Looking for a pro-quality surround system disguised as a "lifestyle" audio system? Theory Audio Design's new soundbar delivered that experience in spades.

The humble soundbar is a form factor that presents surprising advantages if properly executed. Theory Audio Design is a new company from Paul Hales who's other business, Pro Audio Technology, is well known for its high-performance dedicated home theater gear. Theory Audio Design brings Paul's experience to a new product line that's designed to fit in with residential decor, is comparatively approachably priced, and features an impressive-sounding mega-soundbar in the lineup.

I've dedicated significant attention to soundbars over the past few years and have heard some great examples. The best soundbars tend to be passive models that receive external power and benefit from advanced processors and the integration of powerful subs. And among systems of that type, the very best I've heard came from the Theory Audio Design system demoed at CEDIA.

First and foremost, the demo was proper home theater. The big screen was acoustically transparent, so there's no way to know there's a soundbar designed for an 85" TV back there. And so it went as Paul played the sound of a 747 landing, which not only sounded real, it felt real. Then the demo moved on to the Overwatch trailer, which led me to write "This is the new king of soundbars, bar none. Fact."

Now, the total system cost for the 5.2.2 system I heard is $10,450. It's not trivial, and the configuration is minimalist in a world where 9.1.6 Atmos is coming to home theaters near you, but there's more to good sound than channel count and there's plenty of value to be found in the overall experience that the Theory Audio Design system brought. That's why I awarded it a Best of CEDIA 2018.
Check out the interview with Paul Hales here:

Mark Henninger, Senior Editor at AVS Forum