Pioneer's New Soundbar Is Beautifully Simple and Wonderfully Cheap

Pioneer's new SB-PS23W is a soundbar the way most people want it: A simple, relatively inexpensive way to make a television sound louder. In that way, it's cut from the same cloth as the excellent AitPlay speakers the company released last year (actually, they've got the some LA-based designer). It wasn't the first AirPlay speaker, but its design made it a winner.

From what we just heard this $400 soundbar has a lot of the same potential for the basic soundbar market. The six-speaker array sits in a a handsome wooden enclosure that's larger than most. While that might not necessarily mesh with the "invisible" aesthetic most soundbars are going for, it gives the music some space to resonate. (The included wireless sub helps fill out the bottom-end nicely as well.) The sound of sweet guitars resonating in wood—just the way it should be.

Pioneer's New Soundbar Is Beautifully Simple and Wonderfully Cheap

How do movies sound? Well, see now, that's the thing—Pioneer wasn't demoing movies because the system is designed for stereo. That means you're not getting any fancy surround sound emulation. Pioneer reps said we're "three years away" from being able to do surround sound well from a soundbar. That's definitely not true, but at a $400 price point—surrrrre.

But the trade of of is simplicity and price. This new sound bar only takes two inputs—optical digital and RCA. So you'll need a separate hub—a TV will do!—to handle all your HDMI inputs.

Usual first impression disclaimer applies: I listened to this thing for a few minutes only, so we'll have to wait and see how it holds up against the cheap soundbars we reviewed last year. [Pioneer]