Xiaomi Soundbar 3.1ch review: rudimentary speakers with well-equipped connections

Xiaomi Soundbar 3.1ch review: rudimentary speakers with well-equipped connections

The 3.1 channel amplifier comes in a completely conventional form with average dimensions of 86 x 11.5 x 6 cm. Aside from the metal grille protecting the speakers at the front, the quality of the plastic used here leaves something to be desired. The top surface easily picks up fingerprints and is slightly reflective, which can lead to discomfort when turning on the TV.

With dimensions of 21 x 29.7 x 37 cm, the box is somewhat imposing given the included size of the tape. However, it is better designed than its companion, as it is made of wood. It has a bottom speaker and air vent bass reflex backwards.

As a supplied accessory, we discovered two power cords, a very short (1m) HDMI cable, a remote control and a wall mount system. The optical cable will not be very much … A rather rare element of this type of product, the power supply unit is not built into the tape: this may be unsightly to the eye, but it is easy to replace in the event of a breakdown.

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

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

For mediocre speakers, Xiaomi spoiled this Soundbar 3.1ch with a big compass. On the back, there is an HDMI input and output, an optical S/PDIF input, an S/PDIF RCA input and a USB-A port. By arguing, we could blame it on a lack of small input, but the variety remains commendable. The Soundbar 3.1ch also has wireless Bluetooth connectivity, but it ignores wifi, and thus all connected functionality (no AirPlay, Chromecast, etc.).

The HDMI ARC port is compatible with the HDMI CEC protocol, making it possible to manage the Soundbar 3.1ch using the TV remote control.

The HDMI ARC port is compatible with the HDMI CEC protocol, making it possible to manage the Soundbar 3.1ch using the TV remote control.

One of the HDMI sockets supports the ARC function, which allows audio to pass from the TV to the tape. The 3.1 channel amplifier is capable of decoding Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital +, DTS Digital Surround, and LPCM in stereo and multichannel. However, it does not support HD streams like Dolby True HD and even lower 3D formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This amplifier also can’t decode 4K/120 streams, but it fully understands HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

User Experience

It is very easy to learn and use Soundbar 3.1 on a daily basis. It has four buttons on its upper face to power on, change sources or manage volume. Going further, the bar comes with a very simple yet complete remote control. You can thus switch between different listening modes, turn on Bluetooth pairing, manage playback/track navigation in this last connection mode, or even work at the subwoofer level. Using the remote control, it is also possible to access more advanced settings in order to adjust treble and bass or even manage audio/video synchronization.

Xiaomi did not consider it appropriate to provide two AAA LR03 batteries for the remote control.  So you must get it yourself.

Xiaomi did not consider it appropriate to provide two AAA LR03 batteries for the remote control. So you must get it yourself.

The Xiaomi speakers host a small screen to the right of it, which is quite readable and displays a lot of information. It also includes an NFC chip on the top right for pairing a Bluetooth device on the go – only works with Android smartphones.

Like the general build quality, the Soundbar 3.1 channel doesn’t particularly shine with its audio performance. Whether it’s just for listening to music with music mode or virtualization in cinema mode, the tape offers an unbalanced presentation.

Frequency response measurement (normal to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 meter).  With music mode, subwoofer level at 0 in black, subwoofer level at -4 in blue, without subwoofer in orange.

Frequency response measurement (normal to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 meter). With music mode, subwoofer level at 0 in black, subwoofer level at -4 in blue, without subwoofer in orange.

Whatever the specific listening mode, the first thing that catches the eye when listening and reading the frequency response curve is the absolutely insane power that the subwoofer is able to deliver given its size. Sure, the bass is clearly not lacking in depth and foundation, but the desired effect is not mastered at all. They completely overflow and significantly mask the rest of the reproduced spectrum. The only solution to save the day a little and keep readability to a minimum is to immediately set the subwoofer level to -4, or even -6 in the bar parameters. As always – but more so in this case – be careful not to position the subwoofer too close to the wall (or worse, in a corner) in order to reduce the resonance and the massive character of the bass as much as possible.

Harmonic distortion measurement (measured to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m).  With music mode, the subwoofer is at 0 at red, and the subwoofer at -4 at blue.

Harmonic distortion measurement (measured to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m). With music mode, the subwoofer is at 0 at red, and the subwoofer at -4 at blue.

Also, the Soundbar 3.1 channel is not fun with the rest of the frequencies being reproduced. The vocal signature is quite unnatural with a “pinched” aspect that affects many elements and is particularly audible on vocals or guitars, for example. The clarity of the dialogues is properly guaranteed, but we knew better. This behavior, mainly due to the drop located around 1.5 kHz, thus creates a lack of correlation between low and high mids, and has the effect of outputting higher frequencies. Unfortunately, these are far from being reproduced in the greatest accuracy and to the smallest detail, which clearly enhances the metallic aspect of cymbals, vibrators, tambourines and other bells, for example.

Measuring the membrane interaction at 500 Hz demonstrates a relative mastery of the mediators.  Accuracy is far from perfect, but it is still quite acceptable.

Measuring the membrane interaction at 500 Hz demonstrates a relative mastery of the mediators. Accuracy is far from perfect, but it is still quite acceptable.

The lack of tape control also affects the presentation of the sound stage, here very broken, with no depth. Reproduction of peripheral influences is an anecdotal narration to say the least. The side effects do not go beyond the physical limits of the tape and in no way create an immersive audio bubble that the DTS Virtual:X algorithm promises. Another more annoying point: Xiaomi has made the odd choice of balancing the center speakers slightly to the left, which inevitably generates a slight channel shift central. So the dialogs and other sources that are supposed to be in the middle of the screen are located a bit to the left.

strength point

  • It is very easy to work with (full controls, screen on the front).

  • full connection.

Weak points

  • Very expressive subwoofer, uncontrolled bass.

  • Unnatural sound reproduction (pinched metal side).

  • Slightly balanced center channel, little reproduction of ambient effects.

  • Primitive and messy design.

How does grading work?

Despite its simplicity and full connectivity, the Soundbar 3.1ch struggles to impress with its acceptable build quality and audio signature that is weighed down, among other things, by its rumbling bass and unnatural width. The first soundbar sold in France by Xiaomi does not shine either by reproducing surround effects, which are completely indistinguishable.

Sub notes

  • manufacturing

  • connectors

  • User Experience

  • My voice

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