One rarely has the opportunity to directly compare two concepts on the basis of technically almost identical products. Nubert electronic GmbH offers this possibility with the solutions Nubert nuBox AS-225 and Nubert nuBox A-125, because here a classic sound desk competes against active stereo speakers especially designed for use around the television set.
One thing is clear anyway, a modern television cannot do without an additional audio system. Even if modern TV systems offer impeccable picture quality and versatile functionality, all models are as “flat” as their design, regardless of manufacturer. If you want to harmonise the quality of picture and sound, you cannot avoid an additional audio solution.
But the question arises, which solution is really advisable? Opinions differ, but of course it’s first and foremost a question of personal requirements, individual circumstances, and not least a question of budget. It is a fact that the market offers countless systems for the most diverse scenarios.
Roughly speaking, there are two systems for getting started, so-called soundbar systems and so-called sound desk systems.
A soundbar is a rather flat system, so that it can be placed directly in front of the TV or even mounted on the wall. In this class, there are – and you have to keep this open – very fine systems, but also many things that you can confidently avoid. Especially solutions that are often offered by TV manufacturers as supposedly optimal solutions for their televisions offer hardly any increase in quality. These products often have exactly the same lousy speakers with weak-breasted electronics as the TVs themselves. And to make sure that these systems are not perceived as annoying, they are just as “flat” in design as the televisions, so that of course there is no volume available for sound development.
A sound desk…
With sound desk systems, on the other hand, the situation is different, because they are usually made by proven loudspeaker specialists, who know very well that a certain volume is ultimately simply indispensable. A sound desk cannot be wall-mounted, these solutions are simply too deep, they are designed to place the TV directly on top of them, or they can be placed on or in a piece of furniture under the wall-mounted TV.
As already described, from the point of view of many ambitious users, soundbar and sound desk systems are the entry level solution, but the optimal solution would be conventional hi-fi systems, i.e. the classic configuration with two speakers, one for the left and one for the right channel, placed next to the TV at a suitable distance from each other.
Is that really stereo?
The reason for this is clearly understandable. For the best possible reproduction of a sound stage in width as well as depth, a certain distance between the speakers for the left and right channel is required, the typical “stereo triangle” would be the keyword here. Only when the distance between the speakers and the listener corresponds to an equilateral triangle, an optimal reproduction is achieved, to describe it quite simply.
Neither a soundbar nor a sound desk can meet this requirement, because the drivers are much closer together and the listener is many times further away. Critics therefore often criticize that a soundbar or a sounddesk offers mono rather than stereo playback.
A good compression
However, many solutions counteract this with more or less sophisticated DSP-based signal processing and the corresponding driver arrangement, so that it can often be said that, especially in the field of television, many soundbar and sound desk solutions are systems that may not be entirely ideal, but represent a good compromise between achievable results and installation effort.
It is often difficult to draw direct comparisons between soundbar or sound desk systems and a classic “hi-fi system”, after all, the two “strategies” never really fight with the same weapons.
However, the Swabian company Nubert electronic GmbH offers two options where exactly this can really be done, namely the two systems Nubert nuBox AS-225 and Nubert nuBox A-125 , which we have presented to you, dear readers, in detailed individual tests (Nubert nuBox A-125 in test and Nubert nuBox AS-225 in test). They are the first solutions in the Nubert nuBox series to be actively designed, incorporating all the experience gained from years of development of the proven active loudspeaker series to guarantee a high level of quality, while at the same time offering very simple installation and easy operation, and a particularly attractive price.
A wide range of products…
It must be emphasized that Nubert electronic GmbH already has a wide range of solutions for “good television sound”, but interestingly enough, the majority of these are sound desk systems. We remember, there is no substitute for volume…
However, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 and Nubert nuBox A-125 solutions are special in that they are almost identical from a technical point of view, although they offer two different approaches.
Sounddesk versus sound pair
For example, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 system is designed as a sound desk, whereas the Nubert nuBox A-125 solution is a pair of active loudspeaker systems. In order to emphasize the primary purpose even more strongly, Nubert electronics GmbH speaks of a sound pair, thus creating a product category of its own, which is consciously in a direct “relationship” with the soundbar and the sound desk.
Both systems are extremely compact solutions that will undoubtedly find their place in any room. For example, the Nubert nuBox A-125 speaker system measures no more than 24.5 cm in height, has a width of only 13.5 cm, and a depth of 20 cm without, 21 cm with front cover. To make a comparison, the footprint of the Nubert nuBox A-125 corresponds almost exactly to a DIN A5 sheet.
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 has a height of only 12.9 cm.
Both solutions rely on a solid cabinet construction based on 19 mm thick MDF, covered with a decorative foil in black or grey. The baffle is finished in satin black and front covers in grey are included.
As there, two long-throw 118 mm bass-midrange drivers with polypropylene composite cone are used in conjunction with two 25 mm tweeters with fabric dome tweeters, supported by a bass-reflex system. In both systems, these speakers are driven by Class D amplifiers with an output of twice 25 Watts.
The connections are also identical, as both systems primarily have an HDMI input with ARC and HDMI CEC to be connected directly to the TV set. In addition, an optical and coaxial S/PDIF interface, an AUX input in the form of a pair of RCA jacks, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 with support for the aptX codec, are also available to integrate additional sources and meet the demands of a flexible audio system.
Same technical requirements…
So it is clear that from a purely technical point of view the systems are similar, but one is a sound desk, the other a so-called sound pair, i.e. a pair of active loudspeakers.
When you set up the Nubert nuBox AS-225 Sounddesk you don’t have many options, this solution moves directly under the TV. With the Nubert nuBox A-125 Sound Pair this looks quite different, because not only can it be placed comparatively “tight” directly on the AV furniture, but it can really be set up exactly as the “pure doctrine of hi-fi” dictates, i.e. in a classic stereo triangle with the appropriate distance between the speakers.
If you do this, the Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair clearly has a starting advantage. This is not so much of an advantage for news, infotainment or 08/15 TV series, where both solutions convince with full, amazingly detailed sound. However, when it comes to reproducing the sound backdrop of a film, or even playing music, the difference between the sound desk and the sound pair is clearly noticeable. At first anyway…
The trick with the Hörizont extension…
The developers of Nubert electronic GmbH have decided to use something here that they would not normally do. The highest credo at Nubert electronic GmbH is to focus on a reproduction that is as unaltered and neutral as possible. For example, even the more powerful sound desk systems of the Nubert nuPro Series do without all the DSP gimmicks around virtual surround and the like. But here, with the solutions for TV from the Nubert nuBox Series, they did not want to do without DSP-based signal processing.
First of all, this DSP-based signal processing helps the developers to compensate the very, very compact dimensions of the Nubert nuBox AS-225 Sounddesk and Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair and to cheat the physics, if they can’t really be tricked, at least a little, to realize a richer and fuller sound and to enable an optimal control of the drivers.
In addition to this, an algorithm is used that is often referred to as a Hörizont extension, which is ultimately nothing more than a discreetly applied broadening of the image. The fact that this is not used excessively, but only nuanced, is shown by the fact that exactly two modes are available for this purpose, namely “Movie” and “Music”, period! There are no possibilities for the user to somehow “turn the wheel” here, and that quite deliberately. Plain simple should be this function, and achieve exactly one thing: the expansion of the sound stage.
And finally, as our extensive test of both systems clearly shows, the Nubert nuBox AS-225 Sounddesk on its brother Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair, especially when the systems are used in a rather small room, for which they are ultimately designed.
If we draw a direct comparison between the Nubert nuBox AS-225 Sounddesk and the Nubert nuBox A-125 SoundPair, we can see that a classic pair of loudspeaker systems is the optimal solution. One pair of speaker systems optimally positioned provides the most realistic reproduction of the sound stage in both width and depth – period!
But, the special DSP-based signal processing from Nubert electronic GmbH is able to make up for this disadvantage.
It is also interesting to note that the sound desk is even one step ahead of the speakers in another respect, namely in the lower frequency range. Not only does the data sheet attest the Nubert nuBox AS-225 sound desk with a lower cut-off frequency of 36 Hz compared to the 50 Hz of the Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair, but this is also clearly audible in practice. Once again it is clear that there is no substitute for volume, and the Nubert nuBox AS-225 Sounddesk has more to offer.
So what in theory should be a clear victory for the Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair, is not so clear in practice. The engineers and acoustics specialists of Nubert electronic GmbH have done a great job with the sound pair and the sound desk of the Nubert nuBox series. Both systems get an optimum of sound quality out of the extremely compact enclosures, and that at a remarkably low price.
Getting to the point
Whether you ultimately decide to use the Nubert nuBox AS-225 sound desk or the Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair is probably decided by how you use it. The Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair is of course much more flexible, as it can be used not only around the TV set as a fine audio system with optimal positioning for a particularly accurate reproduction of the stereo stage, but also at the workplace. The Nubert nuBox AS-225 Sound Desk, on the other hand, is clearly designed for use under the TV alone, takes up very little space, and thus fulfils the requirements that many customers place on such a solution: it is a single device that only requires a power cable and the HDMI cable to provide good sound while watching TV, and even more, very good sound.
What in theory would clearly have to be a victory for the Nubert nuBox A-125 sound pair as a classic HiFi stereo system over the Nubert nuBox AS-225 sound desk is not so clear-cut in practice. The DSP-based signal processing used by Nubert electronic GmbH here, called Hörizont extension, can make up for a lot, especially with the sound desk. Not least because of this, one can say that the engineers and acoustic specialists of Nubert electronic GmbH have really done a great job with both the sound pair and the sound desk of the Nubert nuBox series. Both systems get an optimum of sound quality out of the extremely compact enclosures, and all this at a remarkably low price.
|Manufacturer:||Nubert electronic GmbH|
|Distribution:||Nubert electronic GmbH|
|Price:||Nubert nuBox AS-225 Sounddesk € 375,-|
Nubert nuBox A-125 Soundpaar € 385,-
|The Good||– stylish design|
– perfectly processed
– flexibly applicable
– Connection variety including HDMI
– powerful measured by size
– simple control concept
– very attractive sound
– “Hörizone extension” for wide stereo basis also for the sound desk
|The Bad||– Display of the volume would be practical|