Boston Acoustics P400 Three-Channel Soundbar Speaker Reviewed

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BostonAcoustics-P400-Soundbar-Reviewed.gifSoundbars are all the rage these days, representing one of the most cost effective ways to get into the home theater game. However, a lot of soundbars rely on trick DSP and internal amplification, which makes them impossible to upgrade and/or build a system around as technology and your tastes change. Thankfully, soundbars are usually cheap enough that if you were forced to replace one down the road it wouldn't be the end of the world. But like every good infomercialsays, "There has to be a better way."


Introducing the P400 three-channel soundbar speaker from Boston Acoustics. Retailing for $899 the P400 is technically a soundbar; however it features no internal amplification nor does it have any trick DSP or surround sound processing. The P400 is essentially a home theater's front three speakers, left-center-right, in a single soundbar chassis. This means that the P400 is treated like any other home theater speaker, drawing power from a receiver or amplifier via its three pairs of five way binding posts located centrally on the P400's backside.

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The P400 measures in at nearly six inches high by 40 inches long and four and three quarter inches deep and tips the scales at 14 pounds give or take. The P400 is the perfect size to fit comfortably and stylishly under any moderate to large HDTV available today. Speaking of stylish, the P400 comes in two colors: gloss piano black and aluminum/silver. Both look stunning especially when wall mounted. Speaking of wall mounting, the P400 comes with the required bracket to mount it to a wall as well as with a table stand for those wanting to rest it on a shelf or credenza.

Inside the P400 are three identical speakers in one chassis; removing the P400's grill will verify what I'm talking about. Each speaker features a single, one-inch, aluminum dome tweeter that rests between a single four and a half inch bass/midrange driver and a four and a half inch passive bass radiator. Count them up and the P400 has nine total drivers, giving it a reported frequency response of 80Hz to 20kHz with a sensitivity rating of 90dB into a standard eight-Ohm load. Power gets to the speakers via three pairs of gold plated five-way binding posts, which rest, centrally, along the P400's back panel and can accept bare wire or spade lugs.

In terms of sound the P400 was built to be a home theater speaker. While capable of playing back music surprisingly well, it shines when given a properly mixed Dolby Digital or better yet a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack to play with. The nice thing about the P400, because it is essentially three speakers with no internal DSP, is that it will play the latest surround sound formats provided your receiver or amplifier will decode the signals. The P400's sound is a bit lively which isn't a bad thing. It's very clear, dynamic and can handle volume pretty well. It does a surprisingly good job at sounding a bit larger than it really is as well as being more spatially open then one would expect from a single chassis design without tricky internal DSP. It does need a subwoofer for true full range sound, which is to be expected.

Read about the high points and low points on Page 2.

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