Soundbars come in quite a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points. At CEDIA 2016, Pioneer introduced its FS–EB70 Dolby Atmos 3.1.2-channel soundbar with DTS:X. The new model takes a rather unusual approach in that the processing and amplification is housed in external unit, which allows the speaker bar portion to be considerably more compact than soundbars that integrate those components.
Pioneer Elite FS-EB70 Atmos soundbar system with Play-Fi and Google Cast. Photo by Mark Henninger
The FS-EB70 offers four HDMI inputs and an HDMI output, with ARC support. All of the HDMI inputs and outputs feature HDCP 2.2 and can handle HDR plus 4K UHD video. It also includes dual-antenna Wi-Fi, an optical-digital input, an Ethernet port, USB, and a stereo analog RCA input.
Not only does this Soundbar support DTS Play-Fi, it also has Google Cast built-in. Both of these multi-room, networked-audio ecosystems are open t multiple brands, hi-res audio capable, and flexible—special kudos to Pioneer for including them both.
Rear panel view of the new Elite soundbar. Photo by Mark Henninger
This system supports room correction and comes with microphone. In addition to the included wireless subwoofer, the FS-EB70 has a wired subwoofer output, so you can add your own.
Interestingly, just before I left for CEDIA, I was asked whether 3.1.2 Atmos was worth it. The FS-EB70 offered a compelling answer; its height channels contributed to a massive expansion of the 3.1 soundstage. We watched several of Dolby's Atmos demo clips, followed by scenes from Oblivion and Mad Max: Fury Road. Pioneers' approach paid off, the 16' x 24' x 10' demo room was filled with sound.
While it does not offer the complete sense of envelopment offered by Samsung's 5.1.4 Atmos soundbar, when compared to soundbars that lack 3.1.2 capability, this new Elite's soundstage is massive. Quite the impressive feat considering its size. Pricing and availability was not available at the time I wrote this.