Launched alongside Goodmans’ Aspect soundbar, this modestly priced soundbase aims to add a bit of oomph and sparkle to your TV’s sonics. It’s a 100W, six-speaker affair equipped with some tasty features and a space-saving one-box design that allows you to place your TV on top. But it’ll need to improve on the disappointing performance of the Aspect soundbar if it’s to earn your hard-earned cash – particularly in the face of some fierce soundbase competition…
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With its chunky shape and plain black finish, Base is not exactly elegant but the curved edges and gloss-black end panels elevate it above sore thumb status. These panels lift the body off the surface slightly, creating a small gap that gives the down-firing subwoofers a bit of breathing space.
Build quality is surprisingly good for a ‘budget’ soundbase, with heavy aluminium bodywork providing sufficient sturdiness to support our 55-inch Samsung LED set.
The speakers are hidden behind a black mesh grille, as well as a small light that indicates the unit’s status – like Aspect, there’s no LED readout, which is always disappointing. A few controls are found on the right-hand side, including volume, power and input selection.
The selection of sockets on the back is useful but hardly cutting-edge. There are no HDMI ports, which isn’t surprising at this price but might be off-putting if you want to channel your HD kit through the system.
However, Base does offer optical and coaxial digital inputs, plus analogue stereo and 3.5mm minijack inputs. It also comes with built-in Bluetooth with NFC pairing, making it easy to play music from phones and other portable devices.
Base is a 4.2 sound system, with four speaker drivers along the front and two subwoofers on the bottom. Power output is quoted at 100W (4 x 10W and 2 x 20W).
It also features Dirac HD Sound technology, which analyses and corrects colouration caused by the physical constraints of the cabinet. This is not a psychoacoustic ‘virtual surround’ effect but a sound correction technology that has been specifically tuned for this soundbase.
Dirac’s analysis tool builds an acoustical model of the speaker, and then creates a tailored digital controller that optimises the performance. This controller is built into every Base in a bid to achieve the best possible sound quality.
Naturally, Base is incredibly simple to set up and operate, if you can live with the lack of a front panel display. The LED glows blue for Bluetooth, white for optical, yellow for coaxial, green for the 3.5mm input and magenta for the line input. When adjusting the volume the light blinks, but stops when you hit the maximum or minimum. The same applies when adjusting the bass and treble levels.
The remote is a slim, compact device with a spacious button layout. All of the keys are clearly labelled and the five input buttons are colour-coded to match the front LED. The important volume controls are bang in the middle and fall naturally under the thumb, while dedicated bass and treble controls are conveniently placed at the bottom.
A complete lack of bass and underwhelming volume turned Goodmans’ promising Aspect soundbar into a major disappointment, but Base is a different kettle of fish. It’s a lot more powerful than Aspect, delivering massive bass notes, a sparky tone and lots of detail.
Movies sound big and exciting. The speakers have enough puff to fill a large living room – even at two-thirds of maximum you might start annoying the neighbours – and when you push loudness to the upper echelons it stays composed, with only occasional signs of distortion. The subwoofers get a little boomy at loud volumes but nothing a fiddle with the bass controls can’t fix.
Its impressive power is evident when watching Pacific Rim on Blu-ray. As Gipsy Danger and Knifehead go toe-to-toe in the film’s opening Kaiju/Jaeger fight, the rumble of thunder is deep and solid, while the robot’s blaring foghorn sounds enormous. The sheer loudness and scale makes you feel involved in the action, even without the presence of surround processing or beam technology. And when the hulking beasts start thumping each other, you feel each blow viscerally.
There’s plenty of detail on offer too, from the hissing ocean waves to the gentle crackling and bleeping within the Jaeger cockpits. That said, it’s here where you can tell the difference between Base and a pricier soundbase like the Canton DM50 or the Roth Neo 6.2 SoundCore – both of these offer greater finesse and clarity in the high-frequencies, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker.
Base also delivers dialogue in a clear, intelligible manner and creates a wide spread of sound. We like the lack of virtual sound processing, as it gives you a direct stereo output with no distracting effects.
Switch to music via Bluetooth and you get more of the same – a punchy sound with a dynamic tone and agile bass. This well-balanced, fluid sound is much better than you might expect for the money, although other soundbases deliver a more sophisticated sound overall, with greater subtlety and insight.
After the terrible performance of the Aspect soundbar we didn’t hold out much hope for this soundbase, but our trepidation was misplaced – Base delivers a powerful, room-filling sound with a decent amount of detail, deep bass and an exciting tone.
It’s not the most finessed performer we’ve heard and the lack of HDMI inputs is pity, but there’s enough good stuff elsewhere to make Base feel like terrific value for money.
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Decent features, rousing sound and an attractive price make Goodmans’ Base an excellent purchase, marred only by a lack of HDMI ports and a comparative lack of sonic finesse