As the first company to bring largescreen LCD TVs to the masses, Sharp knows only too well the perils of poor sound quality from flatpanel TVs. We love their slimness, their jaw-dropping looks and eyeball-piercing pictures, but when it comes to blasting out a movie soundtrack they’re flatter than Keira Knightley’s corset.
So it comes as no surprise to find that Sharp has a number of audio solutions under its belt, designed to boost the power and clarity of movies and TV shows while blending in seamlessly with their surroundings. And they don’t come any more discreet than a soundbar. The HT-SL50 is one of three soundbar systems in Sharp’s range, one of which we’ve already reviewed – HT-SL70 – as well as the HT-SB250 standalone soundbar.
The HT-SL50 is fairly similar to the HT-SL70 in that it features an amazingly slim soundbar and separate powered subwoofer, but this time there are some significant design differences. For starters, the SL50 includes a completely different soundbar than the SL70 – this one is a single unit, whereas the SL70’s soundbar could be split into left and right speakers and perched on a pair of supplied floorstands.
You can, however, still mount this soundbar on the wall (all the relevant brackets are supplied in the box) or place it on top of or inside a TV rack by clipping the supplied feet to the back. It’s a well built piece of kit, weighty and solidly bolted together, plus its slinky dimensions seem to defy physics.
Being the world’s slimmest soundbar at just 26mm high, there isn’t much of it, but Sharp has styled the svelte cabinet in a gorgeous gloss black finish that’s a perfect match for our Samsung LCD TV. On the wall, all you can see is the speaker mesh on the front. The 50mm depth means it shouldn’t stick out further than your TV when wall mounted, and at 801mm wide it’s best suited to TVs between 32 and 40in in size.
As for the subwoofer, it’s aesthetically identical to the SL70’s. It’s taller and slimmer than your typical subwoofer, which theoretically makes it easier to slide into spaces in and around your TV. It’s easy on the eye too with a suitably neutral black finish, a side-firing driver and a standby LED on the front.
Naturally the subwoofer is the system’s hub. On the back you’ll find a panel of connections, including two HDMI sockets – one ARC(Audio Return Channel)-compatible output and another input. There’s also a 3.5mm minijack input and a pair of springclip terminals to hook up the soundbar to the subwoofer using the supplied cables (there are also springclips on the soundbar).