With the Marantz UD7006 Blu-ray player hooked up to the analogue inputs, the HT-SB250’s sound quality is hugely enjoyable. Crucially, it’s streets ahead of your average flatpanel TV, offering a fuller, deeper and more dynamic sound, and copes fairly well with raucous action scenes at loud volumes.
It does require some tweaking though. Out of the box, the sound is treble heavy with a bright edge to it, but once we’d boosted the subwoofer level and evened out the bass and treble, it started to sound much smoother.
When playing Thor on Blu-ray, the attack on the Frost Giants on Jotunheim is a frenzy of crisp, crunching effects, and there’s a pleasing depth to Thor’s hammer blows. High-frequencies are mostly easy on the ear, although particularly aggressive noises can still sound a little ripe. There’s also an excellent sense of width when you switch over to the SRS WOW Cinema mode, which is no substitute for real surround sound but it opens up the soundstage nicely.
The Sharp is also a dab hand with dialogue. Anthony Hopkins’ scene-setting voiceover is surprisingly rich and authoritative, while the scenery-chewing monologues come through loud and clear, no matter how much dramatic music and action is going on around them.
The HTR-SB250 is a simple soundbar that lacks the sonic finesse to really dazzle, but for the money its performance is very enjoyable – and crucially, its loud and dynamic performance make your TV speakers sound like yoghurt pots on string. The inclusion of separate front speakers and four subwoofers makes all the difference when playing movies, with bass, treble, sub level adjustments and processing modes allowing you to easily tailor the sound to taste. The results aren’t as assured as the pricier Roth Bar1 and its separate subwoofer, but not far behind. It’s stylish, compact and easy to use too, making it a living-room friendly upgrade for anyone who’s fed up with the weedy sound coming out of their TV.