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Pioneer introduces first sound bar in 15 years: six speakers and a subwoofer for $399 (hands-on)

Pioneer introduces first sound bar in 15 years: six speakers and a subwoofer for $399 (hands-on)
Sarah Silbert
Sarah Silbert|June 26, 2013 10:15 AM

DNP  Pioneer introduces first sound bar in 15 years six speakers and a subwoofer for $399

The last time Pioneer introduced a speaker bar was 1998, but 15 years later the company's giving it another go. The just-announced speaker bar system, the SP-SB23W, will retail for $399 this fall -- reps said the device was designed to pump out high-quality audio without sacrificing a small, attractive design. It's clearly not the most compact rig on the market, but it does offer decent output. It features six independently amplified speakers and an eight-channel active digital crossover network. There's also a wireless subwoofer with a 6.5-inch driver and Dolby Digital decoding on board.

On the noisy show floor here at CE Week, it was a little difficult to judge sound quality definitively, but the dialogue recording we heard did sound extremely crisp. For those who already count a Pioneer speaker or two among their home theater setup, the speaker bar should fit in perfectly; it sports a wood -- rather than plastic -- construction, and the company says its cabinet enclosure offer better control of the speakers "because of its resistance to unwanted resonance." Check out our hands-on photo gallery below, and head past the break for the full press info.%Gallery-192388%

Zach Honig contributed to this report.

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Andrew Jones Designed Speaker Bar Made for Sound Quality, Not Just Cosmetics

CEA LINE SHOW – New York, NY (June 26, 2013) – Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. today unveiled the Speaker Bar system (SP-SB23W), uniquely designed by legendary speaker engineer Andrew Jones to deliver excellent full-range sound from a small, simple solution audio package. Made for consumers who care about audio quality, the Speaker Bar features a composite wood curved cabinet, six individual speakers, six amplifiers (independent for each speaker) and an eight channel active digital crossover network. The combination of features offers a multitude of benefits to listeners including exceptional sound quality reproduction, wider off-axis response, higher power handling and increased dynamic headroom.

"Pioneer created a similar speaker bar in the late 90's for conventional television sets and now we're building the best sounding speaker bar for today's flat panel televisions," said Chris Walker, director of AV marketing and product planning for the Home Electronics Division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "Unlike most offerings, the new Speaker Bar is made of composite wood, a far superior material that makes a significant difference when it comes to sound quality."

Designed for Sound
• Composite Wood Cabinet – Unlike most speaker bars in the market that are made of plastic, Pioneer's Speaker Bar uses a composite wood cabinet enclosure that offers far better control of the speakers because of its resistance to unwanted resonance. The unit uses a specially designed RF molded curved enclosure that can withstand the "flexing" that occurs when the speakers are in use, especially at high volume levels, resulting in highly improved audio reproduction.

• Six Speaker Design – The Speaker Bar features six individual drivers, four custom 3-inch woofers, and two 1-inch soft dome tweeters. The arrangement of speakers produces a wide dispersion pattern, enabling open, more spacious stereo imaging even in larger sized rooms. The woofers feature a vented pole piece to achieve improved bass response to enhance both cinematic and audio listening. The 1-inch soft-dome tweeters are encased in a custom "wave guide" enclosure for increased output sensitivity and controlled dispersion of high-frequencies.

• Individual Amplifiers for Each Driver – For optimal audio output, Pioneer's Speaker Bar uses six individual amplifiers to power each independent driver. Each amplifier produces up to 28 Watts of power (1kHz 1% THD @ 4 Ohm) to obtain increased dynamics and better overall "headroom" at any volume level.

• Active Crossover Network – The integrated amplifiers in the Speaker Bar are complemented by a matching active crossover network for increased sound quality. Utilizing an active crossover enabled Andrew Jones to use higher order filter points (speakers' cutoff frequencies and steeper roll-off slopes [a.k.a. attenuation]) to achieve improved audio transitions between the woofers and the tweeters, resulting in improved speaker response, vocals and off-axis listening.

• 6.5-inch Subwoofer – The Speaker Bar includes a matching wireless subwoofer featuring a 6.5-inch driver tuned to 42 Hz (-10 dB) to provide low bass frequencies. The subwoofer is powered by a built-in 50 Watt amplifier (50Hz 1% THD @ 6 Ohms) and the output level can be adjusted from the convenience of the included Speaker Bar remote.

• Additional Features – The Speaker Bar features Dolby Digital® Decoding and three sound modes including music, movies and dialogue. Dialogue is a late night mode that optimizes dialogue conversations and significantly reduces "loud" passages, making it ideal for late night viewing. For added convenience, the unit also offers built-in Bluetooth® connectivity to enable wireless music streaming from a smartphone device as well as a learning mode to respond to the user's own remote control.

Pioneer's Speaker Bar comes with an optical cable and wall mounts for convenient set-up and will be available in the fall with a suggested retail price of $399.

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. is headquartered in Long Beach, Calif., and its U.S. Web address is www.pioneerelectronics.com. Its parent company, Pioneer Corporation, is a preeminent manufacturer of high-performance audio, video and computer equipment for the home, car and business markets and is celebrating 75 years of innovation in the consumer electronics industry.

PIONEER is registered trademarks of Pioneer Corporation.
Dolby Digital is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories.
BLUETOOTH is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.
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Katherine Harbeston, 310.952.2388, Katherine.harbeston@pioneer-usa.com
Jaed Arzadon, 310.952.2451, Jaed.arzadon@pioneer-usa.com
Dana Block, 310.496.4460, Dana@allisonpr.com

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Pioneer introduces first sound bar in 15 years: six speakers and a subwoofer for $399 (hands-on)