- Brand Name: SpeakerCraft
- Model Number: ASM42000
- Color: black
SpeakerCraft CS3 Center Stage 80-Watt Bluetooth Ready Television Speaker (Black)
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- Designed and engineered in USA!
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Top Customer Reviews
First off, the unit does not have its own Dolby Digital decoder. A number of TV's (including my new Panasonic IPS LED TV) and cable boxes will not output PCM only via the optical digital output. Therefore any digital or ATSC channels from my TV, I get no audio from the SpeakerCraft CS3. The "workaround" is that SpeakerCraft started including the Gefen TV Dolby Digital Audio Decoder external box. This is what is meant by the "optional digital audio decoder included" on the side of the product packaging.
The Gefen TV decoder box does do what it was designed for. It takes the optical digital output converts it down and outputs it via left/right ANALOG connections to the SpeakerCraft CS3. For the price point of this unit, this should be done internally and not require a separate box that also uses up another power outlet.
Remote controls for sound bars tend to stink. This holds true for the SpeakerCraft CS3 as well. The indicator LED's on the unit are next to impossible to see unless your face is right against the speaker grill. In addition, if you are not directly facing the unit... not even 10 degrees off center, the remote is not picked up by the unit. Therefore, the "user interface" with this unit gets a D- or F in my grade book.
The SpeakerCraft CS3 cabinet and sound quality are wonderful, especially the bass for the size of the unit. However, the SpeakerCraft CS3 is going back and I will be getting a ZVOX Z-Base 555 or 850 instead. At least ZVOX has the common sense to have the unit decode basic Dolby Digital.
Why I like it:
1) Wow factor sound - audiophile quality. When I bought the Bose Solo and the Zvox 580 I had to switch back and forth between tv speakers and speaker stand to validate the sound was better (and it was in both cases). With this speaker bar, you just know instantly that the sound is fantastic. In fact the sound is as good as the considerably more expensive and more powerful reference system I have in my living room. I think it may even sound better than the Bang and Olufsen system in my car. It is a delight. I have simply not heard a single unit sound system sound this good ever.
2) Doubles as the best speaker dock ever. Because of Bluetooth you can play music without having the TV on (something neither the Bose nor the ZVOX can do). This device is more expensive than the ZVOX 580 by $100. However the bluetooth means it doubles as the best speaker dock ever. I used to have a Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin, and listening to music on this blows that away. So I relocated the Zeppelin to my office since I didn't need it anymore in the bedroom. Seriously - it is the best compact audio system I have seen for the bedroom.
3) Looks good. Fit and finish exceed everything on the market.
4) It seems reliable. Unlike the ZVOX 580 which stopped working after 3 days, this is going strong. However I did my research, and I couldnt find any threads of this device turning into a brick. For ZVOX devices, there are several reviews of the device breaking down quickly.
What could be better:
1) The remote. But I bought a harmony for $26 to solve this issue.Read more ›
Also, the remote control isn't THAT bad. It's just disappointing, unintuitive and chintzy. But it does work, and did I mention the SOUND?
The CNET review that many have been influenced by indicated that the Zvox 580, which really is the competition for this guy, didn't sound much better than the 550. Well, the 550 has exactly the same speaker configuration as the 420 - it just has an extra thingy that converts dolby and lets you use an optical cable to transmit sound from a non-box cable connection to the TV.
So.. I am assuming that my 420 sounds very similar to the 550, which (according to CNET) sounds ALMOST as good as the 580. In other words, the 420 is not appreciably different from the 580. So, I did NOT try the Zvox 580 when the 420 failed to impress me. I tried this. The sound really is the kicker. Both my kids, who have been listening to the 420 for 2 years, noticed it instantly.
It's just bigger, boomier, and .. hard to explain .. more effortless. This thing just exudes sound in an open, resonant way that is way beyond the 420 (which is clear and tight). Also, the bass is just on a whole 'nother level.
I have no interest in shaking the walls and disturbing the neighbors. This doesn't do that, but it's bass is way beyond Zvox bass. It resonates and impacts at a deeper level. Also, the highs are tinklier and airier. The remote control lost this unit one star, but it's a very good, simple TV sound system, very well worth the (new) price.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Worked or about 14 months, then stopped working properly : the sound kept cutting off. Switched from the optical input to the co-ax, made no difference. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Captain Uncle
This was a great product in terms of the sound, however, it broke after using for a few months. Don't trust this brand.Published 8 months ago by Shin
I puchased a CS3 from Beast In Sept of 2013. In April of 2014 the thing just died. There were no indications of problems, static or drop out, it just died. I spent the $75. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Rhonda C.
Great sound. But.... Mine lasted for about year of light use. Started crackling loudly after a few minutes, every time we turned it on. Finally blew up with an explosive pop. Read morePublished 13 months ago by John M.
I got this speaker in Aug 2013 and did / do like the sound quality. My problem has been the last few weeks, I have been getting a popping sound and then the speaker will stop... Read morePublished 15 months ago by SMH
I was just like the rest of you looking for a good soundbar for my place. I saw the reviews and hoped "I'd get lucky" as I have with other products not breaking down on... Read morePublished 17 months ago by BryMart
I thought it was a decent speaker system until it died a year after I bought it. Not so great now.Published 17 months ago by Brenda Smith
Great Robust Sound. Easy to use with iPhone/iPad to play music over bluetooth. Died on me after less than a year. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Rottimer
I rolled the dice and ignored several other customer reviews which warned of this thing completely dying after a short period of use. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened. Read morePublished 20 months ago by John Rodes