Since the new Dolby Atmos system was announced many people have been curious as to how this would be implemented into their existing home cinema set-up, with many believing that ceiling speakers were the only way to get that truly immersive experience.
Now that one of the ringleaders in this technology, Pioneer, have stepped in, this simply is no longer the case. After working in collaboration with Dolby they have been able to produce a dedicated pair of floorstanding and bookshelf speakers designed to bring the best out of any Atmos soundtrack, whilst also being extremely capable musical speakers.
Today we will be looking at the bookshelf version of their Atmos enabled speakers, the SBS73A. Coming as a pair, these speakers ooze quality and style in their black wood finish and curved rear design. The speaker units feature soft dome tweeters that are housed within an aluminium woofer to compliment each other’s sound whilst still being able to fill a room with a good distribution of audio. Obviously, being that this is an Atmos ready speaker, you will notice that there is also an upward firing speaker unit housed in the top which matches the front speaker driver pound for pound, so your 360° sound is going to be of the highest quality.
Speakers are judged not only by looks but by the sounds in which they produce. When we plugged these in for a listen through one of the new Cambridge CXA60 amps we were immediately greeted by some very nice and subtle treble attack on the snare drums and cymbals of The Darkness’s Growing On Me, a soothing mid-range with crunchy guitar riffs and a powerfully tight bass from Frankie Poullain’s Rickenbacker bass. The deep bass is something we usually associate with Pioneer from their home cinema amplifiers, so we were excited to hear them through the SCLX88 (their flagship AV receiver with Atmos).
After putting Transformers – Age of Extinction into our Blu-ray player we fired up the amp to a decent level. The introductory scene has some very deep bass tones which were handled with ease but it was when the spaceships began to fly by that the “dome” effect from the Atmos soundtrack was instantly apparent. (SPOILER ALERT) The fight scene between Optimus Prime and Galvatron mid-way through the movie also had me guessing where the sound was going to come from next and for a sensation of being right in the heart of the action, these speakers have produced the effect like no others we have tested in store so far.
My only slight gripe about these speakers is that they are rear ported. This would mean in order for them to perform at their most optimal levels you would need around 20cm worth of clearance behind them to allow the air to be ported properly and that may mean some slight adjustments for people’s current home cinema setup. These really deserve to be set up on a good set of speaker stands, possible filled with sand or a filler to make sure they are rooted to the ground and gain an extra level of control on that noticeably powerful bass, however a cabinet or desktop would work just fine as long as it’s not glass!
I would personally suggest some high-end speaker cable so you get the most out of them. We ran them through QED Silver Anniversary XT and they did a great job but I felt there could be more to be heard… so when we changed to the Atlas Hyper the affect was noticeable. This goes to show why cable matching is so important.
Personally I LOVE the Dolby Atmos system and cannot wait for more movies to come out with the soundtrack included. Expect some huge blockbusters like Jupiter Ascending, American Sniper and the mighty Marvel’s Age of Ultron to come equipped with this.
If you love movies and want to experience Atmos to its fullest, or even if you are thinking about upgrading in the future and just want a great set of bookshelf speakers in the meantime, then look no further than these wonderful pieces of precision engineering.
Feel free to visit us in-store or call our Telesales team on 0333 900 0093. With our help and friendly advice we can help you pick the perfect surround sound speakers for your ultimate home cinema experience!
Author – Andrew, Weybridge store