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sky soundbox

Sky has made a speaker. The Sky Soundbox is designed to work with Sky Q to deliver hi-fi-quality sound to all your favourite films and TV programmes. But that’s not all.

It works with other set-top boxes, and even doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, so you can wirelessly play tunes from your smartphone through it.

But is it worth your hard-earned? Let’s find out.

Design

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Technically, the Soundbox is a soundbar, which is the industry term for a speaker designed to sit under your TV. Soundbars are much less intrusive than surround sound systems – which require you to position speakers all around the room – but still offer room-filling sound.

It’s huge. While some soundbars are slim, elegant affairs, Sky has gone for the boxy, boombox look, albeit with curved edges and clean lines.

Its look is in keeping with the Sky Q set-top box. Which makes sense, seeing as the two are designed to work hand in hand.

The Sky logo features on the top, and the Devialet logo on the front. Devialet is the French hi-fi brand that Sky worked with on the Soundbox.

It’s heavy, too. At 4kg, you won’t want to lug it from room to room. But then that’s not what it’s designed for – it’s designed to be placed in the main TV room, and to work from there. And as we’ll see, it does that very well indeed.

Usability

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Set up is simple. You unplug the HDMI cable from your Sky Q box and plug it into your Soundbox. Then take the HDMI that comes with the Soundbox, and plug one end into your Soundbox and the other into your Sky Q box.

Now it’s a simple case of plugging in the optical cable to your Soundbox and TV, and hooking the Soundbox up to the power socket.

Then you’re ready to roll.

Before you do though, make sure your Soundbox is positioned correctly. Sky recommends keeping it at least 15cm away from your set-top box or any other products.

It also advises against stacking the Soundbox either on top of or below the Sky Q box, as this will interfere with the sound output. So make sure you have enough room beneath your telly before you buy.

The Soundbox comes with its own remote control – you can’t control it from the Sky remote. Which is a bit of a pain, because it’s another remote to lose down the back of the sofa.

But it’s simple to use, with its self-explanatory buttons.

Sky Q customers get some extra features. Press the '?' button on the remote control, and you can access the Soundbox audio settings menu.

This lets you select from three sound modes: Kids (for limited volume), Speech (for voice enhancement) and Late Night (for reduced bass).

You can also activate Q Sound. Here, Sky can tell what you’re watching and automatically match it to a preset sound profile.

So tune into a footie match, and sport mode is automatically activated, highlighting the sound of the crowd, for example. Q Sound is on by default, and we saw no reason to deactivate it.

Sound quality

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The jewel in the crown here is Devialet’s auto volume level (AVL). This analyses audio signals in real time, so each element of the sound can be clearly heard.

This also ensures explosions don’t deafen you, while that gruff, whispered dialogue is decipherable to the human ear. And all without you having to constantly adjust the volume.

Sound is suitably room-filling and expansive, especially compared to most TVs’ weedy built-in speakers. Side-firing drivers help disperse sound around the room, and have it bounce off walls. Though sadly it can’t deliver true surround sound.

Bass is nice and rumbly, though it gets a little cloudy at times. And the midrange pretty well balanced.

Overall, it’s an impressive listen, though there are better – albeit pricier – soundbars to be had.

Value for money

Which brings us onto the price. Sky customers can buy the Soundbox for £299, or £249 if they have Sky Q Multiscreen. Everyone else? They’ll have to pay a whopping £799.

You can get an excellent alternative for £800, like the Dali Kubik One, for example. So if you’re not with Sky, you might want to think twice before handing over your credit card.

Verdict

The Soundbox is an impressive product, a simple yet advanced way of improving your TV’s sound. Sky customers would be well advised to give it a look.

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