Some soundbars aim to deliver an all-in-one home cinema solution, chucking a Blu-ray player into the mix alongside all sorts of networking tricks, multimedia features and fancy-pants sound decoding. Others, however, have a much simpler goal in mind – to boost the stereo sound quality from your weedy flatpanel TV without taking up precious living room space. The Roth Bar 1 is one of the latter.
This super-slim speaker can be placed on a tabletop using supplied feet that clip onto the bottom, but with a depth of just 57mm it’s absolutely perfect for mounting on the wall (there’s a mounting kit in the box) and at 780mm wide it’s ideal for TVs between 32in and 42in. You also get a powered subwoofer, which we’re delighted to report is wireless. That gives you more freedom when it comes to placement, as well as eliminating messy cables.
The speaker isn’t particularly showy or glamorous, but certainly easy on the eye – its understated looks are designed to blend in, not to draw attention from the TV screen. The entire front panel is covered by a removable grille, which hides a funky silver front panel and the all-important speaker drivers (ten to be precise).
Right in the middle is a control panel made from transparent plastic, which allows blue LEDs to shine through to indicate the volume level or sound mode (it disappears after a few seconds). The buttons include volume and subwoofer volume, mute, input and surround mode. Thankfully it also comes with a remote to save you getting off the sofa.
A recess around the back houses a modest selection of sockets. There are two analogue stereo inputs and a 3.5mm minijack input, which can be connected to your TV’s headphones output if you want to use your TV remote to control the volume (or you could use it to connect an MP3 player). Otherwise TVs and set-top boxes with phono outputs should be connected to the red/white inputs.
Some may turn their nose up at the lack of digital audio inputs, HDMIs and the like, but the Bar 1 isn’t designed to be a hub for all your audio gear – it’s more an extension of your TV’s speakers and on that score the basic socket line-up makes sense.