Monday, November 15, 2021

Mi Soundbar Review: Strictly For the Budget Conscious

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Sound
Features
Value for Money
The Mi Soundbar is strictly meant as a budget-quality upgrade to TV speakers. It beats other soundbars at this price point in sound quality. But don’t expect it to give you immersive movie experience. The soundbar does not come with a sub-woofer but houses 4 passive radiators that add some depth. It does not come with a remote control but some might be willing to overlook this aspect, given the attractive price point.

Verdict

The 28 Watt (RMS) Mi Soundbar with 4 active speakers and 4 passive radiators delivers better sound than TV speakers as well as most soundbars (without Sub-woofer) at this price point. It is suited for those looking for a compact, simple & easy to set-up upgrade for daily usage. It struggles with complex dynamic music and movie performance is not great. Mi soundbar is budget quality and may be value for money only if you are willing to overlook that it does not come with a remote and lacks HDMI input as well.

  • Best among entry level soundbars
  • Easy setup
  • Decent bass
  • No remote. With optical cable, you have to manually change volume
  • Not meant for quality listening
  • Limited Bluetooth features

Introduction

Xiaomi launched the Mi Soundbar in March 2019 in India. Initially available in white only, Xiaomi introduced the black variant in September 2019.

The Mi Soundbar is strictly meant as a budget-quality upgrade to TV speakers. It delivers better sound as compared to its similarly priced competitors in the below Rs. 8,000 price range. But the Mi Soundbar struggles to deliver while playing complex soundtracks. Don’t expect it to give you immersive movie experience. There is no HDMI port. At this price point it may be a bit excessive to expect Dolby or DTS support, leave alone Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. Check out review of Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar if you are looking for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for an immersive surround movie experience.

Although the soundbar does not come with a sub-woofer, the 4 passive radiators add some level of depth to sound. It does not come with a remote control but some might be willing to overlook this aspect, given the attractive price point. If you are interested in good quality soundbar below Rs. 5000, check out the boAt AAVANTE Bar 1160. boAt Aavante 1190 Soundbar is another affordable a 2.2 channel soundbar with built-in subwoofer.

What is in the Box

  • Mi Soundbar (1)
  • User Manual (1)
  • Adapter (1)
  • SPDIF Cable (1)
  • Screws (2) + Expansion Screws (2)

There is no HDMI connectivity. HDMI cable is not provided.

Also, remote is not available.

Key Features of Mi Soundbar

Mi Soundbar
Mi Soundbar

The Mi Soundbar has been aggressively priced at Rs. 4999/- and comes in 2 colors, black and white. It is a simple yet elegant in design. Interested in soundbars with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X? Check out my review of Sony HT-X8500 2.1 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos.

The Mi Soundbar can be connected using 5 inputs- Bluetooth, 3.5 mm Aux IN, Optical IN, RCA IN, Coaxial IN.

Input-selector buttons are placed at the top of the soundbar. The Mi Soundbar does not come with a remote.

Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity is available to connect TV or mobile devices. However, only one device can be connected at a time and the soundbar is unable to remember past connected Bluetooth devices.

First Looks, Installation and Wiring

The Mi Soundbar is available in white and black colours, both priced same. The black soundbar has a black fabric front while the white soundbar has a light grey fabric front mesh. The body is plastic and weighs almost 2 kgs. The white coloured plastic coupled with light grey fabric mesh is bound to attract dust.

The Mi Soundbar is 83 cm long and sits comfortably in front of your TV on the TV rack. It has rubber pads for slip-free placement. It can also be mounted on the wall. Two holes have been provided at the rear for hanging the soundbar.

Mi Soundbar offers 5 options for connectivity- Bluetooth, 3.5 mm Aux IN, Optical IN, RCA IN, Coaxial IN.

Mi Soundbar
Mi Soundbar Connectivity Options

The setup is easy. Simply connect it your TV using any one of the five options. Connect the power adapter and power up the soundbar using a small on-off switch at the rear.

There is no display or LEDs at the front.

Volume can be increased through the volume buttons placed at the top. The idea is to set soundbar volume at a comfortable level and then use the TV remote for increasing/ decreasing.

Mi Soundbar
Mi Soundbar Volume Buttons and Input Selection Buttons

But it is annoying to get up to change volume level if the soundbar is connected with optical cable because sound level cannot be changed using TV remote in optical cable set up.

Review of Mi Soundbar

Sound can become very loud and is adequate for small to medium sized room. But it loses clarity if played at high volume levels.

Also, there is no sound modes like ‘Sports’, ‘Movie’, ‘Music’ etc that even the entry level soundbars offer these days. It also does not have any Dolby or DTS sound decoding.

Sound: Movies

The Mi soundbar delivers sound which is a couple of notches higher over TV speakers. It does not come with a sub-woofer and tries to make it up by using 4 front facing passive radiators. The radiators add certain depth to the sound but don’t expect a sub-woofer like experience.

Although there are no separate EQ modes like ‘movie’ or ‘music’, soundwise the Mi Soundbar seems to be tuned for movie watching. The bass and treble are set at high levels. This renders extra heft to explosions in movie action sequences.

The mid range and tweeter gets overpowered by the bass in movie scenes with both voices and action and voices lose clarity.

Mi Soundbar
Mi Soundbar Speaker Configuration

Sound: Music

The Mi Soundbar is able to play light music at normal listening levels very well.

Stereo soundstage is acceptable. Although you cannot pinpoint exact location of audio source, the left and right channels are able to maintain separation.

Stereo frequency response is not that great. The Mi Soundbar struggles when while playing tracks with multiple instruments. Sound becomes jumbled when playing movie with complex soundtrack for e.g. rock music playing over fast action sequences.

Sound: Daily Use

The Mi Soundbar is more than adequate for daily TV watching, sports and news. Dialogues are nice and audible.

Mi Soundbar sounds better than most entry level competitors like Intex, Zebronics, Portronics, iBall and even entry level JBL. But it cannot match premium soundbars like Sony, Bose, Denon, Phillips, etc.

If you wish to see how Mi Soundbar compares with Bose, read my review of the Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System.

In short, the MI Soundbar is great for daily listening but don’t expect it to enhance music or movie experience.

Bluetooth 4.2

The Mi soundbar can be paired with your Bluetooth devices. Devices can be paired easily by pressing the Bluetooth button on the top of the soundbar. Pairing is smooth. Audio over Bluetooth is absolutely fine, no drops or hitches.

However, only one Bluetooth device can be paired at a time. Also, there is no Bluetooth device memory which means you have to pair your Bluetooth device afresh every time.

Although Bluetooth 4.2 is sufficient for daily usage, now all new soundbars come with Bluetooth v5.0.

Specifications

FeaturesSpecifications
No. of SpeakersTotal 8 speakers
2 active mid-range drivers (2.5 inch, 6.25cm)
2 active tweeters (2 cm)
4 passive radiators (7.0 cm x 5.5 cm)
Speaker Power Output28 Watt RMS
Frequency Response Range50 Hz – 25000 Hz ( -10 dB)
Size and weightDimension- 830 mm (Length) x 72 mm (Depth) x 87 mm (Height) Weight- 1.925 kg
Sub WooferNil
Input Port3.5 mm Aux IN, Optical IN, RCA IN, Coaxial IN
Output PortNil
Bluetooth4.2 (supports A2DP)

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Gizmo Guru is India’s top guide to buying home theatre and hi-fi home entertainment related products.

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