Review: Cambridge Audio TV2 Stereo TV Base Is An Affordable Room Filler
Getting big sound out of a small-to-mid-size TV can be a challenge. Typically small, down-firing speakers in a TV, perhaps used for bedroom or dormitory applications, can sound thin and tinny with dialog often hard to discern at low volumes.
Enhancing that with an A/V receiver outfitted with a subwoofer and complement of front and satellite speakers might be overkill for some, both in cost and space, and many soundbars either don’t measure up to some desktop placements or lack the bass for a truly immersive theater-like experience.
Enter Cambridge Audio with its affordably priced ($299.99) TV2 Stereo TV Base, designed to pair with pedestal- stand-equipped flat-panel TVs up to 47-inches, or positioned on a table or dresser below a larger wall-mounted display.
More on the Cambridge Audio TV2 Sound Base after the break:
The Cambridge Audio TV2 offers easy setup, and an impressive room-filling sound that impressively upgrades the sound emitted from many TV speakers. It also provides the necessary inputs to connect to the TV and other devices, but not many options, and there’s no HDMI option.
The TV2 Stereo TV Base builds off of the big sound offered by the company’s smaller Minx TV Sound Plinth and fits below the larger TV5. It features a predictably flat-black rectangular box carrying two 2.25-inch Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) drivers and a bottom-firing 6.5-inch subwoofer, one less than the larger TV5.
The cabinet itself measures 21.65 inches wide, 3.93 inches high and 13.4 inches deep. At that height, it would interfere with tabletop-mounted placements of newer flat-panel displays that use a pair of spread-apart “feet”stands in place of a center-mounted pedestal, the latter of which fits the TV2 perfectly. Lower-positioned screens with “feet” “stands typically won’t provide enough clearance to fit the 3.93-inch TV2 below the bottom bezel.
A customary black grill covers the drivers, center-mounted adjustment controls and LED power and mode indicator.
Cambridge Audio packs along with the soundbase a TosLink optical digital cable and mini headphone cable to connect to a TV and additional devices. The Stereo TV Base is also equipped with analog RCA inputs. Although the soundbase lacks an HDMI option, in these screen sizes the optical cable connection is typically all that is needed to properly connect set to base.
The TV2 also offers Bluetooth connectivity to a compatible device, like a smartphone or tablet, to enable wirelessly streaming music. Cambridge Audio says that devices supporting aptX Bluetooth will be able to stream music in greater detail and sound. Pairing proved to be as simple as placing the external device (in this case an Apple iPhone 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone) in pairing mode and pressing a pair of buttons on the TV2’s IR remote.
Wahl ah! The sound was as clear and full as a hard-wired connection for both smartphones.
For music, the single woofer produces plenty of room-filling sound. Vocals and mid-range were clear and direct while the treble was balanced and not overly shrill at moderate volumes. We found proper room placement can be an issue. Set up in a corner, the bass tends to reverberate off two walls giving off a hollow-sounding echo at mid volumes. The effect tends to dissipate when moved toward the middle of the room.
The TV2’s rubber feet provide ¾-inch clearance below the down-firing woofer to allow the bass room to reflect off the table-top surface.
At softer volumes, the bass was still audible, though not overpowering, leaving vocals clean and clear.
We didn’t notice much in the way of surround sound embellishment, though the subwoofer provided noticeable punch to enhance explosions and gunfire in the shootouts from an HDX version of “Chappie” streamed from Vudu. Most of the sound projects directly forward through the grill, but with an acceptable degree of wide dispersion.
The TV2’s diminutive uncluttered IR remote simplified operation with clearly labeled button commands that made it easy to access settings for four sound modes: TV, music, film and voice.
The company said that Digital Signal Processing developed for music and movie production helps deliver the fuller, crisper, louder acoustics of the compact speakerbase. We found the “film” setting added to the bass effect for movies without overpowering the vocal. The “music” setting provided a nice well-balanced sound for most musical genres.
The remote, which is about the same width, and about an inch longer than the tiny remote for Amazon’s Fire TV console, fits comfortably in the hand and buttons present a satisfactory tactile feel. There is no readout screen, but for this application it really isn’t necessary.
Pressing the power button turns on a clearly visible blue-green LED in the center and behind the soundbase’s front grill. The LED changes color to indicate various operational modes, such as blue for Bluetooth connection and flashing blue during pairing.
For its price, the Cambridge Audio TV2 Stereo TV Base ($299.99) impressed by providing room-filling sound with a simple, intuitive setup and standard matte-black appearance. The system’s ample volume, solid vocal clarity, and bottom-end bass provided well-balanced sound from a variety of content. The TV2 lacks an HDMI connection, which is pretty much staple for soundbars and AVRs today, but the omission is forgivable considering that at its size the soundbase will likely be used with a lot of 32-42-inch sets that might have only one or two HDMI ports. Cosmetics are nothing special, but as a base to a TV set, it’s probably best kept as unnoticeable as possible. The inclusion of an easily linked Bluetooth connection offers a convenient and flexible audio upgrade without the need to shell out for a pricier soundbar/subwoofer combination or an AVR.
By Greg Tarr
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