SurroundBar Instant Home Theater


posted 1/6/2009 by Dan Keener
other articles by Dan Keener
One Page Platforms: AV
Game Audio Testing
I went for two games that I knew would push the SurroundBar IHT to its limits for game testing, and those were Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots on the PlayStation 3, and Rock Band 2 on the Xbox 360. There were other games I played, but these two seem to illustrate the value of having a surround system in place for the best gaming experience.

I thought the SurroundBar IHT shined the best during my game play with MGS 4. Like most FPS, the game has an awful lot going on-screen at any given time. From an audio perspective, there are voice commands and chatter, firefights and movement coming from all around you. I thought the SB IHT did an excellent job of creating a soundfield that placed me inside the battle itself. In one section, I was ambushed in a tight corner between several buildings. As the enemy AI was moving around to flank me, I heard one of them make his move and was able to dodge and then neutralize him. If I had been playing that scene with just my TV speakers or a lower grade all-in-one system, I doubt I would have picked up that the guy was behind me until he started shooting. The noise he made was subtle, but the way the SB IHT positioned it, I knew where he was coming from to my right. I played a couple other games on the 360 that have similar onscreen actions, and the results were the same. The SurroundBar IHT did an excellent job of replicating and pinpointing the in-game sounds to give me an advantage against both the AI and Xbox Live combatants.

Satisfied with how the SurroundBar did in the First Person Shooter and Action genres, I went for some Rock Band 2 playtime using the Xbox 360. I played through about a dozen songs utilizing both guitar and mic and I came away extremely impressed. Much like my experience watching The Who concert on Palladia, the vocals and instruments were presented to me like I was sitting in the first half-dozen rows center stage at a concert. The music wrapped around me and the individual instruments and vocals were clear and concise. I was very pleased at how well the game sounded, as I play more Rock Band nowadays than any other game.

Overall, I think the Polk Audio SurroundBar instant Home Theater is a great option for any gamer that is looking to add high-quality audio at a decent price. Having played 1,000s of hours of games over the last 37 years, I can’t emphasize how important good audio has become to getting the most out of those $60 games we are now buying. For gaming, the SB IHT takes up very little space, yet provides big sound and deep bass that will make the gaming experience better in any room in the house.

Miscellaneous Items of Note
• Includes a full size Template for easy wall mounting
• Wireless Sub range is up to 50 feet
• Solid Construction
• No digital inputs
• Does not include a remote

Pros Cons
Easy to Set Up No remote
Excellent Soundfield Noticeable Sweet Spot
Wireless Sub  

Testing Methodology
Items utilized in the testing of the Polk Audio SDA Instant Home Theater included, but not limited to:
Xbox 360 Elite, PlayStation 3, Samsung 56” DLP, 21’ x 18’ x 9’ great room

The Conclusion
The Polk Audio SDA Instant Home Theater delivered on its promise and provides one of the easiest home theater hookups I have ever put together. In addition, the quality of the components and the soundfield they create are exceptional, especially at $499 MSRP. Although the best listening is dead center of the SurroundBar, the overall sound from any position in the room will minimize the fight to get the best seat in the house. The wireless sub, while not the biggest, is fantastic add-on as it blends perfectly with the system by adding deep bass and helping make a harmonized soundfield. After spending some quality time with the Surround Bar SDA Instant Home Theater, I have had another A/V stereotype cast aside by the folks over at Polk….

The Polk Audio SurroundBar Instant Home Theater is one of the best and cost effective ways to add surround audio to your home. Whether it is for gaming, movie or television watching, the unit delivers great audio with a large and impressive soundfield. The presence of the wireless sub is a huge bonus, especially in a package that will have an MSRP of $499.

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