SLIMstage30 Setup and Remote Control
I set up the SLIMstage30 on top of my Sanus DFV49 TV stand and connected it directly to a Denon DVD-3910. I used the included wires (which, I might add, were very high quality) and foot stands. I sat about 8 feet away from the speaker in a home theater room that had been treated with DIY room treatments and GIK Tri-Traps and optimized through the Auralex Room Analysis Plus process.
You probably won't need the manual or quick connection guide except for making the sub connection. The subwoofer and analogue inputs/outputs are all 3.5mm. They provide a single 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable and 3.5mm to RCA cable but you could need up to four of these. For the sub, if you are using the included cable, you'll want to connect the white RCA into the LFE input on the sub. After plugging everything in, I switched on the unit. The display is plenty bright (you can turn it off/have it dim after use from the menu) and it is very easy to read the standard readout of volume and (to a lesser extent) input from my seated position. The interior setup menus, however, are WAY too small to see from 8 feet away. For those, you'll need to get right up on it.
The menu system is fairly straightforward and basic so you won't be visiting it very often. Basically, you need to make sure that the sub is selected and set the distance from the SLIMstage30 (over or under 2 meters are your only options – someone right at 2 meters has to move their chair I guess). The sub crossover will already be set to the recommended 110Hz, the language to English, and the EQ to flat. There are a few other advanced settings that you might want to play with (default input, default mode, adjusting the 10 band EQ, etc.) but most of these you can access from the remote.
Missing from the setup menu was any sort of test tone or auto-calibration. In the case of a $600 soundbar, I'd expect one or the other. As it is, you can increase or decrease the amount of bass, move the surround left and right, increase the amount of surround effects (via the different modes), and increase and decrease the volume of the surround effects on the fly. Calibration, without some sort of extra disc, will have to be done by ear.
I ran into a few problems with the SLIMstage30 during setup. First, any time I powered on or off the unit the Bravus 8A would thump. In fact, thumping was a regular part of the sub experience as it happened when I accessed my DVD menus or skipped chapters – basically, there was a lot of thumping going on. Next, the SLIMstage30 remote shared more than a few IR commands with my Denon receiver which meant that it was a constant struggle to control one and not the other. This won't be a problem for those that are using the SLIMstage30 as it was intended (without anything other than sources and displays in the room) but it bears mentioning.
Lastly, I ran into a bit of a snag with the subwoofer output – it didn't work. I verified that the cable and the sub worked but when I plugged it in to the SLIMstage30 I got nearly no output (except for the aforementioned thumps). Now, I'm willing to give the SLIMstage30 the benefit of the doubt and say that the thumps and the non-functioning subwoofer output were connected somehow but as a reviewer I need to describe what I experienced. I ended up reviewing the SLIMstage30 and the Bravus 8A as standalone units rather than as a group. There is no reason to think that they wouldn't make a fine pair. Aesthetically, they looked very good together and the small size of the sub plays nicely with the design of the SLIMstage30. One thing that Aperion and Soundmatters might consider for the future is a wireless connection from the bar to the sub. Many consumers would consider this a huge plus especially considering that the type of customer that is looking at a surroundbar is generally limited in sub placement options. Also, while I like the quality of the included cables (plenty thick and well constructed), the choice of white is a little baffling. With everything else being black, they sort of stick out.
The SLIMstage30 remote is (of course) gloss black with what looked to be backlit buttons. Unfortunately this isn't the case as they are of the "glow-in-the-dark" variety. This means that if they are exposed to a bright light source, they'll glow for a few minutes afterward. There are three main button areas under the power button (which is the largest button and is near the top). The top buttons are round and arranged as if in a keypad orientation (four by three grid, equal size buttons). The first row is to access specific functions such as Night Mode, Dialogue enhancement, and EQ. These are not adjustments (even for the EQ) but simply On/Off toggles. One thing I didn't like was that pressing the button activated the toggle. I'd prefer if the first press displayed the current state and the second toggled to the opposite state.
Below those were controls specifically for headphones and then two rows of input select buttons. The second section of buttons had your standard up/down/left/right with a center button and four buttons at the four corners. Up and down increased and decreased the bass, right and left increased and decreased the volume. The center button was mute while the top two buttons flipped between the different surround modes (Stereo Bypass, Wide Stereo, Games, and Movie). The blue LEDs on the front of the unit increased in number (up to three) as the amount of surround effect was increased. The bottom two buttons increased and decreased the volume of the surround effects. The third section of buttons were, again, similar in shape and layout but were actually directional for menu navigation and to enter and exit the setup menu.
Overall, the remote felt lightweight but well built. I liked how the buttons were laid out. Even though I couldn't see them in the dark, there was enough separation and enough different sizes that I was able to remember, eventually, most of the major functions I used and their locations. Backlighting would have been nice and the remote was a little small and light overall, but for the form and function of the SLIMstage30, I felt it was a pretty good fit.
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