It’s a soundbar that kicks weedy TV audio into touch and allows you to stream music, videos and photos through its built-in Wi-Fi connection. We reviewed the step-up Pioneer SBX-N700 recently and were hugely impressed by its generous feature list and design, but its wireless subwoofer’s imposing performance let the side down badly and didn’t justify the £100 premium.
Well, the good news is that the SBX-N500 is identical to its bigger brother but ditches the subwoofer and sells for more reasonable £250, which could turn out to be a remarkable bargain. Let’s find out if that’s the case.
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The SBX-N500 is a good-looking and reassuringly robust unit. Its black plastic bodywork with a grey metal speaker grille is classy yet discreet, designed to sit on your TV stand without drawing undue attention. The gently angled front face is a nice touch.
In the middle of the speaker grille is an LED display panel, either side of which is a 3.5mm minijack input and a USB port for on-the-fly media playback. The LED clearly displays selected inputs and volume levels, while a row of lights just above the panel indicates which sound modes are selected. For up-close control, a row of buttons runs along the top edge, offering volume, input selection and power. It’s all very clear and straightforward.
At 900mm wide, the SBX-N500 is a little small for TVs over 50 inches – it looks best in front of a 40 or 46in set. When placing the unit on a TV stand, you can make it 20cm higher by fitting the supplied feet to the bottom.
If the Pioneer blocks your TV’s the infrared receiver, the SBX-N500 features a pair of built-in IR repeaters that fire commands from the back. But if that doesn't work for you, there’s an IR sensor cable in the box that can be placed in a more suitable location. If your TV is wall-mounted, you can hang the Pioneer on a pair of screws using the holes on the back.