I recently got my hands on a selection of audio gear from Raumfeld, a German maker of high-end audio systems who recently made their entry into the U.S. market. I’m a big fan of their Stereo Cubes bookshelf speakers, and now I’m checking out their Sounddeck home theater speaker system to see if it lives up to the same quality.
The Sounddeck sits somewhere between a soundbar and a full-size home theater system, containing its entire system inside a pedestal for your TV. This provides two advantages over other systems – first off, it’s a single component without wires running all over your room, and second, it provides a much fuller sound than most soundbars I’ve tested. Sure, soundbars can have their low end augmented with an external subwoofer, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having a single device, and they can still be a bit tinny.
Like the Stereo Cubes, the build quality of the Sounddeck is excellent. The box is substantial, and it just feels expensive, with a smoothly finished MDF wood cabinet, aluminum trim, and an overall feeling of sturdiness. This is certainly something you want out of a box that you’ll be setting your fancy big screen TV on top of.
The Sounddeck weighs in at a hefty 26.5 lb., and measures 16.1″ deep x 28.7″ wide x 4.3″ tall. It should be able to handle any display with a pedestal type stand. It might be trickier to use with a display that stands on legs, unless they elevate it at least 4.4″ above your TV stand, and are at least 30″ apart.
Inside, the Sounddeck packs six full-range, 2.75″ drivers, and two 5.1″ downward firing subwoofers. The system is powered by a 280-watt class D amplifier. This allows it to push out some serious volume. Maximum SPL is a whopping 102 dB at 1 meter, and overall frequency response ranges from 42-20,000 Hz, so you’ll get all but the very deepest of bass frequencies out of this single enclosure.
Set up works using the complimentary Raumfeld smartphone app, which allows you add the Sounddeck to your home audio network, and stream music to the speaker when you’re not using it for your home theater. Check out my Stereo Cubes review for more on the wireless capability, and a list of supported streaming sources.
For direct-wired sources, you can connect it to your TV’s ARC-compatible HDMI, optical, or analog RCA outputs, though the first two will give you a direct digital signal, which is preferable. Raumfeld is also kind enough to include both an HDMI cable and an optical cable for quick and easy setup.
Of course, the main thing you want to know is how the Sounddeck sounds. For starters, this thing can pack a punch. I’ve got a big media room in my house that measures about 25′ x 15′, and the Sounddeck has no trouble completely filling that room with sound. Audio quality is clean and there’s no noticeable distortion even at the highest volume levels my ears could handle. I found the overall frequency response to be satisfying, offering clean and clear highs and mids, and enough bass boom to anger your neighbors – though not quite as much as you might get with a standalone subwoofer.
One thing that’s important in recreating a movie theater experience at home is the size of the soundstage. Since the Sounddeck isn’t really that wide, you might expect that to be a challenge. However, using acoustic trickery, it’s capable of creating a very convincing soundstage that seemed much larger than the width of my television. Depending on the audio processing mode you select, the effect varies. Stereo mode provides the narrowest stage, and is best for listening to music as it was intended, Theater mode provides a wide soundstage that mostly runs in a horizontal plane across the screen, with just a bit of depth, Arena mode offers a wide and deep soundfield that seemed much bigger than my room, and Voice mode is good for listening to movies or programs with lots of quiet dialogue, bringing the vocals into the center channel. Note that audio modes are selected only via the Raumfeld app, and not on the included remote control.
I found myself using either Theater or Arena mode for watching movies. In both cases, there’s a little bit of added echo that makes listening to dialogue a little less pure than in a dedicated center-channel setup, but I had no trouble hearing what the characters were saying in even the loudest battle scenes in Pacific Rim and The Force Awakens.
Keep in mind that none of the provided audio profiles are off-the-shelf formats like Dolby or DTS, nor do they purport to offer surround sound per se, but Raumfeld’s “Wellenfeld” Tech definitely creates a sense of spaciousness in the sound produced by the Sounddeck.
If you’re in the market for a home theater sound system that can really fill your room with big, theaterlike sound, but without taking up a bunch of space, the Raumfeld Sounddeck is a great choice, offering immersive and visceral sounds from a relatively small package.
The Raumfeld Sounddeck is available from Amazon for $1299(USD).