Soundbar home theater systems to accompany your HDTV are becoming a dime a dozen, so you need to stand out a bit from the pack to elicit the same wow factor that the first soundbars earned. JVC hopes its found that magic with its latest offerings, one hybrid system with both soundbar and satellites, the other coming with an ultra-thin amplifier unit that's as cool-looking as the soundbar itself.
While soundbars are designed to provide virtual surround sound, the TH-BA3 lets you add a dose of actual surround sound as well, including a pair of wireless rear satellite speakers to go along with the wireless subwoofer and receiver. The soundbar unit itself has four speakersa pair to provide the left and right main channels along with two for the center channel. The result presumably is to fill out the system's sound by providing the real speakers that a virtual surround sound system would have the most difficulty emulatingthe rear ones. We'll see if it's truly the missing link between soundbar and true multi-channel systems and whether the public will appreciate that middle ground.
The TH-BA3 may be more practical, but the TH-BS7 (pictured above) adds some sex appeal in the form of a wall-mountable amp and control unit. The soundbar isn't exactly a slouch in the looks department either, measuring a mere 1.4 inches tall. It also comes with a wireless subwoofer to provide some punch to the virtual surround sound. Both the TH-BA3 and TH-BS7 can process Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby ProLogic II signals.
Both systems are available this month as midrange price points. The TH-BA3 will retail for $549.99, while the TH-BS7 will be priced at $599.99.