Pioneer Sound Bar SBX-N500 

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TV sound – even on an expensive unit is not great – so a sound bar can improve the quality and clarity of the volume. My own bugbear is movies where they tend to speak in a whisper and even turning up the TV volume cannot always help.

Pioneer SBX N500 TV Speaker Bar System with Network and Bluetooth
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The soundbar is 88x10x11cm, the middle figure is the measurement at the front, at the back it is only 7cm.

I used it in a variety of places as it is far more than a TV soundbar. I used it sitting on tables and stands as the shape allows sound from the small 7cm under speakers to come out. It can also be wall mounted but as it is not light do check your wall can support it, in this case the mountings are on the rear.

The main speakers are behind the grill that runs the length of the unit.

The previous soundbars I have reviewed were mainly/totally for use with a TV and this will still probably still spend its time in front of or below your TV however it can do far more as it has a range of other inputs.

It has USB, a 3.5mm jack, Ethernet (Wi-FI also possible), two Optical inputs, Bluetooth and HDMI.

Let’s deal first with the TV using an Optical cable (this was supplied) the sound quality is excellent and even those films that insist of speech being whispered are covered as the volume levels are much increased over a range of frequencies.

This does not only include recent films as I watching an old black and white film where the sound deteriorates badly as the film proceeds and this was intentional and only due to the age of the film switch on the soundbar and perfectly distinguishable dialog. Turn the soundbar off and the sound is again very poor.

If watching say a football match the sound of a boot on the ball is normally only heard when the ball is hit extremely hard, with the soundbar on even a normal pass is heard.

You can use the soundbar to play music from a memory stick via USB as well as music stored on a PC via Ethernet. My one problem was Wi-Fi as although the 68 page manual is otherwise excellent it does not tell you that to enter the Setup menu you have to have a screen attached via an HDMI lead. I was lured into thinking that as every other main feature can be adjusted using the single line display on the soundbar that the instructions given were for that display.

A quick phone call with Pioneer set me right and the setup to Wi-Fi was easily completed as it supports the DMS on most recent routers to input your passcode. However it can remember only one code so you would need to press your button again to reset if you use more than one router.

One feature I enjoyed that I have not come across on previous soundbars is that sound inputs from any output to the TV is increased and improved so for instance when playing items from my PVR I enjoyed the benefits of the soundbar even though the sound was traveling along an HDMI cable to the TV before exporting to the soundbar. This works either way with the TV on or muted.

The 35 key remote control works well and easily changes the input source and the single line display on the soundbar shows your request being implemented.

Even as a TV soundbar only this is a good product, with the added extra uses it makes it an excellent one.

The Pioneer SBX-N500 is available from the link below for £239.95.

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