What We Like
- The triple sound modes provide a good amount of control.
- It was able to play pretty loud without much noticeable distortion.
What We Don’t Like
- The design and build quality are lacklustre and don’t compete with alternatives.
- Listening experience is louder but not necessarily improved otherwise.
Everyone’s heard of AmazonBasics, and so it feels a little redundant to give you too much in the way of an introduction. From batteries to copy paper, from luggage to patio heaters, they cover a whole lot of bases.
When exploring the sub-$100 range of soundbars, a couple of design elements tend to keep cropping up across multiple devices. Foremost amongst these is the cost effective, simple, and versatile approach to color which Amazon has opted for with their device. It’s entirely black.
Generously, we could say that Amazon have taken a less is more approach to the design of this product. There isn’t a whole lot going on, which means that it looks relatively sleek and simple. However, the illusion of quality is somewhat impinged upon by the fact that the product’s build does not feel anything approaching premium.
It is almost exclusively comprised of black plastic which feels relatively flimsy and is not especially tactile. The exception to this, sadly, is even more disappointing: a black cloth covers the actual speaker drivers themselves on the front. As you would expect, this does not add to any particular sense of quality. Quite the opposite.
Like most soundbars, Amazon have designed this model to be as versatile as possible when it comes to placement. The form factor is simple enough to be placed on a table or shelf, but an included wall mounting kit means that it is easy work to affix the entire thing to the wall above or below your television. This was an easy process, and the included instructions walked us through the steps perfectly adequately.
Interestingly, Amazon has done something which few models at this price point do in allowing for some minor adjustments to the listening experience. Whilst you can’t dig in and manually adjust the EQ for yourself (which, you know, is far enough for the price point), there are three sound modes on offer which provide suitably well differentiated audio: Standard, News, and Movie.
As well as the usual remote control (which worked as well as you would hope and felt surprisingly more robust than the device itself), the AmazonBasics soundbar is also equipped with Bluetooth streaming which makes for a good user experience when it comes to the kind of plug and play, wireless effect which many are looking for.
Streaming to the soundbar via Bluetooth was a quick and simple process which was entirely hassle free. There was no noteworthy skipping or lag.
Amazon’s ‘triple sound mode’ was the first thing we put to the test in order to find out just how effective the presets were at providing different listening experiences. It turns out they do a good job, on the whole. Standard mode excels for normal TV watching and balances dialogue with background sound to basically just boost your overall audio as you would expect. News mode puts a focus on dialogue and tones down the background noise. We can see this being especially useful alongside subtitles for the hard of hearing. And Movie mode is optimized, as the name suggests, for movies and games. It seems to boost the bass and create a more in your face experience.
Regardless of the mode, the audio was pretty decent across the board. However, the device’s primary function is for amplification rather than adding a new dimension to your listening experience. It isn’t going to go far towards transforming your living room into a cinema, but it will certainly play audio louder than your TV would by default.
The AmazonBasics soundbar is somewhat disappointing when compared to some of the competition. It certainly does a good job as an alternative to the often subpar, inbuilt speakers that come with your TV, but does not advance far beyond this.