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The same great sound as the SDB1, but much better design and optional subwoofer. However, the costs really adds up with shipping on that subwoofer, so consider if you really need the convenience of a soundbar.
The problem with ultra-thin TVs is that there’s just no room inside for a decent speaker: you need a soundbar. Blitzwolf’s second soundbar doesn’t change much internally from their first model, but looks a lot better on the outside. And they’ve added an optional subwoofer with wireless connectivity.
Join us as we take a closer look at the Blitzwolf SDB2-–available now for $150—as well as the optional subwoofer. At the end of this review, we’ve got one set of the Blitzwolf soundbar and subwoofer to giveaway to one lucky reader, but if you can’t wait, scroll down for some coupon codes!
- Buy the BW-SDB2 soundbar for $120—use code BWSDB2OFF at checkout. Regular price $150.
- Buy the BW-SW2 optional subwoofer for $136—use code 2a5ac7 at checkout. Regular price $166.
Note, shipping is extra and these are heavy items.
Building on the Success of the SDB-1
The SDB-1 was the precursor to this device. It sounded brilliant, offering fantastically good value for money at less than $100. With a wealth of connectivity options, the only downside was the shiny black plastic case. Apart from attracting fingerprints, the design left it looking a little… well, budget.
The SDB-2 builds on that, with a similar if not identical set of internal specs. To reiterate, you’ll find 8 speakers inside, consisting of a pair of high-frequency tweeters, mid-range, bass, and low-frequency radiators. That’s 60W of audio power output, in a stereo configuration.
The design of the SDB-2 is where the most changes have occured: the shiny black plastic is replaced by a metal grill across the top and front, with a wooden accent panel around the rear. However, this does add significantly to weight and heft. At 8.8 pounds (4kg), it measures just under 3ft (900mm) in length, 3.86″ (98mm) deep, and 2.36″ (60mm) high. It’s not as portable as the SDB-1 then, and still requires mains power.
The physical rubber buttons found on the SDB-1 have also been replaced by capacitive buttons. In addition, you’ll find a discreet LCD screen indicating current volume, source input, and EQ setting. It’s a big improvement on the handful of LEDs found on the previous model. Also in the box you’ll find a slimline remote control; this is the only aspect of the package that feels less than great. It’s so thin that it flexes when pushing buttons, and just feels cheap.
Ports, Ports Everywhere
You’ll find a range of ports around the back to satisfy your every input need:
- 3.5mm stereo
- Coaxial aux
- Bluetooth 4.2
It’s not just the ports either—you also get a box full of cables:
- 3.5mm stereo cable
- 3.5mm stereo to composite audio (red/white)
- Optical cable
- Right-angle USB extension cable
Curiously, the HDMI-ARC connection found on the back of the previous model is gone; it’s been replaced by a wireless adaptor slot for the optional subwoofer. While it does seem a little odd that a device designed to connect to a TV would have removed the HDMI port, in reality you’re more likely to use an optical cable to grab the TV audio, so it’s not a huge loss. Certainly, the optional subwoofer is a welcome upgrade.
A wide range of inputs is partly why I rated the SDB-1 so highly, and that hasn’t changed. It means that if your needs change in future, you have the best chance of being able to repurpose the device elsewhere. Even if Bluetooth technologies are made obsolete, the other connectivity options won’t be. In a world of disposable technology, I value the ability to reuse technology greatly.
Out of the box the soundbar produces a good amount of bass, but like all soundbars, the physical properties mean it lacks in the really thumping sub-bass frequencies. Physics dictates you need a larger cone to go any lower, and one doesn’t simply argue with physics. That’s why Blitzwolf have added the option to connect the SW2 external 70W subwoofer, featuring a 6.5″ cone and 5.25″ horn. Unfortunately, it’s an addition purchase that actually costs a little more than the soundbar itself.
Connecting the subwoofer is really easy: just plug in the wireless transmitter included in the package, into the back of the soundbar. It’s helpfully labelled with up so you don’t get it wrong. Under the hood, it appears to be a custom 2.4GHz USB transmitter, though I couldn’t get the dongle to actually enumerate on a computer, so it seems to locked to the soundbar in some way.
From a design perspective, the same wood panelling is repeated on the top, with brushed metal making up the rest of the case.
Around the back of the sub, you’ll find a volume, power, and 3.5mm input. Sadly, the power cable is hardwired, and limited to US or European plug. As well as requiring an unsafe plug adapter for UK users, this makes it hard to replace if the plug or cable were to break. It’s even more curious when the soundbar itself uses a standard figure-8 cable which can be easily replaced.
Despite the presence of a wired input on the back of the subwoofer, you cannot actually wire the subwoofer to the soundbar, since there’s no additional output options anywhere on the soundbar. This would point to the soundbar being an OEM product, perhaps. I tested the input socket on the subwoofer and can confirm it is functional, so if you wanted to use this subwoofer elsewhere at some point, that would be feasible, just not with the wireless connection.
In testing, I had mixed results from the subwoofer output, but it varied a lot depending on source material. To be clear, the volume slider around the back of the subwoofer was set as maximum, with volume adjusted via the soundbar only. Watching movies and TV at normal listening volumes of “the kids are in bed” 15 out of a maximum 30, the bass output was indistinguishable from the normal soundbar output, even when set on the bass-boosted music EQ setting. I could feel it, and it was definitely working, but it just didn’t add that much to the overall soundscape. Bass-heavy music fared a lot better, with a clear benefit from the subwoofer at all volumes. At higher volumes, all content benefited significantly from the addition of the sub.
Do You Need the Blitzwolf SDB2?
The SDB2 sound bar is big, hefty, and feels well-built. It should fit right at home into any modern living room, and looks much better than it ought to for a device that costs under $200. There are far more expensive soundbars that don’t look half this nice. It can get really loud, without distortion: on maximum volume I measured a peak of around 85dB.
If you’re going to be listening to anything loudly, or bass heavy music, the addition of the optional subwoofer will be well worth it.
If you’re unlikely to be listening loudly, and don’t particularly want or need the additional subwoofer, it’s still a great soundbar on its own. But you’re paying a little extra for the new design. On a tighter budget it’s still worth checking out the original SDB1 model, available for under $100.
However, before spending $300-350 on a soundbar and sub, consider if you need the convenience of a soundbar at all. For around the same price, you can buy a budget 5.1 surround sound system, including an amplifier, 5 satellite speakers, and subwoofer. The overall experience is going to be more immersive thanks to the surround speaker setup, and the only downside will be the increased complexity of having to run cables around your living room.