Soundbar

Pinnacle T1 PBAR 2000 Powered Sound Bar

ARTICLE INDEX

The Pinnacle T1 PBAR 2000 Powered Sound Bar In Use

When measured using a sweep tone from the Stereophile Test CD, the Pinnacle had audible bass response down to 50 Hz. although significantly reduced in amplitude. The Pinnacle comes to a more usable volume in the bass at between 60 and 70 Hz, and reaches full volume at 100. Therefore, if deeper bass is desired, a separate, self-powered subwoofer will be required. A number of companies including Pinnacle make satisfactory subwoofers that can be driven by the monophonic "Sub Out" analog jack on the sound bar.

Television Use

This sound bar lacks true deep bass but despite this, voices and music sounded significantly fuller than with the TV speakers alone. I noticed, as did others who are familiar with my room, that the Pinnacle provided significantly more detail than the TV's built-in speakers. Voices, background details, and treble sounds (birds chirping, etc.) were clearer. On programs, such as talk shows, where multiple guests talk (or shout, or yell) at the same time, the Pinnacle seemed to separate the voices well. With the TV's built-in speakers, such mixes often became an unintelligible muddle. With the Pinnacle in the system, each voice could be clearly followed.

The Pinnacle never sounded bright, nasal, distorted, or "shouty" with any program material. A variety of classical musical programs were viewed on the local PBS station with the sound bar in use. These were significantly enhanced by the higher quality audio from the sound bar. The Pinnacle never clipped that I could tell despite driving it to high volumes.

To test the ability of the sound bar to handle movie dialogue and music, several DVDs and Blu-Ray discs were used, including the original "Transformers" movie (on DVD) and the surreal "The Fifth Element" (on Blu-ray). As you might surmise, I enjoy Science Fiction…

Both movies were down-mixed to stereo by the players. The DVD was auditioned on an inexpensive Samsung player, and the blu-ray by an Oppo BDP-105. Although the expanded soundstage and surround information were present in the mix, the bar, being only a stereo speaker, could not recreate surround sound. Nevertheless, the bar did present movie dialogue in a very clear and articulate manner, and sound effects (explosions, crashes, etc.) were presented with far better fidelity and dynamics than the TV speakers could provide.

Music Use

The sound bar was set atop my 28" tall equipment stand for audition. The program material came from a combination of digital (Toslink) input and analog input from an Apple Airport Express. Music was streamed both at 16/44.1 (CD-standard) and from YouTube sources (MP3). The drivers of the sound bar are too close to provide significant stereo separation, but some width of the stereo sound sources was still apparent.

On Balkan Beat Box's "Dancing with the Moon" from their Nu-Med album, the horns and conga drums were clean and very realistic sounding. The two saxophones used by the band could be differentiated easily from each other and from the trombone.

On Us3's "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)," the mix of the horns, drums, side comments, and the rapper's voice were clear and separate rather than blending into a muddle. This, again, indicates what I think is the speaker's greatest strength – the clear and articulate presentation of voice.

To test the "power" of the sound bar, I played Lady GaGa's "Dance in the Dark." This cut often sounds as if it had been mastered to play on a boom box – the bass can be overwhelming on a stereo. Despite the cut having deeper bass than what the sound bar could reproduce, the Pinnacle still did a credible job of presenting the impact of the bass without distortion.

So with both TV and with music, the intelligibility of dialogue was the greatest strength of this product. The bass, despite lacking the deepest frequencies, never distorted or sounded muddled, even at higher volumes. Treble was never excessive or irritating.

I also listened to one of my favorite bands, Walk Off The Earth in their "Speeches" cut. The voices and instruments were clear and distinct from each other, and vocal harmonies were particularly sweet sounding.