Microlab S325 Soundbar Review
When buying a display, whether it be TV or monitor, the prime concern for consumers is likely the picture quality. Brand and price is no doubt up there too and design probably matters to some too… quite often though an important aspect is overlooked. How is the sound on the product? To be fair, that is hard to rate in a showroom environment and impossible when shopping online so it is no surprise that many displays are average in the sound department, or even disappointing.
Today we are looking at a product which is designed to add a little more quality to the audio provided by TVs. The Microlab S325 soundbar can be mounted on the wall or placed on a shelf in the TV unit and with three inputs, including optical while, adopting an aggressive price it could be ideal for those looking to enhance their entertainment experience.
Packaging and Bundle
The S325 arrived in a long cardboard box with minimal information on the outside. Inside we find the speaker wrapped in plastic and suspended in foam with a number of bundled items alongside. First up is a set of phono cables, then a manual, optical cable and finally a remote with battery.
The S325 has an all black design with the front featuring a fabric cover and the rest of the chassis having a textured paint finish. At each end we have a sound port for the two subwoofers. Our tweeters are 2.5" (front facing) and sat between them is an LCD display which primarily tells us our volume level however also has a set of input status LEDs and the ability to switch to showing bass/treble settings.
The S325 measured 860x122x150mm and weighs 6.5KG.
On the base of the soundbar we have a set of rubber feet and then looking to the top a power button towards the left. Over on the right we have a four way button which controls volume, mute and input. Round at the back of the speaker we have a set of mounts for hanging the soundbar on a wall.
Also on the back of the S325 is a recessed section which contains our two phono inputs as well as an optical input. The power cable also enters on the back and goes direct to a mains plug.
Before we discuss our experience with the soundbar, here are the key specifications of the unit:
|Output power:||28 Watt RMS|
|Power distribution:||7 Watt x 2 + 7 Watt x 2|
|Harmonic distortion:||< 0.3% 1W 1kHz|
|Frequency response:||40Hz – 70kHz|
|Signal/noise ratio:||> 80dB|
|Nominal impedance:||4 ohm|
|Tweeter driver type:||2.5"|
|Tweeter rated power:||10 Watt 4 ohm|
|Bass driver type:||3" x 2|
|Bass rated power:||15 Watt 4 ohm|
|Frequency range:||30Hz – 75kHz|
|Power supply:||AC 220V – 240V ~ 50Hz 210mA|
After unboxing the S325 it is clear that the build quality of the chassis is decent. It feels solidly built with a good weight. The panels on the back are secured well with a decent number of screws and the inputs all feel solid, like they will last a significant number of connections and reconnections.
It is good that Microlab have provided a set of mounts as standard but that said the LED display on the front feels a little low tech, or old fashioned… but that may appeal to some. Adding a feel of this being a little rough around the edges we found that our battery for the remote was either dead, or the wrong model (a CR2032) from a motherboard fitted fine and worked great and we noted that there were some inaccuracies on the product website and documentation.
Use of the soundbar is pretty straight forward, using the buttons on the unit or the remote but we did note that settings were not retained between power off/on. In a way that is a minor issue but it becomes a larger problem as the soundbar does need tweaking for the best experience. At its default levels the bass to heavy and sound generally muddy. Dropping the bass to -3 and boosting the treble to +4 or so helps a lot. There was a distinct lack of middle in the sound though which for music is an issue but watching TV or a movie is less of a problem. Voices sound fine and the extra power from the bass is noticeable in action sequences.
In terms of value, the S325 scores well. It sells for around £50 which makes it accessible for those looking to replace the sound on their existing display.
With good build quality and a decent set of inputs the S325 at £50 offers an accessible alternative to built in sound. That said it is not multipurpose and does far better with media which focuses very much on voice and bass than more rounded sound.