It’s a soundbar system with a neat twist. Not only does it deliver big sound from a compact speaker but it also streams media wirelessly over a network and sends YouTube video content straight to your telly. This extra functionality is reflected in a slightly higher price tag than most soundbars, but it’s not outrageously expensive and throws in a wireless subwoofer for the money that isn’t included with the £250 SBX-N500 and £170 SBX-N300.
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The SBX-N700 is by no means jaw-dropping, but it’s attractively styled in a matt black finish with grey mesh on its angled front section. A black display panel in the middle shows selected inputs, volume levels and other info in seven-segment digits, while various lights above it tell you which sound modes are active. On top is a row of slim buttons to control volume and input selection.
It’s a chunky and robust soundbar, but its 900mm width doesn’t feel intrusive and makes it a perfect partner for 40 or 46in TVs. At both ends are bass reflex ports that manage airflow from the built-in subwoofers.
As for the wireless subwoofer, it’s relatively tall but smartly styled in black with a curvy port at the front. Thankfully it’s quite slim, which should make it easy to slot beside the sofa or TV stand.
On the front is a USB port (something of a rarity on soundbars) that allows you to play media from flash drives, and a 3.5mm audio input to hook up portable devices on the fly.
The rest of the connections are found in a recess on the back. They include an ARC-compatible HDMI output, which not only outputs DLNA/internet content but also receives audio signals from the TV, eliminating the need to rig up a separate optical cable. Audio from sources connected to your TV is passed to the Pioneer through this ARC connection.
Great, but we’d have liked a few HDMI inputs too. This would have allowed you to pass your Blu-ray deck or Sky box through the Pioneer to a single HDMI input on your TV, and switch between them. As it stands, the Pioneer has to be connected to one HDMI input on your TV, while your Blu-ray deck is connected to another.
The downside here is that you have to switch to a different HDMI input every time you want to view the Pioneer’s online content or visit the setup menu. That’s a pain because a) you have to stop watching your movie and b) it cuts out the ARC audio connection.
For those without an ARC-compatible TV, there are two optical digital inputs. The SBX-N700 boasts built-in Wi-Fi, which lets you connect to your network wirelessly, but there’s an Ethernet port too. Finally, there’s an input for the supplied infrared extender, which is useful if the soundbar blocks your TV’s receiver.