Would you trade immersive audio for kick-ass stereo? Steve May ponders the allure of Teufel’s premium Cinebar Pro soundbar/subwoofer system
Premium 2.1-channel soundbar system
Top-tier, alongside the 3.1-channel Cinebar Trios
Yamaha YSP-5600; Bluesound Pulse 2i soundbar/sub
UNBOXING TEUFEL’S CINEBAR Pro is akin to discovering dinosaurs grazing in Jurassic Park. If you’re hoping for sonic evolution you’ll be disappointed.
This throwback soundbar eschews fashionable immersive sound codecs in favour of conventional 2.1, but still has wow factor.
Like the average dino, it’s huge too. Measuring over a metre wide (best not to partner it with anything less than a 55in screen, and find plenty of below bezel space to accommodate its 14.7cm height), it lumbers onto the scales at 11kg and will test the mettle of any wallmount.
It’s also horribly expensive.
So best give the Cinebar Pro a wide berth? Hardly. The thing sounds great.
As befits its price ticket, build quality is exceptional. The soundbar cabinet has a smart hairline finish, while the nonremovable grille is metallic. Behind, in a stereo configuration, are four 4in midrange drivers and two tweeters. These have a subtle metallic red trim, just visible through the grille.
The Cinebar Pro doesn’t just use a forward-facing array to create its soundstage; two additional side-firing 4in midrange drivers are positioned at the bar’s ends, to add extra sonic width.
Setup is old school. If you own a mothballed SPL meter, here’s your chance to give it another whirl and set levels. There’s no calibration microphone supplied; instead you’ll need to manually enter distances between the soundbar. subwoofer and listening position. The main ‘bar also requires a distance from speaker to either side wall.
The user experience is not all primeval though. Wireless functionality extends to Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and Google Chromecast, and the soundbar itself is a fully equipped system hub, offering a quartet of HDMI inputs, plus an HDMI output with ARC. CEC control and 4K passthrough are on the spec sheet (Teufel makes no claim on HDR support, but the ‘bar did successfully pass an HDR10 signal). Audio-wise, it’s compatible with base-level Dolby Digital and DTS sources, although multichannel soundtracks are down-mixed to 2.1.
Additional connectivity includes coaxial and optical digital audio (helpful if your pre-diluvian telly does not offer HDMI with ARC); two 3.5mm inputs; and a wired subwoofer output (which you won’t need). There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack; the soundbar does not support Bluetooth headphones. There’s no dedicated USB media player.
Basic cable management comes in the form of a trio of red rubber bands on the rear, designed to stop cables drooping. A rear-side cavity gives HDMI inputs/output plenty of space.
Two Wi-Fi aerials can be raised devil horn-style when required. It’s worth remembering these when positioning the soundbar, as the last thing you want is for this plastic pair to block your screen view. Personally I’d rather use wired Ethernet to get connected, but surprisingly there’s no hardwire option here. It’s Wi-Fi or bust.
The second part of Teufel’s premium system is the accompanying T10 subwoofer.
This is a similarly large, ported beast, with a 10in driver and claimed 150W power plant.
It connects wirelessly to the soundbar.
No dumb boom box. the T10 offers plenty of control.
Crossover is variable between 100Hz, 120Hz and 150Hz, and there’s 180-degree phase shift adjustment, a bass-boost level control and helpful clipping warning.
Interestingly, the subwoofer’s driver can be orientated either downward or forward-facing. The former is a good option when you have a hardwood floor and need it to be positioned relatively close to a wall (perhaps alongside your TV). The resulting bass ripple is generally uniform. Opt for forward-facing when you have a larger space, and can sit the sub away from a wall. The sub’s supporting feet can be arranged accordingly.
The soundbar’s onscreen display is a simple overlaid text box. A settings menu allows you to determine HDMI
The soundbar presents beautifully, locking dialogue dead-centre. High-frequency details are crystal-clear
passthrough, lip sync delay (variable between 0 and 250ms), display fade-out time and TV source selection.
Teufel’s supplied remote has buttons for four sound presets, dubbed Movie. Voice, Music and Night.
The latter noticeably strips back the bass output and is best avoided.
Getting the basics right
While there’s nothing particularly pretty about the Cinebar Pro, it doesn’t disappoint where it counts: sound quality. Teufel has opted to fine-tune the basics, rather than defy the laws of physics or dabble (much) in psychoacoustics.
The result is enormous dynamic wallop, with an engaging mid-range that suits everything from The Chase to Baby Driver. The soundbar presents beautifully, locking dialogue dead-centre. High-frequency details are crystal- clear, never sounding pitchy or acerbic.
The integration between subwoofer and soundbar is also impressive. There’s no doubting the former’s slam and weight, which is just what you need to enliven onscreen action. However, you’ll want to tailor the bass output (both via placement and level adjustment on the remote) to best suit your listening room. When first set up, mine had a habit of suddenly booming with the most innocuous of material.
During the unscheduled intrusion in comedy thriller Game Night (Blu-ray), Teufel’s Cinebar Pro effortlessly scales up from social chit-chat to full-blown bedlam. Flying bottles shatter brightly across the front soundstage. while the driving electro score pumps low below like a racing heart. When a head collides with a frying pan, there’s a satisfying weight to the centrally placed ‘bong.’ The soundbar’s side-facing drivers kick into action when Teufel’s Dynamore surround feature is selected.
This processing mode creates an impressive, wide spatial sound, and provides options for Wide or the more exaggerated Ultra. I found Wide the most consistently entertaining. It enhances the stereo presentation without losing solidity, and offers a sense of epic size that works really well with soaring orchestras and Starfleet fly-bys alike.
Yes, the Cinebar Pro hails from a home theatre time forgot. It doesn’t acknowledge next-generation audio codecs and makes no attempt at modern, lifestyle design. It’s also expensive, at least when compared to more sophisticated high-end offerings from the likes of Sony and Samsung. But it’s a titanic soundbar all the same.
Remember: dinosaurs once ruled the Earth. Perhaps they were made by Teufel?
This heavyweight soundbar revisits old-school values to offer a superior 2.1 listening experience. Not a bargain, but certainly a banger.
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DRIVE UNITS: 2 x 1in tweeters; 6 x 4in midrange drivers ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): 200W CONNECTIONS: 4 x HDMI inputs; 1 x HDMI ARC output; coaxial and optical digital audio inputs; 2 x 3.5mm inputs; 3.5mm headphone jack; subwoofer output DOLBY ATMOS/DTS:X: No/No SEPARATE SUB: Yes. lOin driver (forward- or down-firing depending on orientation); 150W amp REMOTE CONTROL: Yes DIMENSIONS (OFF FEET): 1,200(w) x 135(h) x 140(d)mm WEIGHT: 11.2kg
FEATURES: Dolby and DTS decoding; Dynamore processing modes; side-firing drivers; wall-mounting; Bluetooth; Google Chromecast; Spotify Connect; wireless subwoofer connection; 4K passthrough over HDMI
This active stereo speaker pairing (each with separate midrange and tweeter units) delivers a wireless upgrade to a 4.1 experience. The usual retail price is £, but a bundle with the Cinebar Pro gives a £ saving.
- Twin midrange drivers and a tweeter are provided for the L/R channels
- Teufel’s full-size soundbar gets a full-size remote
- The sub can be flipped on switchable feet to fire forwards