The Roth BAR3 is a soundbar and wireless subwoofer designed to boost the quality of your TV’s sound without stuffing your living room full of speakers.
In terms of features and connections it’s a comparatively simple affair with a modest price tag to match, but thanks to built-in Bluetooth it can be used as a hi-fi as well as a home cinema system, while the 2 x 40W power output should be more than enough to get your living room rocking.
The first thing that jumps out about the BAR3 is its slim, compact enclosure, which is ideal if you want to want to mount it on the wall. The 50mm depth won’t stick out awkwardly like some soundbars, while the combination of gloss black and mesh on the front is stylish but unobtrusive. At exactly a metre wide it’ll look best below a TV of between 40 and 46 inches – our 55-inch set dwarfed it somewhat. It can be mounted on a flat surface if you prefer.
Build quality is good rather than great. It’s fairly light, which we suppose is a virtue in the soundbar world, but the plasticky back-end is a more telling concession to its affordable price tag. There are some classy touches though, like the metal speaker mesh and touch-sensitive controls just below the LED display panel.
This display is excellent – large and easy to read from the sofa, showing the current time when idle and switching to volume levels when adjusted. You can dim it using dedicated controls on the remote, all the way down to off. Some of the icons aren’t quite so easy to read, such as the inputs and sound modes, but we’ll take any sort of display panel over Panasonic and Philips’s cryptic flashing lights any day of the week.
The subwoofer is a small black box with a glossy top panel emblazoned with the Roth logo. It’s downward-firing and moves air through a series of gaps in the plinth at the bottom. It needs to be installed near a plug socket but that’s your only limitation – wireless technology eliminates the need for ugly cable runs. Bass performance is controlled via the main remote, so there are no controls other than a pairing button and power switch.
On the back of the Roth Audio BAR3 soundbar is a small alcove housing three sockets – an optical digital audio input and two 3.5mm stereo minijack inputs. The lack of HDMI inputs and HD audio support is disappointing, but at least you can pass sound from a Blu-ray deck through your TV to the soundbar.
Just one slight niggle – the optical cable is fed upward into the socket, and with our good quality cable the plug sticks out below the bottom of the soundbar, making it difficult to place on a flat surface. You might have to use Roth’s supplied cable, which is thinner and more malleable.
The two minijacks are useful for connecting MP3 players or other non-Bluetooth audio devices, plus there’s a red/white phono to minijack cable in the box if you need it.