The first soundbars were introduced as early as 1998. Even though the technology has existed for nearly two decades now, soundbars never gained as much traction among audiophiles and home-theater enthusiasts. There’s a stigma revolving the particular tech because soundbars are typically considered a compromise between fully fleshed out home-theatre setups and basic speaker arrangements. But things are about to change. The Edifier CineSound B3 is a proper alternative to traditional speaker setups, and it offers superb spatial audio thanks to its powerful drivers and Edifier’s engineering wizardry.
The last soundbar I tested was the Polk SurroundBar 5000 Instant Home Theater. At the time, I was thrilled with its crisp audio and deep bass, but the sense of space left a lot to be desired — especially considering its hefty price tag. The CineSound B3 is not only significantly cheaper, it may very well be an evolutionary step in soundbar technology.
The sense of space and depth is immediately present. The audio isn’t centered and direct, instead its enveloping and transformative. Dialogue and environmental details remain crisp at all times, even when the thunderous bass kicks in during intensified action sequences. CineSound’s speakers fill the room quickly. With its 100 dB of raw power and four 70mm speakers, CineSound B3 boasts unexpectedly wide audio that makes you forget you’re using a soundbar instead of a surround sound entertainment system.
"The sense of space and depth is immediately present. The audio isn’t centered and direct, instead its enveloping and transformative."
The Edifier CineSound B3 can be connected in several ways: OPT, Coaxial, Line In, Aux In and Sub Out. The B3 also comes with Bluetooth 4.0, allowing users to seamlessly connect the soundbar to their tablets and phones. This makes the B3 is compatible with almost all devices, but in order to get the best sound quality, it’s highly recommended to stick with OPT (optical) to avoid losing clarity and depth.
B3 isn’t as feature rich as Creative Labs’ audio devices, but it does come with three different modes: Movie, 3D and News. The News mode amplifies dialogue and is very useful for things like documentaries or any narration-driven shows. 3D is meant to emulate a sense of depth and scale normally seen in surround sound setups, but in doing so compromises details during shifts in frequency. Movie mode is the only way to go. It’s the most balanced setting, and it delivers the best quality across all media, whether it’s video games, movies, music or watching the news.
"It’s an incredibly powerful piece of tech that delivers superb audio across all media, and it’s an excellent alternative to traditional entertainment system setups."
The B3 is elegantly designed and looks great when sitting next to a modern HDTV set. Keep in mind, however, that the B3 isn’t as small as it appears in the promo shots. It measures a whopping 1000×79×80 mm, which means you need a TV that’s at least 40 inches in diameter if you plan on placing the soundbar underneath. Fortunately, the B3 is light and comes with a wall-mount for a more flexible installation alternative. Even though I wouldn’t recommend this bar in combination with a small display, the larger size makes sense considering how powerful the drivers are. And let’s be real, very few people are going to invest in a high-end soundbar if they’re using a tiny screen. Sure, you can use the B3 in combination with a monitor, but you’d be losing out on the soundbar’s spacious audio by sitting directly in front of it.
As with all audio devices, I test video games, music and movies to determine audio fidelity and reliability across various media. The Edifier CineSound B3 works remarkably no matter what it’s used for. In gaming and movies, the B3 has no problem juggling heavy explosions and moments of serenity with equal brilliance. When listening to music, the B3 remains balanced across all frequencies, whether you’re blastic heavy metal riffs or you’re just relaxing to some atmospheric classical orchestra. I do wish there were more tweaking options, or at least a basic EQ setting. Creative Labs’ BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro has spoiled me with its rich features over the years, and I feel Edifier could greatly benefit from developing their own software that connects across all devices.
Overall, the Edifier CineSound B3 goes above and beyond what’s typically expected from a soundbar. It’s an incredibly powerful piece of tech that delivers superb audio across all media, and it’s an excellent alternative to traditional entertainment system setups.