A few weeks ago, I told you about a portable, wireless TV speaker from Hammacher Schlemmer that lets you bring the sound closer to you without moving the TV. I did a little more research, and I found that the speaker is made by Serene Innovations, which makes a lot of products for people with hearing impairment. I was really interested in something like this for my bedroom TV. Now that we live in a condo, we need to be considerate of the people who live above, below, and beside us. Our bedroom is 18.5 feet long, and the TV is opposite the bed along this length, which means we have to raise the volume level higher than we’d like just to hear what’s being said. Because our TV has rear-firing speakers, it aims the sound right at our daughter’s room instead of our ears, too, which results in a very angry girl when her Seether is drowned out by our TV. (Ha! Just the opposite of my youth!) When I realized the Serene Innovations TV SoundBox Wireless TV Speaker (Model TV-SB) could be carried across the room to sit beside me as I watched TV, I decided I’d order one. I found that Amazon had the best price, so I placed my order and had my new Serene Innovations speaker the next day.
The Serene Innovations TV SoundBox Wireless TV Speaker is made of black plastic with a silvery grill over the speakers. You can see from the image at the beginning of this review that it also has a big dial on the front that serves as the power switch and the volume control. The speaker doesn’t have a remote control. The speaker was smaller than I expected it would be. It’s about 9″ X 7″ X 2.5″, and I was afraid it wouldn’t be able to handle the job.
The speaker sits on a base that’s connected to the audio output on the TV and connected to a power outlet. The base has a wireless transmitter that’s paired with the speaker. It also serves as the charging base for the TV SoundBox.
I didn’t get a picture of the audio cable that comes with the speaker, but it has a 3.5mm audio plug on one end and RCA red/white audio plugs on the other end. The TV SoundBox won’t accept an optical audio cable without using an optional digital audio connector from Serene Innovations ($40).
The side of the speaker has a hi/med/lo tone adjustment slider, a headphones jack, and an audio-in jack for use with your mobile device. There’s also a power jack here. You can buy an optional power supply from Serene Innovations ($30) so that you can keep the speaker permanently beside your chair on or on your nightstand. You can also pair multiple speaker units to a single transmitter base, so you can have a speaker at several viewing locations around the room. An extra speaker is about $90 from the Serene Innovations web store.
The back of the speaker has no other connectors, but the back of the base has the power connector, a pair of RCA connectors, and a 3.5mm audio jack where my audio cable is connected. If your TV doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio jack, like my TV doesn’t, you can plug the RCA connectors to the audio-out on the TV and plug the 3.5mm plug into the back of the transmitter. If your TV only has a single 3.5mm audio out, plug that end of the cable into the TV and plug the RCA plugs into the back of the transmitter base. As I mentioned earlier, if your TV only has an optical audio out, you’ll need to order the optional digital audio connector.
The audio cable is obscuring the pairing button on the transmitter base in this picture. The speaker and base come already paired, so you won’t need to use the pairing button unless you are adding extra wireless speakers to your setup.
Here’s the transmitter base without the speaker sitting on it. The connectors on the right side are the power connectors to charge the speaker’s internal battery. There’s a power light at the right front that glows green to show that the base is receiving power. It’s on steady when powered.
You can see the charging connector on the bottom of the speaker. The bottom has little rubber feet to protect your furniture when you carry the speaker over to your viewing location. The right front of the speaker has a red LED that blinks while the speaker’s battery is being charged. It glows steadily red when charging is complete. You can see this light better in the review’s top image.
I have the speaker sitting by my TV here while I’m watching an old black-&-white episode of Perry Mason, but I can carry it over to the bed and put it on the nightstand or set it on the bed between my husband and me. Documentation says you can take the speaker up to 100 feet from the transmitter, but my room isn’t that big. 😉 However, I could carry it into the kitchen or the dining room with me so I could catch the morning news and weather while I’m getting ready for the day, if I wanted.
Just carrying the speaker closer to where I’m listening means that I can lower the volume, so my TV viewing shouldn’t be so likely to bother my neighbors or my daughter. That in itself is a plus, but that’s not the only thing that the TV SoundBox has to offer. It also has a voice-clarifying feature that boosts the sound frequencies of human speech, to help you decipher what the actors are mumbling while the ambient noises and the soundtrack music are competing to drown out what’s being said. That sounds good, but does it actually work?
It actually does help. I noticed that the sound of the voices was more “to the front” – like the actors were standing in front of me. It didn’t sound so much like the actors were behind the orchestra and a whole herd of the walkers who were moaning and groaning while I’m trying to hear Eugene’s big reveal on The Walking Dead. At first, I thought the voices sounded a bit strange and staticy. I adjusted the tone slider on the side of the speaker and found that the medium setting minimized the static. It didn’t take long until having the dialog so “front and center”, louder and clearer than I’d heard in many years, seemed natural to me. (Not that I’m getting old, mind you! That darn music is just so loud these days!)
I didn’t notice that the soundtrack or the ambient noises were suddenly obscured by the voices. I thought the music was more enjoyable when it was more in the background, like it should be. Serene Innovations says the TV SoundBox is a stereo speaker, but you of course won’t hear any stereo separation with such a small speaker. That’s okay, because I watch TV to enjoy the story told by the visuals and the dialog, not by the screaming guitars, orchestra, or explosions and revving engines.
The rechargeable battery is supposed to last for about 8 hours between charges, but I don’t watch that much TV at a time. I just watch my show, then I make sure to put the speaker back on the base to recharge for the next time I need it.
I mentioned that the speaker doesn’t have a remote control, but that’s not a problem. I always keep it close enough that I can just reach over and adjust the volume knob when commercials come on.
If your TV allows it, you can put the TV SoundBox next to someone who has a bit of trouble hearing and set the TV’s speakers to a more comfortable sound level for other family members. Or you can do what I’ve done; I turned off the TV’s speakers and just use the TV SoundBox as my only speaker. It does exactly what I hoped it would do. It makes it possible for me to hear the dialog in my TV shows without blasting the volume so loud I expect my neighbors to start pounding on the ceiling, floor, and connecting walls, or without risking an angry daughter storming in to tell me to turn it down or turn it off, as my father so often told me in my youth.
As I mentioned, I purchased the Serene Innovations TV SoundBox Wireless TV Speaker (Model TV-SB) myself from Amazon for $128.99. It’s not cheap, but it makes watching TV so much more enjoyable now that I can actually hear what’s being said. You can learn more about the TV SoundBox at Serene Innovations and check out all their other products for the hearing impaired.
Source: This product was purchased by myself and was not provided by Serene Innovations. For more info visit http://www.sereneinnovations.com/
Update April 18, 2015: I continue to use the Serene Innovations TV SoundBox Wireless TV Speaker every time I watch TV in my bedroom. It’s still performing well, and it’s great to be able to hear the TV without worrying it’s disturbing the neighbors.