If you feel the audio from your TV lacks the punch to do justice to movie soundtracks and even day-to-day TV fare, but the other half doesn't like the idea of cables running across the floor to accommodate a full surround sound system, it might be time to start investigating soundbars. If you do, the LG NB3520A should be on your list. It's a combined soundbar and subwoofer package designed for use in larger rooms. It's capable of pumping out a pretty fearsome 300 watts of sound, but is still quite reasonably priced at £300.
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Unlike other options, such as the Sharp HT-SL70 or Panasonic SC-HTB550, this is a traditional soundbar in that the bar comes as a single unit and can't be split into two separate speakers. Included in the package is an active subwoofer that connects back to the soundbar wirelessly over Bluetooth, which means that you can hide the sub away in a corner or under a side table and not have to worry about running a speaker cable to it.
The main bar is relatively large. It's 80mm tall and 50mm deep, so it's not quite as unobtrusive when sitting under you telly as some of the bars with more low profile designs such as the Sharp HT-SL50. However, it's still a good-looking unit thanks to the piano black finish on the front and its exposed speaker drivers.
In the centre of the bar there's an LED screen, but this is thankfully dimmable, so it won’t distract you when you're watching TV or a movie with the lights turned down. Beneath the screen sits a row of touch buttons for power, volume control and switching between the various inputs and sound modes. The system also comes with a good-sized remote control with chunky buttons that not only allow you to adjust the volume level, but also flick between the different inputs and sound modes and control the level of the subwoofer.
The subwoofer unit is a bit of a beast of a thing measuring 390mm tall and 360mm deep. It's not the best looking subwoofer we've come across as the combination of the metal grill on the front and the chrome ring at the bottom looks a bit dated. Nevertheless, as it's wireless, it's pretty easy to hide out of the way.
The LG NB3520A is surprisingly limited when it comes to AV inputs. Most other soundbars have a number of HDMI ports, but that's not the case here. In fact, all that's on offer are two optical inputs for digital audio and a mini-jack input for analogue audio.
There's not really much difference between using an optical cable and a HDMI cable in terms of audio quality, as the bar doesn't support HD sound formats like Dolby TrueHD anyway. However, there is one major downside to not having HDMI -- the unit can't be controlled via CEC, so you can't use your TV's remote to control the volume of the soundbar.