Create a true home movie theater experience by adding a soundbar to your TV. We’ve noticed that the television screens are getting better every couple of months. Whether is just higher quality pixels for Full-HD or the fantastic resolution of 4K, the images are beautiful.
The downside to ultra-thin TV’s is that there isn’t any room for really great speakers, so the audio quality isn’t matching the picture. Our mission was to find a reasonably priced soundbar to add to our new TV.
There are hundreds to choose from, so for this review we narrowed it down with the requirements: minimum of 100dB / 30W in 2 channel stereo, Bluetooth wireless connection option, HDMI input, optical input and bonus points for a sub-woofer built into the bar.
This cut the field down pretty quickly. We also wanted a really low price, so we targeted under $50. Let’s see how we did.
TCL Alto Ts5000
The TCL Alto just makes it into the under $50 price at $49.99. It’s a basic soundbar that does what it’s supposed to do. You’ll appreciate the clear (and loud, if wanted) sound that it produces, which is much better than the smaller speakers in your TV.
The other reason most soundbars sound better than the TV is that the speakers are facing forward, towards you. On most TVs, the speakers are in the back so they have to bound the sound off the wall the TV is mounted on.
There are only 2 speakers, located towards either end of the 32-inch soundbar, so they have to do double duty to carry the bass. It does produce 97dB of sound, which is close enough to our desired 100dB.
Unfortunately at this price your input options are either optical cable or audio cable (AUX /3. 5mm). No HDMI on this one. TCL includes both the S/PDIF (also called TOSLINK) digital audio optical cable and a 3.5mm male-to-male cable.
If you have an older TV with RCA stereo output for the audio, you’ll need to get a 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter Audio Stereo Cable (AmazonBasics has 8-foot for about $9).
It does have Bluetooth, so you can stream audio wirelessly from any smart device (including Bluetooth enabled DVD players like Sony UBP series ), smart phone or tablet.
There is also an included IR-Pass-through cable, which basically lets you position the IR receiver where you need it in order to get the best signal. It lets you control your TV from TV remote, irrespective of sound bar placement (for example if the TV isn’t positioned higher than the soundbar, then the soundbar may block the IR port of the TV).
You can also wall mount it with the included wall mounting kit (4 screws, 4 anchors and 2 clips).
Of course, it comes with a remote and batteries. Everything you need is included to get running right out of the box. Setup is easy and shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes.
We were pleasantly surprised this soundbar has three different sound modes to deliver optimized sound for music, movies, and news (e.g., voices).
Okay, so we didn’t meet everything on the wish list that we started out wanting. In our next soundbar round-up, we are going to check out what we can get for $75 to $100 and see if the higher price is worth it.
Overall, we really like this $50 soundbar and think you would, too. More info or buy one through Amazon using this link – TCL Alto .