Home Theater Review

 

Episode 300 Series 30-inch Three Channel Passive Soundbar Reviewed

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HTR Product Rating

Performance
4 Stars
Value
3.5 Stars
Overall
4 Stars

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Episode-300-series-30-inch-soundbar-review.jpgHigh Points
• The 30-inch soundbar is built to the same exacting standards as the costlier 40-inch model, but it will run you less without giving up much in terms of its performance.
• The 30-inch soundbar can be mounted either on a table, with adjustable tilt, or to the wall below your HDTV using the included hardware.
• Those with smaller rooms and/or HDTVs will be well suited by the 30-inch soundbar.
• The 30-inch soundbar's sound is a touch lean of neutral, though when properly mated with a subwoofer, its signature sound can fill out a bit, bringing it closer to neutral overall.
• Despite being housed in a single chassis, the 30-inch soundbar does an admirable job of sounding like three discrete loudspeakers, complete with a surprising soundstage and extension beyond its physical cabinet.
• Because of its passive nature, the 30-inch soundbar doesn't have to make do with faux surround sound modes and instead can take full advantage of today's modern uncompressed surround sound codecs, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Low Points
• Because the 30-inch soundbar is going to rely just a bit more on a capable subwoofer in order to flesh out its sound, careful integration is required in order for it to sound its best. Having to rely on a subwoofer also does add a bit to the 30's overall cost of ownership.
• Those with larger rooms or a propensity for louder volumes may find the 30-inch lacking when the going gets tough, compared to the capacity of its larger, 40-inch sibling.

Competition and Comparisons
The soundbar category is hotter than ever and seemingly everyone offers a product near or at the 30's price. Among my personal favorites that deserve to be mentioned in the conversation are ZVOX's Z-Base 580 at $599.99, Vizio's VSB-210WS at $299 and Polk Audio's SurroundBar 6000 at $499.95. All three have their unique strengths and weaknesses compared to the 30-inch soundbar from Episode but, like the 30-inch, all are well suited for smaller rooms and/or HDTVs roughly 42 inches in diagonal length.

For more on these soundbars and others like them, please visit Home Theater Review's Soundbar page.

Conclusion
At a hair under $500 retail, the 30-inch soundbar from Episode Speakers isn't the most affordable passive soundbar solution currently available, but it's far from the most expensive. Still, if you have a smaller bedroom or den system built around HDTVs roughly 32 to 42 inches diagonal, you'll be well served by Episode's new compact soundbar, though you'll want to be sure to bring a subwoofer to the party for true, full-range sound, not to mention spirited playback. Even so, for roughly $500, the combination of the 32-inch and a modest sub should make for a wonderful-sounding compact home theater speaker system.

Additional Resources
• Read more soundbar reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore LED HDTVs and Plasma HDTVs to pair with the Episode 300 Series soundbar.
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