Soundbar

Pinnacle T1 PBAR 2000 Powered Sound Bar

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The Design and Setup of the Pinnacle T1 PBAR 2000 Powered Sound Bar

When the T1 PBAR 2000 arrived, the first thing I noticed was the quality of the packing. Multiple hoops of custom-contoured foam ringed the sound bar at several places along the length, minimizing the likelihood of shipping damage. The power adapter and accessories were in a separate cardboard box. A plastic bag kept the accessories from scratching the sound bar in transit.

The grille cloth is attached to a wood frame with beefy metal pegs that prevent rattling. The pegs and their sockets feel very sturdy. The grille made no noise at all in use. Behind the grill are the drivers and an infrared (IR) sensor for the remote control.

The bar is supplied with a metal bracket, screws, and sheet-rock anchors for wall mounting. I did not wall mount the bar, but rather placed in on the stand in front of my TV during video use. For stereo evaluation, I placed the bar atop an equipment stand. Since the top, bottom, and back of the bar are curved, a self-adhesive plastic "foot" is supplied. By positioning the foot further forward or aft on the bottom, the bar can be angled to point upward at any angle desired. This is a clever design, but be sure to get the positioning right before you stick the foot to the bar.

Accessories included with the sound bar are a digital coaxial cable, a digital optical (Toslink) cable, a stereo RCA analog cable pair, a remote control with batteries, and a power transformer with cord.

For reference, my AV room is roughly 25' long, 15' wide, and has 9' ceilings. The sound bar was firing down the long center of the room during video use and across the short axis of the room when being evaluated for audio only.

The Pinnacle's rear setup panel has a wide variety of options. With two types of digital inputs and an analog input pair, this bar should work with just about any current or legacy TV. One clever touch offered by Pinnacle is their "Remote Learning" feature. I needed this for my TV set. Normally, when the internal speakers are turned off on a television, the analog outputs remain live with variable volume controlled by the TV's remote control. Samsung, for some obscure reason, designed my TV so that when the internal speakers are turned off, all outputs, digital and analog, remain at fixed volume.

Normally, this would mean that the sound bar's remote control would be needed for volume (doubling the number of remote controls needed for the system). But with the Pinnacle, I merely pressed the buttons on the back of the bar to enable "learning mode," and then pressed the "volume up," "volume down," and "mute" buttons on my TV's remote. From then on, the Pinnacle sound bar's volume and muting could be controlled from the Samsung TV's remote control. This significantly simplified the use of the sound bar and is a valuable feature.

The Pinnacle also sports a gain switch, functional only for the analog inputs, that controls the maximum loudness to which the bar can be driven. It is helpful for TVs that happen to send exceptionally strong or weak analog signals. The gain of the sound bar's amplifiers can be altered in 10-decibel steps from 20 to 30 to 40 dB. On my television, the center setting, 30 dB, was perfect, so I didn't need to alter this, but for music, the 40 dB setting allowed higher volumes.

The Pinnacle's back panel also has a multi-color LED showing the status of the sound bar. The LED changes color when a digital (blue) or analog (green) signal is present. When either signal is present, the bar automatically and immediately wakes up and plays. When no signal is present, the bar and its amplifiers go to sleep to save power, and the LED glows red to indicate that the bar is in standby mode.

The Pinnacle, unlike many sound bars, is not intended to provide artificial surround sound or to replace a separate audio-video receiver. Pinnacle has designed this product to simply replace the mediocre stereo speakers in existing televisions. For movies, DVDs, and Blu-Ray use, Pinnacle recommends attaching any disc player directly to the TV and then using the television's audio outputs to feed the Pinnacle. The Pinnacle provides stereo only, so a receiver and full set of speakers would still be needed if surround were desired.

The Pinnacle has a variable line-out for a self-powered subwoofer, although I didn't use the product in this manner. The owners' manual does not specify what crossover frequency the sub-out uses.

I used the Pinnacle's remote control when evaluating the bar as a music system, but while I was using TV mode, I preferred to use the television set's remote. The Pinnacle remote worked as advertised, and volume adjustments were smooth. With the learning features of the sound bar itself, I think that most users will prefer to use their television's remote in order to minimize the number of remote controls required. Fewer remote controls is always a better thing.