JVC BlackSapphire 4000 Ears-On: This 55-Inch 3DTV Wants to Kill Your Soundbar

If you own a 55-inch 3DTV, chances are you've invested in at least a cheap soundbar to match the power of the picture on the screen. You basically have to; the built-in sound on most sets is horrendous. The sound system in the new 55-inch JVC BlackSapphire 3DTV is way burlier than the sound in comparable TVs, and from what we just heard in a hotel room in New York, it may be good enough not to need a soundbar boost.

The TV has a built-in 45-watt, 2.1 channel sound system, which can mimic surround sound using proprietary JVC processing. (The TV is actually made by a OEM called AVC, which is using the JVC name under license.) Consider that most other 55-inch TVs have 18-20-watt systems. I can confirm that it's loud; at just 50-percent volume the action from a scene in Transformers was enough drown out anything else in the room.

But more than the wattage, the overall sound was clearly an improvement over your standard set. For example, you could make out dialog from background ambiance. There was even some totally passable bass coming from the 4.5-inch subwoofer. Spinning helicopter blades that sound realistic straight from an 3DTV is actually incredible given the sorry state of the sound from flatscreens. The effect isn't earth-shattering, but for people squeezing big the big TV into a medium-sized room it's probably enough.

The main drawback is that to improve the quality of the sound, the manufacturer had to add some heft; The 55-incher is 1.5-inches thick, which is hardly flat. Besides the sound, the rest of the BlackSapphire's specs are more or less what you'd expect from a $1300 Wi-Fi-connected 3DTV. Not bad, not great. But maybe worth it if you don't want to bother with all that extra audio gear. [JVC]