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Evolve Audio SB-2501 review

Richard Easton
30 Aug 2015
Evolve Audio SB-2501 teaser
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT

The Evolve Audio SB-2501 is an inexpensive yet effective audio upgrade for your home cinema

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Specifications

Speakers: 2.1, RMS power output: 120W (60W Soundbar, 60W Subwoofer), Dimensions: 820x490x583mm, Weight: Not disclosed, Dock connector: None, Networking: Bluetooth (SBC, aptX)

Considering some of the extras that are included in the box, you would be surprised to learn the Evolve Audio SB-2501 is one of the least expensive sound bars we’ve tested. You get a wireless subwoofer and even a pair of lossless wireless headphones for private listening, all for £200.

The SB-2501 doesn’t even look like a budget sound bar; it’s definitely not the most stylish one we’ve seen, but it has an understated charm with a combination of gunmetal grey brushed aluminium and black fabric speaker grilles. The compact dimensions mean it won’t look out of place underneath a 37in or smaller TV either.

The same can’t be said of the rather plain wireless subwoofer, but thankfully it’s small enough to hide out of sight behind a sofa. We managed to place it nearly 10m away from the soundbar without any connection issues.

Want to see what else is available? Read our guide to the best soundbars on sale

We weren’t particularly fond of the bank of LED status indicators slapped right in the middle of the sound bar, either in form or function. They are a little distracting, and with no labels you have to remember what different combinations correspond to which sound mode. As you would expect, the Music, Movies, News and Sport modes all emphasise different sound elements, but with no granular equalisation adjustments beyond bass control on the subwoofer, it’s worth experimenting with the different effects as you change input sources or musical genres.

The bundled remote control is ridiculously simple, with buttons for changing inputs and audio effects, separate controls for volume and subwoofer bass, a Bluetooth toggle and not much else. Thankfully there’s also a display dimmer to reduce the brightness of the LEDs, in case you find them distracting.

Connectivity is rather basic, with just a pair of RCA jacks, a 3.5mm stereo jack and an optical S/PDIF connection. There’s no sign of HDMI here, so you’ll want to use the optical connection for the best sound quality. Usefully there’s also Bluetooth, which uses the less-lossy aptX codec if your device supports it.

Evolve Audio SB-2501 close up

The SB-2501’s surprise inclusion is the pair of wireless headphones. These are great for late-night movie watching or music listening when you don’t want to disturb the household, but also incredibly useful for anyone with hearing difficulties. Instead of dialling up the volume of the soundbar, potentially to uncomfortable volume levels for any other viewers with better ears, you can use the headphones simultaneously with their own independent volume control.

Turning on the headphones automatically mutes the soundbar by default, so you’ll need to unmute it if you want simultaneous sound. Sensibly, the soundbar will also remain in mute when you turn the headphones off.

The headphones themselves aren’t the most attractive, nor the best built, however. The earcups and headband are comfortable enough but they’re backed by cheap-feeling plastic. The volume and power buttons are integrated into the back of one of the earcups and can be a little difficult to press. You can charge the headphones over Micro USB and conveniently there’s a USB port on the wireless subwoofer you can use. They typically lasted between 8 and 10 hours on a full charge.

Sound quality from the SB-2501 is very respectable considering its low price, and certainly an upgrade over your likely tinny-sounding television speakers. The soundbar only outputs a relatively reserved 60W, but that’s still more than loud enough to fill a medium sized room. The six 40mm drivers deliver a reasonably crisp sound.

You’re not really going to get a completely realistic surround sound experience, even from the SB-2501’s 3D sound mode, but dialogue sounded clearer and the 60W subwoofer delivered some extra emphasis to the lower frequencies that are certainly going to be absent from your television speakers. Listening to music was equally good for the money, with respectable mid and treble delivery.

As an inexpensive audio upgrade, the Evolve Audio SB-2501 is impressive. It’s not the most attractive soundbar in the world, but it has reasonably functionality and the wireless subwoofer is a real positive at this price. Not everyone will need the wireless headphones, but they are a welcome inclusion as they don’t bump the cost up dramatically. If you don’t need the more bountiful connections typically found on more expensive soundbars and are happy with a more modest audio upgrade, it’s a great choice. If you do want to spend a little more, the Crystal Acoustics Teevy 6 is worth considering instead.

Hardware
Speakers2.1
RMS power output120W (60W soundbar)
Subwoofer option60W (included)
Rear speaker optionNone
Dimensions820x490x583mm
WeightNot disclosed
Ports
Audio inputs3.5mm, RCA, Optical Toslink
Audio outputsNone
Video inputsNone
Video outputsNone
Dock connectorNone
USB portNone
NetworkingBluetooth (SBC, aptX)
NFCNo
Features
Video playback formatsNone
Image viewing formatsNone
Audio playback formatsNone
Smart TV appsNone
Buying information
Price including VAT£199
WarrantyOne year RTB
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.evolveaudio.co.uk
Part codeSB-2501

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