Over the past few years, flat panel displays have replaced CRT TVs in majority of homes. While they look great and provide a higher resolution display, there is one aspect where majority of the LCD/LED TVs are found wanting, and that’s sound output. This has given rise to a market of audio products that can plug into the TV and provide better quality sound. While these speakers come in different shapes and sizes, soundbars are one of the more preferred types that don’t hamper your living room decor. Today, we have for review an affordable soundbar – Portronics Sound Slick II. Let’s see what it brings to the table (or the wall, if you choose to mount it).
Portronics Sound Slick II: Features and specifications
The Sound Slick II from Portronics is almost a metre long soundbar that provides a sound output of 40 Watts RMS and a rated frequency response of 180Hz to 20KHz. It supports multiple inputs like Aux, USB and Bluetooth V4.2. The soundbar is made out of a combination of plastic and metal. The construction is pretty solid and weighs 1.8KG. The design is as minimalistic as it comes with a glossy plastic body and a metal grille up front to protect the drivers and passive radiator. Though simple, there’s nothing unpleasant about the design. There is a multi-coloured LED inside the grille that tells you the status of the speaker and the selected input, along with an IR receiver.
You also get a small IR remote with the speaker that lets you power it on, control the volume and play/pause or select previous/next tracks when playing audio from a USB drive. It also lets you switch between different input sources or mute the audio. Some of these controls are available on the side of the speaker too, in case you lose the remote or it runs out of battery. You can either leave the speaker on a table (which needs to be long enough) or wall mount it under the TV using a couple of screws.
Portronics Sound Slick II: Performance
I tried using all three inputs available on the Portronics Sound Slick II. I plugged my TV audio-out into the aux port, a flash drive with some test MP3 tracks into the USB port and connected my phone over Bluetooth. All three inputs worked perfectly fine and I could easily switch between them using the remote control. One thing that you will notice when you play anything on this soundbar is that it is really loud. Despite the modest 40 Watts rating, the drivers can deliver some powerful sound to fill up a large sized room, and it significantly enhances your TV viewing experience. There is no subwoofer here, but this soundbar can deliver a fair amount of bass; way more than what I expected from a speaker this lean. One can be pardoned for thinking there’s a small subwoofer in the room somewhere.
While the speaker is loud and has a good amount of thump, the dynamic range is fairly limited. In simpler terms, the sound can get a bit muddled when playing music loaded with multiple instruments. The sound stage isn’t too broad either. So while the Portronics Sound Slick II will certainly boost your TV output, it is not meant for extended hours of music playback, especially if you like a high degree of clarity in your highs, mids and lows. But at it’s asking price, not many may complain. Pairing it with my phone over Bluetooth was effortless. One simply needs to change the speaker mode to Bluetooth, find the device on your phone or tablet and pair it. The audio output over Bluetooth was pretty decent and loud enough. I did not experience any loss of connectivity or delay during the entire course of my testing. The output through USB is noticeably (and understandably) better. Overall, the music playback quality is acceptable for a speaker in this budget but not outstanding. The vocals are pretty clear though and that helps when watching (listening to) TV with this soundbar.
Portronics Sound Slick II: Shortcomings
While I would have readily recommended this soundbar to those looking for one under Rs 4000, there are some irritating bugs that give me second thoughts. For starters, everytime you switch off the soundbar and switch it on again, the volume resets to somewhere close to 80% loudness. And you have to immediately go looking for the volume control to bring it down. When this happens during the night hours, you are bound to get an earful, and not just from the speakers. The next issue is the power button on the remote control can be used to switch on the speaker but cannot be used to switch it off or put it on standby mode. That’s highly unusual! A workaround here is to put the speaker on mute, but that’s not exactly the same, is it? Also, the speaker has a tendency to randomly unmute itself after sometime at no fixed time interval. This can cause unwanted disturbance when it happens at the wrong time. These are small things but things that the QC department should have fixed before release. I hope the company fixes these bugs in the next batch.
Portronics Sound Slick II: Price and verdict
The Portronics Sound Slick II is priced at Rs 3,999 in India and comes with a one year warranty. One can easily find it on Amazon India for 20% lower around the Rs 3,200 mark. At that price, this soundbar is a pretty decent buy and a good companion for your TV for what it offers – if you are willing to overlook its unusual shortcomings. An affordable soundbar with loud output, decent bass, multiple audio inputs and with its own set of quirks is what the Portronics Sound Slick II is all about.