TaoTronics 40-inch TV soundbar review: Upgrade your speakers for cheap

In my opinion, speakers and audio equipment are criminally underrated pieces of the entertainment experience, whether that’s on your phone for casual YouTube or hooked up to your NVIDIA Shield TV for binging Netflix series. Great display quality and high resolution is great, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re using tinny speakers you’re only getting half of it. Shameless plug for my OnePlus 6 review, where I complain about how bad the speakers are.

So today we’re reviewing the powerful-but-affordable TaoTronics 40-inch soundbar, a budget-friendly option for spicing up your TV shows and music. Read on to see how it holds up, and we’ll even toss in a coupon code at the bottom of the review.

Design

Well, it’s a soundbar. The center of the bar houses the controls and a screen, with the large speakers extended out in both directions. It’s black, it’s plain, and it’ll blend right into your entertainment center.

That screen is actually one of the cooler selling points of the soundbar, however. It shows your current input mode, volume level, and more, which is actually pretty nifty at a glance. At first I thought it was superfluous because it’s not like the soundbar is the central piece of your setup, but being able to quickly tell if I can start streaming music or if I need to turn the volume down before I start playing video games is actually useful. It’s similar to what you see on higher end stereo receivers.

The backside is pretty plain, with fiber optic, coax, and auxiliary inputs. Whatever you need to connect to this thing, you’re good.

There are also two mounting brackets on both ends of the soundbar, so you can get it up on the wall if you don’t have a good spot to set it. It’d look cooler, too.

Performance

General rule of thumb: your TV speakers are trash, and anything else you can connect to it will be an improvement. That sets a low bar, but fortunately for TaoTronics, their soundbar would still be an improvement even if it had some actual competition from your flat screen.

It’s a 2.1 system with an integrated subwoofer, so you’ll still get some oomph without having to figure out where to put a separate, standalone box for your low frequencies. The drawback to that is that the lower end isn’t going to cut it for things like action movies where you really want some power to fill out the sound.

The speakers are listed at 40 watts, which isn’t insanely loud, but it’s still going to put out some decent volume. At its size it’s designed to be a companion to a 40-inch TV, and TaoTronics claims its best put in the living room. All things considered, I think it would be fine in a smaller sized room, but I found it much more efficient in a bedroom. The volume and low end just isn’t there for being a mainstay in a large home theater.

 

In the bedroom, though, I thought it was perfect. It’s plenty loud for watching TV at night, listening to music while getting ready for work, and even playing video games throughout the day. It was a huge, huge jump over the terrible speakers in my 24-inch Samsung TV, but it in the setup it wasn’t far enough behind my surround sound system in the living room to make me constantly jealous.

It’s also only a 2.1 speaker, not 3.1, so you lose that center channel that excels at giving dialog more clarity in movies. Again, not typically an issue for the bedroom, because I’m not watching huge movies in those situations.

Bluetooth performance is good, and the included remote feels weighty and slick and makes it easy to switch around among any of the four input methods the speaker offers. You can keep one device hooked up to each and quickly jump around to all of them, which makes it an attractive choice for a smart speaker with a line out, too.

Verdict

TaoTronics wants $89 for their soundbar, which is aggressively priced against speakers from companies like Vizio and Samsung. It’s larger and slightly more powerful, and it’s going to be much better suited for TV than a makeshift Bluetooth speaker or something.

I still don’t love it for a movie enthusiast or for anyone with a particularly large room, because this thing just barely falls short there. Save up a little bit and grab something with a separate subwoofer.

Now if you’re tempted to upgrade your audio experience, we’re going to sweeten the deal a little bit. Talk Android readers can use the coupon code FESG8FYX to bring the price of the soundbar from $89.99 down to just $71.99. Simply paste the code at checkout through Amazon below, and let us know what you think.

Buy it now: Amazon


About the Author: Jared Peters

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo's Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.