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Right-Ear/Left-Ear One Bar Soundbar Preview

Meet the Right-Ear/Left-Ear One Bar

Meet the Right-Ear/Left-Ear One Bar


  • Product Name: One Bar
  • Manufacturer: Right-Ear/Left-Ear
  • Review Date: September 07, 2014 08:00
  • MSRP: $1,999
  • First Impression: Mildly Interesting

Driver Compliment: 16 - 2.25” drivers; 8 passive radiators

Amplification: 16 - 30W Class D amplifiers

I/O: 7.1 Analog Inputs, Subwoofer Output, Integrated WiFi

Dimensions: 45.5”W x 5.125”H x 4.5”D

MSRP: $1,999

Soundbars are rarely afforded much respect by audio enthusiasts. Compared with a discrete 5.1 channel setup, sound quality generally takes a significant step down, particularly in terms of imaging and surround effects. The folks at Right-Ear/Left-Ear are hoping to change this paradigm with the introduction of their One Bar. Priced at $1,999, the One Bar takes a unique approach to simulating surround sound. Instead steering beams of sound towards the side walls to create a virtual sound effect, Right-Ear/Left-Ear states they have developed technology that allows the One Bar to talk to your ears separately, as if you were wearing headphones. The claim is that one can move around in the room, perform a pirouette or two, and still maintain a stable 3D sonic image. Did that pique your interest? Keep reading for all the details.

The Design

At first glance, the One Bar looks like an ordinary sound projector, boasting an array of 16 - 2.25” drivers backed by 8 passive radiators to improve mid-bass performance. Power is provided by 16 - 30W Class D amplifiers, with the brains of the system being a Raspberry Pi Linux computer module. In addition to the audio processing functions performed, the Linux module also includes built in WiFi, allowing users to stream music (including internet content) to the One Bar, as well as remote control functionality from a smartphone or tablet. All of this is contained within a matte black enclosure measuring 45.5”W x 5.125”H x 4.5”D, and the system is proudly assembled in California.

One Bar Grill

Close up shot of the One Bar and it's relatively substantial grill.

Beyond the basic hardware, the next question that pops up is connectivity. Here the One Bar is again a bit unique in the market: outside of the aforementioned WiFi connection, the only I/O available is a 7.1 channel analog input plus a subwoofer output. The idea here is that the One Bar should be paired with a pre/pro, and in fact Right-Ear/Left-Ear offers a package deal with the Emotiva UMC-200 for $2499. The UMC-200 handles HDMI switching, Dolby TrueHD/ DTS-HD MA decoding, and bass management. Add a powered subwoofer into the mix, and you’ve got a full range, fully featured solution.


The Emotiva UMC-200 is available with the One Bar as a package deal for $2,499.

Analysis and Conclusion

It’s fair to say Right-Ear/Left-Ear got our attention with the explanation of their virtual surround technology. At the same time, the price tag of $2,499 (with pre/pro) also caught our eye. $2,500 is a decent chunk of change in the A/V world; our $2,500 5.1 channel recommended system is very capable setup and includes a solid powered subwoofer in the price tag. By that yardstick, we’d opine that the One Bar is a pretty tough sell. We’re also curious about the basic fidelity of the system. The use of 2.25” full range drivers does tend to have a few drawbacks. While dynamic range should be less of a concern due to the use of 16 drivers (which will be roughly comparable to a pair of 6.5” drivers in surface area), a 2.25” cone will have limited top end extension compared with a dedicated tweeter, and likely suffer from cone breakup within the audible band.

All said and done, we’d still be interested in getting a demo of the One Bar. While it isn’t an inexpensive proposition, the promise of a high quality surround experience from a soundbar is something many people would be interested in. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see a video review of Gene and Hugo performing a few ballet moves to test Right Ear / Left Ear’s claims?

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

About the author:
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Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

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