Nubert nuBox AS-225 Review – Small, fine HiFi and TV active speaker
Hardly any space around the television set, but you still want it to have an appealing sound? Besides, you don’t want to have to dig too deep into your pocket for that? Then the Nubert nuBox AS-225 could be exactly the right solution, because here the company Nubert electronic GmbH applies all its expertise in the field of active loudspeaker systems in the most compact form.
Televisions, as is well known, have a decisive disadvantage, they deliver a very bad sound. This applies to models of almost all manufacturers, after all, one of the top priorities during development is to make them as flat as possible, and the sound is of course just as flat. Physics cannot be outsmarted, volume is and remains an essential prerequisite for the development of a rich sound. This problem becomes immediately obvious, especially with large screens, but this also applies to smaller displays, such as those used in the bedroom, study or children’s room. Nevertheless, surprisingly, many customers are often reluctant to invest in a decent audio solution.
To a certain extent this is understandable, as the applications outlined are not the primary TV set, not the one you watch TV on every day, or you don’t attach too much importance to them, so you’re not really prepared to dig deeper into your pocket for this separately.
But, and we want to emphasise this quite explicitly at the beginning of this test, this is not necessary either. The market has long been offering extremely fine, compact and attractively priced solutions. And we are not talking about any cheap soundbar solutions that one or the other TV manufacturer is offering for little money. Even the “few euros” these solutions cost are usually pointlessly wasted money, because once again, in favour of a slim design, the same lousy components are used that are used in the TV itself anyway. The gain in quality is therefore zero.
No, we are rather talking about solutions offered by proven specialists, such as the Swabian company Nubert electronic GmbH, which offers a particularly exciting system with the Nubert nuBox AS-225. Thus Nubert electronic GmbH describes the Nubert nuBox AS-225 as a more compact, more cost-effective alternative to the Nubert nuPro AS-250, incorporating all the expertise gained in tens of years of developing loudspeaker systems, especially active loudspeaker systems.
Soundbar or Sounddesk?
It is interesting to note that the manufacturer himself speaks of a soundbar and then again of a sounddesk. Strictly speaking, the second name for the Nubert nuBox AS-225 seems to be correct. It is not a solution that is placed in front of the TV or even mounted on the wall, as is usually the case with a soundbar. In fact the Nubert nuBox AS-225 is designed in such a way that the TV can be placed directly on it, saving a lot of space.
However, if the TV is attached to a mounting device or actually mounted on the wall, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 can of course be placed directly underneath the AV furniture or on a lowboard or sideboard. It takes up hardly any space, this should be emphasized.
But before we lose too many words in this regard, let’s just let the numbers speak for themselves. The Nubert nuBox AS-225 measures exactly 60 cm in width, 33 cm or 34 cm in depth, depending on whether the corresponding speaker grill is mounted, and is only 12.9 cm high.
In view of these compact dimensions, the weight of 9.3 kg is a clear indication of an extremely solid workmanship, so that you hardly have to worry about it if, as described above, you actually place the TV set directly on the Nubert nuBox AS-225. According to Nubert electronic GmbH, the TV set can weigh up to 50 kg, but nowadays it will be difficult to get such a “heavyweight” at all…
Solid construction, elegant appearance
One thing is clear, of course the developers at Nubert electronic GmbH did not primarily think about the fact that when designing the Nubert nuBox AS-225, you actually place a TV on top of it, it is a solid housing and remains the basic requirement for creating a clean sound. Vibrations and resonances would impair this, so we decided to use an enclosure made of medium density fibreboard, so-called MDF, with a wall thickness of 19 mm.
The MDF cabinet is covered with a high-quality decorative foil, whereby initially only a graphite version is offered, but now also a black version.
In both cases, the baffle is painted black with a silk matt lacquer. However, this can only be seen if the included speaker grill is not used. This is made of a grey mottled acoustic fabric and is held in position by magnets. If this is not used, there are no holes to disturb the flawless appearance.
Fresh to work…
First of all, of course, the connection to the television set must be established. For this purpose, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 provides an HDMI interface, which of course supports a so-called ARC, i.e. an audio return channel, so that audio signals are transmitted directly from the television to the audio system with a single cable. HDMI CEC also comes into play here, as it transfers control signals from the TV’s remote control to the Nubert nuBox AS-225, so that the TV’s remote control alone is sufficient to control the volume. Nevertheless, the scope of delivery of the Nubert nuBox AS-225 includes a suitable infrared remote control, this should be mentioned at this point, as it offers a series of further functions that we will discuss in detail in the following.
So the Nubert nuBox AS-225 is not only an audio solution for television, but it should also function as a compact all-in-one audio system, thus offering connection to other sources, for example via a coaxial and optical S/PDIF interface. Here you can connect a streaming solution, a game console, a CD player and the like, and a pair of RCA sockets is available for analogue sources. If you want to bring mobile devices into the game, you can do this via Bluetooth, whereby Bluetooth 4.2 is used, and thus, besides the lossy codec SBC, aptX is also available for signal transmission in “CD quality”. If a smartphone or tablet is connected to the Nubert nuBox AS-225, all imaginable online services such as Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music HD, Apple Music in many, many more can be accessed directly, even if the Nubert nuBox AS-225 does not have any network integration.
In order to discuss the connection panel finally, one must of course not forget one output, namely a Sub Out. This RCA connection is used to bring an additional active subwoofer into play, which could be of particular interest if the Nubert nuBox AS-225 is used as an audio system in children’s and teenagers’ rooms, for example, and especially films, but also games require even more “depth”. If this interface is used, the lower cut-off frequency of the Nubert nuBox AS-225 is raised to 80 Hz, so that in total a plus in level reserve is achieved.
However, one essential point of the conclusion should be anticipated at this point: under normal circumstances you won’t need a subwoofer, as the Nubert nuBox AS-225 delivers an amazingly rich sound.
This is due to the fact that two long-throw 118 mm bass-midrange drivers with a polypropylene composite cone are used in conjunction with two 25 mm tweeters with fabric dome tweeters, and are supported by a bass reflex system that works towards the rear. Driven by Class D amplifier modules with a rated output of four times 25 Watts, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 unleashes quite a bit of energy and offers sufficient volume to produce a rich, dynamic sound that is astonishingly evenly distributed throughout the room.
Nubert electronic GmbH states that the Nubert nuBox AS-225 has been deliberately tuned to be neutral in order to provide the best possible original two-channel sound. In addition, care was taken to guarantee the widest possible sweet spot, so that the correct reproduction of the stereo panorama is not only ideal at a single spot on the couch, but one can sit comfortably on the couch in twos, in threes… and enjoy fine sound. Optimum speech intelligibility was also given top priority during the tuning process.
The Nubert nuBox AS-225 is capable of reproducing a frequency range between 36 Hz and 22 kHz, which is quite remarkable considering its very compact dimensions.
Nubert electronic GmbH is traditionally a company that deliberately follows a rather conservative approach, preferring to dispense with various DSP-based sound tuning measures and instead relying on the classic craftsmanship of a loudspeaker developer, as just described.
Nevertheless, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 was chosen for optimal driver control, but above all for another reason: DSP-based signal processing. Many customers of the manufacturer’s previous soundbase systems expressed the wish to be able to influence the sound characteristics themselves a little, especially when it comes to movies. Naturally, they wanted to meet these wishes and opted for a special solution.
As already described, the system is initially deliberately neutrally tuned, but if desired, a little more “emphasis” can be added here. There are two modes available for this purpose: “Movie” on the one hand, which is intended to increase the spatiality of the playback of films and TV broadcasts and make the sound events appear more vivid, according to the developers’ intention. In addition, “Music” is available, which expands the acoustic stage and makes the sound events appear more open.
One more thing to mention here: despite DSP-based signal processing the Nubert nuBox AS-225 supports stereo only, a decoder for surround content is not provided, so that the TV set’s sound output has to be set to “PCM” or “Stereo”, depending on the model.
Everything under control…
As already mentioned, for the daily use of the Nubert nuBox AS-225 the remote control of the TV set will be sufficient, because of course it will turn on as soon as you turn on the TV, the volume will be adjusted as well, and if the TV is turned off, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 will also go into standby mode. But this solution also has an intelligent standby mode for the other sources. If a signal is present at the last selected input, the system is activated. If there is no signal for some time the Nubert nuBox AS-225 switches back to standby mode.
There are no control elements directly on the device itself, but there is an LED directly on the front. This indicates in purple that HDMI is activated as input, green is the analogue input, red stands for the optical, white for the coaxial S/PDIF interface, and blue is, how could it be otherwise, the sign for Bluetooth. Each command from the remote control is indicated by a brief flicker, and the LED goes out in standby.
The remote control of the Nubert nuBox AS-225 has buttons for input selection, volume control, mute, pairing of Bluetooth devices, and of course the two buttons for the already mentioned “Hörizone extension”, i.e. the two modes “Movie” and “Music”.
From the practice
For our test, we placed the Nubert nuBox AS-225 under the TV set in the bedroom, a system that previously had to do without an additional audio system. A step that the author of these lines has not yet dared to take, as the lady of the house saw no reason to add “another device” here. After all, you don’t need it, because the television is only used here occasionally. Well, due to the compact dimensions, however, the preliminary permission was granted to place the Nubert nuBox AS-225 here. The Nubert nuBox AS-225, placed on top of the TV furniture, fits discreetly into the living room ambiance. Also the connection was quickly done, because only a HDMI cable had to be installed, which, it should be emphasized here, is not part of the scope of delivery of the Nubert nuBox AS-225. Here the manufacturer recommends to choose a cable with the optimal length. However, a fibre optic cable is included in the package, as is the power cable, which is 1.8 m long and therefore long enough to be laid neatly.
After my wife agreed to the whole thing only reluctantly, and was very sceptical about this project from the beginning, she was too against it during the installation, probably also a little bit with the intention to be able to state immediately triumphantly that she would be right, and that you don’t need the whole thing anyway…
But, lo and behold, as soon as the TV was switched on and the first dialogues from the Nubert nuBox AS-225 sounded, the remote control was ripped out of my hands and an eager zapping through all of her favourite channels followed. And that was the end of the matter, and I can now prepare myself for the fact that an audio system will also be used in the bedroom in the future. Once again it became clear: once you have heard the difference between “TV naked” and with the support of a fine audio system, there is no way back…
And that the Nubert nuBox AS-225 is a really very, very fine audio system is proven at really every TV show. This begins with such “simple” content as news, because suddenly voices appear realistic, have body and volume, are not “flat” and nasal, quite simply all these nuances increase speech intelligibility, especially when dialogues in TV series and films are accompanied by music or ambient noise. And these ambient noises also appear more realistic in one fell swoop, the image opens up to credible sound backdrops, music gains in assertiveness, in width and depth, so that all in all a harmonious overall picture is created.
This is all the more impressive when one considers the comparatively tiny dimensions of the Nubert nuBox AS-225, which are in no way related to the amazing acoustic result. This is especially true for a point that is often cited by critics of a soundbar, namely the lack of ability to provide a realistic stereo image, as the speakers are placed far too close together. In fact the Nubert nuBox AS-225 can’t compete with a conventional pair of speakers in this respect. As already mentioned in the introduction, physics can’t be tricked, at least not to a certain extent. And that’s exactly what Nubert electronic GmbH does with the described DSP signal processing that is itself called the Hörizont extension. This opens up the sound image noticeably in width, so that you get really fine results. By the way, this does not only apply to TV sound, with the corresponding preset the music playback can also be completely convincing. Of course the Nubert nuBox AS-225 cannot replace a complete HiFi system, but this is not its job either. As a fine, very compact audio system, for example in the bedroom, it can, however, deliver really impeccable results. It even fits perfectly into a child’s or teenager’s room, where an additional subwoofer can be added to provide the necessary solid “foundation”, so that it can be used with a bit more force.
Getting to the point
Chapeau, the developers of Nubert electronic GmbH have done a really flawless job with the Nubert nuBox AS-225. If you think that this is just another random soundbar that makes the TV sound a bit more beautiful, you are completely wrong. In fact, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 is a remarkably powerful audio system that delivers dynamic, detailed and therefore appealing natural sound when watching TV, and can even be used as a compact audio system for music. If the extremely attractive price is also taken into account, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 is clearly recommended as one of the best sound desks in its class on the market.
Nubert electronic GmbH continues to leave normal soundbar systems to the competition. The company from Schwäbisch Gmünd consistently relies on its own virtues for its own TV sound systems and thus develops systems that correspond to a classic active loudspeaker system, thus offering a lot of volume, a robust construction, impeccable drivers and powerful amplifiers, but with a slightly different form factor. This was true for the previous Nubert nuPro series systems, and it is also true for the TV sound system of the Nubert nuBox series, the new Nubert nuBox AS-225. It is therefore no surprise that it performs remarkably well in the test, because in view of its very, very compact dimensions it delivers a remarkably mature performance with rich, convincing sound.
|Manufacturer:||Nubert electronic GmbH|
|Distribution:||Nubert electronic GmbH|
|The Good||– appealing design|
– flawlessly processed
– flexibly applicable
– Connection variety including HDMI
– quite powerful measured by the size
– simple operating concept
– very attractive sound
– “Hörizone expansion” for wide stereo base
|The Bad||– Display of the volume would be practical|