Soundbars

Monoprice SB-300 Atmos Soundbar Review


One thing we really don’t like around here is Atmos soundbars. Not because we don’t think they can work, but because the “Atmos” moniker is used to jack up the price. That’s why we were so keen to review the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar. This soundbar clocks in at under $130 retail and has most all the bells and whistles you could ask for. So, let’s take a look at the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar in our no-filler review.

Author’s Note: A “No Filler” review is just that. No filler. We won’t be giving long, flowery descriptions of how the products make us feel. No beating around the bush to tell you what we thought could be improved. This is review is the facts and only the facts. We’ve all got better things to do than to read someone pontificating.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Impressive surround effect in well treated room
  • HDMI eARC and 4k/60 pass through
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Tuned for traditional rooms

Cons

  • No DTS compatibility
  • No way to integrate a subwoofer
  • Short power cable
  • Room treatments hamper performance

Monoprice SB-300 Atmos Soundbar Overview

The Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar is fairly small at only 34.4″ wide and 2.9″ tall. This will make it easy to place under almost any display without having to raise the display. It is black with a metal grille. There is a display on the front that shines through the grille. A button on the remote dims the display all the way to off (four total settings).

The Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar comes with wall-mounting hardware but no guide for where to place the screws. The manual does have measurements, but this will be a mounting job for someone that is a little more comfortable around a level and a tape measure. The Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar has integrated rubber feet for shelf mounting which is a nice convenience feature.

On the back, there are just about all the inputs you’ll need. Three HDMI inputs (one with eARC), one optical, and a 3.5mm input. It can accept Dolby Atmos from any of the HDMI ports. The Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar can also accept a Bluetooth connection to stream music from your mobile device. The included power cable is quite short at only five feet. Fine if you are plugging it in directly behind your device, not so good if you have an outlet that is farther away.

Testing Environment

I tested the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar in two locations – my well dampened and acoustically treated home theater, and another home. That second home had tile floors, no room treatments, and the couch pushed up against the wall. This allowed me to compare and contrast from a dedicated home theater space (which isn’t likely to have a soundbar if I’m being honest) and a more traditional space. In the dedicated theater I sat about 7.5 feet from the speaker. In the traditional space I was about 11 feet away.

Sound Quality

As you’d expect with a budget offering, the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar isn’t the best sounding soundbar on the market. It tends toward the slightly shrill and, of course, lacks bass. Monoprice clearly understood that and gives you treble and bass control right on the remote. You can adjust the boost and cut by three for both tone controls. We found this very helpful for fine-tuning the sound for different content.

In my dedicated theater, this was much more apparent. While some sounded fine at level bass and treble, with others we found that a bit of treble cut tamed some of the high-frequency fatigue we were experiencing. In the more traditional space, the extra high-frequency energy wasn’t as noticeable. All in all, the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar sounds very good for its price point.

Surround Sound

There are multiple surround modes on the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar. They are labeled Voice, Sports, Movies, and Music. In general, we preferred the surround modes to be “on” with two-channel content as it gave the presentation more body. The Movie and Music were our favorites as they tended to goose the bass and midrange a bit. The other two modes had the music feeling a bit tinny.

We played A Quiet Place with the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar in both testing environments. As you’d expect, there wasn’t much bass, even when we manually adjusted the bass boost to maximum. The Atmos effects were present but worked best when you were directly in front of the center of the speaker. Moving off access immediately diminished the effects.

In my dedicated theater, compared to our full reference system, the Atmos effects weren’t as convincing. But they did give the illusion of sounds coming from all around you. I could even detect movement and general direction. As we’ve said, this is all done with phase and can be quite impressive. Provided you sat in the right spot, it was. As soon as you moved to the side…not so much.

In the traditional space, the Atmos effects weren’t as impressive. I could tell that sound was coming from around me, but it didn’t have the relative accuracy of what I experienced in my dedicated theater. The tradeoff was that the sweet spot was much wider (this may be a function of how far I was sitting away from the speaker as well).

Issues

Our biggest issue with the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar was its output. In the dedicated theater, sitting 7.5 feet ears to soundbar, we had the volume maxed with A Quiet Place. Other content (from streaming services and the like) that were mixed louder, weren’t as bad. Alternatively, in the traditional space with more reflective surfaces, we were 11 feet away and had the volume no where near maxed. This suggests that Monoprice is heavily relying on the room to augment the sound of the SB-300 Atmos soundbar.

We would have also liked to see some sort of subwoofer integration method with the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar. As it is, there is no way to add a subwoofer to help with the bass. There is also no DTS compatibility (only Dolby surround modes). This is easily fixed by having your source either output a Dolby stream or decode it locally and output PCM. The Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar can handle both.

Our Take

We were always going to have a hard time not liking the Monoprice SB-300 Atmos soundbar. With three HDMI inputs and eARC support, the $130 price tag is just too tempting. Is it the best soundbar on the market? Of course not. But it does tick most of the boxes. We were pleased to find that the SB-300 was tuned to actually perform very well in a more reflective room. We could sit farther away and still enjoy a modicum of surround sound. If you have a more traditional space, the SB-300 should work very well without breaking the bank.

For more information and ordering, visit Monoprice.com.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.