Published On: March 22, 2023

Monoprice SB-300 Soundbar Review - Atmos on the Cheap

Published On: March 22, 2023
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Monoprice SB-300 Soundbar Review - Atmos on the Cheap

Monoprice incorporates Dolby Atmos into its SB-300 soundbar system for under $200, but does it work?

Monoprice SB-300 Soundbar Review - Atmos on the Cheap

By Author: Brian Kahn

Brian Kahn is the longest tenured writer on staff at HomeTheaterReview.com. His specialties include everything from speakers to whole-home audio systems to high-end audiophile and home theater gear, as well as room acoustics. By day, Brian is a partner at a West Los Angeles law firm.

As the least expensive soundbar with Dolby Atmos we've encountered, the Monoprice SB-300 stands out from the competition. As you’d expect, the Dolby Atmos capability of the SB-300 is virtual, meaning there is not a dedicated set of upward-firing drivers but rather Digital Signal Processing is applied to create the illusion of height. But although the price is right, virtual Atmos has its limitations. Does the SB-300 do enough to make it worth adding to your listening room? Read on to find out more.

High Points

  • Substantial improvement over TV audio
  • Clean and understated design
  • Excellent connectivity options 

Low Points

  • Virtual Dolby Atmos effect is minimal
  • No way to add a subwoofer 
  • Midrange can sound thin

Design and features

The SB-300 is 39.4 inches wide, 2.9 inches high, and 4.2 inches deep and weighs in at six pounds making it a good fit for mid-sized televisions. The SB-300 is all-black with gently rounded corners for a clean, modern appearance. 

An LED display is in the center of the speaker behind the plastic grille and just below a row of control buttons. Monoprice does not provide details as to what is inside the enclosure, but it appears to be dome tweeters at the outer ends with oval-shaped drivers at their inside edges and a pair of ports flanking the LED display. 

Amplification is specified as 50 watts for each of the two channels. Connectivity includes a very surprising three HDMI inputs in total, one with HDMI eARC support for connection to your TV. There are also coaxial and optical digital inputs, a USB connection, Bluetooth, and a 3.5mm analog input. There is no Wi-Fi or Ethernet capability, but this is already a surprisingly loaded setup for your money

The SB-300 comes with a remote, HDMI and 3.5mm audio cables, and wall mount hardware. 

Audio performance

I connected the Monoprice SB-300 soundbar to my LG OLED via HDMI and found it to be a solid improvement over the internal speakers. The different EQ modes including movie, music, sport, and voice are available as well as bass/treble controls. Listening to the news and sitcoms with the voice mode DSP engaged, the SB-300 was more forward with vocals, but I found the Music mode to be my favorite for most listening as it was fuller bodied while maintaining vocal intelligibility. 

It could play louder than my television without distortion but not nearly as loud as a pair of small bookshelf speakers. As I expanded my listening to dramas and procedurals, the SB-300 showcased decent bass for its size, rolling off around 50 Hz. This provides a good sense of what was going on but if you are used to a subwoofer, the lack of bass will still be noticeable. 

Unfortunately, there’s no subwoofer output, so you can’t add one after the fact. That’s not all that surprising at this price, but it does limit your options. 

So how does the Monoprice SB-300 perform with Dolby Atmos? I have been watching a lot of "Locke and Key" on Netflix and the Dolby Atmos processing did vertically expand the soundstage upward during some of the fight scenes between the present-day Locke and the Revolutionary War soldiers as well as the scenes with “ghosts” flying above the other cast members.

This was probably helped by reflections off the drywall ceiling about three to four feet above the soundbar. The Atmos effect is much less than with soundbars with dedicated upfiring drivers, such as the Vizio M-Series 5.1.2, which also offers a dedicated subwoofer and surround speakers, but you'll also pay at least double for Vizio's bar.

Competition and comparison

In looking through current offerings, there were a couple of options that were competitive. (See our Soundbars page for all the soundbars we have reviewed.)

The JBL Bar 2.0 ($129) has 40 watts each for two full-range drivers in a slightly smaller package. Like the Monoprice unit, wireless connectivity is limited to Bluetooth. The JBL has simulated surround but no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X capabilities. 

Yamaha’s SR-B20A ($199) has built-in three-inch “subwoofers” to go along with the midrange cone and dome tweeters and DTS’ Virtual:X in place of the virtual Dolby Atmos found in the Monoprice SB-300. Like the other two soundbars, its wireless connectivity is also Bluetooth only.

Conclusion

The Monoprice SB-300 offers impressive features, including more connectivity options than expected, and a modicum of virtual Dolby Atmos. It will enlarge the soundstage and provide better performance than what you are getting with your television at a great price. 

The SB-300 performed competently for my television viewing and background music needs. However, if you are looking to use this soundbar as your main music or movie playback system, and you have the budget, I would recommend paying a bit more for one of the higher-end models from Monoprice or others. 

  • rob schneider
    2023-08-16 21:19:42

    The soundbar sounds good coming from tv speakers for sure. Bass is good tbh for a soundbar. A few things to note, bass and treble are adjustable but settings for them do not stick after u turn the soundbar off. It must be reapplied every time which socks. Also if you have an old tv and use a firestick, fire OS does not have monoprice listed under add a soundbar and picking other soundbar manufacturers don't work.

  • Anonymous
    2023-04-14 00:44:11

    Acunetix

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