We recently tested 3 soundbars by TaoTronics, which brings us to the question: Are the products from the Chinese competition better? Here, we present the new Xiaomi 33-inch TV sound bar for about 100$, which offers several connection possibilities and 8 loudspeakers. The soundbar also looks convincing: the front is covered with grey jersey – lightly patterned fabric – which looks stylish and fresh.
Xiaomi already tried selling a soundbar, but that didn’t go down so well. It was not bad and also offered a wide range of functions. However, due to the system it was only really usable in China, unfortunately. The new model is reduced to the essentials: the sound and thus the improvement of your home cinema experience. Is it worth it? We’ll find out in the following review.
Design and build quality
As the name suggests, the Xiaomi 33-inch soundbar is, 33 inches wide. The exact dimensions are 830 x 72 mm (depth) x 87 mm (height) and it has a weight of 1.925 kg. The first important factor is the colour: the hard plastic body features the typical Xiaomi-white, which may not fit into every living room / multimedia center, since most devices use black. But because of the cool jersey fabric in grey, the Xiaomi soundbar is a little optical highlight – at least in my opinion!
At the bottom of the soundbar there are several rubber feet that do not transmit vibrations and oscillations of the drivers. This also ensures a safe stand. Alternatively, the soundbar can be mounted on the wall or wooden furniture. Here it is advisable to provide a damping between the soundbar and the wall – otherwise you get quite a booming bass: I simply placed two pieces of felt between the screw head and the hole.
On the rear side you find all connections and the toggle switch for the current. There are 7 buttons on the top: The volume control consists of two large round buttons that click relatively loudly. In between are the buttons for the different modes: Bluetooth, AUX In, Line In, SPDIF and Optical. A small white LED above the respective audio input indicates which input is currently selected.
Xiaomi Soundbar scope of delivery
The brown oblong box contains a short manual in Chinese, a SPDIF cable (digital), 2 screws and 2 plugs for wall mounting and a power supply (16V 2.5A) with a Chinese plug. The latter can easily be replaced by another power supply with a hollow plug: for example, the plug of the TaoTronics soundbar with 18 volts and 2.2 amps fits here.
We quickly encounter a problem considering the functionality: the Xiaomi 33-inch soundbar comes without remote control, without IR receiver or Wi-Fi. In other words, the Xiaomi soundbar is anything but smart. On the one hand, this ensures functionality with any television and everyone can operate it. But on the other hand, you have to set up and connect the soundbar so that you don’t have to get up every time you want to change something.
We use it in combination with a 40-inch TV and the proportions match. Now the TV unfortunately has a central stand, which is why the Xiaomi soundbar cannot be placed directly in front of it. It works better with another television with 55 inches and two external feet. It was first connected to the Samsung TV via SPDIF optical (“Sony Phillips Digital Interface”): this optical input and the digital input also offer the best sound quality. The only problem is that the Samsung “Smart” TV insisted that you could only change the volume on the audio device. With the new LG 4K TV this was somehow no problem. So try alternatives:
- Bluetooth 4.2 works like any mobile speaker. The TV also accepted the connection, but somehow the connection wasn’t successful in the beginning. But then you can control the volume quite normally.
- Finally, the sound comes to the Xiaomi soundbar via the headphone output of the TV via an appropriate cable, which means a small loss of sound, but you can adjust the volume centrally.
- Just in theory: an HDMI port with ARC (Audio Return Channel) would probably have been the best solution.
The second problem caused by the lack of a remote control is the power. If no audio signal comes in, the soundbar switches to standby and consumes very little power – but it still consumes power unnecessarily. The solution is a socket with master & slave: the TV is put into the master, and if it is switched to standby, then the socket strip switches off the slave connections completely.
The simple concept of the Xiaomi soundbar brings advantages but also disadvantages! On the one hand, the speaker is compatible with a wide mass of devices. however, since there is no remote control, the inputs can only be switched on the device itself. Here you have to think a bit when connecting, then it works.
Finally, the most important thing is the sound. The nominal impedance is 6 Ohm and the frequency range is 50 – 25,000 Hz. On paper, 28 watts of total power don’t sound much, but Xiaomi provides real 28 watts. In relation to other manufacturers, 40 watts often sound more like 15 watts. The 14 watts per side come from a total of 8 loudspeakers:
- 2x Dome Tweeter, for the high frequencies
- 2x 2.5″ sub-woofers, partly for the midrange but especially for booming bass
- 4x passive radiators, which clearly emphasize the deep mids and basses
First of all, I have to say that the sound is not typical of Xiaomi: the sound of all Xiaomi audio products I have been allowed to listen to and test so far was “Hi Res”. This means that it should sound particularly brilliant, but the heights and midrange come out particularly well. The new Xiaomi 33-inch soundbar is completely different: the bass is really present! It sounds very appealing, makes the sound dynamic and pompous – you gladly accept that it is not natural.
Of course, the sound is not comparable with a real 5.1 home cinema system including a separate sub-woofer and audio receiver. But a soundbar is easier to handle: quick to install, compact and much cheaper! The Xiaomi 33-inch soundbar is suitable for medium-sized living rooms with up to 4 meters distance to the TV. If the room is not too large, the sound can spread throughout the room and the stereo setup sounds reasonable. An exact location of the sounds is not possible, but it simply sounds better if the sound comes from two directions.
What is the sound of the Xiaomi TV soundbar suitable for?
- First of all I like music very much: with the wide range of sounds and the distinctive bass, music becomes amazingly attractive. It is also very easy to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth.
- Netflix, Amazon Prime and movies have a very cinematic sound – except for documentaries. They work very well with the low-frequency Xiaomi speaker.
- This also holds true for games, but you can’t locate the sounds here.
- Normal TV programs, on the other hand, benefit less from the Xiaomi soundbar: poor audio quality, low dynamics and many (boring) conversations. Sport, on the other hand, is upgraded and even a part of the stadium atmosphere is transported.
If you have any ideas on how to connect the Xiaomi soundbar, or which additional gadgets could be used to extend the functionality, please let us know in the comments.