The Monoprice SB-600 is immediately notable for one thing: its price. Monoprice, which started as a cheap place to buy cables, now makes just about every kind of tech product and sells direct from its own website. That helps it to keep prices low — including on its soundbars and speakers.
Speakers: 6 x subwoofer drivers, 2 x subwoofer tweeters, 1 x subwoofer, 2 x satellite speakers
Ports: 3.5mm aux in, optical in, coaxial in, USB in, HDMI eARC, 2 x HDMI
Size: 4.3 x 40.6 x 3 inches (soundbar), 16.5 x 9.4 x 9.4 inches (subwoofer), 5.9 x 4.3 x 2.8 inches (satellite speakers)
Weight: 8.8 pounds (soundbar), 13.2 pounds (subwoofer), 1.1 pounds (satellite speakers)
At just $449, the SB-600 is the only Dolby Atmos soundbar in this price range that includes upfiring speakers and separate surround speakers — two things that are essential for a great Atmos listening experience. But to get to that price, it skimps on a few things, such as ways to adjust the audio to your liking. Does the price make it worth the compromises? Read our Monoprice SB-600 review to find out.
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Monoprice SB-600 review: Price and Availability
Released in February 2021, the SB-600 sells for $449 on Monoprice.com (opens in new tab). It’s also available through Walmart (opens in new tab) for $473.
Monoprice SB-600 review: Design
At 40.6 x 4.3 x 3.0 inches, the SB-600’s main soundbar is long and a bit taller than many soundbars today. The soundbar is encased in a sturdy perforated grille — which helps account for its 8.8-pound weight. The wireless sub is also very tall at 16.5 x 9.4 x 9.4 inches. The wireless surrounds are fairly tiny at 5.9 x 4.3 x 2.8 inches.
The SB-600 has one HDMI eARC output, which you can use for one-cable connection to your TV. Or you can connect via optical digital, coaxial digital or 3.5mm inputs. It also has two HDMI inputs for a gaming system, settop box or other video source. The unit supports Bluetooth for wireless audio, but doesn’t do Wi-Fi, so there’s no built-in streaming services or digital assistants.
The SB-600 features an LED display on the front that shows the current input. The display switches if you change the volume or sound mode, but goes back to showing the input after a few seconds. It can’t be turned off, which can be annoying in a dark room watching a movie. The soundbar’s perforated grille makes the display hard to read when you’re off center.
The remote is packed with buttons: in addition to power, volume and inputs, you can switch sound modes, adjust treble and bass or change the surround volume. Monoprice included an option on the remote to adjust the AV sync, which isn’t something you should need to do very often, but since there is no app for the soundbar, it’s better to have it on the remote than to not have it at all. There’s also a button for “vertical surround,” which engages the height speakers even when there’s no Atmos signal.
If you connect via HDMI eARC (or ARC, which is also compatible with the eARC port), you can also use your TV remote to control the volume.
Monoprice SB-600 review: Performance
The SB-600 has very good overall sound, with clear voices and rich bass. It fills a room with sound, improving the experience of watching a movie or TV show. And its Atmos performance is also pretty impressive, especially for the price.
While watching the 4K Blu-ray version of Fellowship of the Ring, Cate Blanchett’s opening voiceover was crisp and easy to understand, but lacked the deep resonance that other systems will usually produce. As Sam soars across the screen dodging missiles during the opening scene of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the explosions sounded huge and the surround speakers made it feel like the Falcon was zooming through the room. When Thor unleashed his lightning in Avengers: Infinity War, the subwoofer rumbled tightly without sounding muddy.
Dolby’s “Amaze” and “Leaf” demo videos showed off the potential of the height and surround speakers, with sound filling the room and moving around me. But the system lacks software for adjusting the sound to the room or any way to change the volume level of the height speakers, which could lessen the effectiveness of the height speakers depending on your ceiling height.
The SB-600 is average for listening to music. The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” showed off the system’s strong low-end, but his vocals were low in the mix. On Black Pumas’ “Fire,” the drums and bass had excellent oomph, but the horns lacked brightness and were again low in the mix. There’s no option for turning off the surround speakers while listening to music, which contributed to the unbalanced mixes coming out of the system.
The SB-600 gets plenty loud for any size room. I measured it at 93 decibels at max volume, though it distorted a bit at that level. Here’s an odd quirk with the system: If you have the volume above 8 and you turn it off, it will remember the volume level when you turn it back on. But if you are listening at less than 8, it will reset to 8 the next time you power it up — an example of some rough edges in the design of the soundbar.
Monoprice SB-600 review: Setup
I connected the SB-600 to my TV via HDMI ARC; it was simple and quick. The soundbar powered up when I turned on the TV.
The wireless surrounds require one to be plugged in for power; you then connect a 3.5mm cord between the two surrounds. You’ll want to carefully place those surrounds because, while you can adjust the level, you can’t do it separately for the left and right speakers — it’s the same level for both.
Since the SB-600 lacks an app or any room correction function, there isn’t much you can do to adjust the sound. While you can tweak treble and bass, you can’t change the subwoofer level or boost any levels on the main soundbar. The lack of ways to finesse the sound prevents the system from achieving its full potential.
The SB-600 has four sound modes: Movie, Music, Voice and Sports. Movie features the most bass; Voice boosts the dialog at the expense of bass and midrange. Overall I found little difference among the modes.
Monoprice SB-600 review: Verdict
If you’re looking for an Atmos soundbar with upfiring speakers and wireless surrounds, and you don’t want to spend more than $450, the Monoprice SB-600 is the soundbar for you. Literally, because it’s the only one in the price range. Beyond the price, it’s a solid overall performer, with clear dialog and impressive bass; and you’ll certainly enjoy the sound space created by a full Atmos system.
But the system’s lack of polish may cause you to pause. Whether it’s the limited audio adjustments, the always-on and difficult-to-read display or the lack of an app, the SB-600 doesn’t have the extra touches that many soundbars do today.
If your budget is $500 or less, you could go with an Atmos soundbar that doesn’t have upfiring speakers, such as the Vizio M51a-H6 (which is actually cheaper than the SB-600), or skip Atmos and pick a 5.1 surround soundbar like the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. But then you’d miss out on the fun of hearing the full potential of Atmos. I expect more soundbars near this price to compete with SB-600 in the future, but if you can’t wait, your choice is clear.
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