Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Striking design
  • Decent build quality
  • Rich, bassy sound

Cons

  • Falls short on detail clarity
  • Sounds a bit hard and boomy with movies
  • Cheap remote

Key Features

  • Review Price: £129.99
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC support
  • 2 x 10W power, plus 30W subwoofer
  • USB music playback
  • Movie and Music modes

What is the Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31?

From the same people who brought us the ETBT201Y soundbase comes the Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31, a 2.1-channel Bluetooth speaker available from eBuyer.com.

This stylish unit isn’t only designed with music streaming in mind –

its auxiliary input, Movie mode and 30W subwoofer make it equally

suitable as a speaker upgrade for your TV.

SEE ALSO: Best DAB Radios Round-up

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31 – Design and Connections

Sond

didn’t exactly endear itself to us with its cheap, plasticky soundbase,

so we approached the EMBW-13Y31 with trepidation. We needn’t have

worried – the EMBW-13Y31 is a well-made and attractive speaker,

fashioned from higher-quality materials than expected.

Its curvy,

modern looks will go down a treat in any living room, although at 500mm

wide it commands more space than your typical Bluetooth speaker.
Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31

It’s

heavy and robust, with a grey metal plate as its base and a curvy matte

black rear end. From the front you can see a large slab of black

speaker cloth and a cool ‘pilot lamp’ emanating from below, which

denotes the selected input – blue for Bluetooth, blue/green for USB

input and green for the aux input.

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31
A

gloss-black strip running along the top plays host to a row of

soft-touch buttons, letting you select sound modes, adjust volume,

switch inputs and control Bluetooth playback. Around the back is a 3.5mm

minijack input for external devices and an airflow port for the

subwoofer. It looks like there are two ports, but one is filled in – symmetry

is clearly important to Sond.

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31 – Features

The

EMBW-13Y31 is a 2.1-channel speaker, which means there are two speaker

drivers and a subwoofer to deliver deep bass notes. There’s 2 x 10W of

amplification for the speakers and 30W for the subwoofer, which isn’t to

be sniffed at – most Bluetooth speakers stick with straight stereo.

Of

course Bluetooth is this speaker’s bread and butter and on that score

it’s well-equipped – the supported profile is 4.0 with apt-X playback

and NFC for easy pairing with compatible devices. The NFC touch point is on

the front grille.

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31
Another

nice surprise is the provision of a USB port that lets you play music

from storage devices. We shoved ours in the slot and disappointingly

could only play MP3 and WAV files, but it’s better than nothing – most

Bluetooth speakers don’t bother. The port can also be used to charge

your phone and other devices, but not if they’re made by Apple.

The

on-board digital signal processor offers two sound modes – Music and

Movie, the latter supposedly offering a gentle widening effect.

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31 – Operation

The

EMBW-13Y31 comes with a small remote that fits in the palm of your

hand. It’s cheap and plasticky and the tiny buttons are fiddly, but in

reality it poses few problems during day-to-day use. It’s also styled in

a fetching gloss-black and silver scheme, which will look great on the

coffee table.

The

central silver ring offers volume and track skip keys, while dedicated

Movie/Music mode buttons are found at the bottom. There’s also a ‘call

reject’ button should those pesky PPI people bother you while streaming

your tunes via Bluetooth.

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31 – Performance

In

terms of sound quality the EMBW-13Y31 isn’t a world-beater – nor did we

expect it to be – but even so we were incredibly impressed by its

performance, particularly at this price.

What jumps out is the

depth and richness of the sound, all made possible by that subwoofer.

Music sounds warm and weighty, particularly uptempo material with funky

basslines and thumping kick drums. Bass notes are tight, agile and well

integrated.

We’ve

tested plenty of Bluetooth speakers at this price that sound thin and

unbalanced, so the Sond’s full, satisfying tones come as a pleasant

surprise.

Where it falls down is its lack of finesse and sparkle

in the high frequencies. Yes there’s a decent amount of detail and

openness in the hi-hats and percussion, but it’s not crisp or clear

enough to make your spine tingle like the best systems can. This is

perhaps inevitable for the money, but it does illustrate the sort of

sacrifices that have to be made when bagging a bargain.

However,

vocals come through cleanly and the piercing trumpets and saxophones on

Miles Davis’ jazz classic Kind of Blue don’t make you wince, even at

loud volumes.

SEE ALSO: Best Soundbars Round-up

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31

Next

we hooked our TV’s headphone output to the speaker’s minijack and

played Edge of Tomorrow on Blu-ray. It does an excellent job, playing

the frenetic beach drop scenes at a pleasingly loud volume (provided you

go easy with your TV’s volume level, which can make it distort).

The

explosions and thudding quadcopters sound big and beefy, machine gun

fire from the mecha-suits is suitably feisty and shouty dialogue punches

through. Ironically there’s more power on offer here than some

dedicated soundbars and bases (Sond’s ETBT201Y and the Goodmans Aspect spring to mind).

On

the downside, bass gets a bit boomy when there’s too much going on and

the midrange is on the sharp side, but the bottom line is that is sounds

louder and more dynamic than any TV, which at the end of the day is all

the most buyers will care about. As for the movie mode, there’s a very

slight widening of the treble but essentially it makes very little

difference.

Should I buy the Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31?

Well we

didn’t see this coming. This little-known brand has come up trumps with

an attractive, well-made and versatile Bluetooth speaker that doubles up

as an impressive alternative to a soundbar. The built-in subwoofer

ensures a rich, weighty sound when playing music and movies, while

features like NFC and USB playback are a bonus.

On the downside

it isn’t the most refined listen, lacking detail and composure where it

counts, but there are enough positives elsewhere in its performance to

make it money well spent, even at this relatively expensive price.

Sond Audio EMBW-13Y31

Verdict

It’s

flawed, but Sond Audio’s eye-catching speaker does a decent job as a

Bluetooth player and soundbar alternative with its rich, beefy sound –

and USB playback is a bonus.

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