Sharp HT-SB60

The Sharp HT-SB60 is one of the best-performing sound bars we've tested, although its extra-long size and lack of Bluetooth will give some buyers pause.


7.6
CNET Rating

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The Sharp HT-SB60 (AU$499) is a startlingly long sound bar, designed to pair up with TVs 60 inches and up. That length may give it a more balanced look under your own personal Jumbotron, but it also allows the HT-SB60 to produce some fantastic sound quality, surpassing that of smaller sound bars in the same price range. There's also enough space on the back for two HDMI inputs, giving you more flexibility if your TV has a limited input selection.

The HT-SB60's size no doubt contributes to its excellent performance, but it's also its biggest flaw. It's a huge sound bar that just isn't going to nicely integrate into most living-room environments. The other major strike against it is the lack of built-in Bluetooth, so you can't wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the HT-SB60 out of the box.

Design

The HT-SB60 is longer than any other sound bar we've tested, hanging well off the edge of our sizable 110cm TV cabinet. Again, the long, slender sound bar is designed to be paired up with TVs 60 inches and above, and it looked a little silly sitting under our 55-inch Sony XBR-55HX950.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The HT-SB60 may be ultralong, but it's small in every other way, measuring just 7.31cm high and 6.83cm deep. It wasn't even close to blocking our TV's remote sensor, like many sound bars do, which is good since it lacks the remote pass-through feature that's found on some competitors.

Size aside, the aesthetics of the system are underwhelming. It has a particularly plasticky look and feel, even for a soundbar, and the fake brushed-metal stripe isn't fooling anyone. The small front-panel display has an "alarm clock" vibe that also detracts from its style. The wireless subwoofer also has a generic quality, especially the cheap-feeling wood on the sides.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

While the included remote gets some points for its considerable size, it's pretty lousy otherwise. At first glance it looks good, with a big volume rocker, except that rocker controls the volume of the TV, not the sound bar. I often found myself instinctively reaching for that rocker to adjust volume, only to realize my mistake when the sound bar wouldn't respond. The rest of the controls are laid out awkwardly as well, including a mute button that's far from the rest of other volume controls.

Features

The HT-SB60 has more inputs than most, with two HDMI, one optical, and an analog minijack. You won't necessarily need the HDMI inputs if you use your TV to switch among devices, but the extra ports are nice in case you have more devices than inputs on your TV.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The biggest missing connectivity feature is built-in Bluetooth. Bluetooth is the easiest way to wirelessly stream audio from nearly every smartphone and tablet, so it's a shame that the HT-SB60 doesn't support it. You can add Bluetooth with an external adapter, but it's not a particularly elegant solution.

Performance

The HT-SB60 doesn't require any audio set-up, but you can easily fine tune the sound directly from the remote. No need to advance through on-screen menus, as bass, treble and subwoofer volume controls are right on the remote, along with various sound modes, such as Cinema, Music, Game, Night and Bypass (pure stereo).

The first thing we noticed about the HT-SB60's sound was how much bigger it was than other similarly priced sound bars that we've tested, and it wasn't just the HT-SB60's overly generous subwoofer balance. The 138cm-wide sound bar was also a factor; it projects a wider, unprocessed stereo image than a typical 100cm-wide version. That makes a difference because the spacious stereo separation is more like what you'd get from a stereo pair of speakers. The quality of the sound, the clarity and naturalness were also exceptional; the HT-SB60 is in the top tier of sound bars we've heard this year.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Few sound bars are up to the demands of playing rock music loud, but the HT-SB60 had no trouble belting out the Rolling Stones' "Some Girls: Live in Texas '78" Blu-ray. There was no strain or harshness, and while the subwoofer won't win any awards for bass definition, it blended well with the sound bar. The HT-SB60 also brought out the best with CDs, including hard rock from The Black Keys, a feat no other sound bar has managed yet.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

We also found that when we listened with the HT-SB60 in either of its Cinema or Bypass sound modes, the clarity of the sound and wide-open sound stage made it easy to forget we were listening to a sound bar, and you can't pay a higher compliment to a sound bar than that.

Conclusion

The Sharp HT-SB60 is an exceptional sound bar, both in size and sound quality, although it's not without its flaws. But if you've got the space and don't care about Bluetooth, you'll be rewarded with some of the best sound quality we've heard from a sound bar; it's even capable of doing a respectable job with music.

Via CNET.com

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