Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-42 Sound Bar

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We recently reviewed Definitive Technology's SSA-50 sound bar and really liked it. Its little brother, the SSA-42, is quite similar, but is meant for use with televisions that are 42 inches diagonal or less, as it is 40 inches long, compared with the SSA-50's 46-inch length. It's also $300 less expensive, priced at $799. In general, it has a little less power than the 50, but it sounds nearly as good, creating a wide virtual surround sound field from a single chassis.

I've written about how Definitive Technology does this in the review of the SSA-50 {link here}. To paraphrase, they use a proprietary technology called Spatial Array to fool your ear and brain into believing surround sound is coming from five separate speakers. What it doesn't do is rely on your walls to bounce sound around the room, like some sound bars do. This makes Definitive Technology's (and sister company Polk's) sound bars great for any room, no matter how irregularly shaped. The company's Balanced Dual Surround System (BDSS) technology puts two surrounds in each speaker, instead of one, to suppress cone resonance and produce higher output. Finally, they've corrected problems caused by putting the tweeter in front of the driver with housing and venting for the tweeters.

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The SSA-42, like its big brother, is a fine-looking unit. It feels solid; you know there is a lot of speaker goodness packed into this unit just by touching its aircraft-grade extruded aluminum finish. It comes in polished silver or gloss black. Like the 50, it must be used in conjunction with a receiver. While this may be a negative to some folks looking to get surround sound from a single package, it does make sense. After all, if you have just purchased a new HDTV and Blu-ray player, you need a receiver to decode those new soundtracks - Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio - anyway, right? The Definitive Technology line of sound bars is therefore targeted at those who are really interested in getting the most from their home theater systems. Bottom line: It's not an HTIB. You are getting the high standard of quality Definitive Technology is known for in a space-saving solution. According to the company, "Self-contained systems have limited digital inputs, limited video switching, low power, no HD radio, no satellite radio, limited features and a host of other limitations. With the SSA approach, you will be able to use the electronics that best meet your unique needs and still provide the benefits of single-speaker surround."

We love this speaker's performance almost as much as we enjoyed the SSA-50's. On Blu-rays, such as Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, the SSA-42 passes the surround test with flying colors. The soundtrack is riddled with directional effects, and the various sounds of the jungle come at you from all sides. We especially like the explosively fun "Move It, Move It" scene in chapter 3. While the soundtrack obviously was assembled in the studio, it sounds incredibly lifelike, especially the dialogue, which is a credit to the SSA-42. Especially in a smaller room and with a subwoofer to supplement bass, we're impressed with this sound bar's overall performance. CDs do equally well; Cat Power's rendition of "Dark End of the Street" is sultry, detailed, immersive and appropriately moody.

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