Sharp HT-SB60 Sound Bar Home Theater System review

One of the few soundbars built for 60-inch HDTVs, the powerful Sharp HT-SB60 produces an expansive sound field for movies if you don't mind a slightly bright sound and hefty price tag.

Most soundbars are built for HDTVs in the 40-inch screen size range. This means if you have a big 60-inch HDTV, your new soundbar won’t quite produce a stereo sound field that encompasses the size of the screen. It’ll sound nice, but you won’t get proper imaging that matches the picture. Sharp has an alternative in the HT-SB60. This massive soundbar is built for 60-inch HDTVs, and produces a wide, rich sound field. It’s also pricey at $499.99 (list) and doesn’t have Bluetooth, so you might want to pause and think before you get this beefy, great-sounding speaker system for your big screen. If you don’t have a 60-inch HDTV, though, the Editors’ Choice Sony HT-CT260 is available for less than half the price, offers similarly good sound, and has the added benefit of Bluetooth support.

Design
The extremely wide (54.5-inch) HT-SB60 main speaker measures 2.8 inches tall and 2.7 inches deep, weighs 7.9 pounds, and has a distinct look. The bottom two thirds of the front are finished in brushed black plastic and the top third is finished in glossy black. The glossy black plastic strip holds an alphanumeric blue LED display flanked by Power, Source, and Pairing buttons on the left and Sound Mode and Volume Up/Down buttons on the right. Two midrange drivers and a tweeter sit on either end of the soundbar, unprotected by grilles. The back of the soundbar holds two HDMI inputs, a 3.5mm audio input, an optical audio input, and an HDMI output. The 13.4-pound subwoofer is surprisingly tall and thin, measuring 16.9 by 12.1 by 5.7 inches (HWD). Besides HDMI passthrough, the soundbar is relatively feature-free, lacking Bluetooth like the HT-CT260 or media hub features like the LG NB3730A.

The HT-SB60′s remote is plain, black, and simple. It has Volume Up/Down and Subwoofer Up/Down buttons arranged in a direction pad around a Source button, plus AV Sync Up/Down, Bass, and Treble buttons sitting at the corners. Above them sit Channel Up/Down, Volume Up/Down, Power, and Input buttons for HDTV control, and above that a handful of soundbar-specific buttons, including six quick mode buttons. It feels very flat, making it hard to get a feel for what you’re pressing without looking at it. The buttons are not backlit.

Performance
Music on the HT-SB60 sounds rich and deep, but overly bright on the treble. It passed our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” with flying colors, shaking the room with the track’s deep low-end notes without distorting even at high volumes. For more subtle, acoustic music, it sounds very good in the midrange. Jonathan Coulton’s “Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)” sounded full and clear. The acoustic version of Bad Religion’s “Sorrow” also came through well, but the guitar sounded overly bright.

The larger size of the soundbar really pays off when watching movies. One of the biggest problems of 40-inch soundbars is their limited ability to produce a wide sound field. With the left and right channels about a foot and a half further apart than it is on most other models, they can create a much more compelling sense of space, even without rear-channel speakers. This helped in Jurassic Park 3D, where the famous tyrannosaurus scene was greatly enhanced by both the wide soundbar and the slightly bright high end. The raindrops on the roof of the jeep sounded forceful and textured, and the periodic thunder claps shook the test room. When the dinosaur appeared and roared, it encompassed my viewing position with a compelling sound field that felt like I was in the jeep with them.

The Sharp HT-SB60 sounds great for movies, but it’s not quite balanced enough for music. It also lacks features like Bluetooth, which makes its $500 price tag harder to justify than if it was included. However, for movie-watching the HT-SB60 offers one of the most immersive sound fields and deep audio we’ve heard in a simple soundbar-and-wireless-subwoofer combination, and it’s one of the few models built for 60-inch or larger HDTVs. It’s not for everyone, but if you have a big screen you should definitely consider the investment.

Specifications
Channels 2.1
Wireless Remote Control Yes
Separate subwoofer Yes
AirPlay No
RF No
Type Home Theater, Soundbar
Physical Dock No
Bluetooth No

Verdict
One of the few soundbars built for 60-inch HDTVs, the powerful Sharp HT-SB60 produces an expansive sound field for movies if you don't mind a slightly bright sound and hefty price tag.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc