As televisions become more affordable, users are now more inclined to spend money on audio accessories to improve their home entertainment experience. While traditionalists prefer suitable speaker systems, many buyers today like the comfort of a sound bar. It takes up less space, is easy to set up, and can be upgraded using the TV's built-in speakers. But what if you could have both in one product?
The Boult Audio Bassbar A4 offers just that. It is a convertible speaker package that can be used either as a soundbar or as a two-channel floorstanding speaker. This versatile package comes at a very affordable price of Rs. 3,999, but what does the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 offer to make it worth the price? We find out in our test.
Boult Audio Bassbar A4 design and specifications
The main feature of the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 is its form factor – it can be used horizontally as a soundbar or vertically as a single 2.0-channel floorstanding speaker. When used as a soundbar, the two parts are attached to their bases and can either be mounted on a table top or on a wall. As a floorstanding speaker, the two halves use a pair of supplied stands to stay upright.
In both cases, the right device is the active speaker, while the left device is passive and must be connected to the right tower using a stereo cinch cable. Two such cables are included – a short cable that is suitable for soundbar mode and a longer cable that can be used when the speakers are set up as towers apart.
The product itself has a simple design with a plastic case and a metal grille that covers the speaker drivers. There are also Boult Audio logo badges on both ends that appeared to be weakly glued on; These were already moving when we started using the speaker, and one of them eventually fell off. The mechanisms by which both halves of the unit remain attached to each other or to their respective stands are well built and we have found that they are fairly secure.
The Boult Audio Bassbar A4 does not have its own battery and must be connected to a socket using the adapter provided. On the top of the active tower speaker are the controls for power supply, source selection and playback as well as a USB Type-A port and an SD card slot. There is also Bluetooth 4.2 and a 3.5mm jack for aux connectivity on the active speaker. Oddly enough, there is a mark for a number of RCA inputs, but no actual sockets for it – our test device only had a hole on the back where such an input could have been.
The scope of delivery of the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 includes a remote control, which admittedly was very useful for us in our time with the speaker system. It has all the necessary controls and worked well. Unfortunately, the lid of the battery compartment could not be closed when the batteries were inserted, which further underlines the poor processing quality of the components.
The Boult Audio Bassbar A4 has a nominal power of 40 W RMS and a Dolby Digital tone adjustment. The two halves each have two broadband drivers and a subwoofer. Only the SBC Bluetooth codec is supported for wireless streaming. Overall, the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 is a very simple and technically undemanding option, but it does offer a range of specs and features for the price.
Boult Audio Bassbar A4 performance
The convertibility of the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 makes it versatile, but the sound quality leaves something to be desired. We used the Bassbar A4 as both a soundbar and a tower speaker while watching TV and listening to music from an Android smartphone. In all cases, the A4 bass bar fell short of our expectations.
As a sound bar, the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 was pretty disappointing. Unlike the similarly expensive Mi Soundbar, the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 doesn't benefit from being set up properly for use with a TV. Although this soundbar had a slightly wider sound stage due to its length and the positioning of the drivers, the sound tuning was not suitable for this type of use at all. The voices sounded boring, while the intense soundtrack and effects at the beginning of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald were quiet and not exciting.
The lack of coordination of the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 for TV use means that the speaker only provides output for the sound, rather than doing anything to improve it. In fact, we didn't think this would work very well, as the Bassbar A4 didn't sound louder or better than the speakers on the LG TV we used it with. The only improvement we noticed was that the built-in subwoofers in the soundbar added a bit to the rumble in the lower section, which was a little better defined than when using the TV alone.
With an Android smartphone as the source device, the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 switched to the tower speaker form factor and sounded a bit better. We liked the right stereo separation and the spacious soundstage that the two halves of the Bassbar A4 offered compared to portable speakers with similar prices that have very little space between the two channels.
While the sound was significantly louder when using a smartphone as a source device, it was still not as loud as we would have liked for a home entertainment setup. With the maximum volume on both the speaker and smartphone, the sound was just so loud that we could hear music from a distance of about one meter. The volume was never high enough to be uncomfortable for a listener.
While listening to Notaker's Fatal System Error, we enjoyed the strong bass hits a little thanks to the subwoofer drivers, but there was little more than enjoying the bass. The acoustic signature and sound quality were below average for a home speaker setup, and the lack of aggression, drive, and character in the sound made the Bassbar A4 a boring device to listen to music.
The Boult Audio Bassbar A4 is an interesting product at first glance due to its flexibility, but we have found that it is neglected both as a soundbar and as a two-channel speaker setup. While it is slightly better in the latter form than in the former, the Bassbar A4 still sounds boring and not exciting.
This product may be useful for someone looking for ease of use and the ability to use it both horizontally and vertically. However, the simple sound and poor build quality make it difficult to recommend the Boult Audio Bassbar A4 even at low Rs. 3,999 price.
In our opinion, it would make more sense to buy a dedicated soundbar like the Mi Soundbar and a separate two-channel speaker setup or at least a decent portable speaker instead. Bassbar A4 looks like a confused product that tries to do too much, but does very little right.
price: Case 3,999