- Super sound quality
- Plenty of solid, clean bass
- Plenty of power should you want to crank it up.
- Heavy (would anybody care?)
- Large-ish in size for a soundbar
- No Dolby Digital/DTS 2.0 decoder
Although I'm very much into sound quality, at times, I don't want the bulk of a full-fledged sound system. Of course, because some set-ups will be in my secondary and tertiary locations I'm not willing to spend too much either. For my office, I use a pair of Kanto YU6s, (which I reviewed earlier this year) which I absolutely love both in terms of their aesthetics and sound quality.
A couple of months ago, I purchased and replaced my bedroom TV with a Sony 55X900F (reviewed this past April) Since I'm using the TV more often, I no longer want to use just the TV's built-in speakers for audio. On the other hand, I don't want a soundbar, because I feel that many in the sub-$1,000 group tend to either be good for music or good for soundtracks, but not necessarily both. I'd also often need a subwoofer to get acceptable bass, and I can't afford the space in my bedroom. Then, I also have to take my turntable into consideration, since I'd like to be able to use the speakers to listen to my records as well.
Kanto recently released the SYD powered speaker, with stereo-in-a-box configuration, for a MAP of $430, which fit right into my budget. So I decided to try it out.
Very close to the YU6, the SYD speaker has four inputs, providing a variety of ways to connect any and all of your devices. There are two analog inputs an RCA L/R (switchable as line or with phono pre-amp) and a 3.5mm mini-jack AUX, as well as one Optical input. This input is the one I used the most, connecting to the TV's output. It also has a Bluetooth receiver with Qualcomm aptX; and a USB port. Even though there is a built-in DAC for the digital inputs, the USB is only used to power your devices. It would have been a nice feature to be able to use the USB port for a separate DAC for a lot of PC users, and I hope they add it in a newer version. SYD comes with a remote so you can toggle inputs, and adjust bass/treble, volume level, even left and right channel balance with ease, just like with the YU6.
As for size and weight, SYD is a bit hefty, measuring 17.5" W x 5.7" H x 6.9" D and weighing nearly 10 lbs. (4.5 kg). But this unit is not intended for portable use anyway. It's driven by a 140-Watt peak power (70 Watts RMS) amplifier that has been specifically designed to match the characteristics of the drivers. The cabinet, crafted from "acoustic-grade MDF," is extremely rigid. Also, if you need it, included with the speaker is a tilt stand that will angle the speaker at approximately 15 degrees upwards. I don't need it for my setup, so I didn't use it.
Playing music through my turntable and its phono pre-amp was quite nice. The SYD speaker performed really well for its price. The silk dome tweeters and kevlar woofers, coupled with bass reflex ports at the back produced a very nice tonal balance. Stereo separation, as expected, was virtually zero from my seating position of 12 feet away. However, it fills the room nicely coupled with my room's acoustic signature. According to my real time analyzer, it produced a solid bass down to 60Hz with no roll off. Bass this low AND clean is very uncommon from a speaker this small and affordable. Usually, the bass produced in speakers around this price range rolls off badly, is distorted, or is nonexistent. If you want more bass extension, there is a subwoofer output. I unfortunately didn't have a separate subwoofer on hand in order to test this feature.
Trying to play TV sound, I realized something: the speaker doesn't have a Dolby Digital 2.0 decoder. That's no problem if you only use PCM 2.0. So for my TV, I ended up using the 3.5mm input jack of the speaker, and the optical input to connect to my Yamaha DVD player that I now use strictly as an audio CD player.
Listening to CNN, YouTube, and various documentaries, dialogue was lifelike and convincing. I didn't need to raise the volume much at all, and definitely didn't need to resort to Closed Captioning while watching, which is something I had often done before. While I never watch movies in my bedroom, I tested a couple of Netflix presentations. Both Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were pleasantly watchable, even though I didn't watch them in my Atmos theatre. I even tried watching the Chris Botti Concert Blu-ray in its entirety, and it was surprisingly enjoyable through this speaker.
While no soundbar can ever replace a full-fledged audio system in any room, the Kanto SYD came very close without the need for a separate subwoofer, nor spending more than $500.