Soundbar Advice: The Monitor Audio ASB-2

Perhaps you’ve already read the lengthy article devoted to the topic of Soundbars from a while ago: from a generally speaking perspective and also focusing on two specifc models: B&W Panorama 2 and Focal Dimension. Now we‘d like to introduce an exciting alternative into this category, which also sounds very convincing and features diverse tweaking possibilities: The Monitor Audio ASB2 Soundbar.

Die Monitor Audio ASB-2 in unserer Vorführung

An overview of the Monitor Audio ASB-2

 Apart from the somewhat bland and perfuctory name “ASB-2”, this Soundbar is forging a category for itself in the Hifi market that is very gratifying to witness. The processing is very solid, the ASB-2 makes for a surprise when lifting: at a hefty 11kg the ASB-2, you can at least get the feeling that everything has been looked after. The unusual shape was chosen deliberately from Monitor Audio, so ignore any strange impressions and appreciate the distinctive look that’s been aspired to. Small details such as the aluminum and stainless steel on the sides and and the arrangement on the top side panel which make a nice contrast to the large-scale, deep-black speaker grill — all of these details contributing the overall impressive quality. Behind the hidden centre two woofers, each of which is linked to the central and outermost, the tweeter, also gives off a shining LED light through the fabric on different operating modes and settings. This can be changed by using either the controls on the device itself or via the supplied remote control. On the reverse side to left side, the mandatory connection panel consisting of three HDMI inputs, one HDMI output (ARC), a USB port, two digital inputs (Coaxial/Toslink), two analog inputs (RCA / 3.5 mm jack) and a subwoofer output. Opposite on the right, they have been placed power connector and power switch. Furthermore, bass ports are completely are present on both exteriors. 

On the issue of placement, the ASB-2 has a remedy on hand in case a TV stand is not in the picture. The supplied silicone mat ensures stability and a certain decoupling of the support surface. Moreover, there is, in spite of the impressive weight, the possibility to mount the ASB-2 on the wall. A corresponding device is available as an option.

Die Seitenverkleidung der ASB-2 aus gebürstetem Aluminium

Das Bedienfeld der Monitor Audio ASB-2

Die Fernbedienung der Monitor Audio ASB-2

Service Modes of the ASB-2

 The functions and settings of Monitor Audio Soundbar can be understood with reference to the controls that we go through, therefore best in the following succession: The first switches are largely self-explanatory, in addition to the stand-by mode, selection of various sources (HDMI, digital, analog) and toggle through repeated button each existing inputs. Significantly more interesting are the following two buttons: they represent the full wireless functionality of the ASB-2, when they are implementing all major protocols of UPnP over DLNA all the way to Apple AirPlay have been considered. Thus, with the appropriate configuration you are enabled to stream music from a variety of devices (desktop PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) on the soundbar. The lack of a Bluetooth module is made-up by the so-called “Airstream Direct” function. In this mode, the ASB-2 generates its own wireless network, so – a Wi-Fi enabled device required – even independently of a super-ordinate wireless network, can be added as a direct way to connect to the soundbar.

Das Anschlussfeld der Monitor Audio ASB-2

Netzanschluss und Hauptschalter auf der gegenüberliegenden Seite

Also quite remarkable is the function entitled “3D” behind the next button. Because even though the speaker set-up suggests a more traditional stereo playback, the ASB-2 is is enabled by the internal DSP is quite capable something like surround sound. To distinguish, basically there are two processing variants, the access depending on the input signal. A fitting stereo signal is naturally reproduced unedited with deactivated 3D function. Activating the DSP stereo stage is artificially widened. From a 5.1 signal can be heard mixed signal when switched 3D function only one of four channels (Centre, Left, Right, Subwoofer). Are the internal working actively algorithms, so here the stereo stage will also be widened. Moreover, now the two surround channels, the centre and the subwoofer channel are treated as virtual channels and mixed thereto. You can also separately regulate the volume.

These and other tonal adjustments – strength of the surround effect, three-band EQ to process the overall sound, etc. – are displayed via the rudimentary though clearly structured screen menu. Monitor Audio has really many opportunities created the sound to shape the spatial conditions and personal preferences and the other menu items are proof that here someone has given some thought. So the ASB-2  during periods of inactivity switches in to the stand-by mode. How long the time frame should be and whether the Soundbar HDMI signals even in stand-by mode, can be adjusted with a few steps. Another example is the dimming or completely switched off LED on the front that could well distract from the action on the screen in particular in dark surroundings.

Rudimentär aber gut strukturiert: Das Menü der Monitor Audio ASB-2

monitor-audio-asb-2-front-led

Sound

The sound can convince on its own, and even without the ASB-2’s external subwoofer. Movie soundtracks sound rich and full, the typical sound effects with good bass fill the space without being uncontrolled. In terms of speech intelligibility there is nothing to complain about, higher frequencies are represented overall  precisely and vividly. According to the Hifi background of Monitor Audio, there is room to move with the streaming functions and listen to music through the ASB2. In this case, the internal DSP, however, should remain rather disabled while in movie soundtracks, the recommendation is exactly the opposite.

Conclusion

As for any other Soundbar, it is also true for the Monitor Audio ASB2, that it can even replace a complex multi-channel set-up completely or a high-quality stereo system. In this context, what we are able to make from Soundbars is demonstrated with the ASB2 but in such a way that is currently above and beyond. Looking for the right Soundbar for the flat screen TV at home, the ASB2 should be considered. Come and give it a test drive in the showroom!

Dieser Post ist auch verfügbar auf: German

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