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Aperion Audio SLIMstage30 SurroundBar First Look

SLIMstage30 by Soundmatters with 8A Subwoofer

SLIMstage30 by Soundmatters with 8A Subwoofer


  • Product Name: SLIMstage30 by Soundmatters with 8A Subwoofer
  • Manufacturer: Aperion Audio
  • Review Date: May 11, 2010 03:35
  • MSRP: $799 w/Sub, $599 no sub
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Slim design with piano black finish to match the aesthetics of your flat-panel TV
  • Complete sound system works right out of the box, no home theater receiver required
  • An immersive viewing experience provided from a simple two-piece speaker system
  • Projects detailed surround sound from both analog and digital 5.1 signals, without the need for surround speakers or an A/V receiver
  • Front panel 1/8" mini-jack input for iPod/MP3 player with automatic selection
  • Decodes Dolby® Digital and DTS® Digital Surround
  • Euphony™ HD surround sound technology
  • Subwoofer can be placed out of sight, connected to the SLIMstage by a single wire
  • Soundbar Weight: 16.5lbs, Dimensions - 31.1" Wide x 3.5" High x 3.7" deep

SurroundBars. If you haven't heard of these... well, welcome to the Internet. Nary a day goes by without someone asking me for SurroundBar recommendations. Honestly, 90% of the time they've picked something out and they just want me to tell them that they aren't wasting their money. Honestly, if you are buying from a big box store, if the product is so light your 3 year old can hold it in one hand, or if it costs less than a pair of good running shoes, you're wasting your money. Will it sound better than your TV speakers? Probably. But half the time these speakers cost less than $3 in parts or are located on the back of the TV. Can you really set the bar any lower? 

There are three categories of SurroundBars. The first, and most basic, are really SoundBars. SoundBars don't attempt surround sound of any kind and are just looking to provide enhanced overall sound quality and dialogue comprehension. This tend to be the least expensive of the single speaker solution and are fine for what they are. The other two solutions attempt to mimic a true surround experience from a single speaker. The most common use phase to do this. The least common physically bounces sound around a room using multiple speakers and DSP (digital signal processing). The new Aperion/Soundmatters surround bar is the former.

First, a discussion of phase is in order. Everyone has seen a driver (woofer) go in and out as it reproduces sound. Many speakers have more than one driver. If you think of your traditional speaker setup with speakers on either side of the TV, let's pretend that each of those speakers only has a single woofer. As a signal is sent from the source to the speaker, the woofers go in and out. If they go in and out at the same time they are said to be "in phase." If they go in and out at different times, they are "out of phase." The importance of this becomes clear once you learn that when the two woofers are in phase, the sound appears to be coming from between them. As they get out of phase, the sound source seems to move to the side or even behind you. The effectiveness of this movement is highly dependent on a number of factors including where you are sitting, the quality of the speakers, and room interactions.

Aperion Audio's new SLIMstage30 is a collaboration with Soundmatters. Aesthetically, the SLIMstage30 is on par with a gloss black finish that should match just about any recent flat panel display (and even if it doesn't, it still looks hot). There are two mounting options with the SLIMstage30, on shelf or on wall. These are to be expected with this sort of product but we wanted to commend Aperion for included angle adjustments. On both the feet and the wall bracket, you can angle the SLIMstage30 toward the listening position. This is important with this sort of product as the effectiveness of the surround effect can be deleteriously affected by placement.


The SurroundBar uses four drivers across the front with two passive radiators a piece (according to the specs). This allows the bar to have a lot more bass than you'd expect for its size. But that's not really enough for the true Audioholic which is why they've included the (optional) Aperion Audio Bravus 8A subwoofer. Between the two, you should have plenty of bass. The Bravus 8A is rated down to 36Hz by Aperion, sports a single 8" aluminum (aluminium for you Canadians) driver, and is in a ported and internally braced 3/4" HDF cabinet. This is no bass module, people, it is a real live subwoofer.

For those that are looking for a solution with the least number of components, the SLIMstage30 has a lot to like. On the front there is a 3.5mm jack for MP3 hookup (uses an automatic selection macro). We love a front input for MP3 players since there are so many uses for them these days and with friends wanting to play their own (probably highly compressed) music through your system, it is very convenient. The back has two 3.5mm jacks for additional stereo connections, a single coaxial and two optical connections for digital connections, and two 3.5mm outputs for a rear set of speakers or a sub.


Here's where things get a bit tricky. While the SLIMstage30 could technically be used for a full-fledged home theater, you'll notice a few things that may preclude that. First, we have a total of five inputs - two of which are 3.5mm. While they include a 3.5mm to stereo RCA cable, you'll most likely have to use that for your sub. So, at the very least, if you have any non-digital components, you're going to be shopping for new cables. The upside is that the SLIMstage30 uses Euphony HD which is a surround sound technology that not only enables to the SurroundBar to create the surround effect, but also to take two-channel information and process it in surround. This is similar to Dolby ProLogic II or DTS Neo:6. We really like that the SLIMstage can decode all the major (non HD) audio codecs over a digital connection. If you can send out uncompressed PCM from your Blu-ray player (two channel only), you can send that to the 3.5mm connection as well. What is really missing is a video output. While we don't expect a product at this price point to upcovert video to 1080p, we wouldn't mind seeing it throw up an On Screen Display for easy setup.

Believe it or not, the SLIMstage30 has quite a bit of functionality at this price point. You are not forced to listen to everything in psuedo-surround if you don't want - you can switch it off. There are three levels of surround, each with additional processing. This gives users the ability to adjust how much surround they are getting to their liking. While we would have liked to have seen some sort of auto-calibration with the SLIMstage, they do include manual Room EQ adjustments (in the form of sliders at pre-set frequencies). There is also a left/right calibration which is again in the form of a slider. If all this sounds like something you might find in your car - you're sort of right. But we think that those that are looking for a SurroundBar are generally not interested in all the calibration and functionality of a receiver (obviously). Car-like controls will be something that is very familiar to them.


You may be wondering what Aperion Audio's role was in the SLIMstage30 - from what we can tell, it was providing the sub and giving them access to their audience. Soundmatters has been around for a while. We actually talked about the SLIMstage40 way back in 2007 at CEDIA (yes, there is a larger 50" version as well). We believe that the well regarded Bravus 8A sub should really round out the system. With the sub coming in at $319, you are basically getting $119 off the sub. While we're not convinced this soundbar is appropriate for your main system (we'll know more after we receive or review sample), it sounds perfect for a bedroom or office.

For more information, please visit www.aperionaudio.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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