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Toshiba SB3950E1 review



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Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1
  • Toshiba SB3950E1


Our Score:



  • Smart, minimal design
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Decent dialogue clarity


  • Lacks bass depth
  • Hard edge to loud effects
  • Light on features

Key Features

  • Dolby Digital and DTS 2.0 decoding
  • DTS TruSurround
  • 2 x 20W power output
  • Optical digital and 3.5mm analogue input
  • Wall or tabletop mounting
  • Manufacturer: Toshiba
  • Review Price: £96.36

What is the Toshiba SB3950E1?

The SB3950E1 is Toshiba’s latest entry-level soundbar, tasked with the job of improving weedy TV sound without costing you the earth. The sub-£100 price tag is reflected in the bare bones feature list, but anyone seeking a no-frills plug-and-play audio upgrade for their TV might be tempted.

It’s one of three new soundbars from Toshiba – the step-up SB3950M1 is a more powerful version, throwing in Bluetooth and extra sound modes, while the Mini Sound Bar II comes with an external wireless subwoofer and Absolute 3D Sound processing.

Toshiba SB3950E1

Toshiba SB3950E1 – Design and Connections

Build quality is pretty good for such an affordable soundbar. The main body is fashioned from matt black plastic, with an attractive cloth grille covering the drivers. It’s light, but far from flimsy.

Everything is built into a single speaker bar, which can be mounted on the wall or placed on a flat surface in front of your TV. For wall mounting, you get a pair of metal brackets in the box, and with a depth of just 57mm it won’t stick out very far from the wall.

Toshiba SB3950E1

Viewed from the front, the look is pleasingly minimal – the only visible detail is a discreet LED display showing the selected input, which automatically dims after a few seconds. This clear, easy-to-read display removes all the guesswork when tweaking sound modes or adjusting the volume.

On top is a row of small buttons, allowing you to toggle through inputs or turn the surround mode on and off (more on that later). The power button is surrounded by a silver ring, which is a minor detail but adds a welcome flicker of glamour to an otherwise unremarkable design.

Toshiba SB3950E1

Connections are as basic as it gets, with one optical digital input and one 3.5mm minijack input, both of which face sideways in the recess on the back. This makes setup nice and simple – a single optical cable connects the TV and soundbar, with the 3.5mm jack for those whose TV lacks an optical output. Anyone hoping to run Blu-ray players or games consoles directly through the soundbar via HDMI will need to step up to the SB3950M1.

Toshiba SB3950E1 – Features

Toshiba has stripped out all the frills, leaving Dolby Digital/DTS two-channel decoding and DTS TruSurround as the only features of note. There’s no Bluetooth, no HDMIs and no built-in subwoofer, but remember this is all reflected in the low price.

Toshiba says DTS TruSurround processing ‘extracts and places audio cues for ultra-realistic and immersive virtual surround sound, whilst post-processing and psychoacoustic techniques make for bass and audio enhancement’. Sounds great, but we always take these claims with a pinch of salt.


May 2, 2014, 10:43 am

I needed a cheap sound system for my 32 inch TV in my son's bedroom. I live in Sweden and came across a Logik sound base for about 66 pounds in GB money. It looks exactly like (almost) the Maxell MXSP-252. I bought it, not expecting much and thought I'd be returning it the next day.

No HDMI or bluetooth, only RCA, optical and headphone line-in connections. It does have a built in subwoofer along with two other speakers. Output I think is 40 watts. Anyway, I hooked it up with headphone line-in and was a bit amazed at the sound. Very decent bass with no distortion, good mid-range and acceptable highs. Of course it was far better than the TV speakers. Cheaper than the Toshiba, TV sits on it and most likely sounds a lot better. The simple remote works well, with buttons for bass, volume, linein and optical. I think it's a stripped down Maxell, with a different name.

A. Mir

May 2, 2014, 6:46 pm

I would get the Philips HTL 5120 instead of the Toshiba. Yes, the Philips is more expensive although I found mine for under £190 but it is just so much better in every aspect. It even sports BlueTooth and has 3 HDMI connections too!

The HTL 5120 is also reviewed here and it got a 9/10. I don't normally bother with "What HIFI Magazine" but they gave it 5/5 stars and I haven't seen one single negative review of the HTL 5120 yet.

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