Week 24, 2018: Sbode Bluetooth Sports Earphones are back, upgrading an Insignia soundbar to ZVOX SB380 or Polk MagniFi Mini

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 24, 2018

Sbode earphones are back: A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent influx of questions regarding the Sbode Bluetooth Sports Earphones, which had disappeared from Amazon to the dismay of potential buyers.  I praised these earphones for their comfort, fit and great sound, all for only $23.99.  Many of the emails I received were from people who loved them as much as I did, and wanted to buy a second pair for a friend or family member.

The earphones are available again, at a new, even lower price of $21.99.  Sbode has also been extremely responsive answering my inquiries and keeping me appraised of the situation, delivering standout service for a smaller vendor. My hat is off to Sbode for not only bringing them back quickly, but also for dropping the price and delivering good service. Given my very positive experience so far, I will have more about this emerging brand and their products in the near future.

Q. Several years ago you recommend an Insignia soundbar sold at Best Buy, saying it was a good value for the money. At the time it sold for around $50 when it was on sale. I bought one and it has been fine, but now I am craving something better. You have written about the ZVOX AV200 TV Speaker recently. Is it worth replacing the Insignia soundbar with the ZVOX?  Price is not the object and if it is superior, I’m in.

-M.M., San Jose, CA

A. The ZVOX AV200 TV Speaker is a big improvement over a television’s standard speakers, and is optimized for reproducing onscreen dialogue. It is also notably smaller than the Insignia soundbar. The actual sound quality would be superior to the Insignia, but the Insignia is more of a full-sized, full-range soundbar with deeper bass. If you made the change you would notice better sound and clearer dialogue compared to the Insignia, but you would lose the deep bass and the home theater effect for action movies and other such programming.

Based on the way you worded your question I think you are looking for something similar to the Insignia, but with better sound.  The Insignia soundbar is a modest product and it is not hard to do better, especially if price is not an object. I’m going to try and keep it within range of the ZVOX AV200 TV Speaker so you don’t get sticker shock.

Two of my favorite soundbars sell for under $250 and would be a dramatic improvement over what you have now.  From ZVOX there is the SB380 soundbar, which has a subwoofer and very high quality speakers built in to its aluminum cabinet. It also has a special version of the AV200’s dialogue-enhancement circuitry that makes it one of the best full-sized soundbars for reproducing television dialogue. The SB380 sells for only $249 and is one of the leading values out there in a full-range, full-sized soundbar.

If you shop around you can find the Polk MagniFi Mini for $249.  This very small soundbar is about the size of a medium-sized Bluetooth speaker (like the OontZ Angle 3XL Ultra) and comes with a wireless subwoofer. Setup is very easy and it sounds much bigger and more dramatic than you would expect for the size. If you listen to a lot of music with your soundbar, the MagniFi Mini has built-in Chromecast that takes the sound quality up several notches compared to the Bluetooth connection.