A couple of other features to mention – the unit automatically goes into standby when left idle for too long but springs back into life when it detects a signal, plus standby power consumption is kept to an eco-friendly 0.6W.
With our OPPO DV-981HD DVD deck firing House of Flying Daggers to the Sharp from its analogue outputs, the sound is fast and full-bodied. At this sort of money you shouldn’t expect a perfect performance, and indeed there are certain flaws that don’t always make for a comfortable listen. But if you’re upgrading from plain old TV speakers there’s no doubt that the Sharp will greatly enhance your enjoyment.
We headed straight for the movie’s excellent Echo Game scene (chapter 3), and when the captain starts flicking his crackers at the drums, each one bounces off with a taut thump. Also impressive is the solid and rhythmic drumming that underpins Mei’s graceful dance moves, accompanied by the delicate tinkling of her ornate head wear.
Bass from the integrated subs lacks punch and presence during large-scale set pieces, even when turned up to the max, but if you’re used to TV speakers then it’ll seem positively monstrous.
The Sharp also extracts a reasonable amount of detail and handles high-frequencies more smoothly than you’d expect at this price – the sounds of broken china hitting the floor and swishing bead curtains are crisp, plus the background ambience of the bamboo forest is clearly conveyed.
But as the soldiers enter, there’s a definite air of hardness to the clashing swords, while the sounds of rustling trees and splitting bamboo canes are overly bright. There’s also a touch of sibilance on some dialogue.
The Sharp’s surround sound performance is predictably unconvincing but the competent SRS WOW HD processing does offer plenty of width across the front soundstage.
To test the Sharp’s music mettle, we played Feels So Good by Grover Washington Jr on CD and again the Sharp’s tone is too bright. Kick and snare drums are punchy and Grover’s sax has a rich tone, but the tambourine and cymbals are too overpowering. Trimming the treble level helps but that upsets the overall dynamics.
Despite the flawed sound quality, it’s worth remembering that the Sharp HT-SB200 sounds about one hundred times more exciting than any flatpanel TV we’ve encountered, and at this price it was never going to be a sonic world-beater anyway – for the money it’s not a bad effort. But what bothers us more than the sonic shortcomings is the paltry socket selection and lack of audio decoding, which makes this soundbar only suitable for the most basic of systems.
Score in detail