Pioneer SBX-N700 – Setup
The SBX-N700 can be placed on top of a TV stand or hung on the wall using the holes on the back (there’s mounting template in the box). The supplied feet let you adjust the soundbar’s height when placed on a stand.
Fire it up and the subwoofer pairs automatically – a blue light indicates a successful connection. If you prefer, you can disable the wireless sub in the setup menu and rely on the built-in woofers – this is a key feature, as we’ll find out later. Bluetooth setup is hassle free, both as a receiver and transmitter.
Setting up the Pioneer with an ARC TV is simple in theory, but could be confusing if you’re new to the technology. It varies from TV to TV but we had to activate our Samsung set’s HDMI-CEC functionality and disable its internal speakers. Also make sure you select the ‘TV ARC’ option in Pioneer’s setup menu.
When connected to a TV via HDMI, you can configure the SBX-N700 using onscreen menus, which makes setup much easier than most soundbars. These menus share the design of Pioneer’s latest Blu-ray decks and systems, with a more grown-up feel than most mainstream brands – we’re talking moody black backgrounds, crisp white text and grey boxes. It’s a little drab, but very easy to follow.
What’s more, the setup menu is remarkably thorough. The options are split into no fewer than nine categories, covering essentials like display, audio, network, HDMI and Bluetooth.
Among the options are Video Adjust, which offers a choice of four picture presets; a Net Contents mode for cleaning up low-quality streamed video; speaker and subwoofer setup (the latter allowing you to deactivate the separate sub); and the all-important Wi-Fi settings.
We had no trouble connecting to our router or accessing music, video and photos on a networked laptop. The media menus follow a logical sequence and while a file is playing all the metadata is listed alongside any available cover art.
However, it’s not all a walk in the park. The Surround and Equalizer sound modes can only be accessed using the onscreen menu, which is a hindrance when watching a movie because you have to switch HDMI inputs.
Pioneer SBX-N700 – Operation
The SBX-N700 comes with a compact remote, which is agreeable enough despite its Lilliputian buttons. There’s a prominent direction pad right in the middle surrounded by often-used keys like Setup and Return, while a bank of buttons at the top provides handy access to each input.
There are separate keys for the main and sub volume levels, while a cluster at the bottom includes a dedicated YouTube key and music/video playback controls. There are buttons for the Night and Dialog modes too, but it’s crying out for a ‘Surround’ button to avoid the long-winded HDMI switchover process.
Alternatively, the SBX-N700 is compatible with Pioneer’s superb ControlApp for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. You can control the soundbar and browse songs in your music library using a series of clear, user-friendly menus.