Any decent soundbar should be big. It has to be wide enough to place all those speakers, and to provide enough sound separation for the stereo and surround sound effects to work. But the Maxell MXSP-SB3000 is on a different level. Rather than just a simple soundbar, it is more of a ‘sound base’ – something on which the whole television sits – rather than a slim bar that sits in front. This has a few advantages.
Firstly, it is actually a little bit easier to position, and as long as your shelf is big enough to house your television, it is big enough to hold the Maxell Soundbar. It also means that the speakers don’t come as far forward as a traditional soundbar (you’d normally have to place the sound bar in front of the TV stand) so it looks better, and with the speakers the same depth as the screen, the sound is tied to the screen more.
The disadvantages are obvious – if you wall mount your television, the Maxell clearly isn’t for you, and if your television is 32” or less, the soundbar is going to be bigger that the screen width which may look a bit odd. The actual sizes of the soundbar are 930 x 390 x 82mm, and it will support televisions up to 80kg in weight.
In terms of looks, the Maxell is a decent looking device – it’s not going to win any design awards, but the understated styling suits its purpose really – it’s not something that should stand out. The nicely curved edges lend a bit of character and softness to the design, but that’s about as design features go.
The front of the soundbar is all cloth, punctuated only by the small glass display panel which also houses the touch sensitive playback buttons. The rest of the device has a matt black covering rather than gloss – which was a wise decision on Maxell’s part as dust and fingerprints will be far less prominent.
Plenty of connection options
Around the back of the MXSP-SB3000 we can find the connection options. There is plenty of scope to connect multiple devices with three HDMI in as well as an optical, RCA, co-axial and 3.5mm line in jack. The single HDMI out is all you need for a soundbar. The front of the device has a USB socket, although you can only use this for charging – it won’t playback video or sound from it, which seems a massive oversight.
Big soundbar, big sound
Having established that the Maxell MXSP-SB3000 is a big speaker, we were pleased to discover that the performance was pretty big too. We connected a Blu-ray and DVD player to the device and the MXSP-SB3000 sounded okay with both. In standard form the sound was a little flat, and although it did improve on the televisions speakers, it was not as dynamic as we’d hoped, and frankly, a little disappointing.
We set about trying to improve the sound, and while fiddling with the minimal bass and treble adjustments did not really alter things, hitting the small ‘SRS’ button on the remote did. And what a difference! It transformed the soundbar into a different beast altogether with a crisp, sparkling sound that gave our test discs much more excitement. Even demanding soundtracks like the opening to Saving Private Ryan were handled well and the downward firing sub speakers did an admirable job of conveying the drama of the opening beach scene. Putting in Monsters Inc. then showed us the Maxell’s versatility. The opening credits music is much less dynamic but was handled very well, with an overall balance, range and depth that we weren’t expecting. The later scenes in the film were also good, and whilst it will never replicate a full 5.1 system, the surround sound simulation was just enough to convey the effects.
No matter how hard we pushed the Maxell, it never got flustered and retained it’s dynamic, and yet musical when it needed to be, nature. Our only complaint was that the volume didn’t go quite far enough – perhaps this is testament to the Maxell’s abilities that we wanted more, and wanted it louder!
What to consider
The size and type of soundbar is the biggest consideration with the Maxell – it’s a big heavy unit, and even getting it out of the rather crude packaging was an effort, so consider where you will be placing it! The lack of a useful USB socket is a shame too, and whilst it’s charging ability is potentially useful, it is really a missed opportunity that you can’t playback through it.
Why you should buy the Maxell MXSP-SB3000 Soundbar
This soundbar isn’t for everyone – it’s size and style is sure to rule it out for some people, but we can see a lot of advantages to it. It’s decent looking, will not be too prominent, and has a decent range of connection options too. And despite our initial disappointment, it actually produces a really exciting sound that will make any TV programme, film, or game much more enjoyable – just keep that SRS button clicked on! Rating: /5