.

Hope that helps!

Those are some great ideas Jason. If you'd like to send me a slimstage 30, I certainly would not send it back . I'm really glad with Aperion's strong reputation and high profile that the Slimstage is starting to get the attention it deserves.
post #7 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by moontz View Post

Hi Jason - Just trying to understand -- you modified the DSP since aperion started selling it? Just wondering if anything changed from the original slimstage sold by soundmatters to the one aperion is now selling? Unless I got my slimstage history wrong

Brian

We unboxed and flashed our new DSP settings into every SLIMstage 30 in our warehouse when we received them from Soundmatters. So only the SLIMstage 30s that we have in our inventory feature the changes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benjammin View Post

Those are some great ideas Jason. If you'd like to send me a slimstage 30, I certainly would not send it back . I'm really glad with Aperion's strong reputation and high profile that the Slimstage is starting to get the attention it deserves.

Ha, I would if I could!

Thanks for the kind words.
post #8 of 187
Various reviews praised the slimstage30 having considerable bass output. Is it worth while to get the 8A subwoofer as well?
post #9 of 187
Thread Starter 
I don't have the 8a subwoofer since I bought it from soundmatters, but I did get their subwoofer. The 8a subwoofer is supposed to be very good and it's a good deal bundled with the slimstage. You could go without it and still have good mid-bass, but lower bass would be more absent.
post #10 of 187
Thread Starter 
I was just checking out the Aperion website and the slimstage alone and in combination with the 8a are on sale through November 29th. $150 off makes the slimstage alone $449 and $649 including the 8a subwoofer. That may allow more people to consider this soundbar and be able to enjoy it. Good job by Aperion.

http://www.aperionaudio.com/catalog/...ystems,85.aspx
post #11 of 187
It appears from the pictures that the wall mount bracket is narrower than the main unit and that the unit can be mounted off-center (to be sure studs are hit in the mounting). Am I correct? Thanks.
post #12 of 187
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotct View Post

It appears from the pictures that the wall mount bracket is narrower than the main unit and that the unit can be mounted off-center (to be sure studs are hit in the mounting). Am I correct? Thanks.

Hopefully Hicks can answer your question. I have no idea since mine is not mounted.
post #13 of 187
a) I know slimstage30 has 4 front-facing speakers. But does that mean it function like a 4.0 system?

b) My TV stand has a glass top. I wonder if the down-firing woofer arrays are issue (e.g. too much vibration)...

Thanks.
post #14 of 187
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by reallychu View Post

a) I know slimstage30 has 4 front-facing speakers. But does that mean it function like a 4.0 system?

b) My TV stand has a glass top. I wonder if the down-firing woofer arrays are issue (e.g. too much vibration)...

Thanks.

I don't know about the glass top. I think I read one review that wondered about that, but I don't have a glass top so it's not a problem for me. In any event, it has feet, so you can angle it and that might help.

Whether it functions like a 4.0 system or not is debatable, but it's still a soundbar so don't expect miraculous things. It's an excellent soundbar if you're willing to pay more than the JVC for example. But you might be happy with the JVC and pay less. I am happy with mine.
post #15 of 187
Although I have not heard the Asperion, I have heard from enough trusted ears, that I believe it would definitely outperform most of the popular priced (< $300) units currently on the market. This includes my current JVC as well as previous units from Yamaha, Sony and Vizio.

I believe I read in a review from one on-line publication that the Asperion is a true 4 or 5 channel system. Couldn't find the review, so this may be my memory going bad again (or just being flat wrong).

I would hesitate placing the Asperion on a glass top unless the front edge of the speaker was at the edge of the glass shelf. Glass is very reflective and there is a good chance of getting some type of early reflection which would distort the sound or give it an unnatural coloration. Probably the only way to know for sure is to try it with your particular setup.
post #16 of 187
Hey guys, looks like I've been neglecting this thread a bit, sorry about that, but I'll do my best to answer all of your questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reallychu View Post

Various reviews praised the slimstage30 having considerable bass output. Is it worth while to get the 8A subwoofer as well?

The SLIMstage by itself will get you down to around 55 Hz at -6 dB, but then the sub will go down to about 35 Hz and the freqs it produces between 55 and 80 Hz will be much louder than what is coming from the SLIMstage so for an extra $200 I think adding the sub is well worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotct View Post

It appears from the pictures that the wall mount bracket is narrower than the main unit and that the unit can be mounted off-center (to be sure studs are hit in the mounting). Am I correct? Thanks.

The back of the mount has 12 sets of two holes that are spaced about two inches apart, so hitting a stud should not be an issue.

You get three options in terms of attaching the SLIMstage to the mount, one will allow you to mount the SLIMstage straight on, one will tilt it downward and another will angle it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reallychu View Post

a) I know slimstage30 has 4 front-facing speakers. But does that mean it function like a 4.0 system?

b) My TV stand has a glass top. I wonder if the down-firing woofer arrays are issue (e.g. too much vibration)...

Thanks.

I just listened to the Master and Commander cannons scene with the bass level boosted all the way to +10 and the SLIMstage sitting on the feet that we provide with it and it didn't budge whatsoever. If you use the included feet you should be fine.

The SLIMstage will definitely get you pretty close to the dialogue clarity that a dedicated center channel gets you but it doesn't give you the same 360 surround experience you get from a five channel set up. However through its use of reflections I do hear sounds that I perceive as emanating a good two to three feet in front of the SLIMstage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drfreeman60 View Post

Although I have not heard the Aperion, I have heard from enough trusted ears, that I believe it would definitely outperform most of the popular priced (< $300) units currently on the market. This includes my current JVC as well as previous units from Yamaha, Sony and Vizio.

I believe I read in a review from one on-line publication that the Aperion is a true 4 or 5 channel system. Couldn't find the review, so this may be my memory going bad again (or just being flat wrong).

I would hesitate placing the Aperion on a glass top unless the front edge of the speaker was at the edge of the glass shelf. Glass is very reflective and there is a good chance of getting some type of early reflection which would distort the sound or give it an unnatural coloration. Probably the only way to know for sure is to try it with your particular setup.

Good point, you could get a brightness from the glass table top and if that is the case you might think of putting the SLIMstage on top of a mat or other soft material to absorb the sound.
post #17 of 187
any thoughts on how this system would fair in a living room that is about 16x24?
post #18 of 187
With the price reduction and the liberal return policy I went for the Soundstage with the woofer from Aperion. I hate to call a speaker that goes down to 35Hz a SUBwoofer. The plain old woofer on my stereo goes down to below 25Hz. My bias is towards reproduction of music. If it does that well, it will usually do everthing well IMO. I don't expect perfection in this application. I have a set up with a good stereo, in another room.

Anyway, the first thing I have to say is that this looks and feels like a very high quality unit. I hooked up the soundbar first without the woofer and was VERY pleased with what I heard. I played it for about 2 hours that way. It is, even without the woofer, a major improvement over the newer version of the Vizio soundbar (with its woofer) that I borrowed.

Then I added the woofer, for which Aperion doesn't, by the way, include a proper wire (mono 1/8 to RCA). So far I don't like the result of adding the woofer. I hear a lot (and I mean A LOT) of boom, a lot of one-note, and a lot of doubling. I have to turn it way down not to be distracted by what I hear. I'll have to fool around with it quite a bit, I think, to get something acceptable. But I wonder if there's something really wrong here.

Any suggestions?

Len
post #19 of 187
I ordered the bar too, but without the subwoofer; it's being shipped.

MLM's comment about the subwoofer performance concerns me, if I should get the subwoofer later. Hopefully Mr. Hicks will respond.

Meanwhile, maybe you can revisit the manual, which explains how to set up the bar with a subwoofer. (But probably, you know what you are doing...)
post #20 of 187
I just ordered the SLIMstage30 by Soundmatters with 8A Subwoofer. I guess it will be shipped today (Wednesday) if I am extremely lucky or Friday after Thanksgiving. I am terribly impatient so the sooner the better.

I returned a Vizio VHT510 on Sunday due to failure of the LED volume indicator lights. I rarely ever return things, but I just couldn't deal with something not working properly from the very beginning. I was quite happy with the sound it produced; I thought it was great for the money. Too bad quality control wasn't better as this is apparently an very common problem with this Vizio model.

I considered getting a Yamaha YSP-3050 82W black digital sound projector, but ultimately decided to get the SLIMstage30 with subwoofer instead. I have the Zona wireless speakers on my "wish list"; I will probably purchase them to use a rear surround speakers in a few weeks. I somehow find it psychologically easier not to buy everything all at once.

What cable do I need to connect the the Slimstage 30 to the Bravus 8A subwoofer? I figure I will buy whatever I need from monoprice. I suppose I will go wireless with the subwoofer eventually so I can relocate it to the back corner of my living room; is the Aperion Home Audio Link System this best way to accomplish this or are there other less expensive or better options?
post #21 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hicks View Post

Cool thanks for starting this thread benjammin I'll monitor it and help out with any questions too.

A couple things:

You can use our Zona Wireless Speakers by connecting the transmitter to the surround pre-out of the SLIMstage.

You can also use our HAL wireless transmitter to create a wireless connection to any active sub with RCA inputs.

We spent a considerable amount of time re-voicing our version of the SLIMstage, which mostly involved programming different EQ settings in the DSP stage.

It comes with both a wall mount and feet that you can sit the soundbar on and will allow you to slightly angle it up or down.

Hope that helps!

My SLIMstage30 with 8A Subwoofer will arrive this Saturday according to FedEx tracking. I am already thinking about those Zona (which, by the way, means prostitute in Hebrew) speakers so I can have wireless surrounds. What other Aperion speakers to they compare to?
post #22 of 187
I am interested too in this bar without woofer. Can someone comment a bit more about their impression when watching action movies or listening to music (rock, classical) without sub?
post #23 of 187
I read plenty of reviews and decided to give it a shot, after all their return policy is very generous.
post #24 of 187
Bummer. I missed the delivery of my new SLIMstage30 today. I work late and don't usually go to sleep until around 5am. I had my phone on very loud next to my bed thinking FedEx would ring from the panel in the front of my building. I guess someone let him in and he knocked on my door. I didn't hear anything, but I have a notice that they will make another delivery attempt on Tuesday. I am going to sleep in the living room to make sure I don't miss it that day. It sucks to have to wait so long.
post #25 of 187
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rxcats View Post

Bummer. I missed the delivery of my new SLIMstage30 today. I work late and don't usually go to sleep until around 5am. I had my phone on very loud next to my bed thinking FedEx would ring from the panel in the front of my building. I guess someone let him in and he knocked on my door. I didn't hear anything, but I have a notice that they will make another delivery attempt on Tuesday. I am going to sleep in the living room to make sure I don't miss it that day. It sucks to have to wait so long.

That's too bad. I know how frustrating that can be when you're looking forward to something. I hope it works well for you and you're happy with it.
post #26 of 187
Here are my impressions after several days. My bias is the faithful reproduction of music, classical and "soft" rock. I was very impressed with the physical build and the controls of this unit. I really wanted it to work and for my search to be over. Generally I sit 12' or 13' from the TV. I'm judging this as a $850 (or $650 on sale) unit.

Used without its special spacy effects, or just effect number one, this is like a good small monaural speaker. Given all of its limitations it is very good in the mid and high frequencies. You can enjoy any kind of music on it, but it doesn't have the sense of space that even a simple stereo set up gives you. This should not be surprising for a unit that's only 31" long. I don't know why they don't make exactly the same unit, with the same components for about the same price but stretch it to 50" or 52" for better sense of L - R space. Perhaps it's just not meant to be used with a 50" set.

The spacy effects in the unit don't do much for me. Furthermore they distort the audio (as was reported in the Sound and Vision review, which I think is still a puff piece) so that I find these effects unusable. Perhaps if the principal use is for movie sound effects it could work well as special effects can't be compared to the familiar sounds of music.

I found the subwoofer next to useless. In order to listen to it without being bothered by one note, boomy and doubling aspect of it reported above, I have to turn it so very low, that it's not worth the cost, or even the space. If I were to keep the principal unit I would certainly return the subwoofer and look for something else--certainly better, and possibly even smaller. Again, perhaps for movie special effects . . .

Finally I have to report that although the main unit has a nice, if essentially monaural, sound, the small bass speakers facing the bottom have a pleasant but quite modest sound and shouldn't be pushed to high volume. So, for my listening I keep the bass down, no higher than the halfway mark even without the subwoofer.

Within these limitations the unit can sound quite nice, kind of like a high quality, but small, bookshelf mono speaker driven by a good amp.

Whether that's worth even the reduced price of $450 is up to you. I'm not sure it is. The company certainly has an attractive trial and return policy.

If I want to keep to the sound bar idea, I might go for the Boston Acoustics unit that's available for about $200 with its wireless subwoofer. I've heard it and, for what it is, was very impressed. I can't consider the JVC, popular on this board, as it is to tall to be placed on the table in front of my TV.

Alternatively, I have a few small speakers around and I am thinking that one of the many $200-$300 home theater receivers may be a better bet. Three small speakers can be placed on their sides in front of the TV and it could power a subwoofer. It would add radio and a lot of switching as well. We'll see.

The search continues.
post #27 of 187
Thank you for your review! I really hope this bar will work for me, so I ordered it without sub. Btw regarding the size of the bar it comes in 30, 40 and 50 inches from Sound Matters.
post #28 of 187
Just want to give my "impression" of the slimstage30, from a non-audiophile point of view. My focus is more on movies and tv programs, with some music material. I have spent about 8-9 hrs with it so far.

Background:
- Previously owned Sony HT-CT150 for about 2 weeks but returned it. At the time, I felt the special effects were exaggerated, making the dialog and background music sound weak relatively. Didn't like how it performed with music. In addition, the sound just felt "processed" and "artificial".
- Liked what I heard from JVC BA1 in store. Almost purchased that, but I ended up trying slimstage30 instead.

Setup:
- Put slimstage30 on the TV stand in front of a 55" Samsung LCD. The bar looks "puny" in size in comparison, but that does not bother me.
- No subwoofer.
- Haven't yet adjust individual EQs; I just leave everything flat.
- Volume set typically between 30 and 45, dialog+ on, bass at +2, surround at +2.
- When watching blu-rays and tv programs, I like to use "movie" sound effect (#4). When listening to music or watching a concert performance, I prefer the "wide stereo" (#2) instead of straight stereo (#1)
- Use optical to connect to a blu-ray player and a TiVo.
- TV stand has a glass surface (I didn't notice anything weird about the sound that makes me think this is an issue.)
- Put the bar right on the front edge of the stand. Use the "EZ-tilt" feature to aim the bar upward to the listening position; this at the same time gives some additional clearance for the bass woofers.
- I sit about 9ft from the TV. Each side of the TV is another 9ft to the side wall. No back wall, because it opens up to the kitchen area.

Likes:
- "Solid", "rich", "balance", "authentic" (not processed) will be the words I use to describe the amazing sound coming out of this bar. I can hear everything clearly, the dialog, the background music, special effect - they don't compete with one another.
- Clear dialog. The dialog+ "booster" is just an on/off; I leave it on most of the time.
- Adds quite a bit of "dynamics" to the sound. I kind of feel like there is this "bubble" of soundstage right in front of me, and I am sitting right at the back of this bubble with sound coming from left and right. I like it! (The "Room Setup" asks if I am sitting < 2meter or >2m away; I guess 2m is around where the sweet spot is.)
- Listened to some music (CD, Pandora, a concert performance on TV), sound pretty decent to me, and way better than the Sony 150.
- After about 2+ hrs, the power adapter and the middle part of the bar are only slightly warm, and the rest of the bar stays cool.
- Quality build, looks cool! Since it's black, it kind of "disappears" in appearance, as my TV and the stand's glass top are both black.
- The bar performs so well on its own, I wonder if I really need to spend another 50% of the current promo price to get a subwoofer…

Nitpicks:
- The "feet" are actually made of metal with reasonable weight. It has rubber bottom, so that it can stay put. Nonetheless, the bar is simply "placed" on top of the feet, not fixed to them. So, you can kind of rock the bar back and forth if you put some force to it. It makes me nervous to consider that someone may accidentally knock this 16lb bar off the table! This is also the reason I didn't use the foot extension to add clearance. To be fair, the bar's own weight makes it stay put when being used. However, I think a better design may be if the feet can be locked or "snapped" onto the bar.
- Don't care too much about the 3 analog inputs. I think there should be more digital inputs. However, a total of 6 inputs is still quite generous compared with other bars in the market.
- Since the bar is so well built physically, it makes the remote kind of looks "cheap". To be fair, the remote deserves some praises, since all the necessary buttons are there and grouped together logically. I consider it a "minimalist" design, which is a good thing.
- The subwoofer setup menus do not match those in the aperion manual...in fact, they match those in the soundmatters manual!

Overall:
I like this bar a lot so far. If the job of a soundbar is to provide better sounds than the TV, then slimstage30 does its job exceedingly well. It adds a lot of dynamics to the soundtrack and sound effect, and it is pretty decent with music. To me, it seems to be a cut above the <$300 soundbars in terms of the sound and build quality. If it were still at $600, I may hesitate to order and try it. But at the current promo price of $450, I think it's reasonable.

Hope this helps. I would love to hear what other owners think of it, good or bad.
post #29 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by klas View Post

Btw regarding the size of the bar it comes in 30, 40 and 50 inches from Sound Matters.

Yes. They currently list the 39" model at $899 and the 47.5" model at $1099 and are out of stock on each. Perhaps in the near future if a retailer discounts these substantially it could be a good deal.
post #30 of 187
FedEx just delivered it at 4:45pm. I have been waiting around all day for fear of missing the delivery.

I know what I will be doing this evening! Hopefully I will like it.
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