What We Like
- A lot of bang for your buck with 3 extra speakers.
- Plenty of customization options allowing a fine-tuned experience.
What We Don’t Like
- Not the most visually exciting design, looks a little dated.
- Whilst undeniably powerful, the sound lacks nuance.
Like that band your Dad was in that ‘almost made it big time’, Nakamichi was big in the 80s known especially for its top of the range tape decks. But this Tokyo based company has actually been going since 1948.
We should point out at the start of this review that the Shockwafe is a soundbar in the same way that a single Ford Focus is a traffic jam. Given the number of included peripherals—two satellite speakers and a subwoofer—it is probably more accurate to consider it as more of an all in one solution for which the soundbar is the centerpiece.
The soundbar itself is a substantial 45.5 inches, housing five different drivers across the front. The bar itself is a slightly odd, irregular hexagon shape, but this actually provides some good options when it comes to placement as you can use the angles and tilt to your advantage. In terms of build quality, it feels like a solid, robust piece of kit.
As they go, it is a fairly standard looking soundbar when it comes to its finish. Nothing too fancy, although the large grille does make it look a bit more like it should be in a studio rather than a living room.
Before talking about what Nakamichi has on offer, let’s take a look at what’s missing from the standard package of soundbars at this sort of price point. The most glaring omission is any kind of WiFI streaming. Sonos has its own system which hooks into the majority of services, and Vizio offers an built Chromecast system to allow much the same access. It’s a shame, then, that Nakamichi only offers Bluetooth 3.0 streaming, and this feels like something of a missed opportunity to compete with what else is on offer at this end of the market.
The included remote control is nice, and features its own LCD display to provide useful information as you go. Given that there is very little feedback from the TV or on the soundbar itself (other than some LED indicators which do not tell you a great deal), this is pretty much essential. The buidl quality of the remote is decent, and it doesn’t seem likely to break unduly.
There are a wide range of customization options on offer as you would expect from a device which comes with so many peripherals. All of them can be managed and controlled from the remote control. As well as adjusting individual volume levels for each speaker, you can also select from a number of presets including Movie, Music, Sports, and Night Mode. Digging even deeper, each preset allows you fine tuning controls over the EQ meaning you can really curate your own experience.
With a total of four devices outputting sound, our first concern was that the overall effect was not as immersive as one expected it might be. We could still place the locations of all of the individual speakers which generally means that the combined effect isn’t creating as seamless an experience as would be desired.
Individually, though, there is a lot to like. Dialogue is exceptionally well distinguished in the mix; highs are bright (probably too bright for some listeners’ tastes) and crisp; bass is thunderous and powerful. Music is enjoyable, but not as accurate as we have heard on other devices. Often it seems that Nakamichi have chosen to emphasize power over clarity and nuance, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea but narrows the scope of potential appeal to a certain sector of the consumer base.
If you’re looking for power and a room-filling experience, the Shockwafe is a great choice. The sheer quantity of quality peripherals for the price makes this a real contender, but an underwhelming design and lack of clarity are its drawbacks.