Though technically classified as a soundbar, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro is really more of a complete surround sound system with a soundbar at its center. For a full 7 channel surround sound system it is quite cheap. However, since 4 of the channels are in the soundbar itself you can't spread them out as much as a traditional surround sound system. Also, the two satellite speakers are wired, whereas most modern surround sound systems are completely wireless. We had a lot of trouble pairing Bluetooth devices with it as well. If you want true surround sound on the cheap the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro is a decent choice, but if you can find the Klipsch R-20B on sale, it provides better overall sound at a similar price.
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 Channel ReviewPrice: $500 List
Pros: Good sound, provides some surround sound performance
Cons: Difficult to install, odd design
Bottom line: An inexpensive way to get surround sound, but other, simpler models sound better
External Subwoofer: Yes
Inputs (wired): Digital audio in (optical), USB, AUX 3.5mm, Coaxial, HDMI (2)
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro, with its two satellite speakers, provides a better surround sound experience than any of the other models we tested. However, it didn't have the best sound quality, and we'd generally prefer a simple soundbar with better sound quality to a truer surround sound experience.
Largely due to some ease of use issues, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro's overall score in our testing was just below average.
Below we discuss how the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro perfromed in all of the individual tests that make up our overall scores.
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro scored a 7 out of 10 in our sound quality testing. This put it just short of the Klipsch R-20B and the Bose SoundTouch 300, and well short of the top scoring Sonos Playbar. Overall, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro was just on the cusp of what we considered very high quality sound, but wasn't quite there.
The Shockwafe's subwoofer produced incredibly powerful bass in our testing, but that bass tended to lose a good amount of clarity at higher volumes. The treble range sounded fairly good with decent clarity, but it was a clear step down from the higher scoring models. It also had trouble with very high notes, and we noticed more clipping in the Shockwafe than all but the low end, inexpensive models.
The two satellite speakers did make the sound feel a bit more immersive, simply because it was coming from multiple directions. They also added a bit of a surround sound experience as the system can make some sounds come only from behind. However, since most of the channels are stuffed into the soundbar instead of spread out to multiple speakers like a true surround sound system, this effect was marginal.
Ease of Use
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro was the worst scorer in our ease of use testing, earning a 4 out of 10. This was largely due to issues with pairing its extra speaker. It took a few attempts to get the soundbar to talk to the wireless subwoofer. It also took a few attempts to get the satellite speakers plugged into the subwoofer and working properly. We also had a lot of issues pairing Bluetooth devices with the soundbar. For many of our sound tests we ended up just using the auxiliary input because the Bluetooth was too finicky.
One unique issues arises because of the two satellite speakers. These speakers come with 26' wires and must be plugged into the wireless suwoofer. Since these speakers are meant to be placed behind you or directly to your side you have two options: put the subwoofer in front of you where it should be and run wires around your room, or put the subwoofer behind you so you don't have to worry about the wires, and try to ignore the fact that all the bass noises are coming from behind you.
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro was the top scorer in our sound customization testing with a score of 9 out of 10. It offers an EQ that allows for adjustment of treble and bass. It also has 9 preset sound modes, including ones optimized for sports, movies, gaming, music, and a night mode that dampens loud noises. All of these adjustments can easily be adjusted via the remote control.
We weren't huge fans of the Shockwafe's design. All the speakers have irregular shapes with sharp angles and bright silver accents. This design is more likely to clash with the decor of some living rooms than some of the other more simple and elegant designs we tested.
At a list price of $500, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro is probably one of the cheapest ways you can get a 7.1 channel surround sound system. However, since most of those channels are in the soundbar, it doesn't feel quite like a surround sound system. If you really want good sound we feel spending a bit more on the Sonos Playbar would be a better value. Alternatively, see if you can find the Klipsch R-20B on sale, it often sells for less than the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro and provides better sound.
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro is a soundbar that offers some of the advantages of a surround sound system. However, it comes with some ease of use issues.