Xiaomi Soundbar 3.1ch review: A rudimentary soundbar with well-stocked connections

The Soundbar 3.1ch comes in a completely conventional form with average dimensions of 86 x 11.5 x 6 cm. Aside from the metal grill that protects the speakers at the front, the quality of the plastic used here leaves a lot to be desired. The top surface easily picks up fingerprints and is slightly reflective, which can cause discomfort when the TV is on.

With dimensions of 21 x 29.7 x 37 cm, the box is quite imposing in view of the contained size of the bar. However, it is much better designed than his companion, because it is all dressed in wood. It houses a downward firing speaker and a vent. bass reflex directed backwards.

As a supplied accessory, we discover two power cables, a very short HDMI cable (1 m), a remote control and a wall hanging system. An optical cable would not have been too much… A rather rare element in this type of product, the power supply is not integrated in the bar: this can be unsightly to look at, but it makes it easier to replace in case of breakage

Fingerprints are very difficult to remove with a dry cloth and require the application of a cleaning product.

Fingerprints are very difficult to remove with a dry cloth and require the application of a cleaning product.

For an unassuming soundbar, Xiaomi has spoiled this Soundbar 3.1ch with great connection. On the back are an HDMI input and output, an optical S/PDIF input, an RCA S/PDIF input, and a USB-A port. For niceties, we could blame it for the lack of a mini-jack input, but the variety is still commendable. The Soundbar 3.1ch also has Bluetooth wireless connectivity, but ignores wifi and thus all connected features (no AirPlay, Chromecast, etc.).

The HDMI ARC port supports the HDMI CEC protocol, allowing you to manage the Soundbar 3.1ch with your TV's remote control.

The HDMI ARC port supports the HDMI CEC protocol, allowing you to manage the Soundbar 3.1ch with your TV’s remote control.

One of the HDMI sockets supports the ARC function that allows sound to pass from the TV to the bar. The 3.1 channel soundbar is capable of decoding Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+, DTS Digital Surround and LPCM formats in stereo and multichannel. However, it doesn’t support HD broadcasts like Dolby True HD, let alone 3D formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This soundbar isn’t capable of decoding 4K/120 streams either, but it does quite understand HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

user experience

Soundbar 3.1ch is very easy to learn and use on a daily basis. It has four buttons on its upper face to turn on, change the source or manage the volume. To go further, the bar comes with a very simple but complete remote control. So you can navigate between the different listening modes, start Bluetooth pairing, manage playback/navigate between tracks in this last connection mode, or even act on the level of the subwoofer. With the remote control, it is also possible to access more advanced settings to set the level of treble and bass or even manage the audio / video synchronization.

Xiaomi did not see fit to provide two LR03 AAA batteries for the remote control.  So you will have to get it yourself.

Xiaomi did not see fit to provide two LR03 AAA batteries for the remote control. So you will have to get it yourself.

The Xiaomi sound bar houses a small screen on its right, perfectly legible and showing a lot of information. It also incorporates an NFC chip on its upper right side to pair a Bluetooth device on the go; only works with Android smartphones.

As well as its overall build quality, the 3.1-channel soundbar doesn’t particularly stand out for its acoustic performance. Whether purely listening to music with Music mode or surround virtualization in Cinema mode, the bar offers an unbalanced representation.

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m).  With Music mode, subwoofer level at 0 in black, subwoofer level at -4 in blue, no subwoofer in orange.

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m). With Music mode, subwoofer level at 0 in black, subwoofer level at -4 in blue, no subwoofer in orange.

Whichever listening mode is selected, the first thing that strikes you when listening to and reading the frequency response curve is the utterly maddening energy that the subwoofer is capable of delivering given its size. . Certainly, the bass is clearly not lacking in depth and base, but the desired effect is not overpowered at all. They completely overflow and significantly mask the rest of the reproduced spectrum. The only solution to save a bit of the day and maintain a modicum of readability is to immediately set the subwoofer level to -4, or even -6 in the parameter bar. As always, but even more so in this case, care should be taken not to place the subwoofer too close to a wall (or worse, in a corner) to limit the resonance and thunderous character of the bass as much as possible. .

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m).  With Music mode, the subwoofer level is 0 in red, the subwoofer level is -4 in blue.

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m). With Music mode, the subwoofer level is 0 in red, the subwoofer level is -4 in blue.

The Soundbar 3.1ch is also unflattering with the rest of the reproduced frequencies. The sound signature is quite unnatural with a “pinched” aspect that affects many elements and is particularly audible on vocals or guitars for example. The intelligibility of the dialogues is correctly ensured, but we have known better. This behavior, mainly due to the roll-off located around 1.5 kHz, creates a lack of junction between the low-mids and the high-mids, and has the effect of emphasizing the high frequencies. Unfortunately, these are far from being reproduced with the greatest accuracy and detail, clearly reinforcing the metallic look of cymbals, maracas, tambourines, and other bells, for example.

The measurement of the reactivity of the membranes at 500 Hz demonstrates a relative dominance of the media.  The accuracy is far from perfect, but it's still quite acceptable.

The measurement of the reactivity of the membranes at 500 Hz demonstrates a relative dominance of the media. The accuracy is far from perfect, but it’s still quite acceptable.

The lack of control of the bar also affects the representation of the soundstage, here very flattened, without any depth. The reproduction of surround effects is, to say the least, anecdotal. The side effects never extend beyond the physical limits of the bar and in no way create the immersive sonic bubble promised by the DTS Virtual:X virtualization algorithm. Last most annoying point: Xiaomi has made the strange decision to shift its center speakers slightly to the left, which inevitably results in a slight shift in the center channel. Dialogue and other sources that are supposed to be in the center of the screen are therefore positioned slightly to the left.

point strengths

  • Very easy to handle (complete controls, screen on the front).

  • Complete connection.

Weak points

  • Subwoofer too expressive, bass uncontrolled.

  • Unnatural sound reproduction (pinched, metallic appearance).

  • Slightly shifted center channel, negligible reproduction of surround effects.

  • Rudimentary and messy design.

How does the rating work?

Despite its simplicity and comprehensive connectivity, the 3.1-channel soundbar has a hard time convincing with its acceptable build quality and a sound signature overwhelmed by, among other things, thunderous bass and unnatural rendering. The first sound bar sold in France by Xiaomi also does not shine for the reproduction of surround effects, which are completely indistinguishable.

secondary notes

  • Manufacturing

  • connectors

  • user experience

  • Audio

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