Surround sound systems can be mighty expensive costing well into the thousands of pounds for some of the top of the range kits. It probably explains why in recent years we’ve seen a surge in the sales of sound bars; a product that some manufacturers will try to convince you offers a surround sound experience but which are more affordable for those on a budget. I say “try to convince” because you look at any sound bar on the market from the likes of Philips and LG who make these claims, and you will see so many reviews scored rather low due to not truly having a surround sound feel. Saying they’re at the budget end of surround sound systems as well doesn’t necessarily mean they are that cheap with many costing over £100. Luckily for those of you who are thinking of replacing your old TV sets, most electronics stores now give sound bars away when you buy a new one. But if you aren’t getting it as a freebie is it worth getting one to try and enhance your gaming experience and if so, can it be done on a budget?
Well thanks to Tecevo it definitely can be done on a budget if you head to Amazon and pick up their S420 sound bar right now, which is a steal at only £49.95. You could probably get some bigger name brands for around the same price but I’d bet the Invision Game Community boss’s life on it that the S420 would beat it hands down. Why is this? Well because unlike some other brands such as DTL and Ricco, Tecevo don’t lie about their speaker’s quality by feeding consumers misleading information. What I mean by this is the way manufacturers calculate the output of the speakers. Tecevo openly advertise the S420 has a speaker output of 5W RMS x 4 (Root Means Square) whereas those made by DTL will claim to have 30W speakers which to the unsuspecting eye would seem better. However DTL calculate their speaker output using PMPO (Peak Music Power Output) which calculates the maximum possible output which is often when sound becomes all horrible and distorted. So despite the misconception that one would have more powerful speakers, the quality won’t necessarily be as good.
For those normal people out there for whom all that tech speak means nothing I’ll translate it into plain and simple English. Essentially the speakers are of a really good quality, they’re not the best available but they’re a definite upgrade from your standard TV speakers. The clarity of sound is as clear as crystal in the lower and mid range volumes, but push it up to the higher end and especially when you have a lot of bass coming through the sound can become distorted and crackly so I’d avoid using it at full blast. Saying that, the 2 in-built subwoofers give a decent amount of bass even at a normal volume level so you can really feel those explosions and gunfire or roaring engines when you’re having a good old gaming sesh. If you’re wondering if the sound is just as clear connecting to it by Bluetooth then it’s a yes, with a range of up to 10m you have plenty of room to walk around with your phone in your pocket without any disruption to your music.
As for its appearance, the S420 is 596mm long and comes in an almost triangular shaped aluminium alloy casing with a hard black glossy ABS plastic at either end. The mesh that covers the speakers is black also and the colours work really well together and should go nicely with most TVs. It also comes with a glossy black base to stand the S420 in vertically, either as a speaker at the side of the TV or just placed in the corner of a room to be used for playing music. It is quite hefty though weighing in at just under 1kg for the sound bar and just over 500g for the base, but this to me shows how solidly built the sound bar is. And believe me when I say it is solid as I decided to place my S420 on a shelf below my TV rather than screw it on with the fittings it comes with, and being the dopey sod I am it has been accidentally knocked on the floor twice but thankfully still works perfectly and hasn’t got a scratch on it.
So what features does the S420 have? Well it has two input modes; an auxiliary input to hook up to your TV and Bluetooth so you can connect your Smartphones and Tablets. Now it was a little tricky switching between modes at first, and even following the simple instructions I just couldn’t seem to get it to work, then I tried using a different button to what was in the manual and it seemed to work. Not sure if this is a misprint or whether I just read the instructions wrong but it did make it a little infuriating the first couple of times I used it. After a while though it is simple to use, and all you have to do is use the power button to switch between input modes and hold in for a second or two to either pair on bluetooth or allow audio through the auxiliary input. Both modes are identified with a Red (Aux) or Blue (Bluetooth) light which will flash when not connected and stop flashing when you’re set up and ready to go.
The other buttons on the speaker are the volume controls and the play/pause button located at one side of the sound bar, with the aux and power input at the other end. The thing that lets the sound bar down in terms of volume control is there is no remote to allow you to turn the sound up and down from across the room, you can obviously turn your TV up and the volume on your phone but it doesn’t have the same impact on the sound bar unless you’re connected via a headphone socket. If you connect wirelessly or using the twin audio out (providing better audio quality) connection you may hear a slight increase but nothing worth noticing. Now I’m lazy so this may not bother people but if you’re playing a game or watching a movie, you don’t want to be getting up and down all the time to change the volume, you just want to be able to sit back and relax and change it by clicking a button on a remote.
So overall if you’re looking to boost your gaming experience audio wise, or just want to upgrade the standard speakers inbuilt into your TV for watching Movies then this budget sound bar is definitely worth its weight in Gold. Tecevo have kept with their history of providing quality products without the high price of its competitors, delivering a pleasing audio experience for anyone who uses it without leaving their wallets empty. I must admit I was disappointed at the lack of remote to alter the volume from a distance, and the instructions could maybe be a little clearer as it was a bit of a struggle to learn how to operate the sound bar at first, but other than that I can’t really complain about the S420. Definitely worth a purchase, and could be the perfect budget sound bar with a couple of tweaks.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.