We’ve fully tested the Sky Soundbox, Sky’s first soundbar offering which costs from just £249 for subscribers to its telly packages. Here’s our in-depth review of the best features and audio quality.
To truly immerse yourself in a marathon session of Sky Box Sets or the latest Sky Cinema releases, you’ll need more than just a crisp, colourful picture from your telly. Most modern TVs sadly pack mediocre speakers, in their bid to be as slender as possible, which can mean lackluster audio – especially when indulging in explosive Hollywood blockbusters.
That’s where a good quality soundbar comes in. These speaker slabs sit alongside your television and pump out full-bodied audio, making it feel as if you were right there in the heart of the action.
Sky now has its own soundbar offering, in the shape of the Sky Soundbox. This powerful speaker is quite subtle compared with many such offerings and yet pumps out room-filling surround-sound audio. Complete with various handy modes to suit certain situations, this is a well-crafted complementary device to boost your Sky viewing experience.
Here’s our in-depth thoughts after testing the Sky Soundbox for several weeks.
Sky Soundbox review: Design and setup
The Soundbox doesn’t sport a long, thin rectangular design like most soundbars you’ll see in stores. Rather, this chunky 4kg box is more like a decidedly chubby games console, which means you’ll need to find a large space to house it. If you have a tape measure at the ready, those dimensions clock in at 37.5cm x 21 cm x 9.5 cm.
Ideally you’ll want to place the speaker directly in front of your TV, so with any luck your telly has a tall base and your entertainment centre is deep enough to accommodate. Of course, this sort of positioning means the device will be on constant show. As long as you have the space, that’s no biggie. While the Soundbox lacks any premium styling, it’s certainly not the worst looking speaker setup we’ve tested. In fact it blends in nicely with most modern set top boxes including Sky’s, despite that unfortunate bulk.
Connectivity is solid enough, with both HDMI (in and out) and optical input ports tucked away on the rear end. You thankfully get all of the cables needed to set everything up bundled in the box. Meanwhile the Sky Soundbox also supports Bluetooth 4.1 and Dolby Digital+ output.
Hooking up the Soundbox to your Sky box is quick and painless, and we were ready to rock out to the music channels and indulge in some Sky Cinema action in just a few minutes.
Sky Soundbox review: Audio quality and features
Packed inside the chassis are six 3-inch dual push-push woofers, as well as three 2-inch full-range drivers in a 120 degree configuration. The Soundbox has a 35Hz – 22Hz range and we certainly had no complaints as far as audio quality goes. Music, movies, football matches and everything else we tested sounded fantastic, a marked improvement over our telly blasters. Voices are pleasingly crisp, complex compositions shine in all areas and there’s respectable bass too when needed.
Plus, on top volume, the Soundbox will do everything but shake the walls. We recommend keeping on medium volume if you don’t want your neighbours kicking down your door.
We had no issues with syncing either, although any such problems can be quickly rectified with the dinky remote control. This includes an AV sync button which can add or remove any delay necessary to get your audio and picture perfectly aligned. With that remote you can also mute the speaker, change volume and skip between three input modes (HDMI, optical and Bluetooth, all announced clearly by the Soundbox as you skip through).
For those with a Sky Q subscription, the Soundbox can automatically adapt to pre-set Sky Q Sound Modes, as designed by Devialet (the audio experts who designed this speaker). This means you’ll transition to different audio settings depending on what you’re watching, be it sports, movies and so on.
With your Soundbox hooked up, you’ll find you can also access three special settings on supported programmes. These can be found using the info button on the standard Sky remote and they alter the output quite drastically, to suit your situation.
Dialogue Enhance Mode makes voices the priority, ensuring that any conversations are cleanly reproduced. Lots of slim TVs now lack a solid mid-range to produce crystal clear vocals, while many wall mounted panels are down-right difficult to hear. This Soundbox speaker option helps to make dialogue perfectly audible, even when your volume is low.
Late Night Mode is ideal for families with younger members. It works by limiting the bass output and enhancing quiet vocals, to create a clear sound that stays within the room rather than disturbing anyone slumbering upstairs. We call this the ‘stagger in at 2am with a special kebab’ mode.
Kids Mode is the final offering and quite simply limits the maximum volume which your wee nippers can crank out of the Soundbox. Parents set the limit to whatever they like and then leave their offspring alone with the remote control, without worry of their eardrums being blasted to pieces.
However, we do have one bugbear. While the company is pushing out Dolby Atmos support to its Sky Q boxes, the Soundbox sadly won’t support this feature. That’s a real shame given that many other entertainment hubs, such as the Xbox One X, supports Dolby Atmos output to external audio devices.
Sky Soundbox review: Pricing and verdict
The Soundbox costs Sky Q subscribers £249, or standard Sky subscribers £299. Considering the smarts and power you get for that asking price, we’d say it’s a pretty solid deal. Sure, the bulky design won’t suit everyone, but you really do get a more immersive experience with this speaker hooked up.
However, if you’re not a Sky user, the asking price suddenly skyrockets to £799. Frankly that’s rather nuts, so the Soundbox should only really be considered by any Sky subscribers with space to spare on their entertainment centres.