BlueAnt XT100 2.0 Soundbar Review: Affordable Quality

Let’s face it; your TV’s internal speakers were never that great to begin with. Sure, newer and more premium units are including things like Dolby Atmos and integrated soundbars, but there’s nothing quite like boosting your TV with a dedicated soundbar, for both an increase in overall volume and sound quality. Enter the BlueAnt XT100 2.0 soundbar. At $349 AUD, BlueAnt’s newest option attempts to provide such quality at a lower price. As one of the cheapest options to include Dolby Atmos compatibility, the XT100 does an adequate job at providing a complete and robust experience from a compact soundbar, as opposed to more expensive soundbars that include a separate and usually wireless subwoofer. With plug and play connectivity and Bluetooth support, it’s really hard to ask for much more in terms of features, although the larger design may interrupt lower sitting screens.

Design

As far as design and appearance go, the XT100 is acceptable. It’s admittedly hard to argue about the design of most soundbars unless colour options appeal to you. In that case, you might be a little disappointed to find that this only comes in black. However, I felt as though it was minimal enough to match almost any room in my house, fitting under most of my TV’s. Certain sets might find as though this sits a little higher than most soundbars, but it’s definitely not by much. Along with most soundbars, the XT100 comes included with mounting brackets for use on a wall.

The inclusion of a dimmable front facing LED screen is also a nice touch, clearly displaying the current input, while dimming this keeps it relatively out of sight when it’s not needed. I can appreciate this over certain higher end soundbars which include displays on top of their units so that they’re barely visitable even when on, or simply without one, forcing you to navigate through extensive apps just to configure your inputs and general settings. Given its intention as an all-in-one compact soundbar, I feel as though it’s unfortunately the least compact of the bunch. When compared to something in its class like the 120 watt Sony HTS100F Soundbar, it’s immediately noticeable just how much smaller and shorter they are.

Setup and Features

Setting up the XT100 was honestly a breeze. With a mains power connection and HDMI ARC input, you’re good to go, short of a few settings which may need to be configured within your TV to send dedicated sound through your HDMI ARC port. Short of unboxing the soundbar itself, I was up and running in about three minutes flat. The XT100 also comes with its own dedicated remote, which provides volume control and a handful of pre-set configurations based on what you’re watching, be it sport or movies, and allowing for enhanced audio and dialogue options.

Many TV speakers do a terrible job at separating voice and dialogue from sound effects and music. The XT100’s voice enhancement option does help slightly, but the overall increase in volume will more than likely fix this issue in the first place. Beyond this, both movie and music modes so little to differentiate the experience, although I feel as though the ‘music’ option provides the most balanced boost to sound. The lack of any dedicated companion apps might feel as though more can be gained from the experience, but I believe it aids a smoother setup experience and encourages a sense of ease that most who are looking for louder sound from their TV, would be satisfied with. To top it off, the XT100 also comes included with 2 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI eARC input, coaxial out, optical out, 3.5mm AUX out and USB-A input.

Sound

What is a soundbar without sound? Well, we’re not sure either. Thankfully, the XT100 sounds great for the price. The 100 watt, 2 channel system provides balanced layers of sound, although lower notes do sound a little lacking from time to time. But when you’re TV speakers are providing 20 to 40 watts on average, there’s still a noticeable difference. Most quality soundbars rarely depend on providing louder levels of volume, but higher quality sound at those peak volumes. The XT100 does a solid job at keeping its sound composed and consistent at louder levels, with next to no crackling or drop outs, even at full volume.

The XT100 also stands as one of the cheapest soundbars on the market to include Dolby Atmos compatibility. Dolby Atmos up until now, has been reserved for the premium iterations of most TV’s and soundbars, highlighting a higher quality of sound through the manipulation and combination of various sound channels, thus creating the desired effect of surround sound from a single source. While the XT100 states it includes at least a version of Dolby Atmos, it leaves much, much, more to be desired. As a 2.0 channel soundbar, the XT100 does give users a slight boost in sound quality, but ultimately feels more like a gimmick in terms of providing surround sound. With the lack of any up firing speakers or additional channels, the XT100 instead tries its hardest to bounce sounds left and right. Some might enjoy the added layer of immersion, but it’s a tricky plane to land, as Dolby Atmos inevitably relies on the existence of inbuilt technology in the first place.

Verdict & Value

Overall, the BlueAnt XT100 2.0 soundbar is a solid alternative that provides affordable quality for those who are simply looking to get more out of their TV’s sound. While that feels like a given for most soundbars, the XT100 provides a balanced 100 watts of power with an easy plug and play setup, which will have your TV sounding better in no time. Dolby Atmos compatibility largely misses the mark, although it’s not for a lack of trying. Its shape and design might feel a little larger than most soundbars in its class, but the overall black colourway and minimalistic design ensure that the XT100 will suit almost any living room.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Solid, balanced sound; Plug and play setup; Sleek and minimal design
Lowlights: Dolby Atmos compatibility lacks the intended effect
Manufacturer: BlueAnt
Price: A$349
Available: Now

Review based on unit supplied by BlueAnt.

Matthew Arcari

Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.

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