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Pioneer SP-SB23 Review

Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued.

Our Verdict

The Pioneer SP-SB23 sound bar is powerful, making action movies fun to watch, but you may want to add extra speakers for surround sound.

For

  • It has good bass and a warm tonal quality.

Against

  • Its surround sound simulation is not as good as other sound bars’.
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The Pioneer SP-SB23’s wireless subwoofer has a front-firing port.

The Pioneer SP-SB23’s wireless subwoofer has a front-firing port.
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There is a display on the SP-SB23’s front panel.

There is a display on the SP-SB23’s front panel.
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The speaker in the SP-SB23’s subwoofer is down-firing.

The speaker in the SP-SB23’s subwoofer is down-firing.
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This Pioneer sound bar has a small, thin remote control.

This Pioneer sound bar has a small, thin remote control.
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The SP-SB23 has RCA analog inputs.

The SP-SB23 has RCA analog inputs.

Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.

The Pioneer SP-SB23 sound bar was designed by Andrew Jones, the legendary speaker designer known for creating high-quality, affordable speakers. We put the sound bars in our review to the test by watching movies and listening to music, and we evaluated each one based on dialogue clarity, bass response and surround sound simulation.

The SP-SB23 sounded more boxed in than other TV sound bars we reviewed. When we listened to “15 Step” by Radiohead during our music testing, it didn’t have the high-end clarity of other sound bars, and in general, music didn’t sound very rich or bright.

This sound bar doesn’t spread out sound nearly as well as others. During testing, we noticed that when we weren’t sitting directly in front of it, the power and detail declined. Also, we were not impressed with the surround sound simulation. It never convinced us that sound effects were coming from anywhere but right in front.

As we watched “Star Trek Beyond,” we noticed the power that this Pioneer model possesses. Action scenes sounded powerful with low-rumbling bass, but the movie’s dialogue didn’t sound as clear as it did with many of the other sound bars we tested because of the lack of high-frequency detail. Even though the tonal quality wasn’t bright, it was warm and powerful.

The Pioneer SP-SB23 is missing many of connectivity options other sound bars have, such as HDMI and other digital outputs, but it is Bluetooth compatible. We tested the Bluetooth range in a hallway without obstructions of any kind between our mobile device and the bar. We were approximately 61 feet away before we started to lose the signal. This is almost two times better than the standard Bluetooth range, which is 33 feet.

The remote control that comes with the subwoofer is small. The buttons have nice spacing, but it could be easy to lose. It weighs less than a pound and is smaller than an average male’s palm, which is a bit too small to use comfortably with one hand.

The remote’s size is a little puzzling considering the sound bar is one of the largest in our review. Because of the bar’s height, it may block your TV receiver. This was an issue during our tests – when we were level with the sound bar, it blocked the receiver, so the TV remote didn’t work properly.

The Pioneer SP-SB23 has a warm tonal quality and is powerful, but its surround sound output falls behind that of other sound bars we reviewed. It does have Bluetooth, so you can use it to play music from your mobile device, which is convenient.