One of the primary companies within the upper mid-fi boom of the 1980s (along with companies such as Adcom, A/D/S, B&W, and Polk), Boston Acoustics built its name on its affordable, high performance speakers that offering classic and contemporary styling, and applications that extended into the car�and onto the patio. Current owner D&M Holdings (Denon, Marantz, McIntosh) has been trying to re-launch the brand, which has struggled a bit in recent years, by focusing it on lifestyle solutions to complement its traditional products.
The entry-level model in its two-model soundbar category (along with the $899.00 P400), the $299.00 TVee Model 20 is a two-piece system, combining the main speaker unit with a wireless subwoofer. The main unit employs two 1.5 inch by 6-inch drivers in a ported enclosure measuring 3.75 inches high by 31 inches wide by 4 inches deep and weighing 8.4 pounds. The subwoofer employs a downward-firing 6-inch driver within a ported enclosure measuring in at 9.5 inches high by 10.5 wide by 11 inches deep, and weighing eleven pounds. The main unit provides a Status Indicator, Power Button, Mute Button, Volume Up and Down Buttons, Wireless ID Switch, Trim Level Switch, an RCA stereo input, and a power switch. The subwoofer provides a Wireless ID Switch, Volume control, Status Indicator, and a power switch. Fit and finish are good for the price, and the light weight of the main unit, while a negative in some ways, actually helps with placement and installation. With a couple of anchors and its convenient keyhole mounts, you could even mount it on drywall with no problem.
Setup is a piece of cake, which it must be with a product of this type. Essentially, this is a powered 2.1 speaker system, unlike many other soundbars which simulate a multi-channel setup. So you drive it with an ordinary stereo signal from your TV or cable/satellite box, and the main unit drives the subwoofer wirelessly via a 2.4gHz connection. The main unit provides four wireless ID positions to help easily connect the two (in case you have multiple systems), and a trim switch to normalize input levels and prevent overdriving. The remote-less TVee Model 20 can be controlled by your normal system remote, as it has learning capabilities built in. The blinking/constant status light indicates things like command receiving and learning status, power, etc., and works like a charm. The main unit runs off of an outboard power supply, and the subwoofer receives its power from a detachable power cord. The wireless connection worked perfectly at all times, allowing for easy placement anywhere (approximately 20 feet) near a wall outlet.
The TVee Model 20 sounded reasonably good with music material. The high end had a crisp bite that rendered a good amount of detail without too much edginess. While it could have used some more substance into the upper mids and less of a "canned" feel, the midrange in general kept up with things and had a decent combination of warmth and detail. Occasionally, the lower mids even sounded a bit fat and bloomy, which helped mostly overall. The transition into the low end stayed relatively pain free, and the low end itself had enough punch and extension to deliver an impact. Movies and games sounded good, with the unit adding a valuable amount of detail, speed, and weight to what would otherwise be something very mundane through typical on-board speakers. At the end of the day, while absolute performance is a useful measure of a product's worth, the TVee Model 20 offers a worthwhile sonic upgrade to the scenario facing most of its users.
Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in comparing the Boston Acoustics TVee Model 20 soundbar against its competition, be sure to read our reviews for the Sony HT-CT150 soundbar and the Polk SurroundBar 3000. You can also find more information available in our Sound Bar section.