Monoprice SB-600 Soundbar Assessment: Inexpensive however common Dolby Atmos

“The SB-600 is easy to use and quite affordable. It doesn’t really make Atmos shine.”

  • Easy adjustment

  • Clear dialogue

  • Generous number of entrances

  • Semi-wireless surround speakers

  • Distracting display

  • Mediocre Dolby Atmos

  • Bad sound quality in the middle range

For those who want an even more immersive TV experience, Dolby Atmos sound bars are a tempting upgrade. Soundbars are easier and more convenient to set up than wiring a room with an A / V receiver and a set of discrete speakers. They just make a lot of sense.

However, Dolby Atmos sound bars tend to be expensive because of the extra speakers and drivers required to get the full 3D effect that makes Atmos worth it.

Monoprice is trying to do something about this with its very affordable ($ 450) SB-600 soundbar. Did you succeed in creating an Atmos experience for everyone?

Let’s take a look.

What’s in the box?

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos Soundbar all partsSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Monoprice includes everything you need to set up the SB-600. Inside the box you’ll find the main soundbar, a wireless subwoofer, two semi-wireless surround speakers (more on that later), a remote control, power cords, HDMI and analog cables, wall-mount hardware, and printed instructions.

The only thing you might need to buy is an optical cable in case your TV doesn’t support HDMI ARC.

The box and packaging of the SB-600 is very sustainable when it comes to soundbars. It’s mostly normal cardboard apart from three foam trays that protect the soundbar and a couple of poly bags.

design

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos soundbarSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Like many Monoprice products, the SB-600 has a bare atmosphere. The main soundbar is a simple black case with a perforated metal grille. At 40 inches wide by 3 inches high, it should fit neatly under most TVs without blocking the bottom of the picture. Aside from the little Monoprice and Dolby Atmos badges and the four control buttons on top, it looks very clean.

This would be an ideal situation – soundbars definitely shouldn’t be drawing attention to themselves – if the bright LED display wasn’t hiding behind the grille. This tells you which source you are using (HDMI 1, 2, ARC, etc), and although the instructions say the display will automatically dim after 10 seconds, our test unit stayed bright throughout the system use to avoid an undesirable visual Create distraction.

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos soundbar displaySimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The 8-inch wireless subwoofer is an inconspicuous black box. With a size of 16.5 inches, it is on par with many other wireless subwoofers in this category. The surround speakers are tiny – about the size of a fat paperback novel.

I love that Monoprice includes wall mounting hardware with the SB-600, but the brackets for the surround speakers point it straight out of the wall. If your TV room has sidewalls evenly spaced from the seating area, this is not a problem. If you don’t, you won’t be able to rotate the speakers so that they are aimed at the heads of the audience rather than the front of the room.

The included remote control is simple but effective, and gives you access to all of the SB-600’s settings and modes in a logical, user-friendly layout. It’s not backlit, which makes it more awkward to use in a darkened room. However, this is an obvious feature to avoid while trying to keep the price as low as possible.

Setup and configuration

Unlike many soundbars in the $ 700-2,000 range, the SB-600 doesn’t have Wi-FI connectivity. That’s a bit of a downside for things like high quality streaming music, but it sure does make setup easier.

Something that surpasses many other soundbars is the SB-600’s generous port selection.

After you’ve connected the main soundbar to power and your TV via HDMI, and connected the subwoofer, all you need to do is find a home for the surround speakers.

Technically, these devices are wireless – they don’t need to be connected to the wireless sub or soundbar – but they’re not entirely wireless. The right loudspeaker must be connected to the power supply via its power supply unit and connected to the left loudspeaker via the supplied 13-foot analog cable.

It’s simple enough – I had no problem hiding the cord behind our couch that is pressed against the wall, but I can see that this is more of a challenge in other situations. Still, it’s better than the usual surround layout required for affordable surround sound bars: wiring both speakers to the subwoofer, which is messier and less flexible in terms of placement.

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos soundbar inputsSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Something else that surpasses many other soundbars is the generous port selection on the SB-600. You get two HDMI inputs, an HDMI-ARC output, an optical input, a coaxial digital input, an analog socket and a USB connection for MP3 music playback. There is also a bluetooth connection for wireless music streaming.

That’s pretty decent – many soundbars only have a single HDMI-ARC port, which means you end up having to sacrifice an HDMI port on your TV without being able to reclaim that port without the use of an HDMI switcher. These two HDMI ports are also 4K HDR compatible and support Dolby Vision so you don’t have to worry about your TV getting the highest quality signal.

Sound quality

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos soundbar surround speakersSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

As you move away from your TV’s built-in (and probably terrible) speakers, the SB-600 is a big step up. Between the six drivers of the main soundbar, the wireless sub and the surroundings, you get a better feeling of immersion than a TV, with very clear sound that can also get very loud if desired.

The dialogue sounds clear and straightforward. If you have trouble recognizing speech, the SB-600 can help.

However, the SB-600 has two distinct disadvantages. First, it lacks a decent midrange. Even after playing with the built-in EQ modes (movie, music, dialogue, sports) and changing the bass and treble levels, I couldn’t make the system feel full and warm.

I suspect there is simply too big a gap between the target frequencies of the soundbar drivers and the capabilities of the subwoofer. It can deliver big, booming bass as well as bright highs, but that middle area feels decidedly hollow.

On the positive side, the dialogue sounds clear and straightforward – the center channel of the soundbar prefers very high frequencies. If you have trouble recognizing speech, the SB-600 can help.

The downside, however, is that you lose some of the tonal nuances, especially in films with very dynamic soundtracks (think Marvel, DC, and Star Wars films).

Second, with Dolby Atmos systems, you won’t be overwhelmed by the height channel effects.

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos soundbar surround speakersSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

I threw a ton of Dolby Atmos footage on the SB-600, from Disney + titles like Iron Man 2 and Doctor Strange, to Dolby Atmos songs from Tidal HiFi, to Dolby Atmos demonstration videos from my LG TV. I found the system to generally provide good surround performance, but that extra dimension that Atmos offered was hit and miss.

It became most evident – and most enjoyable – when listening to Atmos music. Tracks from The Weeknd and Post Malone had a really sprawling soundstage that filled the room.

In contrast, films lacked the overhead dimension that Atmos is known for.

When using Dolby Atmos systems, you won’t be overwhelmed by the height channel effects of the SB-600.

Bluetooth audio was acceptable, but it’s immediately apparent that Monoprice didn’t make this mode a huge priority. Knowing what the system can do with a Dolby Atmos music stream, it’s a bit disappointing that the SB-600 can’t upscale regular stereos any better into a more immersive mix. All speakers are active when listening over bluetooth, but the sound lacks the expected extent.

Control and ease of use

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos Soundbar Remote Control

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Monoprice SB-600 Dolby Atmos soundbar control

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I really like it when you start a new stream, whether from the TV or some other connected device. The LED display shows what kind of signal it is receiving. It could be Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, or PCM, which is a helpful endorsement of your source material.

However, this display can be difficult to read. Only a handful of characters are displayed at a time, so most messages will scroll. You need to be careful as the sound format will only be displayed when you switch to a new input.

As mentioned above, the display’s always-on mode was a bit annoying at times.

Another weird quirk: setting your preferred bass and treble levels will reset when you switch from one EQ mode to another.

Our opinion

The Monoprice SB-600 is a decent surround sound bar with lots of inputs and very easy setup thanks to its wireless subwoofer and mostly wireless surround speakers. However, a lackluster performance from Dolby Atmos and a hollowness in the midfield prevent us from getting our full approval.

Is there a better alternative?

For a lot less money the $ 300 Vizio M-Series 5.1 soundbar The SB-600 may not have dedicated treble drivers or wireless environments, but the virtualized Dolby Atmos effects are still noticeable and offer a much better frequency balance.

For a significantly better Dolby Atmos experience, this offers Vizio SB36512-F6 offers excellent Atmos sound at the same price as the SB-600.

How long it will take?

Monoprices products are nothing special, but they’re well built and the SB-600 should last for many years. It comes with a one year warranty.

Should you buy it?

The main advantages of the SB-600 are its excellent inputs and semi-wireless surround speakers. But if these features aren’t particularly important to you, you’ll be happier with a Vizio model for the same or less money.

Editor’s recommendations



Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.