Hitachi 460W 2.1 Bluetooth soundbar
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Even though TVs are getting larger and providing even better pictures, sound quality lags behind. This is something that we hardly ever notice until we actually have the opportunity of listening to what the music should actually sound like. This situation is unlikely to improve as there is limited space for reasonable size loudspeakers within the newer designs of TV, and as it could get even worse, there is a growing market for external soundbars.
The Hitachi 2.1 model AXS460BTU Bluetooth Soundbar with wireless subwoofer can be easily connected to an existing TV so as to provide an enhanced listening experience. The unit consists of the soundbar, the remote control, and the associated subwoofer all of which are black in colour.
The former is 99cm long by 54mm x 74mm and would generally be sited immediately to the front of the TV or, in the case of a wall mount, below it. The speakers are at each end of the bar while, on top at the centre, there are the control push-buttons for power, source and up/down volume. The display is then at the front and connections to the rear – power, coaxial, optical, two auxiliaries (one a 3.5mm socket), two HDMI and an ARC (audio return channel) HDMI connection.
The subwoofer is quite heavy and is 250 by 265mm and 320mm high and is mounted on 25mm high feet with the loudspeaker in its base facing downwards. The power socket and switch are on the rear as are the pairing button and the LED. As there is not the same sound directional effect with low notes handled by the subwoofer, it can be placed on the floor anywhere within the Bluetooth range of the soundbar which is 5 metres.
Having checked in its instruction booklet and found that my TV was ARC compatible, I connected an HDMI cable between the appropriate HDMI socket on TV and the ARC socket on the soundbar. On powering up the soundbar and subwoofer there was a “Welcome” message on the former and they paired automatically. There is also a manual pairing facility. An LED on the soundbar indicates when it is On.
In normal operation, one just uses the TV remote control as, in addition to its normal functions, it also controls the volume of soundbar even though one would probably need to adjust “sub” and “treble” to your needs using the Hitachi remote control. The display provides useful information, such as “VOL 22” at these times. When the TV is switched off, or to standby, “Goodbye” is displayed on the soundbar and within a few minutes it automatically enters its own standby mode where power consumption drops to less than 0.5W. It wakes up again when the TV is switched back on.
In order to get a better idea of the improvement I listened to a number of the radio channels that are available on Freeview. There was an improvement when listening to speech but it was most worthwhile when listening to music – irrespective of genre – where there was a much fuller sound and, in particular, one could adjust the subwoofer to give the bass setting that suits one best. In addition, in practice I found that there was more power than I dare use in a reasonable size room. However, in this context, in the Argos product listing it is described as 460W. I don’t really know what it means as, according to the product specification the power consumption is 65W.
Although I used the ARC connection as it was most convenient for me, with the appropriate cable, one can alternatively use an optical/coaxial connection. In addition the instruction manual shows how the soundbar can be used as a hub for the connection of a set top box or DVD player etc.
At its current Argos price of £129.99, but previously sold at £149.99, this is a useful enhancement at a reasonable price that will improve TV sound quality and will be most appreciated by those who want to enrich their music.
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