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For building up your home theater with a tight budget, there’s nothing quite like a soundbar. These thin slivers of audio goodness provide excellent quality sound in a package that’s easy to set up, with maybe only a wire or two required.
In the case of TaoTronics, the budget can be even less. This company produces mainly Bluetooth speakers and headphones, but their soundbars are nothing to put down either. This 34-inch one provides excellent sound for only $90, with connectivity for just about any device you own. It’s simple, sleek, and, considering the price, excellent at what it does.
|Speaker Output||2 x 20 watts|
|Connections||Coaxial, Bluetooth, Optical, RCA, 3.5mm|
|Dimensions||34 × 3.4 × 2.6 in|
Design and Build Quality
The first thing that stands out about this soundbar is how nice it looks. The all-black casing sports a silver accent on the front, making it look a lot more expensive than what the price tag says. It sits nicely in just about any room, not looking like some goofy contraption from the future.
The silver bar is more than just looks, though. This is where all the controls live. On top, you’ll find touch controls for power and volume up and down. The front has LEDs indicating what source you currently have selected, taking double duty as a volume indicator. Thankfully, the touch controls have always been responsive, even after a couple of months of use.
On the back, there are two mounts to hang the soundbar up on the wall. The design here is very well thought out. The inputs are inside divots on the rear, making the hooking up and managing your cables easy, even if hung on the wall.
The hangers are all plastic, as well as the rest of the body. Normally, this would be a point of contention, but the speaker is so light, it can hardly be considered an issue.
Yes, the construction is completely plastic, and light plastic at that. When taking it out of the package, the bar holds no serious weight which is slightly disappointing. However, it doesn’t seem like it will fall apart, with a clean and uniform finish. It just should be noted.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the TaoTronics 34-inch soundbar here. The design is sleek and modern, while still managing to look like more than a black bar. This is a feat at only $90. The all-plastic construction does feel cheap, but the unit as a whole does not. It’s lightweight but certainly doesn’t feel like it will fall apart any time soon.
This soundbar has enough in terms of features alone to justify the cost. While you won’t be setting up as the centerpiece of a surround setup, the bar functions perfectly as a standalone unit and is packed with features to aid in that area.
First, and most obvious, would be Bluetooth connectivity. While most TVs won’t use this feature, it’s not to convert the soundbar into a Bluetooth speaker. The connection was always simple, and switching to the Bluetooth input was a breeze.
Which brings us to switching. All controls are found on the included remote. It’s made completely out the plastic and feels super cheap, but it gets the job done. There are all the media controls you need, as well as dedicated buttons for each of the five inputs.
If you prefer a hardwired connection, the soundbar has you covered as well. There is a 3.5mm jack located on the side of the unit so you can plugin in any device. I like this placement as opposed to the back. That way, you can easily plug and take out a cord without having it hanging off the unit at all times.
For connecting, you do have five options. We’ve been over two, Bluetooth and auxiliary, but are two others. Mainly for connecting to the TV, you have the option of an RCA connection, coaxial connection, or an optional connection.
The features here are made for the purpose of the soundbar. There are no apps or anything ridiculous like that. There’s just enough for the role this bar serves, and that’s a good thing.
Features and looks aside, this soundbar isn’t worth anything if it doesn’t good. Thankfully, that’s not the case. This car impresses for money, sounds comparable to ones that are twice the price.
The low-end is provided through two bass radiators on the side. Instead of trying to force bass out of the front, the low-end is amplified by radiators, providing clean bass that doesn’t crowd the drivers. Still, there isn’t a ton of bass, especially at low volumes.
Bass really only comes into play when turned up. At low volumes, you can perceive it, but it feels more like a low-mid bump and less like true bass. Still, it beat TV speakers.
The midrange is pretty scooped. This sounds similar to the low-end bars from Vizioo and Samsung, and less like the offers from Klipsch. There is a definite dip here, but that doesn’t present an issue. Only people going after that “natural” sound will find a gripe.
Highs are very present, but, with movies, that’s a good thing. Dialogue comes through crystal clear, and things like gunshots explode out of the speaker. The highs are present, and I love it. They stick out a bit too much at low volumes but are easily balanced out when turned up a bit.
For watching movies, imaging is good too. The two separate drivers provide a stereo signal, so there is no surround sound. However, the bar is long enough at moderate distances that things can be picked out from either speaker. The imaging is anything compared to a real surround setup, but there’s enough there to know that things are flying from one ear to the other.
Sound is really what matters and, thankfully, this bar doesn’t disappoint. It’s perfect for getting an inexpensive source that oozes value for the money.
Alternatives to Consider
AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Bluetooth Sound Bar – $69.99
Basics are correct, this soundbar is about as basic as they come. It’s just a simple black bar, coming in at a modest 31 inches. You’re going to find similar features here, for a few fewer dollars. Bluetooth connectivity, RCA, optical, and auxiliary inputs are all included.
Despite having a wall bracket, the controls are located on the back, so the bar is less thought out than the TaoTronics. Still, for $70, it’s hard to complain. This soundbar isn’t excellent, but it does the job.
Klipsch Reference Series R-4B 2.1 Channel Sound Bar – $149.99
If you’re looking for a more natural sound, then this is the soundbar to look at. It’s quite a bit more expensive, but the price is worth what you’re getting. Included is a 40-inch soundbar, and a 6.5 wireless subwoofer.
This combo yields amazing results for the money. It’s a far cry from the sound of the TaoTronics, focused more on authenticity and less on hype. IF you have the extra change to spare, this would be my go-to recommendation.
Samsung HW-M360/ZA 2.1 Channel Wireless Soundbar – $136.36
This soundbar is the closest in sound to the TaoTronics with one unique difference. This setup includes a wireless subwoofer. Sitting between the TaoTronics and Klipsch in both price and sound quality, this rig is an excellent value for the money.
You can also purchase a wireless surround kit to turn the bar into a 4.1 surround setup. The two bookshelf speakers are designed to integrate with the soundbar seamlessly, and Samsung does a good job providing expandability without the fuss or the wires.
All this soundbar would have to get right is the sound to win my favor. Fortunately, it gets just about everything else right too. From the look to the connectivity options to the sound, this soundbar is incredible.
You can’t expect much for $90, but you can expect more than what the price tag says on this device. It’s lightweight, sleek, has plenty of hookups, and provides excellent sound.