The Onkyo LS-B50 was a recent release. Several months ago when it was introduced in the online community, a lot of people were still hooked to old Onkyo sound bars. To be honest, I only knew one guy, who had bought this latest model, until I got my hands on it for review purpose. Today, as I write about the LS B50 sound bar, I know I am barely scratching the surface.
This is more of a semi- in depth guide for new owners of this product. There will be a few areas or detail missing, which is solely based on the reason that I am still getting used to using this sound bar. Onkyo released a great product, and the LS-B50 deserves a lot more. I will be updating this review as time and my experience with this sound system goes by.
Good stuff about the LS-B50 Onkyo 6.1 Channel 3D Sound Bar:
- USB support for portable media playing.
- Aurasphere 3D technology gives you a “surround” sound experience. It is as if you are sitting in the thick of it.
- TV remote is programmed with preset commands. These commands are tuned for popular and equally trusted brands.
- Gaming, Movies, Music and News preset modes. Although the LS-B50 comes with 3 primary preset modes, you can customize the settings further for richer experience.
- Latest Bluetooth connectivity standard makes it easier to stream music from your smartphone.
Unboxing the Onkyo LS-B50 3D Sound Bar was quite a revelation:
As far as the visuals are concerned, the subwoofer and the sound bar looks stunning. Onkyo gave it a glossy look – it is all black and has a few reflective areas to add to the presentation factor of the entire package. The first time I turned on the LS-B50, it was working on default settings. Even then, a few soundtracks and movies appeared to have good results.
Only if Onkyo did not add the “news” mode preset, and replaced it with “Games”, I’d have been happier. I mean, who really needs a preset for news because people have been listening to news since the early 80s through box TVs and radios. There is a very small audience for “news” preset.
Anyhow, speaking about the default settings, the Soundbar gave well optimized results. Music, movies and FPS shooters had a decent thump; not too much and not very less. The highs and lows were separated. Dialogues and wording can use a bit more polishing, but at least the sound was distinctive enough for me to not max out the volume to its limit.
Here is an account of my experience when I was fiddling around with the LS-B50 Onkyo Sound bar:
- Setting up Onkyo LS-B50 for the first time:
In the instructions manual, it says that you have the option of mounting the Sound bar. Well, as it turns out, you are not obliged to mount it, or look for a mounting space on your wall near the TV. It will be a waste of time as long as you have a mantle or a TV trolley underneath the entire setup.
Likewise, if you are in mood for mounting up the LS-B50 sound bar, all the extra screws and accessories come in the box packaging. Onkyo has even made suggestions in the manual for best suitable areas where the bar can be mounted easily, and that too with maximum results.
The actual cable connections were easy to make. A default 5 Ft. length cable comes with this product. You can also buy a bigger coax cable or analog stereo cable with the standard 3.5mm connection jack at the end. The cable is connected to the main unit of the LS-B50 as mentioned on the manual. Depending on the make and model of your TV, you can set your TV’s remote control to act as primary control device for the sound bar and the TV unit at the same time.
- Operating the LS-B50 Sound Bar:
While your sound bar is On and you are busy setting up connections, the system will go in standby mode. This happens by default whenever no input is detected by the unit for 4 – 5 minutes time duration. If you want to bring the sound bar to an active state, you can press volume Up, volume Down or any other button to give it a “whack!”
By the way, the volume buttons on the remote control increase and decrease the volume on the subwoofer and the Sound bar. There are buttons on the sound bar too, i.e. if the remote control is not working, you can press them to perform the same commands. The relevant input switch controls enable users to switch between input devices, such as;
Let’s say, you connected your smartphone to the LS-B50 to listen to music, you will have to switch the input mode to Bluetooth for the device to pair easily. The overall pairing duration is a matter of few seconds. Of course, when I tried connecting a very old Samsung SGH series cell phone through Bluetooth, it did not pair with the LS-B50 Onkyo sound bar.
You can also play songs and a select number of video extension files through the USB. By default, the sound bar plays any number of MP3s, but the videos have to have certain extension. FLV files don’t play; sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t – depending on the audio conversion bit rate and etc. MP4 extension files play easily, especially when they are 1080p blu ray movies and videos.
- Sound quality of the Onkyo LS-B50 Sound bar:
I am not really a sound expert, which is to say that I don’t have an entire studio dedicated to assessing sound quality of home theater products. I listen to the sound and conduct my research from the perspective of my readers, and average people who either want to, or don’t want to buy the LS-B50 sound bar.
I did find out that when compared against the typical 5.1, or 6.1 home theater system, the LS-B50 does not give you that “surround sound” purity. The common 5.1 system has 2 rear speakers, which are supposed to be installed at the back side of the room, 2 front speakers; both sitting left and right, one center speaker for dialogue clarity and the subwoofer unit sitting in a closed area.
Technically, comparing any sound bar with an actual home theater surround sound system is not fair. In a sound bar, all speakers are installed in a line – therefore you don’t have the liberty of placing them all around you. In this context, the LS-B50 results are unique and very impressive. People do have to sacrifice on a bit of “surround” sound environment, but the bar fills up that space via preset modes, and customization settings.
- Test soundtracks had variance in results:
Marilyn Manson’s ‘Sweet Dreams’ remix and the original Eurythmics soundtrack; both sounded different on the LS-B50 Oknyo 6.1 channel sound bar. The Eurythmics track had mild instrumentals, while Marilyn’s variation had heavy instrumentals. Likewise, vocals were different for both tracks too. I took into account the fact that Marilyn’s voice is rusty and naturally low, so when it came out of the Onkyo sound bar, it was several notches down.
“Some of them want to use you…. Some of them want to get used by youuuuu” part of the Eurythmics track really came out loud and clear. 50 seconds later, I could tell the difference that the sound bar does not work in a set standard way for all soundtracks. It has different results and you will have to play around with the LS-B50 settings, each time you are switching between movies, music and video games.
In conclusion, I can say that there are better alternatives to this sound bar. It is not the “ultimate one solution” kind of product. However, you will have a great time and beautiful memories with it. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to burn in the Onkyo LS-B50. Just leave it On and play sound tracks, movies etc. for 50 hours non stop; this will optimize the speakers’ performance to maximum level.
Word from Onkyo:
If superb sound quality and easy operation are at the top of your soundbar wish list, take a look at the LS-B50 from hi-fi specialists Onkyo. AuraSphere digital signal processing works together with a six-channel amplifier, powerful wireless subwoofer, and eight-driver array to seamlessly replace TV audio with rich and enveloping 3D sound.