Now, this is something new. The Cambridge Audio TVB2 soundbar is a convenient TV sound solution from a renowned British brand. What’s startling is the low price.
Even before I took the Cambridge Audio TVB2 out of the box, I was surprised to see that the subwoofer connected wirelessly. That’s always convenient since it gives much more flexibility in placement. I figured that the soundbar would have just an optical input and an analogue one. You’d plug the optical output from your TV into it and off it’d go.
But I was wrong. Yes, it has both an optical and an analogue input, but it also has three HDMI inputs and an ARC-capable HDMI output.
ARC? That stands for Audio Return Channel. With that feature – and it’s supported by just about all recent TVs – the same HDMI cable that carries the video to the TV can carry sound back to the soundbar. When you switch to the TV’s internal TV tuner, the sound comes out the soundbar rather than the TV’s speakers. Likewise, if you have a smart TV and you’re watching Netflix.
You can also use Bluetooth to play music through the Cambridge Audio TVB2. The company doesn’t say what Bluetooth codecs it supports, and my phone didn’t report any advanced codecs, so it’s best to assume it relies on the standard SBC codec.
Facts and figures
The soundbar is 880mm wide, 75mm tall and 46mm deep. It looked as though it wasn’t quite wide enough underneath my 65-inch TV. With a 55 incher it’d be a fine visual match.
Inside the soundbar are two 57mm “Balanced Mode Radiator” speakers. Cambridge Audio says that the “patented BMR speaker technology disperses your audio 180 degrees”. I guess that would overcome the tendency of higher frequencies to “beam” directly ahead when the speaker is relatively large.
The subwoofer has a 165mm speaker in the bottom, firing downwards. Little legs hold it clear from the floor. It stands 364mm tall, 128mm wide and 278mm deep. The top is attractively shiny.
Total system power is 120 watts. Standby power is less than four watts. The unit switches itself to standby after twenty minutes of no signal.
Cambridge Audio tosses in a bunch of useful accessories. There’s an optical digital audio cable and a HDMI cable. The latter is 1.2 metres long. The Cambridge Audio TVB2 is ready to connect to your TV, either way, out of the box. Also included is a 3.5mm analogue cable which you can use for an iPod, or perhaps a TV that doesn’t have optical or HDMI connections. And there’s a slim metal mount wall bracket so you can put the soundbar under a wall-mounted TV.
There’s also an infrared remote control included. If you use ARC to connect to your TV, you can use your TV’s remote to control the volume of the soundbar without doing anything special. But the soundbar can also learn to recognise volume up and down on your TV’s remote even if you’re not using ARC.
Setting Up the Cambridge Audio TVB2
If only everything were as easy to set up as the Cambridge Audio TVB2. Especially wireless units. The subwoofer is pre-paired with the soundbar, so there’s no fiddling around there. Once you apply power to both, they search for each other for a few seconds and then they’re connected.