Customer Reviews: Maxell SSB-1 Maxsound Soundbar Tabletop Speaker w/ Built-in Subwoofer (High Gloss Finish)
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on January 5, 2012
I like my Sony Bravia 32", but I wanted a little more base and a subwoofer. This soundbar from Maxell was just the ticket.

If you are considering this soundbar you are probably considering something that you did not expect to buy. It is odd at first blush. The thing does not look like a regular soundbar. But look again and ponder a work of pure genius. Not only is it a space saver with your flat screen on top, but it's beautifully designed. It looks like part of the tv.

Hook-up is easy, but there are issues to consider and experimentation becomes an absolute necessity. How will you actually use this unit?

> Do you want to use it as a supplement to your tv speakers? Or would you prefer not using your tv's speakers?

> Which remote control is your preference? The Maxell, tv or cable remote?

> Which of two prescribed connections will best suit your needs? The one to your tv's headphone input or the other one using the RCA cable?

I, personally, use the headphone connection. This permits use of standard tv and cable remotes. (I stored the Maxsound remote in a drawer somewhere).

I use my Comcast (cable) remote for changing channels and for volume control; volume on the Maxsound automatically increases or decreases accordingly. As for power, Max + tv, I can blow up the room!

As for overall sound quality, I experimented with keeping my tv's speakers on or off. I noticed better sound quality with the tv speakers on. The Maxsound, meanwhile, provides excellent base supplementation. That's what it's best for: SUPPLEMENTATION. And that's what I needed. I'm so happy with my Max!*

(See also: AudioQuest Cinnamon High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet (6.6 feet/2 meters)

*IF YOU EXPERIENCE VIBRATION/DISTORTION on higher volumes: Place six (6) one inch-long black rubber stoppers between the base of your flat screen and the Maxell soundbar. These inch-long stoppers are available locally or online. However, online they are sold in assortment packs only, for example: Rubber Stopper Assortment, 1 lb. Consequently, it's probably wisest to visit your local hardware store in order to buy the six needed and no more. You want black rubber stoppers (6) no less than one inch in length. (Mine measure an inch and a quarter in length). Beneath your flat screen's base you will position one stopper near each of the four corners and another center left and the last in center right, tv facing you. The wide part of each stopper should face down (on Max), not up. This symmetrical design serves to stem vibration permitting soundbar usage to fullest potential.
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on December 29, 2011
For well under $100, this thing ROCKS!!!


* Small - you can set up to a 40" TV (55 pounds) on top of it or set it nearby on a table or shelf. For the best sound, it should be set on a wood (or laminated) surface. If the TV or PC monitor is placed on top of it, it does not take up any additional space on your TV stand or desk.

* No wall mounting required. Looks great compared to a traditional soundbar or speakers.

* Idiot-proof setup. Plug it into the wall then hook one audio cable (included) from the TV (or PC) to the unit. Done. Two 3.5 mm audio inputs allow you to connect two devices (such as a TV and a PC) without switching out cables.

* If hooked to the TV sound output, the volume control on the TV can be used to raise/lower the sound level. Just set the volume on the sound bar to the max and use the TV sound control to raise, lower and mute the volume (FYI, the chance of a TV remote being compatible with a soundbar's seperate volume level control is almost impossible unless the TV and sound bar are the same brand).

* Impressive sound quality for the price. Although you won't easily confuse it with a $500+ Polk Audio or Bose system, this is the best unit I've heard in the $100 or less price range. It will improve the audio quality of most flat screen TVs by 1000%.


* A delay of about 5 seconds for the audio signal to kick in when you turn on the TV or start playing music while the soundbar is in standby mode.

* Placing the unit on glass or carpet will result in poor sound quality (not really a con; just a "heads up").

* It's not Polk Audio or Bose level sound. If you're a true audiophile, you'll need to spend at least a few hundred bucks more for a higher-level system.
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on January 30, 2012
First saw this at Sam's Club last fall and thought to myself, "What a clever design. Two 7.5w front facing speakers and a 15w downfacing subwoofer (with bass boost circuitry) cleverly disguised (and functional) as a tabletop stand." Still, even at $80 (the original MSRP was $129), it was just too pricey for the equivalent of a $40 set of computer speakers. However, when Sam's dropped the price to ~$50 last week, I jumped on it.

The good news: Performance is precisely what one might expect given the technical specs. Readers plagued by the tinny internal speakers on their 32" HDTVs will notice an immediate improvement, especially with the additional depth generated by the bass boost. It's also attractive; its piano gloss finish complements the TV base as if they were destined to be together (as long as the display weighs less than 55 lbs). Two other nice features are a second input (for your favorite MP3 device) and an automatic standby mode that kicks in when the unit no longer detects audio input.

My only complaint with the unit is the remote (or that fact that it even has one). Consider the most common applications of the soundbar:

As a computer speaker: With power/volume and input/source controls conveniently at your fingertips on the right side of the unit, you have no need for a remote (other than base boost which should have been implemented on the unit itself anyway).

As a supplemental speaker for an HDTV or STB/HDTV: The unit's two inputs will only accept 3.5mm mini-plugs. Thoughtfully, Maxell provides both an RCA-to-3.5mm stereo cable (suitable for audio out from the TV, the set top box, or an amplifier) and a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable (suitable only for headphone output on some TVs -- I know of no cable/satellite STBs with headphone output). UNFORTUNATELY, if you use the more common and logical RCA-to-3.5mm cable, you cannot control the unit with anything other than the Maxell remote! Huh? What's that?

That's right... if you want to use your cable/satellite remote or your TV remote, you must connect using the 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable, and even then, you can only control the volume. Unfortunately, in my setup, the headphone jack is on the front of the TV (where it's supposed to be)... so now I have a wire coming out of the FRONT of my TV going to the BACK of the soundbar!

[BEGIN RANT] It's almost as if the guys in Maxell's remote control group tried to come up with a way to compromise an otherwise elegant design. Rather than imbue their nifty product with a standard code page used by millions of universal remotes, they chose to make their throw-away remote the center of the unit's control universe, and moreover made it a learning remote so that it could operate your TV and/or cable box! Spare me the $10 in extra cost and give me something that will integrate seamlessly into my existing configuration. [END RANT]

In all fairness, other learning remotes can capture the Maxell remote's proprietary codes to operate the unit (in fact, the unit is defined in the Logitech Harmony database), but really, that's just a workaround for Maxell's bonehead decision to even include a remote (especially one with proprietary codes).

Bottom line:

Design: Good (Great if it had not be compromised by the configuration decisions)
Performance: Good to Better than Good
Configuration: Workable but bordering on brain dead
Price: A deal at $49.87 (at Sam's)
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on April 3, 2012
I'd been shopping for a smaller, less expensive sound bar for the 32-inch flat screen in my bedroom for some time when I came across the Maxell SSB-1 the other day at a local retailer. Honestly, I was initially turned off by the low price and figured in probably wouldn't produce much sound at only 30 watts. Then I saw several good reviews on Amazon about the Maxell from people like me who were just looking for some reasonable sound boost and deeper base over what you can get out of most flat panels these days. I took a chance and went and bought the Maxell and installed it today - and I must say, I'm very satisfied. It gave me exactly what I was looking for - no more, but no less. For a small to medium size room, the Maxell will give you the richer, deeper sound you're looking for - far better than what most TV speakers will produce. If you're looking for blow-your-hair-back theater style sound, this is not your ticket - you'll need to spend big bucks for that. But if you want noticeably improved sound and a slight rumbling of base, the Maxell will do the trick for a very reasonable price - and it's a chinch to install.
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on April 12, 2012
December, 2012, still working just fine...I would still give it five stars and write funny poems about it.

About five months later, I still am glad we found this speaker bar for our cheap flat screen. I have learned when to hit the plus/minus buttons on the speaker, and when to up the tv volume with the order to optimize the sound. It works just fine for our purposes.

We bought probably the cheapest of the cheap 40" WESTINGHOUSE. (LOL Who buys a Westinghouse tv?) Maybe a lot of people. We just needed to replace our old clunker and wanted to do it as cheaply as possible. So we LOVE our tv...except the sound was fairly bad. We have since learned that this is what happens with flat screens ( least the ones in our price category.)

I did some research, shopped around, and then purchased this from Amazon (free Prime shipping - I LOVE that.) It has been just great. Easy to hook up, worked right away, does what it is supposed to do. I haven't figured out the configuration yet....I mean, how to make it work with the tv remote volume switches instead of using the tiny little remote it comes with or doing the "touch system" with the plus and minus "buttons" on the unit. I think there is a way. I have read quite a lot of theories here on Amazon, but I haven't really had time to care, so I just use it and enjoy it.

In short,

The sound on the new television,
Was greatly in need of revision,
I bought the Maxell,
It really works well,
I'm happy I made the decision.
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on November 9, 2011
Excellent sound for the small expense I paid for it ($78 at SAM's)! I hooked it from 3.5" jack to my TV's 3.5" headphone jack, then turned it on and adjusted the sound from it's remote. I had to turn up the volume all the way up on the unit itself, but then only a little from my TV remote. (I couldn't get it to memorize my TV's remote functions like it's supposed to do, but it remembers the adjustments after powering down from the TV for the night.) It has a button on the remote for an additional boost to the bass sound... use it. It needed everything I could squeeze out of it, so to speak. I tuned my TV to the Palladia Channel and watched some live music and videos. My wife was in another room and told me to turn it down. I love it for $78!
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on December 9, 2011
This is a well engineered product that performs. It is designed to blend in with your audio video set-up. I thought it would be perfect for my bedroom with a 26" LCD on top of a dresser. It turned out to be ideal for that setting.

Front firing full range speakers, bottom firing woofer with a port facing the rear. Maxell
recomends you place the bar on a wood surface to enhance the bass response. My dresser does just that I get great bass response.

There are two ways to hook it up 3.5 to 3.5 or 3.5 to RCA. Both cables are provided.

Remote stopped working however one call to Maxell and they are sending me another one.

Update 12-10-11. Maxell sent the new remote VIA FedEx Express.
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on December 19, 2011
I bought this on a special promotion at Office Depot for $60. It was definitely worth it, even Amazon's price of $80 isn't bad. However, it is what it is. The sound is a definite improvement over my 32" Sony LCD TV's basic speakers. The hookup was simple, I used the RCA jacks supplied and plugged them into the TV's audio jacks. Then went to the TV's audio menu and disabled the TV's internal speakers so it would always use only these external ones.

The sound is good with decent bass (you need to be sure the bass boost is on) but sometimes it does sound a little "boxy". The output is OK, but it's only 30W if I remember, so you're not going to blast it like a high powered system but it's plenty loud for what I would need. I was glad it comes with a little "smart" remote, however it won't learn my TV's functions so maybe it's not that smart after all (c'mon, it's a Sony TV!). They recomment no greater than 55 pounds placed on top; my TV's 35 pounds and the TV is a little wobbly sitting on this; if nudged it rocks slightly but I don't consider it a problem.

So considering the relatively low price, I'm happy with it and feel it's a good buy for what it is, and it does improve the sound over the tiny built-in TV speakers without really taking up any more space.
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on March 21, 2012
I bought a new LED/LCD TV and wall mounted it. I view this TV from about 12 feet away. This TV has small speakers with downward direction sound ports. They sound more like tin cans than speakers. The frequecy band is narrow and often with the TV volume at maximum I can barely understand speech. This is especially true when I play the DVD player through the TV.

I installed the soundbar on a wall mounted shelf below the TV with a DVD player and DVR stacked on top of it. The TV's headphone output is connected to the soundbar input. With the soundbar volume set at a fixed level (Not Maximum)I can adjust the full volume range with the TV volume control. I'm impressed with the sound coming from such a thin box. There is plenty of volume now with a full rich wide frequency sound. The highs, midrange, lows and sub lows are all there whereas before there was only a narrow mid to high band. With the bass boost on this box will rattle the walls.

I can't use bass boost because it is too easy to overdrive the sub woofer and get a lot of buzzing and rattling. I think if the soundbar is installed per design on a heavy piece of furniture with a heavy TV sitting on it this buzzing and rattling probably wouldn't happen. I'm very happy with the sound quality with bass boost off and the sub woofer still comes in plenty if the volume is brought up.

As others have mentioned there is a delay of 5-8 seconds for the soundbar to come out of standby and produce sound. This is not a problem most of the time but is noticed most when pausing and then resuming. I'm used to delays when starting up the TV or starting to view a recording but the lost sound when transitioning from a pause is a little irritating sometimes.

I subtracted one star because of the following:
Standby delay-----I don't think it has to be as long as it is.
Bass boost can only be turned On or Off with the remote and there is no indicator for it on the soundbar.
Remote range----my Remote won't work from accross the room--must be within a few feet of the soundbar.
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on September 5, 2012
I was really excited for this thing after reading the reviews. Unfortunatly it didn't live up to the hype. When hooked up to my tv, it would just shut off randomly. Tried hooking it up to the cable box directly, and same problem. Tried cranking the output volume, and it just wouldn't stay on.

I hooked up my iPod directly, and it did stay on. It just didn't sound good. At low volumes it was ok but at a decent volume it buzzed and sounded tinny.

The cost to ship it back just wasn't worth it, so I'll keep it as a computer speaker. I just can't recommend this thing though.
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