Hands-on Gear Review

AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel Review

Price:   $100 List | $77.45 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive
Cons:  Poor sound quality, flimsy looking design
Bottom line:  Not enough of an improvement over built-in TV speakers to justify its use
Editors' Rating:   
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Dimensions:  31.5" x 3.2" x 3.5"
External Subwoofer:  No
Inputs (wired):  Digital audio in (optical), AUX 3.5mm, Dual RCA
Manufacturer:   Amazon

Our Verdict

Before you get your hopes up, the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel does not include an external subwoofer, it is built into the soundbar. We just wanted to get that out of the way, as those familiar with speaker system nomenclature probably thought the '2.1. Referred to a two channel soundbar with an external subwoofer. Unfortunately, the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel doesn't provide enough performance to make up for that initial disappointment. It was the only model we tested that did not feel like a significant step up from the built-in speakers on our testing TV. If you want something that's really inexpensive, we'd recommend the Samsung HW-J250. It costs $30 more but sounds much better.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Monday
June 12, 2017

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While the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel's price is enticingly low, the only real advantage it offers over most built-in TV speakers is slightly higher volume. Unless all you want is for your TV to be a bit louder, we'd recommend looking elsewhere.


Performance Comparison


The AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel failed to impress us in any capacity, and ended up with the lowest overall score in our testing.

Read on to see how the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel fared in all the different tests that we used to calculate its overall score.

Sound Quality


The AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel picked up the lowest score in our sound quality testing, earning just a 2 out of 10. Honestly, we could barely tell the difference between the sound it produced and the sound that was produced from the built-in speakers in our TV. That is to say, it didn't sound terrible, but it also didn't provide any improvement. It was able to get louder than the TV itself, but we doubt anyone wants a soundbar simply to make the TV louder. If you just want an inexpensive way to play music off your phone you might be satisfied with the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel, but we definitely would not recommend it for home theater usage.

Ease of Use


The AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel keeps true to its name and keeps things simple. That simplicity earned it a 7 out of 10 in our ease of use testing. We had it up and running in less than 5 minutes, and its interface was straightforward enough that we didn't need the manual to get things started. The remote control is simple and streamlined, and the soundbar itself has some simple controls in case you lose the remote. We also had no issues pairing Bluetooth devices with the soundbar, and the connection always stayed solid.

The AmazonBasics' controls are simple and indicate which sound mode is engaged.
The AmazonBasics' controls are simple and indicate which sound mode is engaged.

Sound Customization


While the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel doesn't provide any EQ adjustments, it does provide a few preset sound modes. These include standard, new (similar to the enhanced dialogue modes of many other models) and movie. We did notice that the movie mode provided some better bass, and that the news mode made speech a bit crisper. Overall this performance earned the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel a score of 7 out of 10 in this metric.

Design/Style


The AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel was the worst performer in our design/style metric, earning only a 4 out of 10. This was for one reason: the construction just looks and feels cheap. The all plastic body and cloth cover give a sense of low quality manufacturing. Luckily the all black body is fairly inconspicuous, so it won't create a huge eye sore in your living room. However, it doesn't look nearly as nice as most of the other models we tested.

The AmazonBasics looks ok from a distance  but up close the construction looks low quality.
The AmazonBasics looks ok from a distance, but up close the construction looks low quality.

Value


The AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel's list price of just $100 makes it the most inexpensive model we tested. However, we don't feel that it offers much of an improvement over built-in TV speakers, and thus don't feel that would be $100 well spent. If you want an inexpensive soundbar we recommend the Samsung HW-J250. It costs $30 more but is an actual improvement over built-in TV speakers.

Conclusion


The AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel is a very inexpensive soundbar, but it fails to deliver better audio than the speakers on most TVs, making it a poor choice for home cinema usage.
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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