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Toshiba SBX4250 Sound Bar Speaker System Review

Toshiba Gets into the Sound Bar Act

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Toshiba SBX4250 Sound Bar Speaker System
Toshiba
Toshiba is primarily known for its TV, Blu-ray Disc player, and DVD recorder lines, but now they have decided to jump into the ever-growing sound bar market. The SBX4250 is a system that combines a sound bar with a wireless subwoofer with the intention of giving consumers with a way to get better sound for TV viewing, without having to use a system with a lot of speakers. For more details on how to set it up and how it performs, keep reading this review. After reading the review, also check out my Toshiba SBX4250 Photo Profile.

Toshiba SBX4250 Sound Bar Speaker System Overview

1. Speakers: Two 2.5-inch midrange drivers and one 1.5-inch tweeter for each channel (four midrange and two tweeters total).

2. Frequency Response(entire system): 20Hz to 20kHz.

3. Sound Bar Peak Power Output: 75 watts x 2 (4ohms at 1kHz - 10%THD) - useful continuous power output is much lower.

4. Subwoofer Peak Power Output: 150 watts (3 ohms at 100Hz - 10% THD) - useful continuous power output is much less.

5. Inputs: 2 HDMI in with 3D pass-through and CEC control, 2 Digital Optical, and 2 analog audio ins (One RCA and 3.5mm).

6. Bluetooth Audio Input: Allows wireless streaming of audio content from compatible Bluetooth-equipped devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and PCs/MACs.

7. Output: 1 HDMI with ARC (Audio Return Channel) support.

8. Audio Decoding and Processing: TruSurround HD, SRS TruBass processing. SRS TruSurround HD works best for TV and movies and can perform its processing functions with both two-channel and 5.1 channel source material.

Although the SBX4250 can accept and decode Dolby Digital input signals. From what I could determine, incoming DTS audio streams from Blu-ray or DVD defaults to PCM output so that the SBX4250 can accept the audio signal.

9. Equalization Presets: Additional sound shaping is provided by six equalization preset modes that include: Flat, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Classical, Movie.

9. Wireless transmitter for Subwoofer link: Bluetooth 2.4Ghz Band. Wireless Range: Approximately 30 feet - line of sight.

10. Sound Bar Dimensions: 37.6-inches (W) x 3.6-inches (H) x 2.3-inches (D)

11. Sound Bar Weight: 4.9lbs

Features of the Wireless Subwoofer unit of the Toshiba SBX4250 include:

1. Design: Bass Reflex with side mounted 6.5-inch cone driver, supported by front mounted port for added low frequency extension.

2. Frequency Response: 30Hz to 150Hz

3. Wireless Transmission Frequency: 2.4 GHz

4. Wireless Range: Information not provided - but no problem in 15x20 foot room.

5. Subwoofer Dimensions: 7.6-inches (W) x 14-inches (H) x 13.2-inches (D)

6. Subwoofer Weight: 14.2lbs

Note: Both the sound bar and subwoofer have built-in amplifiers.

Suggested Price for entire system: $329.99

Additional Components Used in this Review

Toshiba SBX4250 Sound Bar Speaker System - Connections - Digital and Analog Audio

Toshiba SBX4250 Sound Bar Speaker System - Photo of the rear mounted digtial optical and analog stereo connections on the sound bar unit.

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

TV/Monitor: Westinghouse LVM37w3 1080p LCD Monitor.

Software Used

Blu-ray Discs: Battleship, Ben Hur, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

Setup

After unboxing the SBX4250's sound bar and subwoofer units, place the sound bar above or below the TV (the sound bar can be wall mounted by hardware is not provided), and place the subwoofer on the floor to the left or right of the TV/sound bar location, but you can experiment with other locations within the room - you might even find that putting the subwoofer in the back of the room may be your preference. Since there is no connection cable to deal with, you have a lot of placement flexibility.

Next, connect your source components. For HDMI sources, connect that output to one of the one of the HDMI inputs (there are two provided) on the sound bar unit. Then connect the HDMI output provided on the sound bar to your TV. The sound bar will not only pass both 2D and 3D video signals to the TV, but the sound bar also provides the Audio Return Channel feature which can send audio signals from a compatible TV back to the sound bar using the HDMI cable that connects from the sound bar to the TV.

For non-HDMI sources, such as an older DVD player, VCR, or CD player - you can connect either the digital or analog audio outputs from those sources directly to the sound bar, but, in that type of setup, you must connect the video from those sources directly to your TV.

Finally, plug in the power to each unit. The sound bar comes with an external power adapter and the subwoofer comes with an attached power cord. Turn the sound bar and subwoofer on, and the sound bar and subwoofer should automatically link up. If the link hadn't taken automatically, there is a "wireless link" button on the back of the subwoofer that can reset the wireless connection, if needed.

Performance

With the SBX4250 set up properly with the subwoofer link working, it is now time to check out what it can do in the listening department.

The SBX4250 incorporates two sound processing features in addition to basic 2-channel stereo: TruSurround HD and SRS TruBass. The surround image generated by SRS TruSurround HD, although not as directional as true Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1, does provide a satisfactory listening experience by widening the sound stage across the front and slightly to the sides, providing a better sense of immersion for surround sound movie and TV soundtracks. In addition, I found that the frequency transition between the sound bar and subwoofer was smooth.

SRS TruBass also aided the listening experience from by providing a louder bass output without having to increase overall volume.

However, the system is not as impressive as a music-only listening system. With music, although the wide sound stage provided by the the SRS TruSurround HD audio processing provided a room-filling listening experience, the speakers provided midrange response that was more than acceptable, and the bass was good considering the small subwoofer, there was a lack of depth and detail in both the mid-range and highs that diminish overall clarity somewhat. This was especially evident on acoustical instruments and piano sound passages. which sounded somewhat dull. On the other hand, the additionally provided sound equalization modes do help somewhat adding more depth and clarity with different types of source material.

That being said, for a sound bar system in its price-class and targeted purpose, both movies and music sound much better than they would from a TV's built-in speaker system, or compact mini-audio music-only system. The SBX4250 easily delivered room filling sound in a 12x15 foot space.

The SBX4250 is not a direct replacement for a home theater system with multiple speakers, but does a provide a good option for those that are looking for a basic system that can enhance the audio portion of the TV viewing experience without a lot of speaker clutter. Also, if you have a multi-speaker home theater system in you main room, consider the Toshiba SBX4250 as a possible enhancement for TV listening in a bedroom, office, or secondary family room.

What I liked About the Toshiba SBX4250

Toshiba SBX4250 Sound Bar Speaker System - Remote Control

Toshiba SBX4250 Sound Bar Speaker System - Photo of the remote control. Toshiba SBX4250 - Remote

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
1. Easy to unpack, set up, and operate.

2. Wireless Subwoofer capability reduces cable clutter.

3. Good sound quality from both main sound bar unit and subwoofer for movies.

4. TruSurround HD provides satisfactory surround sound field - SRS Bass provide more bass output without having to raise overall volume.

5. The sound bar can be shelf, table, or wall mounted (template is provided but mounting screws must be purchased separately).

What I Didn't Like About the Toshiba SBX4250

1. SRS TruSurroundHD processing not as distinct as Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1.

2. High frequencies and transient sounds are a little dull.

3. Subwoofer provides adequate bass for a modest system, but definitely rolls off on more challenging low frequencies.

4. No stand or base provided for sound bar shelf placement.

Final Take

If you are looking for a no-frills way to enhance your TV's, and also access audio from up to six additional components (seven, if you count Bluetooth devices), without investing in a multi-speaker 5.1 channel home theater system, the SBX4250 is a good value, especially for suggest price of $329.99.

For a further look at the Toshiba SBX4250, check out my supplementary Photo Profile.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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