Although having an expensive high-end audio setup connected to your television is nice, not everyone has the space (or desire) for bulky speakers and subwoofers in their living room. Sound bars have emerged as a way to deliver big sound from a small footprint, so British cable provider Sky has paired with Devialet to create an affordable sound bar for the masses.
When we say Sky has paired with Devialet, what we really mean is that Devialet has built a speaker and Sky has put its name on the side. The boutique French audio startup has only been around for 10 years, but has made a name for itself with some stunning high-end amplification hardware that packs the technology you'd expect to find in a chunky box into a slimline piece of French design.
Dubbed the Sky Soundbox, the compact black unit makes use of the small-and-mighty hardware for which Devialet is known. There are six woofers and three full-range speakers in its 37.5 x 21 x 9.5 cm (14.76 x 8.27 x 3.74 in) body – that's roughly half the size of an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Sky says it uses the walls of your living room (or wherever it's stationed) to reflect the sound for a punchier, more immersive experience from that small package.
Along with its big sound, small body combination, Devialet and Sky have clearly put some thought into how the system works day-to-day. For one, it has something called dynamic volume management, which adjusts the volume based on what's happening on screen. In theory, that means soft-spoken conversations are boosted and big, loud explosions are dialed down for a more consistent volume level.
Users can manually swap the Soundbox into special Dialogue Enhance mode – designed to make speech clearer – or a Late Night mode which drops the bass and boosts quiet whispers. Meanwhile, Kids mode allows parents to limit the maximum volume when the little ones are watching.
Connectivity options are relatively limited on the Soundbox, which is being sold through Sky in the UK. The box includes a HDMI cable to connect to the television, and there's an optical cable connection as well, but Sky makes no mention of any other wired inputs. There is, however, Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless connectivity.
Pricing for the Soundbox will vary based on your status as a Sky customer when it launches in the UK autumn. The unit will retail for £799 for people who aren't Sky subscribers, while existing customers will pay £299. Members of the top Sky cable plan will pay £249 (US$1,045, $327 and $260, respectively).
"This partnership with Sky is a token of our ability to pursue Devialet's vision to enable revolutionary experiences through audio, and bring them to the widest number of human beings through partnerships with like-minded companies looking to challenge the status-quo," says Quentin Sannie, Devialet CEO.