Sometimes you might be sitting there, watching some Netflix, and the sound is just not doing justice to whats happening on screen. If you have a TV in the sub $1000 range chances are corners have been cut to bring the price down and one of the first things to be sacrificed is sound quality.
In our house we have a second TV room and with it not being the primary spot of entertainment I threw in a cheap 40 inch Samsung, it's good, it gets the job done but the sound is definitely lacking. So is there a cheap solution to get better sound? Let's take a look at the Chialstar Mini Soundbar.
What is the Chailstar Soundbar?
You are probably wondering who Chialstar are and from what I can tell from looking around the net they are an OEM rebranding company based out of China. They offered me the chance to try out one of their Mini Soundbars and I thought why not, similar looking items from Amazon get decent enough reviews although I'm not sure how much I trust them. I wanted to try for myself.
The Mini soundbar retails for around $89.99 and for now I can only see it for sale via Aliexpress.
It's about 20 inches wide and just over 2 inches in height and depth. Construction is mainly plastic and it actually feels very light weight.
Build quality is OK, it's really nothing to write home about and bar a couple of issues with the waterproof flap it should hold up reasonably well over time.
The sound is driven by 6 diaphragms that are all forward facing and produce a 2.1 stereo sound. The Mini Soundbar is very well connected with input choices such as 3.5mm line in, Bluetooth 4.0, USB and it is even able to play back files from a MicroSD.
You can control this unit in 2 ways. First, you have a row of rubberized buttons up to which are rather confusingly designated (M (Mode), volume up/down and Call answer). These buttons are all dual function via double taps or long presses so I suggest reading the manual to figure out what is going on. Chialstar also includes a remote which is of pretty tacky quality, its a generic cheap affair but it gets the job done and gives full access to the functionality of the speaker.
As a replacement for TV inbuilt speakers?
The sound of the Chialstar Mini Soundbar is what I would describe as passable. Even with my $500 Samsung hooked up, I don't think there was any benefit to be had over the inbuilt speakers. Its more like for like and I like certian aspects of the inbuilt sound better than the soundbar and I also like aspects of the soundbar better than the TV's inbuilt sound.
The Chialstar manages to get decently loud but there are some treble peaks to be heard. Bass is sorely lacking, spending just a little bit more can bring vast advancements in both bass quantity and quality. Clarity is good though and it holds that right through the high and mid ranges with voices being clearly defined. For that matter, soundstage is also improved a bit over the TV's inbuilt speakers and thus the spacing between sound and placement becomes much better.
To replace my inbuilt TV speakers alone would not be reason enough to get me to buy a Chialstar Mini Soundbar but that in combination with its connectivity and versatility as a semi-portable household speaker at this price might.
As a Standalone speaker system
Where I think the Mini Soundbar has more benefit is if you are to use it as a portable speaker, maybe in the garden or kitchen, you know around the house for music playback. Its ability to get loud without distortion and out bass almost anything else at this price is a definite win and when you look at its range of input options as well as the price I think this is where the Chialstar Mini soundbar is best used.
Connectivity was simple when using either the 3.5mm and bluetooth 4.0 input options and the MicroSD card slot had no problem playing back MP3 files. The remote was a handy little addition and managed to control playback just as you would expect.
When you think about the combination of price, functions and versatility the Chialstar really starts to make a lot of sense, maybe not as a primary household speaker but as a solid backup its great.
Conclusion: Should I buy the Mini Soundbar?
As a soundbar for use with your television? No probably not, I think most of the budget TV's have enough sound to at least match if not better the Chialstar. However, if we are talking about a speaker for use around the house or out in the garden you could do a lot worse. It is pretty feature rich and the sound can go loud without distortion so for that purpose I can definitely see it being a useful addition.
It's not a premium product by any means but it's hard not to like the Chialstar Mini soundbar for all the things it does well and for less than $100 it seems a bit of a steal.
If you want to know more about the Chialstar Mini Soundbar or find out where to buy you can check out the following link to their site: http://www.chialstar.com/sound-bar/chialstar-q5-black-soundbar.html