Highly regarded for its Freeview, YouView and Freesat set top boxes, electronics firm Humax recently entered the home audio market with the release of its first ever sound bar – the STA-1200BSW.
Size & Design
The unit boasts 180W of output – including from the subwoofer – as well as Bluetooth, S-PDIF and AUX connections, but the feature which most stands out is its size.
Humax describes the 2cm thick STA-1200BSW as “the world’s slimmest” soundbar and an hour or so of Googling and spot-checking failed to disprove the claim.
The other all-important dimensions are a height of just 4cm and a width of 1.2m.
Wrapped in a metal chassis which gives it a solid, premium feel, the unit has a curved front elevation with touch controls for Bluetooth, volume, base and virtual surround sound options located in the middle of the four front mounted speakers.
The subwoofer comes with a 3m cable to ensure you can easily place it in the perfect location.
While overall I was impressed by the STA-1200BSW, I was slightly disappointed by the connectivity options and hope Humax might revisit these in later models.
The unit has three available inputs: Bluetooth, S-PDIF and 3.5mm AUX but if you plug the last of these in it overrides the S-PDIF connection and there’s no way to re-enable it without pulling the AUX cable back out.
This means you can’t leave the 3.5mm cable connected for those times when you want to plug in a non-Bluetooth MP3 player while also using the S-PDIF connection.
In common with many other models on the market, the single S-PDIF inout means you need to buy an external switch if you want to hook up more than one device to the sound bar or instead connect your TV’s headphone socket to the AUX input.
On the positive side, the inclusion of Bluetooth means you can easily stream music from suitably equipped iPods, laptops, tablets and smartphones without having to mess around with cables and the STA-1200BSW rapidly replaced my Macbook Pro’s internal speakers as the preferred play-out option for my iTunes library.
By now we all know that the majority of flatscreen TVs have poor speakers so a sound bar is rapidly becoming an essential purchase for those who want decent audio but lack the space for, or don’t want, a full surround system.
I tested the STA-1200BSW with a YouView box and Sony Playstation 4 – using it both to play games and watch Blu-rays – with a direct connection from the device to the sound bar’s S-PDIF input and also by using a 3.5mm lead between the TV’s headphone out and sound bar’s AUX port.
I also tested the Bluetooth connection by pushing music from my Macbook Pro and iPhone to the sound bar and also by using the sound bar to play the audio from an episode of Teen Wolf Season 3 while outputting the picture from the Macbook to the TV via HDMI.
In all cases the result far exceeded the built in speakers, with the sound bar delivering an impressively rich, crisp and high quality sound which easily filled my lounge and enhanced the viewing experience.
The bass delivered reliably solid depth where needed – bringing explosions and bangs to life with sometimes startling effect.
As always, the result you’ll get will depend on the source material and while the virtual surround sound does a decent job of mimicking the output of a real surround system, it’ll work best when used for films and other content with a native multi-channel soundtrack.
Don’t expect it to make EastEnders sound like Avengers Assemble!
While I’d have liked more in the way of connectivity options, I have no hesitation recommending the STA-1200BSW to those looking to improve on the sound offered by built-in TV speakers or cheaper bars.
In addition to great sound quality, this newcomer boasts a sleek, stylish design which will look good under your TV or mounted on the wall and has a premium look and feel which justifies the £199 price tag.
Specs: STA-1200BSW sound bar
Dimensions (W x D x H ) – 1200 x 20 x 37)mm
Weight – 926g
Power output – 80W (20W/CH x 4)
Speaker unit – 4 x Front speakers
Frequency range – 40Hz -14KHz
Bass Booster / Surround Mode
Input – Line in, Bluetooth connectivity / 3.5 mm mini stereo jack, optical in (SPDIF)
Dimensions (W x D x H) – 195 x 266 x 265mm
Weight – 3.7kg
Power output – 100W