Enjoy a boost to your television speakers using the TaoTronics Soundbar and Subwoofer.
I remember growing up in the ’90s, without access to on-demand features. My sister and I would excitedly await Friday Night TGIF and Saturday morning cartoons. We would plan our dinners and activities around our favorite television shows, and it became a family tradition. The tradition expanded to VHS, DVD, to Blu-Ray, and streaming options. Now, with a family of my own, we are making our memories. With a deep love for movies, my kids help to set up a pallet of blankets on the floor, help to pop some popcorn, decide upon a program/movie and we make it into an event. Have you ever watched a DVD/Blu-Ray and struggled to hear the conversations, while the background sounds boomed. We have relied upon our living room television and a Blu-Ray player for far too long, and I wanted an inexpensive boost to our movie experience. The TaoTronics TT-SK020 Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer arrived in an oddly shaped brown cardboard box. Orienting the rudder shaped box was rather difficult. Both sides had a “TT” toward my top left and the title/model number along my bottom left. Starting with the flat panel, the box measured 36 5/8 inches long by 12 5/8 inches tall. Orienting the opposing side in a similar manner, the thicker end measured 14 1/2 inches long by 12 5/8 inches tall and 15 7/8 inches wide. The narrow end measured 17 1/4 inches long by 12 5/8 inches tall by 5 1/4 inches wide. Separating the thick and thin sections, I found a 4 7/8 inches long section of angled cardboard. The wide-end side-panel provided the TaoTronics Soundbar sticker, US Address (46724 Lakeview Blvd, Fremont, CA 94538), EU Address (Halstenbeker Weg 98C, 25462 Rellingen, Deutschland), Manufacturer (Shenzen NearbyExpress Technology Development Co, Ltd.), Manufacturer Address (333 Bulong Road, Shenzhen, China 518129), email linking QR code, Bluetooth logo and necessary product labels.
The contents of the box were well packaged and protected with upper/lower styrofoam. The superior styrofoam layer, which was located above the subwoofer, contained 3 separate compartments. The smallest compartment contained a 49 1/2 inches long 3.5mm to 3.5mm 90-degree angle cable. The second compartment housed the 5 7/8 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide remote control and a 59 1/2 inches long subwoofer power cable. The final compartment housed the mounting hardware kit (#2 1 3/8 inches foam squares, #2 yellow drywall anchors, #2 1 1/2 inch long mounting screws) and the soundbar power supply, with 59 inches long power cable. The remote had a 3/8 inches diameter red power button, a 3/8 inches diameter mute button along the top. Along the middle of the remote, I found five more 3/8 inches diameter buttons arranged like a dice (BT, AUX, COAX, OPT along the corners and center button unlabeled). Between the two sets of buttons, I found a 2 3/16 inches diameter button with plus, next, minus, back buttons and a centralized 1/2 inches diameter play/pause button. The remote requires two AAA batteries, which were not included with this kit. The buttons had a felt-like texture and provided a nice tactile feel in comparison to the smooth, cold, plastic.
Beneath the styrofoam, I found a bag containing the six-panel connection instruction manual, product registration card, and multi-lingual user guide (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese). Beneath the instruction manual bag, I found a 6 inches wide by 6 1/2 inches tall ziplock bag containing a 60 inches long optical cable. Excited to tear into the meat of the product, I turned to the attractive flat black subwoofer. Measuring 9 7/16 inches square and standing 12 1/2 inches tall, 11 3/8 inches without legs, the subwoofer felt solid. The glossy black subwoofer outlet stood apart from the flat black body of the device. The silver TT icon along the bottom added a subtle, yet a much-needed splash of color I loved that TaoTronics thought about those with basements and those that may live in wet climates. The subwoofer did not rest directly on the ground but stood an inch above the floor, thanks to the included preinstalled rubberized legs. Additionally, the power cable installation port was located a good distance from the floor, on the back of the device. The soundbar proper measured 34 1/4 inches long by 2 1/2 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches wide. Compared to the iLIVE 37″ HD Sound Bar with Bluetooth wireless and Subwoofer that I bought for my downstairs TV, the TaoTronics soundbar was tiny. However, the iLive device contained its own small subwoofer and required the extra space to house the speakers. The TaoTronics device proved comparable in size once I considered the subwoofer as well. The four grey soundbar buttons were located across the top of the device, within a grey button region (power, play/pause, next/back, and volume up/down). Other than the dark grey caps at each edge of the soundbar and the grey power buttons, the flat black coloration predominated. I was pleased that TaoTronics created an inset power access panel. Centered on the soundbar, you will find a 5 7/8 inches long by 1 1/8 inches square panel with a power input port, Coaxial input, Optical video input, and 3.5mm AUX input.
To install the soundbar, I turned to the soundbar connection instruction manual. Since this kit came with an optical cable, my television had an optical connection, and I prefer optical to coaxial/3.5mm input, I used this method of connection. If you have other devices such as a blu-ray player, or a game system, you can use one of the other methods of connection, or you could theoretically invest in an optical switch. I removed the plastic stoppers, plugged one end into the optical port of the soundbar and the other into the optical port on my television. I plugged the much-too-large power adaptor into my Aukey Smart Outlet and then into the soundbar. I plugged the Type B wall plug of the subwoofer into the second outlet of the Aukey Smart Outlet and then the dual-pronged input into the subwoofer. I added two AAA batteries to the remote, and with that, setup was complete. Press the power button on the soundbar or on the remote to turn the device on. If you have the remote, you can press the Bluetooth button, the Auxiliary button, COAX button or Optical button to change between the modes. If you want to manually change the modes, you can press the power button on the top of the soundbar. Some televisions will allow you to adjust the sound output of the soundbar, whereas others may not. I found that the sound output was more than adequate and enhanced the television sound experience. For average television listening, I found that a level of around 7-8 was adequate. During movie time, I found that a level of about 10 was adequate. Testing the device with coax and optical, I did not notice much difference. The maximal sound output was at level 30, but I found anything beyond about 12 was too harsh for my average sized living room.
As an added bonus, the soundbar was capable of bluetooth connection. Press the BT button on the remote, navigate to settings, and then to Bluetooth on your smartphone. Choose TaoTronics TT0SK020 from the menu and enjoy the soundbar output. Bluetooth connection was a very interesting addition but the sound was a touch on the weak side. I found that I was able to increase/decrease the sound by increasing/decreasing the sound on my iPhone XS Max and by controlling the speaker. Using the Audiocheck.net website, I found the Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz) to provided sound at around 30-40 Hz instead of the 20 Hz promised. Mid-level sounds across the board were well supported, but the lower bass proved to be a touch lacking. I did not like that I could not increase the strength of the bass or to change the output/balance of the system based on the type of movie/music. I also did not like that the soundbar did not support Dolby Audio or DTS. I read multiple reviews on Amazon and attempted to test the device to the best of my ability. I was able to watch movies using Amazon Prime but had to increase the sound to around 9. I was able to watch Netflix videos and to use all of the Apps that were included with my Sharp Roku TV. My soundbar was installed on the flat surface of my TV stand, and fit nicely between the legs of my television. If interested, you can use the included mounting hardware and pre-installed mounting holes. If you are looking for a simple, relatively basic method to enhance the outputs for your movies, this device may provide for your needs. If you are looking for more detailed controls, this kit will not be the one for you. This would work perfectly for a dorm, bedroom or other small office/room. Again, if features/bells/whistles are important to you, consider looking into more other devices.