With some applied audio magic, Definitive Technology Studio 3D Mini sound bar and accompanying wireless sub pack a powerful punch with minimal fuss and maximum flexibility for your home theater. The value add is its operability through the smart phone HEOS app that provides a path through the most popular music streaming apps.
Send content through users’ audio streaming accounts via the connected smartphone app straight on to and played through 3D Mini. Control the volume and sound profile with the phone app, and tailor the EQ and sub participation to taste.
Definitive Technology is the parent company behind this sounder as well as the legendary Marantz and Denon brands of AV equipment. HEOS is the app used by the three brands with iOS and Android devices. It’s FREEEEEE and works beautifully.
Content on connected smartphones and on USB sticks plugged directly into the 3D Mini will also play through the Studio 3D Mini.
Am I excitedly getting ahead of myself? Maybe just a bit.
At its core, this is a soundbar infused with audio magic that can translate Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos audio signals from a connected TV into a pleasing and powerful virtual surround affect from multiple speakers with a wireless sub. Setup can be as simple as with a wire between the TV and Studio 3D Mini, to be explained in mere moments. It’s ideal for settings in which rear speakers just won’t work.
This small soundbar with big sound measures 2 inches high x 26.5 inches long x 4 inches deep. It will fit where others will not. Inside, there are 4 1-inch mid-range woofers and a pair of tweeters.
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- Studio 3D Mini Soundbar
- 8-inch powered subwoofer
- 2 power cables
- HDMI cable
- Optical Digital Audio cable
- Remote control with batteries
- Wall mount spacers & template
Instructions were followed and provided for easy set-up. Denon HEOS app was downloaded and an account set up on both iPhone and Android phones. The sound bar was set on a tabletop under a 4K HDR smart TV with available HDMI ARC connector. The supplied HDMI cable went from the HDMI port on the soundbar to the HDMI eARC port on the TV. A DirecTV satellite unit was already connected to the TVs HDMI 1. Alternate setups are explained in the documentation.
The wireless sub was positioned in the front right corner of the room for convenience.
With the app loaded, it was time to power on the sub. Recognized by the phone app, we followed the prompts to join the home Wi-Fi network. Next came the subwoofer addition by simply powering on the sub. The light blinked cooperatively and that was that.
Powering on the TV, it immediately recognized the newly-active eARC port, and it was added.
Next, into the TV’s settings to disable the internal speakers as they will no longer carry the TV audio. That responsibility has been shifted to the soundbar.
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This $899 Home Theater system is designed to provide everything from basic stereo sound to either or both Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. Both are surround sound technologies that are competitive, yet not found in the same source material. DTS-X If a video is encoded with either Atmos (as identified by its unique icon) or DTS-X, the designation should be a part of the video’s listing. Learn about this to get maximum enjoyment from the investment.
Find content to try the modes and experience the settings differences. After all, this soundbar, any soundbar or sound system is going have to please the listener, not a reviewer.
And let’s not forget about the music capabilities exclusive of the home theater surround option. In the HEOS app, find the ability to link with providers including Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, Amazon Music, deezer, iHeartRADIO, SiriusXM, TIDAL, Rhapsody, and music from the connected phone, as well as music on a USB thumb drive connected to the USB port on the soundbar. It is also Apple AirPlay and Alexa compatible.
Surely, users will run out of time to use it all before running out of options.
Let’s put it the test!
**PUT TO THE TEST**
I confess to doing some advance work, learning what movies and TV shows are encoded for listening to the effects of Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. DTS-X can be found on a small number of Blu-ray discs. This means in order to hear a DTS-X disc decoded through the soundbar, a BD (Blu-ray) player would need to be piped through an HDMI port on the connected TV, and the sound would be decoded through the soundbar.
As for Dolby Atmos, that can get trickier. Ideally, users would want to watch and listen to Dolby Atmos-encoded videos either through a station from a cable or satellite provider OR through a streamer, such as Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube TV and others.
Depending upon the source of the content, even if Atmos-encoded, if the provider does not pass along the encoding, then the viewer is out of the cool sound loop. It is not as easy as it should be, but this device is not alone in having deal with similar issues. Just don’t sweat it. The sound will be pleasing.
After an exhaustive search, I tried some movies we have on BD with Dolby Digital encoding that sounded pretty darn good. Then, searching online within the services to which we subscribe, I found a few gems. To me, the ideal would be watching 4K HDR content, such as from Netflix and Curiosity Stream, to name just two, and listen to excellent sound from those with complementary encoding.
Another connection option is using the Optical Digital Audio Cable, a glass fiber cable that goes from TV’s output to the soundbar’s input. I am not sure what is the significant difference in sound profiles between this connection method and using the HDMI eARC stream. Users are encouraged to experiment with both, noting what is most pleasurable. There is no right or wrong here, as the goal is to produce surround effects that are pleasing to the user and not some dopey reviewer. Just be sure to use only HDMI ARC OR optical digital, but not both. An advantage to the HDMI configuration is that the TV’s remote control will then also control the Studio 3D Mini volume.
Next, it was time to use the audio-only capabilities. Through the HEOS app, I successfully streamed from several of the providers listed above.
Sampled by a test group of three, all agreed that the surround effect was evident, pronounced and pleasing. In addition to the surround effect, the highs and mid-range sounds were crisp and discernable, the lows from the sub were as they should be, there but without directionality.
Diminutive in size, powerful in performance, and with multiple options for content playback from connected TV, DVD player, music streaming services and more, Studio 3D Mini’s versatility is its strength.
Studio 3D Mini is much more than just a home theater (audio/video) soundbar. Along with the multi-capable HEOS app, its mid-level price over lesser featured soundbars justifies the price point.
Definitive Technology Studio 3D Mini 4.1 Channel Sound Bar with 8″ Wireless Sub, Built-in HEOS, 4K HDMI with eARC is covered by the manufacturer’s three-year parts and labor warranty.