My parents — Fran and Pete, for those wanting names — are retired, doing the grey nomad thing and living a relaxed lifestyle, although they claim they’re busier now than when they were working. So there are a few luxuries that have crept into daily life that wasn’t there when I was growing up like broadband and an enormous TV.
It seemed a little odd to me that they have this 82-inch monster in the living room without a soundbar to complement it. When I suggested they listen to the BlueAnt XT100 there wasn’t a great amount of resistance, perhaps more curiosity at what it could add to the viewing experience.
Their entertainment space is pretty basic by some standards with the TV, a Chromecast, a Blu-ray player and a Wii “for the kids”.
Setup in minutes
My folks aren’t technophobic by any stretch, but being the dutiful son I am; I kindly set it up for them. It took 9 minutes, including taking a few photos for this review. The hardest thing was finding an empty power socket, and that’s more a reflection on the cabling behind Mum and Dad’s TV than the soundbar. It is simply a case of feeding your inputs into the XT100 and the HDMI output from the soundbar to your chosen screen input, and you’re away.
We covered the specs when the XT100 was released, and while they are pretty basic, it also packs quite a punch at 2 x 50W RMS. It’s also Dolby Atmos 1.7 and Dolby Vision compliant.
The physical input and output layouts are really simple. On the back of the sound bar, you’ve got:
- 2 x HDMI inputs
- HDMI eARC
- Optical, coaxial and USB input for audio playback
- AUX line in
- Bluetooth 5.1 for easy streaming of your favourite music
The Remote is really simple to use too, offering power, volume, EQ and input changes easily.
It’s a pretty understated design that will fit into most home living spaces. In complete honesty, this isn’t something I could see someone with disposable income hunting down, but someone looking for an in improved viewing experience, perhaps even with limited space.
So, how does it sound?
The XT100, as mentioned, is pretty understandable with only basic visual indicators and a simple black finish. That design does speak volumes — punny, right? — about the unit, because it just delivered without fuss.
The audio is very good, without going to the level and cost of some other options on the market. The XT100 is a $349.00 outlay which is important to keep in mind with some of the comments to follow.
After only a couple of days, the feedback was generally pretty positive. Mum said the sound was so much more immersive and, particularly with some hearing difficulties, it made watching TV far easier and more pleasurable for her. Dad was impressed at the depth of sound and how it improves the listening experience across all media.
Of course, this is in comparison to the rear firing speakers built into the television, which aren’t bad, they just aren’t great and don’t offer that full depth of sound. From discussing it with my parents, the phrase you don’t know what you’re missing out on until someone shows you comes to mind.
Whether it’s adding a new element to your viewing, or simply streaming music to it from a Bluetooth-connected device, the BlueAnt XT100 is a great value proposition. You can spend twice the price, or more on a soundbar and while you’ll get better sound, not see the same value.
The sound quality, as we’ve seen consistently from BlueAnt, is very solid. You’re getting a crisp and clear high register, clean mid-range (important for movies and TV, as this is where vocal tracks come through) and surprisingly good bass to really carry through your entertainment space.
Switching between the pre-set equalizer modes: Movies, Games, Voice and Music is as simple as pushing a button. Each has its own characteristics that will change the dimensions of what you’re doing, so have a play with them to see what you like. Personally, I find the Movies EQ too bass drive for music listening as it becomes overwhelming and detracts from the music.
If you’re looking for surround sound, you’re probably looking at (or needing to) spend at least twice this much to get rear channels and a sub for a really immersive sound. So in comparison, this may seem a bit underpowered but I assure you that 2 x 50W RMS is plenty of power to fill a decent sized room.
Should you buy one?
The short answer is, if you’re in the market for a great value soundbar without breaking the bank, this should be on your list to look at, but the final buying decision is yours.
At $349.00, the XT100 from BlueAnt isn’t the cheapest and is far from the most expensive soundbar on the market. What it offers is a great experience for the user from setting it up in minutes to a daily improvement in your viewing and listening. The price tag really does make this attractive when you consider the features you’re getting.
If you’re looking for something with a heap of bells and whistles, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a huge step up from the basic sound of your TV or a stepping stone to a higher level of sound, then I’d happily recommend the BlueAnt XT100 – Perhaps more importantly, as a key demographic of the target market, so would my parents.
Mum here. Thanks to the dutiful son for connecting this very user-friendly item. That said, I’m confident I could have done it anyway. We have made a point of watching a variety of programming and streaming and have found the soundbar has added to the enjoyment. Action movies are more gripping, music is greatly enhanced (pop, rock, classical and jazz). I’m a fan of documentaries too and some have become more personalised – like talking to a friend. And then, of course, there’s motor racing. We are a family of rev heads and the recent Bathurst 1000 came right into the living room.
Would we have gone out looking for such an item? Probably not, but would not be without it now. For price, ease of use and results, we would happily recommend the Blue Ant sound bar.
Blueant have not requested the return of the devices following review.