Big sound, solid bass and an amazing price; if you have £200 to improve the sound of your TV, look no further
- Clear sound
- Great bass
- Reasonable price
- Limited connectivity
Soundbars are popular because they’re slim, elegant and produce better audio than modern TVs without occupying much space. But to deliver a big sound, you also need a subwoofer… and not everyone has space for one of these big, ugly boxes. The Cambridge Audio TV2 (v2) is the perfect antidote. It’s a sound base – a speaker that sits beneath your TV and provides a plinth for it to sit on – which means there’s more room for larger drivers, and potentially a bigger sound.
It also means you don’t necessarily need a subwoofer, either. Instead, the TV2 has a single 6.5in subwoofer driver mounted on its underside to reproduce the low-frequency sounds, while mid- and high-frequency audio is delivered by a pair of forward-facing, full-range BMR (balanced mode radiator) drivers. Total power output amounts to 150W.
This isn’t a particularly fancy setup and Cambridge Audio doesn’t make big claims about 7.1 surround sound or 3D audio like some soundbar manufacturers do. The TV2 (v2) is instead intended simply to improve the sound produced by your TV in a simple, elegant package.
Cambridge Audio TV2 (v2) review: Design and features
As such, there’s not an awful lot to the TV2 (v2), and its design is as simple and functional as its list of features. Designed for TVs 40in and smaller (for larger TVs, the bigger TV5 is more appropriate), the TV2 is a medium-sized, squat box, clad in no-nonsense matte black, with a simple cloth grille covering the front. It’s not ostentatious or even particularly eye-catching, but it’s smart in an understated way.
A small, circular status LED gleams from behind the grille, glowing different colours to indicate which input is selected and on the rear, between the TV2’s twin bass reflex ports, is a limited array of physical connections. There’s one pair of stereo phono jacks, a 3.5mm input jack, one optical S/PDIF input and a single HDMI ARC-enabled port so you can pass audio from your smart TV apps back to the TV2.
Aside from AptX-enabled Bluetooth, that’s your lot. There’s no Wi-Fi and that means no multiroom capability, Spotify Connect, Google Cast or Apple AirPlay.
This limits the flexibility of the TV2 somewhat, so you’ll need to have a careful think about whether or not it caters to your needs before investing; if you’re already using your TV as an audio hub, however, these connections should be perfectly adequate.
In keeping with the simplicity of the design, the TV2 itself has no buttons on it; everything is controlled via the smart, black infrared remote control, and there’s a short list of things that can be adjusted. You get buttons to turn on and off the TV2, adjust the volume, tweak the bass, mute the sound, switch sources and select sound profiles.
Cambridge Audio TV2 (v2) review: Sound quality
Despite the simplicity of the Cambridge Audio TV2 (v2), however, there’s much to be said for the sound quality. It’s simply superb. What’s most impressive about it is that whatever the material, be it explosion-heavy movie soundtracks or quiet piano jazz, the audio output is balanced, agile and detailed.
Not once did I feel I had to reach for the settings to boost the mid-range so I could hear the dialogue, and yet it’s capable of wall-shaking levels of volume and rumble. And although the TV2 can’t produce the sort of all-enveloping audio you get from a proper, multi-speaker surround-sound system, the breadth of the soundstage is impressive, seeming to extend well beyond the confines of the soundbase itself.
The bass delivered by the TV2’s 6.5in subwoofer driver never feels like it’s overwhelming or swamping the rest of the sound, and when I switched over to listen to music I was delighted to discover it was just as accomplished.
It produces a fullness, body and richness to the mid-range that most soundbars lack and it balances this with airy, open top-end that’s a pleasure to listen to. Everything from hi-hats and rim shots to the upper reaches of the piano keyboard are delivered with delicacy, atmosphere and impressive separation.
Cambridge Audio TV2 (v2) review: Verdict
There are plenty of cheap soundbars around for £200 or less, but none I’ve heard come close to the Cambridge Audio TV2 (v2) in terms of sound quality. In fact, most sound pretty awful, and those without subwoofers usually lack punch and thump.
So, while it might be limited in terms of its connectivity, the TV2 (v2) is well worth the compromise, especially if you’re on a tight budget. In short, if you want a TV speaker that can deliver music with subtlety and grace and movie soundtracks with confidence, then your choice is simple. Buy a Cambridge Audio TV2 (v2); it’s fantastic value for money and a clear Best Buy award winner.