Using a soundbar for immersive 3D formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is the way to go for anyone who doesn’t want the hassle of wiring up their TV rooms with seven or more speakers plus an A/V receiver and a subwoofer. But most Dolby Atmos soundbars are pretty beefy, and the ones that come with dedicated surround speakers still require some juggling of wires, even if they’re just power cords. That’s what makes Definitive Technology‘s new $899 Studio 3D Mini Sound Bar System intriguing. It’s the company’s first Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundbar, and yet it’s remarkably compact and doesn’t require separate surrounds.
At just 26 inches wide and 2 inches in height and clad in wood and brushed aluminum, the wall-mountable soundbar is much smaller than other Dolby Atmos soundbars. How much smaller? The Sonos Arc is 45 inches wide and 3.4 inches tall. Sony’s HT-G700 is 38.6 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall, and the LG SN11RG is a whopping 56.8 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall. In fact, the Studio 3D Mini Sound Bar is almost exactly the same size as the Sonos Beam and Bose Smart Soundbar 300, neither of which offer Dolby Atmos.
“We added object-oriented audio processing from Dolby and DTS,” said Michael McCole, senior product marketing manager at Sound United in a press release, “and designed a clever driver layout so the Studio 3D Mini could deliver surprisingly convincing surround sound from a soundbar that disappears beneath the television.”
Definitive hasn’t said much about how the Studio 3D Mini manages to pull this off, noting only that the soundbar uses a six-driver array with aluminum tweeters to process a 4.1 channel signal, with the help of a compact, 8-inch wireless subwoofer. Presumably, a good deal of virtualization is happening within the software. The soundbar’s trapezoidal shape and angled sides are a good indicator of how it projects sound around a room — relying on side walls to reflect audio back to the listener.
The Studio 3D Mini Sound Bar has a decent set of inputs and outputs, with an HDMI-eARC/ARC audio input/video output for support of lossless multichannel sound, and an HDMI input that can pass through 4K, Dolby Vision, and HDR10. An optical input, auxiliary analog input, and USB port round out the collection. For wireless audio from smartphones, you can pick from Bluetooth if you’re on Android or iOS, or opt for the iOS-only AirPlay 2.
In addition to offering up Dolby Atmos sound, the Studio 3D Mini Sound Bar takes another page from the Sonos Arc’s playbook: Multiroom audio, thanks to its integration of HEOS software. As a HEOS device, the Studio 3D Mini Sound Bar can become one element in a much larger whole-home Wi-Fi sound system, all controlled via the HEOS app, and compatible with a variety of speakers and receivers from Denon and Marantz.
Technologically, the Studio 3D Mini Sound Bar is a heavy-hitter, but only a full test will tell us if this system is truly competitive with similarly priced Dolby Atmos soundbars.
If we get one in for a listen, we’ll be sure to let you know.