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Pioneer SBX-N500 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £250
inc VAT

A comprehensive sound bar that’s ideal for anyone without a smart TV

Pioneer’s latest sound bar wants to simplify your home cinema setup in more ways than one; the single unit design does away with a separate subwoofer, and the array of wireless connectivity should mean you won’t need to break out a cable just to stream music from a smartphone, or play video from a tablet or laptop.

Pioneer SBX-N500

The SBX-N500 has more connectivity options than many smart TVs, including Bluetooth for audio playback, and both Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast for wireless video. Connecting a phone or tablet is as simple as going to Settings on your device, pressing Display, then choosing Cast Screen. The device will detect the sound bar and automatically beam the picture to your TV.

We could watch videos saved to our smartphone at HD resolutions, and stream video from YouTube, and although picture quality wasn’t as good as a wired connection, the picture artefacts and compression we could see weren’t enough to ruin the viewing experience. Unfortunately there’s quite a bit of display lag, up to a second at times, meaning it’s difficult to play games that need quick reactions. Simpler titles such as Angry Birds work well, though.

At 900mm long, the SBX-N500 is a good fit for 42-47in TVs, but anything larger and the screen will begin to dwarf the speaker. Finished in black plastic, with a metallic grille covering the entire front panel, we’d describe it as functional rather than stylish. It certainly won’t steal attention away from the images on your TV screen. A pair of feed are bundled in the box to elevate it an extra 20mm, should you choose to place it on a low TV stand, and there are also wall-mounting brackets built into the back in case you want to fix it in place below a wall-mounted TV.

The bundled remote is rather simplistic, and the free Pioneer Connect app for Android and iOS provides greater control. You can adjust the SBX-N500 directly from your smartphone or tablet. It has a simple layout and felt responsive in our testing, changing the sound bar’s volume the instant we made a change onscreen.

Pioneer SBX-N500

Although the focus is very much on wireless connectivity, the SBX-N500 doesn’t skimp on wired inputs either. You’ll find two digital optical inputs and a single HDMI output at the back of the unit, along with a USB port and 3.5mm audio jack on the front for easy access. There’s also an infrared output for the bundled infrared blaster, should the speaker bar obscure the infrared receiver on your TV, and an Ethernet port should you prefer not to use the built-in Wi-Fi adaptor.

The HDMI output supports Audio Return Channel (ARC) so you’ll be able to send audio from your other devices through your TV and out of the sound bar. Unfortunately, the lack of HDMI inputs presents a problem when watching Blu-ray films or playing games. You’ll have to switch inputs on your TV to change settings on the sound bar, as there are lots of options that can’t be changed using the single-line LCD display alone. It’s fiddly, especially if you only want to make a quick change or switch from one sound mode to another.

The HDMI output isn’t just for an onscreen menu, though. The SBX-N500 includes a YouTube client and it’ll play multimedia files from any DLNA media server or from a USB flash drive plugged into the front of the unit. The interface is easy to navigate and is fairly responsive, but not quite as fast as the latest batch of smart TVs or Blu-ray players. At least file format support was superb, with all our test videos playing correctly, DivX and Quicktime MOV files.

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Price £250
Rating ****


HDMI inputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
Component inputs 0
Component outputs 0
Output resolutions PAL (576i), 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets 0
SCART socket type N/A
S-Video input 0
S-video output 0
Composite inputs 0
Composite outputs 0
Stereo phono inputs 0
Stereo phono outputs 0
Coaxial S/PDIF inputs 0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs 0
Optical S/PDIF inputs 2
Optical S/PDIF outputs 0
Multi-channel input yes
Speaker configuration 2.1
Main unit end speaker connection type N/A
Speaker end speaker connection type N/A
Other connections USB, 3x 3.5mm line in
Wired network ports 1x 10/100
Wireless networking support 802.11n


Surround sound formats Dolby Digital, DTS
Optical drive no
Region free N/A
Supported playback disc formats none
Audio format support MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+
Video playback formats AVCHD, DivX HD, MKV, MPEG 2, MPEG 4, WMV 9, MOV, XVID
Image viewing formats JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP
Radio none


Speaker configuration 2.1
RMS power output 140W
RMS power centre N/A
RMS power surround N/A
Wall mountable yes
Centre speaker cable length N/A
Front speaker cable length N/A
Surround speaker cable length N/A


Extras remote control cables (power, optical)
Size 900x121x70mm
Subwoofer dimensions N/A
Centre speaker dimensions N/A
Front speaker dimensions N/A
Surround speaker dimensions N/A
Power consumption standby 0W
Power consumption on 43W

Buying Information

Price £250
Warranty one year RTB