I love to watch movies at home. And when I watch those big budget movies with screeching car chases and ridiculously huge explosions, I want that surround sound “Just-like-being-in-the-theatre” experience. So, a few years back, I jury-rigged four speakers and a little subwoofer to my 42-inch flat screen television. I’ve been satisfied with the amateur setup so far, but with advances in technology I’ve also been curious recently about how a newer system would sound and perform in comparison. So, I pulled out some favourite action flicks and popped some popcorn when I got to test out the new Energy Connoisseur CS-30 Sound Bar and Wireless Subwoofer.
Out of the box
It’s a pretty aesthetically pleasing system, consisting of an approximately 40-inch sound bar that’s light and sporting a black satin finish, plus a computer tower-sized subwoofer, also in black. You’ll also find a couple of power cables, optical cable and a remote in the package. The sound bar looked great sitting on its little rubber feet on my mantle under my flat screen (it can alternately be mounted to a wall), and the subwoofer is wireless (up to 15m), so it can be placed anywhere in a room you please. It certainly looks better than my old wired quad speakers and subwoofer-directly-in-front-of-the-fireplace-because-I-have-no-choice combo.
If you hate setting things up, then the CS-30 is your dream system. In all, it probably took about 15-minutes from out of the box to pumping out sound in my living room. After you find a spot for the sound bar, you simply connect it to your TV using the optical cable and plug it in. Once you power up your subwoofer, it automatically connects with the sound bar and you’re ready for movie time. My TV is firmly affixed to my wall, and I was alone during setup, so I couldn’t access the optical port inconveniently located on the back of the set. Luckily, you can still hook the CS-30 up to your TV using good old 2-channel analog inputs (RCA). There wasn’t any included in the box, but fortunately I had an extra set kicking around. As a general tip, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’ve got the appropriate cables for your own setup whenever you buy any electronics, just to save you an extra (and grumpier) trip back to the store.
You can’t complain with Dolby Digital enhanced by 3D virtual surround sound processing and a 250W output delivering your movie explosions. Although, when I cranked the volume a little too high… the neighbours did. The sound bar does deliver an impressive sound experience, and the 3D surround sound does fill the room nicely. And with things blowing up and guns going off (not to mention big dinosaurs stomping around) my favourite movies are all about the bass, the bass, the bass (with some treble)… and the CS-30 subwoofer had my couch rumbling and sent my cat scurrying.
The CS-30 is also Bluetooth capable, meaning you can use the sound bar to play all your music, too, wirelessly from your phone or other devices. Clear highs, good solid, bass… what more could you ask for? Well, maybe some speakers in the back… but that’s perhaps a personal preference. I’ve worked in music and sound, so maybe I’m a little too picky when it comes to home theatre. I like to be able to hear things actually happening behind me like when sitting in that sweet spot in a cinema. And while the CS-30’s simulated surround sound is indeed pretty impressive and immersive, I still can tell the difference. I’d be interested in comparing the CS-30’s virtual surround sound against something like Pioneer’s 600-watt 5.1 Channel 3D Receiver Home Theatre, to see if it’s all in my head and not just my ears. Check out Tom’s blog about Basic Types of Surround Sound Systems to see if you may prefer that type of setup.
But if you are in the market for a sound bar/subwoofer combo (as is becoming more and more the preference for home theatre enthusiasts), the Energy Connoisseur CS-30 Sound Bar and Wireless Subwoofer certainly delivers while looking low key and stylish. Alternately, those with a more modest budget could try the Sony 60W Sound Bar.