Xiaomi Soundbar 3.1ch review: a rudimentary soundbar with a good set of connectors

The Soundbar 3.1ch comes in a completely conventional shape, with average dimensions of 86 x 11.5 x 6 cm. Aside from the metal grill that protects the speakers from the front, the quality of the plastic used here leaves much to be desired. The top surface easily picks up fingerprints and is slightly reflective, potentially making it uncomfortable when the TV is on.

At 21 x 29.7 x 37 cm, the box is quite impressive considering the size of the bar. However, it is much better designed than its companion because it is all clad in wood. It houses a downward facing speaker and an air vent. bass reflex directed back.

As an included accessory we find two power cables, a very short HDMI cable (1m), a remote control and a wall mount system. An optical cable would not be superfluous… A rather rare element in products of this type, the power supply is not integrated into the bar: it may look ugly, but it makes it easier to replace if something happens. breakdowns.

Fingerprints are very difficult to remove with a dry cloth and require the use of a cleaning agent.

Fingerprints are very difficult to remove with a dry cloth and require the use of a cleaning agent.

For an unpretentious soundbar, Xiaomi spoiled this 3.1ch soundbar with a large connection. The rear panel has an HDMI input and output, an optical S/PDIF input, an S/PDIF RCA input, and a USB-A port. Finding fault, we could blame it on the lack of a mini-jack entry, but the variety remains commendable. The Soundbar 3.1ch also has Bluetooth wireless but ignores Wi-Fi and therefore all connected features (no AirPlay, Chromecast, etc.).

The HDMI ARC port is compatible with the HDMI CEC protocol, allowing you to control your 3.1 channel soundbar with your TV remote control.

The HDMI ARC port is compatible with the HDMI CEC protocol, allowing you to control your 3.1 channel soundbar with your TV remote control.

One of the HDMI connectors supports the ARC function, which allows you to transmit sound from the TV to the panel. The Soundbar 3.1ch is capable of decoding Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+, DTS Digital Surround and LPCM in stereo and multi-channel. However, it does not support HD streams such as Dolby True HD, much less 3D formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This soundbar is also not capable of decoding 4K/120 streams, but understands HDR10 and Dolby Vision quite well.

User Experience

The Soundbar 3.1ch is very easy to learn and use every day. It has four buttons on the top panel for power on, source switching or volume control. In addition, the bar comes with a very simple but complete remote control. So you can move between different listening modes, start Bluetooth pairing, control playback/navigate between tracks in this latest connection mode, or even act at the subwoofer level. More advanced settings can also be accessed using the remote control to set the level of treble and bass, or even control the audio/video timing.

Xiaomi did not see fit to provide two AAA LR03 batteries for the remote control.  So you will have to get it yourself.

Xiaomi did not see fit to provide two AAA LR03 batteries for the remote control. So you will have to get it yourself.

On the right side of the Xiaomi soundbar, there is a small screen that is perfectly readable and displays a lot of information. It also includes an NFC chip on the top right side for on-the-fly pairing with a Bluetooth device – only works with Android smartphones.

Like the overall build quality, the Soundbar 3.1ch doesn’t particularly shine with its acoustic performance. Whether listening exclusively to music in Music mode or virtualizing surround sound in Cinema mode, the panel delivers unbalanced playback.

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m).  In music mode, subwoofer level at 0 is displayed in black, subwoofer level at -4 is blue, and no subwoofer is displayed in orange.

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m). In music mode, subwoofer level at 0 is displayed in black, subwoofer level at -4 is blue, and no subwoofer is displayed in orange.

Whichever listening mode is chosen, the first thing that catches your eye when listening and reading the frequency response is the absolutely maddening energy that a subwoofer is capable of delivering, given its size. Of course, the bass clearly lacks depth and solidity, but the desired effect has not been mastered at all. They completely overflow and significantly mask the rest of the reproduced spectrum. The only solution to save a little bit of the day and keep readability to a minimum is to immediately set the subwoofer level to -4 or even -6 in the panel parameters. As always – but even more so in this case – care must be taken not to place the subwoofer too close to a wall (or worse, in a corner) to limit resonance and the thunderous bass character as much as possible. .

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m).  In Music mode, the subwoofer level at 0 is highlighted in red, the subwoofer level at -4 is highlighted in blue.

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m). In Music mode, the subwoofer level at 0 is highlighted in red, the subwoofer level at -4 is highlighted in blue.

Soundbar 3.1ch also reproduces other frequencies unflatteringly. The sound signature is rather unnatural, with a “squeezed” aspect that affects many elements and is especially audible on vocals or guitar, for example. Dialogue intelligibility is properly secured, but we knew better. This behavior, mainly due to a notch located around 1.5 kHz, therefore creates a lack of coupling between the low mids and high mids and results in a boost in the high frequencies. Unfortunately, they are far from reproduced with maximum accuracy and detail, which clearly enhances the metallic aspect of, for example, cymbals, shakers, tambourines and other bells.

Membrane reactivity measurement at 500 Hz demonstrates relative mastery of media.  The accuracy is far from ideal, but still quite acceptable.

Membrane reactivity measurement at 500 Hz demonstrates relative mastery of media. The accuracy is far from ideal, but still quite acceptable.

The lack of control over the bar also affects the transfer of the sound stage, here it is very compressed, without any depth. The reproduction of surround effects is, to put it mildly, anecdotal. The side effects never go beyond the physical boundaries of the bar and in no way create the exciting sonic bubble promised by the DTS Virtual:X virtualization algorithm. One final, more annoying point: Xiaomi made the odd choice of shifting the center speakers slightly to the left, which inevitably results in a slight shift in the center channel. Therefore, dialogues and other sources that should be in the center of the screen are located a little to the left.

Strengths

  • Very easy to use (full control, front screen).

  • Full connection.

Vulnerable points

  • Too expressive subwoofer, uncontrollable bass.

  • Reproduction of sound that lacks naturalness (compressed, metallic aspect).

  • Slightly shifted center channel, slight reproduction of surround effects.

  • Elementary and dirty design.

How does assessment work?

Despite its simplicity and wide connectivity, the Soundbar 3.1ch struggles to impress with its tolerable workmanship and sonic performance, weighed down by thunderous bass and unnatural reproduction, among other things. The first soundbar sold by Xiaomi in France does not excel at reproducing surround sound effects that are completely indistinguishable.

Additional Notes

  • Production

  • connectors

  • User Experience

  • Audio

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