We have a fairly small home and, until we got this soundbar, a whole corner of our living room was taken up with a 2.5x2x2 foot subwoofer and large Denon receiver with two small monitors on either side of the TV. We thought we would get the Klipsch Bar 40 with wireless subwoofer to hopefully get decent sound and save some valuable space.
The Klipsch soundbar arrived in a huge box. Inside was the giant hockey stick-shaped retail packaging. It was a fiddly box to open. Inside was the soundbar, sub and remote. Batteries for the remote were included.
Setup would have been straightforward if our TV had been bigger. Instead, our TV stands directly on our 11” deep fireplace mantle and the feet just happened to be the exact distance apart as the soundbar length. In order to get the TV standing over the soundbar my husband had to fabricate a pair of wooden blocks with cutout sections at the front to match the soundbar profile so the soundbar would slide into the slot in the front of the blocks. Our TV is a 50 inch TCL so not that big by today’s standards and the feet just happened to be in the absolutely worst location for this sounbar. Something to check with your own TV if you’re planning on standing the soundbar and TV on a narrow depth platform.
The subwoofer is easy to place so long as you have a power outlet close by. It is recommended that you place it in the front corner of on the floor below and to one side of the TV. Sub’s are directionless and fill in the low bass frequencies. Since it’s wireless you don’t have to worry about wires trailing across the floor or down a wall from the soundbar.
Setup was very simple. Our TCL TV has three HDMI inputs, one is labeled HDMI ARC and is designed for two way communication with external devices like soundbars. We plugged the soundbar HDMI input to the HDMI ARC on the TV and it just worked. The soundbar also has optical SPDIF input. This is for hooking audio through the digital fiberoptic link as an alternative to HDMI. All the IO inputs and outputs and power connector are located in a recessed cutout in the center of the soundbar at the rear. This allows the soundbar to be placed flush with its back close to the wall and to more easily hide cables. The subwoofer is a separate, not particularly large box-shaped speaker. It is about 1/6th the size of our old one. The sub works wirelessly but still needs to be plugged into an AC wall outlet. We found one that allowed us to position it in the far left corner of the room.
Once both speakers are hooked up with power it is just a matter of turning on the TV, soundbar and sub. The soundbar recognized our TV straight away and just worked. The subwoofer needed to be paired to the soundbar. Both speakers have a small button you hold down till an LED flashes blue. I had a little trouble getting them to pair. Turned out I had the wrong input selected on the soundbar–one I wasn’t using so I didn’t have an audible signal. The subwoofer does low frequencies so it’s audible unless there is something playing through it quite loudly.
Once it has been hooked up correctly it is pretty much set it and forget it and very easy to use. After tweaking the balance of the subwoofer to compliment the mids and highs of the soundbar, we barely use the remote that came with the soundbar. Thanks to HDMI ARC support, turning on the TV also turns the soundbar on and off when you turn the TV off. The soundbar volume goes up and down with the regular TV remote and a small display of a speaker graphic representing the soundbar pops up on the top right of the TV screen when you change volume.
The soundbar has a few extra controls: Dolby digital, voice emphasis, and night mode. These can be activated by the remote or the four buttons on the front right of the soundbar. I found I prefer the straight audio without any of the extra modes active. The Dolby setting widens the soundstage and gives the impression of more space but it uses frequencies to give the impression of surround. The trade-off is that it ends up sounding a bit dull and slightly hollow with more treble than the default audio mode. Night cuts frequencies that travel through the air so it should not disturb people sleeping or the neighbors unless turned up really high. Voice increases some frequencies to make the human voice more pronounced. Probably boosts middle frequencies that our voice dominates.
The only time I used the soundbar’s remote was during initial setup to balance out the frequencies between the subwoofer and the soundbar. There is a D pad in the center of the remote. Up and down buttons change the soundbar volume + and – while the left and right direction + and – adjust the subwoofer volume. Where to set it depends on your ears and the dynamics of your room.
Once we had the soundbar set up to our liking it is pretty much set it and forget it. Our old receiver with big sub had a bigger, bassier fuller sound. We always knew the soundbar was going to be a compromise. But it’s not a bad one. It still sounds good, much better than the TV’s own speakers. It takes up very little room. It’s easy to hide the sub out of the way while the soundbar is quite discreet under the TV. My husband put his old trainset on top to hide the cables behind it.
We really like that it is discreet in the room. We don’t have to turn it on or off; it just works automatically when the TV is on. We did fiddle with the subwoofer volume briefly in the beginning. We like it almost maxed out. With some voices on max sub it can sound a bit hollow and boxy, but most of the time it sounds good. Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie, didn’t sound quite as good as with our old setup with the receiver and big sub–meaning it didn’t sound like you were there in Wembly stadium with the bass kicking the whole room–but most TV shows and movies sound fine. With quite rich balanced tones, voices are a fuller and warmer than the TV’s built in speakers so presenters sound natural and have presence in the room with you. The old setup could sometimes make voices sound boomy and a little muffled. We really noticed a pleasing difference in the soundbar in first couple of days but got used to the superior audio quality pretty quickly. We don’t miss the old setup too much because we only used it to watch the occasional movie like Bohemian Rhapsody where an enormous sound can be beneficial. The soundbar does a good job 90% of the time.
Both my husband and I are very satisfied with the Klipsch Bar 40.
Product Name: Klipsch BAR 40 Sound Bar + Wireless Subwoofer