Rapid review

Sky Soundbox review – A musical no-brainer*

By Oliver Smith 12 December 2017
Summary

*If you’re a Sky customer.

The short of it

Your TV sounds like crap.

I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

It doesn’t matter how much you spent on that glorious 55in 4K super-TV, its speakers will still suck.

The solution? Audiophiles will insist a 5.1 (or 7.1) thumping surround sound system, which unfortunately will transform your living room into a bundle of wires, but Sky has a better way.

Sky Soundbox is an all-in-one system that combines 9 speakers in a single box, promising to turn your TV watching into a cinematic experience.

Why do I care?

Because, as George Lucas says:

“Sound is 50% of the movie-going experience, and I’ve always believed audiences are moved and excited by what they hear in my movies at least as much as by what they see.”

It doesn’t matter how glorious and expensive your screen is, if the sound is only mediocre, it’s a waste of money.

Enter Sky.

The good

I noticed the difference instantly.

Plugging Soundbox in halfway through Miami Vice transformed the experience – suddenly Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx were talking directly to me, their voices separated from the action, while explosions, car engines and club music thumped in the background.

Soundbox even did an impressive job at faux surround sound, bouncing noises of gunfire and shouting off of walls to give the impression that the speakers weren’t all in-fact sitting right in front of me.

Sky says Soundbox is at its best while watching sports, music and cinema on Sky Q, where the company has done some magic with its own signal to further improve the sound quality.

But Soundbox isn’t exclusive to Sky, its pitched as an allrounder, with Bluetooth and optical audio to play nice with either your smartphone, Apple TV or anything else you might have.

This is where Soundbox starts to slip.

The bad

If it isn’t built by Sky, it’s treated like a second-class citizen by Soundbox.

Whether it’s a Chromecast or Fire TV, you’ll be left changing the volume with the Soundbox’s separate remote (Sky Q can change the volume directly) and will have to fiddle around changing the sound input on Soundbox.

Furthermore, at times while watching Netflix through my Apple TV, the Soundbox would drop out for a split-second – not a dealbreaker, but an annoyance certainly.

The real glory, that magical audio processing, is all reserved for Sky and especially Sky Q.

There’s also the size.

Soundbox isn’t big, it’s about the size of a really big lunchbox, but it is taller than traditional sound bars at 9.5cm.

In my case, that meant it couldn’t sit in front of my TV without obscuring my vision, but at the same time, I was reluctant to place it inside my TV stand for fear that I’d be losing the 360° audio which Sky’s been touting and I’m supposedly splashing out for.

Speaking of…

The price?

Sky Soundbox is both a total bargain, and a massive rip-off.

For non-Sky customers, Soundbox costs £799, a number which should send even the biggest spenders running for the hills.

But for Sky Q Multiscreen customers the speaker system costs as little as £249, an absolute no-brainer for anyone looking to reinvigorate their home entertainment setup.

Our take

If you’re a Sky customer who’s never spent a dime on audio equipment for your TV, Soundbox is a steal.

It’s the cheapest and easiest way to quickly transform your viewing experience, maximum reward for minimum input – even the all-in-one design makes setup a breeze.

For non-Sky customers or those who have an existing sound system they’ve invested in, the calculation is far more nuanced and personal.

For nearly £800 you can probably get a quality sound system which won’t merely imitate surround sound, it’ll actually deliver it.

Read more: Sky Q – The Rolls Royce of home entertainment