Intex has forever been synonymous with computer peripheral devices, especially computer speakers. When we got Intex’s recently released IT-SB Marvel 250 soundbar, we were obviously stunned. Never had we thought that Intex would want a place in the home theatre market that’s the avenue of the front-runners in home entertainment. But, Intex seems to think it is capable of holding its own, even though it has started off modestly with a 2.1 soundbar, rather than the full-throttle 5.1.
Out of the box
If you have seen a soundbar before, what pops out of the Intex IT-SB Marvel 250 box is really nothing new. If you haven’t, then you can quite easily imagine a longer than normal centre channel speaker that’s about as heavy as a bookshelf speaker and with a bunch of connectivity options on its back panel. The Marvel 250 sports the basics with its black plastic grille and cabinet, along with a back panel that’s almost non-existent as it only offers two pairs of RCA ports. Nevertheless, I still think that a lot of people would prefer a soundbar over a speaker, primarily because it looks different and people love different. The subwoofer that’s packaged with the Marvel is the SP-SB Marvel 250, which by the looks of it, does have the aesthetics to match the mother ship. It could’ve done with some rounded edges, but even this conventional subwoofer will do in this price range.
Adding some depth to the audio
A 5.1 soundbar relies entirely on its technology to convey the five channels of sound from one physical position. With the help of phasing and synchronising with several little drivers, soundbars have in the past made virtual 5.1 into true 5.1 with staggering results. The Marvel doesn’t need any of this because its job is to relay two channels of Intex sound to our ears, which can be done relatively easily by just placing a set of drivers on each side of the soundbar. The Marvel has four 3” drivers, two on the left and two on the right. The subwoofer contains a 6.5” side-firing woofer and takes control of all the frequencies between 20Hz and 85Hz.
The soundbar can go from 85Hz to 20kHz, although I do feel that since the four drivers in here are all full-range, some of these frequencies might be getting compromised. The connectivity options on the soundbar are very basic with just two input options—auxiliary and television. They are both RCA inputs and sit alongside the power switch on the back panel of the soundbar. The question you’re asking yourself is how is the subwoofer getting its feed? Well, it’s entirely wireless. All you have to do is turn on the subwoofer and the soundbar simultaneously. You’ll see a little blue LED flashing rapidly on the front top-left of the subwoofer. Quickly, hit the standby button that’s on the top panel of the soundbar to pair them. It should happen in not more than 15 seconds, and when it does, the blue light will remain lit on the subwoofer. The soundbar only has a little LED at its centre on the front panel. It tells you its receiving commands from the remote by blinking and the two inputs are indicated by the colours yellow and blue on the LED.
Keeping in mind that this is a budget system, the controller of this soundbar is just hitting the average line. It’s not so low in build quality that you’ll get disheartened just holding it, but neither is it too high tech. Besides the buttons and ergonomics, my primary concern was this remote’s performance. You really have to point it directly at the little LED on the front of the soundbar to get any sort of reaction. If this was even remotely (pun unintended) better, we would’ve not been half as frustrated.
Not the easiest remote to use
The best way to test any stereo product, especially the budget ones, is to hit the MP3s stored in our PS3. They vary in quality, genre and sometimes even volume, so it really gave the IT-SB Marvel 250 a lot to think about.
First and foremost was some clean acoustic music, namely Kings Of Convenience. I have to say that there’s freshness to this soundbar. By that I mean that it doesn’t sound overly crunchy, or too damp in the mids like most budget sound systems do (even Intex’s very own multimedia systems). There is a certain amount of depth to the soundstage, which was surprising to hear from a soundbar that doesn’t have much going for it as far as phasing is concerned. The subwoofer did help add a lot of that depth, especially to the lowest harmonics of the vocalists, but it also bought a fair amount of port distortion. There is something wrong with the subwoofer’s cabinet design and it’s taking it out on the reflex port. I played back some Eminem and on every kick drum, the port buzzed loud enough to overtake the levels of the music. The overall level of the music can’t be too loud if you want that buzzing to seize.
Thin and light
I liked listening to Debussy’s compositions because the soundstage was actually wider than the width of the Marvel. It spread in the same way a loudspeaker’s driver is designed—a cone that goes wider and wider. In this, there was also a fair bit of clarity, especially in the mids and highs. There are a bunch of presets you can hit on the remote like ‘Music’ and ‘Movie’ that basically change the EQ settings of the soundbar. These settings can further be individually altered by the bass and treble buttons given on the remote. I wasn’t a big fan of any of these presets and I felt that the best sound came when the subwoofer was turned down to its lowest level, because it managed to overpower the soundbar quite easily.
Verdict and price in India
Intex’s IT-SB Marvel 250 is a 2.1 soundbar strictly for the budget bracket priced at Rs. 12, 000 (MOP). It’s conventional looking, but has a sound that’s a little unconventional. There are none of those peaking highs and piercing mids. Depth and clarity take over these bands in the frequency range. The lows, however, are just too powerful and the cabinet design of the subwoofer is faulty enough to cause constant port noise. To add to it, the remote control is frustrating to handle. I think there might be better 2.1 options out there even in this price range, although if it’s specifically a soundbar that you’re looking for, this Intex might be all there is when it comes to budget shopping.
AV MAX is a special interest audiophile magazine that focuses on reviewing high-end AV equipment like amplifiers, stereos, floorstanding speakers and related news
Updated 19 Jun, 2013, 9:20 pm IST
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